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14/12/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 3 - C1

Dance - No.8 from "For Children", Vol 2

Bela Bartok.

Grade 3 ABRSM Piano 2019/2020 C1.




Teaching Notes.

The main thing an examiner will be looking out for with this piece is your articulation. Very often there is a different marking in each hand. For example, in bar 5, the RH is marked "tenuto" above the staccato LH notes. Then also notice the slurred pair in the next bar, also above a staccato LH. It should be remembered that the last note of a slurred group should be lifted, so in effect, the last quaver of this bar would release both hands together. All these details are completely wrong in the video that ranks No.1 in YouTube search for this piece - so be careful what you learn from:
(ABRSM Piano 2019-2020 Grade 3 C:1 C1 Bartok Dance (For Children Vol.2 No.8) Sheet Music - Alan Chan https://youtu.be/KZHd0iT4eKA )

Then also notice the accents. These of course must be in the context of a generally quiet dynamic. The piece never goes above a "mezzo-piano", however a little extra weight is needed on this notes to enable the movement to "dance" along. 

At the end of bar 21 there is a comma, indicating to make a small break after the "rall" before continuing "a tempo". Be careful that you adopt the same tempo as at the beginning in bar 22. The same is true in bar 31. Beginner students are often tempted to play quieter passages slower and the "pp" marking here might incorrectly have this effect on your performance. 

Also notice the articulation of the last three chords - staccato dots with lines. Make these notes noticeably longer than the preceding ones, with a more stroking touch than a bouncing one.

Finally - watch the rest in bar 30. Many candidates here will forget to release the LH, the moment you play the first RH note of this bar

10/12/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 1 - C3

Egyptian Level

Kevin Wooding

ABRSM Grade 1 Piano 2019 - 2020.




Teaching Notes:
In the footnotes of the ABRSM edition, the composer himself is quoted as saying, "you must make this piece as smooth and snaky as you possibly can". A good legato in the RH is essential for a high mark, being particularly careful of the stretches between B flat and C sharp. This however, is in contrast to the staccato 5ths chords in the LH, which should not be too overpowering.

Another area the examiner will be looking out for is control of dynamics. In bars 7 & 8 for example, there is a  gradual diminuendo, but in the following bar it returns suddenly to forte.
Be careful with the tempo changes on the last line. After the  poco rit  in bar 12, you need to make sure you return to the original tempo of the opening. Also in bar 12, notice the rest in the LH, make sure the last two quavers of the RH are on their own. 

The sustain pedal for the last three bars is essential, even though not often found in Grade 1, in order to keep the lower harmonies sounding as you play the last high RH chord. Once again there is a poco rit  and the final chord has a pause on it. Let this chord ring on for its full length, disappearing to nothing with a very soft pp touch.


07/12/2018

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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. 

01/12/2018

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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.

30/11/2018

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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




24/11/2018

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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.

22/11/2018

Black Friday Event on MusicOnline UK

This weekend only

All products from MusicOnline UK at 50% until 23:59 on Monday 26th November 2018

  • E Aural Trainer - PREMIUM videos at 50% including the complete works Grades 1-8, now for only £2.50 - enter CODE FRIDAY50 at checkout. Full list of available videos HERE
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20/11/2018

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Composition competition - an exciting opportunity

Born after August 31, 1979? Have 3-4 original ensemble or stage works ready for publication?
Ricordi Berlin just might be looking to collaborate with you!

Ricordilab Call for Composers


Ricordilab Call for Composers

The Berlin outpost of legendary Italian publisher Casa Ricordi, famed for its support of Italian opera through its work with La Scala, Verdi, Puccini and many others, is now accepting applications for the second installment of Ricordilab, a three-year collaboration program with emerging composers. Successful applicants will have selected works published and distributed internationally by Ricordi Berlin, and will also have the opportunity to work with various performance groups throughout Germany.

Terms and Conditions

  • Applicants must be born after August 31st, 1979
  • Applicants must submit 3 works (if applying with stage works: 4 works)
    • Each work has been performed or commissioned by at least one professional ensemble/orchestra
    • The work is not published yet
    • A recording (not necessarily commercial) of each work is required
    • Scores and parts need to be engraved with Finale or Sibelius
    • If applying with stage works, at least one of the works must be written for voice(s) with ensemble/orchestra
  • The works must be for the following instrumentation:
    • One work for ensemble (6-12 musicians)
    • One work for large ensemble (12 – 18 musicians)
    • One symphonic work (more than 18 musicians)
    • One work for stage (ad libitum)

Benefits provided to successful applicants 

• Publication of selected works 
• Legal handling (collecting societies, royalties, licensing, accounting) 
• Production and distribution of published works 
• International promotion (personal meetings with our clients, print publication, press activities, website, newsletter, social media) 
• Team members of Ricordi Berlin will actively consult the laureates regarding the development of their careers 
Applications will be accepted until January 15, 2019.

