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Be a #BetterMusician

How to be a better musician
Join the discussion

Whether you’ve been playing your instrument for years or you’re an absolute beginner, no-one is perfect and everyone can improve.

It’s that time of year coming up again when we reflect and maybe think about new year resolutions. And I’ve been asking the community here on MusicOnline UK how they want to improve and be a better musician in 2019. Today is a unique opportunity to hear for the first time, YOU - the voice of the community - right here on MusicOnlineUK. By the way, if you would like YOUR message to be included in a future post, I’ll be giving details at the end. So now it’s time to hand over to YOU the community.

Listen to Arun

Listen to Annelie

Listen to George

Listen to Vicky

Listen to Rishabh

Some great input there including, surrounding ourselves with those who will motivate and inspire, improving the quality of practice sessions by having specific goals and also having a regular practise schedule.

Now if you would like to send us a message which could feature in a future post you can do so via the MusicOnlineUK community WhatsApp group by clicking HERE

Also you can leave a comment below or use the hashtag #BetterMusician on twitter or facebook which we can pickup and retweet/repost.

MusicOnline UK is NOT just a YouTube channel or website, but a community of people like yourself who want to help each other become better musicians so please head on over to our WhatsApp group and motivate and inspire each other to be just that. 


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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 7 - B2

Lied ohne Worte No.3

Felix Mendelssohn

ABRSM Grade 7 Piano 2019/2020. B2

Teaching Notes

This delightful scherzo like piece is an excellent for you to display your staccato technique. Although very little staccato is actually marked it can be assumed to apply to all quavers throughout, unless specifically marked slurred. However, be careful to differentiate between such staccato quavers and the longer crotchets. A very light a relaxed wrist is essential for a "presto" execution and the forward driving presto  pulse will be further helped by a slight accent on the first beat of each bar. This is particularly applicable to sections such as bar 9 where the first quaver chord of the LH would be a falling motion towards the keyboard and the second of each pair more like a rebound off the first. Similarly in the RH, the two note slurs should be thought of as one movement, falling onto the first note and lifting off the second.

The general dynamic of this playful number is piano. That does not mean that there is no room for dynamic shaping within the phrases. For example, listen carefully again, to the opening phrase and notice how the dynamic rises to the 4th bar. The recapitulation in bar 32 is marked piano and would be arrived at such by the  dim from bar 28. However, if you listen again to the above performance you will notice an extra drop in dynamic in bar 32, in addition to what would have been arrived at after the diminuendo  as if to emphasise the fact that the recapitulation has started.

The page turn in the ABRSM edition was performed a bar early (in bar 42 and memorising bar 43), since here, the LH has more "free time".

Also notice that the lower written RH notes in the ABRSM book bar 53, are played here with the LH (the first of which is doubled in both hands anyway).

Finally, make sure you finish very delicately maybe even adding una corda for the final 7 bars.


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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 5 - A2

Andante in A  Hob. I:53/II

Joseph Haydn

ABRSM Grade 5 Piano 2019 - 2020.
Trinity Grade 5 Piano 2018 - 2020

Teaching Notes

As you will notice in the above video, the quavers are generally light and detached. Be aware also of the frequent rests in the LH, but in some cases they don't appear where you might expect according to previous patterns. For example, in bar 10, if Haydn had followed the same articulation pattern as earlier, the LH would not be as sustained as it is written hear. This denotes a different style of playing for this "piano" section.

Another characteristic, typical of Haydn and which runs thoughout this piece is the "feminine" phrase endings at the cadences. They are easily spotted where you see a crotchet slurred onto the next chord. Often, this first crotchet has an unresolved harmony (which gets resolved on the second beat). Don't be afraid to lean a little on these slurred crotchets, but always be careful that the second beat is lighter than the first.

When we get to the minor key middle section, the music becomes altogether more legato, to make a nice contrast to the outer sections. Watch out for the long crotchet in bar 31.

The demisemiquavers in bar 62, should always sound easy and flowing, more of a decoration than anything.

Finally, I found a touch of pedal right on the last bar, helps the legato for the last two chords.

This page will be a resource for students and teachers taking the ABRSM Piano Exams 2019-2020, including audio samples, teaching notes and video tutorials.

The New ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2019/20 - CLICK HERE


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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 8 - B2

Presto alla Tesdesca.

1st movement from Sonata in G. Op. 79

Ludwig van Beethoven

Grade 8 ABRSM Piano 2019/2020 B2.

So the first thing to notice is that this piece is entitled "Presto". It needs to have lots of energy and if you notice the metronome mark in the ABRSM edition, the dotted minim  beat suggests a "one in a bar" feel. However, you should learn this piece slowly at first to get control of all the finer details before speeding up.

Another consideration that applies to the whole piece is the voicing. The accompaniment can get very busy and is at risk of drowning out the tune. Be especially careful from bar 176 where the tune alternates between the LH and the RH.

A lot of the time, Beethoven's dynamics are quite terraced for dramatic effect. For example the piano bar 12 and the forte bar 75, as well as many similar places should be in complete contrast to their respective preceding sections, whereas a more graduated effect should be employed in the scale passages as for example the passage from bar 24. Here, in addition to the notated dynamics, try to give the phrases some dynamic shaping. The sforzandi are not just isolated accented beats, but rather the climax of the shaped phrase that came before. Looking even deeper, in the bars where there are successive sforzando markings (37/38 & 41/42), the first of each pair will be the natural climax of the crescendo that came before, but to add shape, try to crescendo again after this first sforzando onto the second one.

A note on page turns. If you are using the ABRSM edition, you might want to turn the page slightly earlier or later. You will notice in the above video the page turns are in bars 51 (a bar early), bar 103 (2 bars early) and 156 (one bar late). The last one has it's own particular problem, with regard to sustaining the LH chord during the page turn. A way around this would be to use the middle pedal for the chord of bar 155. The normal sustain pedal could also work, but is less ideal as it would blur the scale notes above.

Pedalling in general should be used sparingly. Where marked in the ABRSM edition, this is to add a different "dolce" colour. Apart from these printed pedallings, the above video performance only adds an extra dab of pedal in bar 90, to aid the legato effect.

Pay attention to the sforzando 2nd beats in the passage from bar 57 (and similar), being careful not  to continue this accented style in the piano dolce sections that follow.

Finally, it might be quite stylistic to do a rallentando at the end of the development section (bars 119-122), returning  a tempo  for the recapitulation (bar 123). There should be no slowing down at the end however, with the witty throw-away piano arpeggio.


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