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16/09/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 5 - B3

Joueuer de Harpe

Jean Sibelius.

ABRSM Grade 5 Piano 2019/2020.




Teaching Notes

Keep in mind throughout this piece that you are trying to imitate the sound of a harp. You will also need to be quite free with the timing. The Stretto marking at the beginning indicates a faster tempo and if you notice with the video performance above there is an accelerando and deccelerando in bars 2 and 3. This opening section also needs to be played WITHOUT pedal, so a good legato fingering for the LH chords is essential.

In the "Lento e dolce" sections, pedal should be added and changed for each new chord, picking out the melodic line of the top note of each of the arpeggio figures. Don't be in a hurry to finish the long tied note between bars 5 & 6 too early, it is worth 8 beats.

In bar 8, (also 14 & 18) notice the minim A in the RH chord, make sure this is held through the 2nd beat. Between the 3rd and 4th beats of the same bar 8, you will need to swap fingers and even hands on the F and D flat in the bass clef tied chord.

The written out arpeggios should sound different to the  block chords that have an "arpeggiated sign" (e.g. bars12 & 16). In this video performance, you will notice a slight separation and extra weight on the latter.

Finally, observe the "commas" / breath marks in bars 12 & 14 as well as the pause on the bar line after bar 3.

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09/09/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 5 - C2

Lentamente - No.1 from Visions Fugitives Op. 22

Sergey Prokofiev.

ABRSM Grade 5 Piano 2019/2020.


Teaching Notes

Although quite slow, this Lentamente has some hidden challenges. It would suit those with a larger hand span (there is a 9th stretch in bar 20).

The main thing to watch out for in this piece is tonal control. The whole thing never gets above a mezzopiano, while the tune still needs to stand out against the accompaniment. This is especially important in the second half where the descending quavers must be quieter than the notes above them. If you notice, the notes with "stems up" from bars 14-21, are the same tune as at the beginning where there were no quavers. Your performance should make this clear. In fact the ppp marking in bar 15 applies just to these descending quavers, NOT the tune which is still just pp

Pedalling, should be done on every change of harmony which is often every beat. Be careful to release for a beat of complete silence in bar 14. Finally, be careful to observe the overlapping minims in bars 12 & 25. Here, good fingering is essential and those suggested in the ABRSM edition are a good guide, although instead of substituting 3rd for 4th finger on the RH "E" in bar 25, you could just play this note with a 4th finger to start with.

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31/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 5 - B2

√Čtude in A minor

Louise Farrenc.

ABRSM Grade 5 Piano 2019/2020.



Teaching Notes


This √Čtude in A minor, should have a gentle lilting tempo, making sure that the LH chords are not too loud, so that they don't obscure the RH tune.



To get the timing of the turn correct, in bar 3 etc, try setting a metronome to a quaver pulse of about half speed (i.e. quaver = 72) and make sure the triplet part of the turn is played before the 2nd quaver beat and the note after the triplet exactly ON the 2nd quaver beat. Then build up the speed gradually.

To add some extra tonal colour, this video performance adds a dab of pedal to the section from bar 9 - 12, on the first half of each bar only. Here the melody has less "step-like" movement and so will not sound mushy with the pedal. Also it will help with the ascending chords in bar 12.

Notice that the "p" in bar 16 starts on the 2nd note of the bar and in this performance you will notice also some extra dynamic shaping of this and the next bar, not printed in the book.

Ease off the tempo slightly in bar 18, just before the return of the main theme. 

When you get to bar 19, you'll need to take care that the LH semiquavers don't get too loud for the RH.

Finally in bars 26 & 27, notice the overlapping crotchets in the LH. The first bass note (A/G#) and the top E all continue whilst the following notes are being played.

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22/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - B2

Arietta

Edvard Grieg

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.




Teaching Notes

The main thing that the examiner will be looking out for, is the voicing of the melody (that is, the quavers at the top of the RH). All the lower parts need to be kept at a lesser dynamic.

Good pedalling is also necessary. The piece is marked only with the direction "con ped" without specifying exactly where. Generally it changes twice per bar, which is where the harmony changes, but be careful to lift it for the bars with a rest in the LH (9, 11, 19 & 21).

Notice the shaping of the phrases with the crescendo/diminuendo marking in the RH. In each case the phrase should climax on the first note of the 2nd bar. In the above performance I have also added a kind of echo effect in bars 7 & 8. Play the video again if you didn't notice it the first time. You don't need to do this, but it might add some interest.

One of the trickiest bars, is bar 12 (which is repeated in bar 22). Here, I have found it easier to take the last LH quaver G, with the RH, substituting the 5th finger for a 2nd finger on the bottom B flat, so that you can tie it into the next bar.

Finally, the rit at the end should be fairly substantial, with the music virtually coming to a stop on the final pause.


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16/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - C2

A Kwela for Caitlin

Richard Michael

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.




Teaching Notes


This energetic Kwela has swung, offbeat quavers - often cut short by rests and would ideally suit a student with a taste for jazzy pieces and a strong sense of rhythm.

At the start, make sure you have a legato LH (which happens to be the tune) to contrast with the light RH staccato chords.

Another thing the examiner will be looking out for, is your dynamics. Sometimes they change very quickly in this piece. Within the dynamics, you will also notice that there are often many accents. These should not be overdone, but try to give a little extra lean on these notes. For example, an accent within a "piano" dynamic, should stay "within the context of piano".

The rhythm of the last line, particularly bar 39 is quite tricky and you might find playing off a metronome helps here.


Did you know....

You can get a personal appraisal of your performance of this or any other ABRSM Piano Exam piece as a Patron of MusicOnlineUK. Click HERE for more details

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