For more information and to apply click the button below


APPLY HERE

08/11/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 8 - A1 - ii

Gigue - 6th Movement from English Suite No. 2 in A minor BWV 907
J. S. Bach
Grade 8 Piano - ABRSM 2019/2020 A1 - ii.



Teaching Notes.

I would like to preface these teaching notes, first of all, by saying that the video performance above was done by one of the members of the MusicOnline UK WhatsApp group. This is a group for music students and teachers like yourself to share, discuss and get feedback from each other about anything related to music education and when this particular performance was shared,  I thought it worthy to be used on my YouTube channel for the purposes of a tutorial. (By the way, anyone interested in joining this group may do so by clicking THIS LINK on their mobile device, and who knows, maybe your performance might appear in a future video on my channel.)

So, onto the teaching notes... A gigue, it should be remembered is a dance and this movement should at all times feel light and flowing with it's lilting compound time. Particular attention should be paid to the ornaments, that they do not lose time and "rock the boat" in terms of keeping a steady tempo.

Lengths of the longer notes should also be considered. The tradition in baroque music is to make longer notes, (in the case of this Gigue, the dotted crotchets), slightly detached, following the thinking that the music was originally written for an instrument that didn't have the same sustaining power as a modern piano. However, this is a matter for debate and interpretation and the above performance adopts a more legato approach. Maybe a slightly detached dotted crotchet would add a little more  lightness  to the dance like character, but of paramount importance in baroque music, is clarity, and this performance definitely achieves that.

Continuing with the idea of lengths of notes, take care with those longer notes that occur before rests (e.g. bar 16, 21, 23 etc). It could be tempting to incorrectly shorten these to an almost staccato quaver. Make sure that they last their full length.

A note on repeats. For the purpose of the exam, repeats are not usually played, except for D.S. or D.C. and so in this piece it effectively means missing out the first time bars on each occurrence.

The speed of this movement, will make the ornaments a challenge in terms of not losing time. Try to play them on the beat . You will notice that in most cases, these mordents are preceded, by the same note and so a little lift will be needed before the repeated note. Landing on the repeated note after the lift on the next beat, will help keep the tempo steady. Additionally, some slow metronome practice will help at the early stage of learning this piece.

There are no dynamics marked in this movement, however you can add some dynamic interest. Indeed, some creativity keeping within the style of the music would be rewarded in the exam, but bear in mind that baroque music traditionally is interpreted with terraced dynamics and the range is not as great a in music of later periods. A good structure for dynamics would include keeping the changes to where phrases start and finish and particularly emphasising sequences of similar melodic figures, by the use of stepped changes in volume.


06/11/2018

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How to Sight Sing - The Interval Song

Do you have trouble sight singing?
Are you taking an ABRSM practical exam, Grades 4 to 8? Then this is for you.

The secret to sight singing is being able to hear intervals in your head. By listening to the following video enough times that you can memorize the words, and sing along without the music, you will start to automatically associate the alternative lyrics of this well known tune - "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire", with the intervals that you are singing.
(Original idea and lyrics by David Rakowski and friends with alternative lyrics Dave Swenson).



You will need to listen to the song a few times to memorize the words and thus practice your interval training. When you are travelling, doing the housework, or even in the shower. For convenience, there is a PDF download of the lyrics along with an offline audio available to Patrons of MusicOnline UK HERE.

Special thanks also need to go to Raylin, the amazing vocalist, with whom we collaborated to produce this video
Special thanks also need to go to Raylin, the amazing vocalist, with whom we collaborated to produce this video and you can check out more of her work HERE 

Once you think you have mastered this song, test out your Sight Singing skills HERE


30/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 1 - B2

The Echo

Theodor Oesten

ABRSM Grade 1 Piano 2019 - 2020.




Teaching Notes:

As the title suggests, a good dynamic contrast is needed to gain a high mark in the exam. Also notice that most of the "pianissimo" bars have a rest in the LH. Make sure you release the chord from the previous bar in each case, so that no notes are hanging over the bar line.


The exception to the above is the last two bars where the LH joins in for the final echo. Care must be taken to control the tone here so that the "pianissimo" is maintained.

Finally, be careful of the duplets in bars 15 & 17. By this point you will have been so used to playing the triplets from the beginning of this piece that it might be tempting to play a triplet quaver at the end of these bars. Make sure this final quaver is exactly HALF a beat, NOT A THIRD of a beat.

27/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 8 - C1

Nocturne in G minor - Op 37 No. 1
Fryderyk Chopin
Grade 8 Piano - ABRSM 2019/2020 C1.




This Nocturne in G minor is one of the most melodic of Chopin's hugely popular works. As such, despite the piano  marking at the beginning, the RH tune needs a deep cantabile which sings out above the LH chords. Also worthy of note is the tempo marking of Lento. In the ABRSM edition there is a metronome mark of crotchet = c.69, but this should be taken with a pinch of salt as a stylish performance of this beautiful piece will have so much rubato it makes a strict beat meaningless. Also, the middle section will need an increase in tempo. Chopin himself, marks this section Andante sostenuto, in an early manuscript. (Somewhat surprising, that this was not reproduced on the ABRSM copy.

In the ABRSM edition, you will notice that there is some pedalling marked. This however, is not the only place you will need to pedal. On the contrary, most of the time, pedalling should be done throughout the piece, with every change of harmony, which is usually every crotchet beat. The marked pedalling, is only in cases where it is used over more than one beat, indicating that a bass note still needs to be heard under the next beat.

A word on ornaments. Much of the melody is very embellished with groups of grace notes. According to Chopin's own teaching notes, these should start on the beat, that is, synchronised with the LH bass notes. Pay attention also to the arpeggiated chords in the middle section. In bar 44 of the ABRSM edition, this ornament is written out, so that the arpeggio figure spreads out onto the grace note, not the melody note, the latter being played just after the beat. The same style needs to be used on all the following arpeggiated chords in this middle section.

Staying with the middle section, pay attention to the tied notes. Very often, they link two phrases together. Generally, this section is sostenuto anyway, but at the ends of phrases a slight breath should be made. Indeed, some of these phrases have a comma at the end (e.g. between bars 44 and 45), a slight wait on the silence between the phrases. However, the tied bass note here needs to ring on through the "silence". The same is true for the slur between bars 57 and 58. Again, generally the sostenuto  feel of this section, will require that you pedal right up to the next chord in most cases, with the exception of the phrase endings. Play the video performance again and see if you can hear the slur between the E flat (bar 57) and the A flat (bar 58), when the pedalling breaks for a slight breath between phrases.

Finally, pay particular attention to Chopin's phrase marks. Phrases are often reinforced by the dynamic shaping written on the score. For example, the end of bar 4, completes a phrase and bar 5 is a new phrase. It would be tempting here, to slur off the last note of bar 4 onto the first note of bar 5. But Chopin has written it differently and accentuated the, new phrase, with a subito forte.

22/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 7 - C1

Rosemary's Waltz -
Richard Rodney Bennett
Grade 7 Piano - ABRSM 2019/2020 C1 




Teaching Notes

First of all, you need to notice the phrasing. Most of the phrases in this piece start on the 2nd quaver of the bar. On the opening line, this is quite easy to see. However, in bar 6, you need to be careful that the 1st quaver belongs to the end of that which started in bar 5 and the 2nd quaver of bar 6 is a NEW phrase. Make a little breath in your performance between these two. 

Now go through the rest of the piece noticing where the phrase marks start and finish. Usually you will find that they start on the 2nd quaver of the bar.

Next, you need to be aware of the voicing - where the tune is. Generally, this is in the upper RH part. Be careful to keep the supporting harmonies at a lesser dynamic. However, it is not the WHOLE of the upper RH part that is a melody. For example, in bar 20, the long dotted minim "A" is the tune note and the following "arpeggio figure" should be played quieter, so that the A can ring out above the supporting harmonies. The same happens in bars 22, 26, 28, 30 etc.

Finally, this piece will need a lot of Rubato, an ebb and flow in the tempo. Play this performance again and see if you can notice where the music gets faster and slower. Feel free to copy these in your own performance, but even better, would be if you can FEEL for yourself where the emotional intensity increases and where there needs to be some holding make to make your performance more expressive.

20/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 1 - B1

Wiegenlied: No. from Five Songs. Op 49

Johannes Brahms

ABRSM Grade 1 Piano 2019/2020.


Teaching Notes:

Despite appearing like one of the easier pieces in this grade, Wiegenlied has plenty of opportunities to gain or lose marks in a Grade 1 Piano exam.

The examiner will be looking out for a singing tone in the RH, where the LH does not obscure, but gently rocks away in the background (it is a lullaby, by the way). Speaking of the LH, notice the frequent use of rests on the first beat of the bar. Be careful that the last note of each previous bar does not hang over into the rest.

Also notice the phrasing. Try to think of this piece as if you were singing it. Where would you breathe? The curved slur lines give a good indication, and even when on a piano, the music needs to "breathe", that is, have a little lift between the phrases.

Be careful that the minim C in the RH bar 8, is held for it's full length, but then, as mentioned above, ever so slightly lift both hands together, before starting the next phrase, a beat before bar 9.

The ending will need extra control to reduce the dynamic down to pianissimo, being especially careful not to bump the very last bottom C (making sure here, that you are also holding on to the two notes above also.)

14/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 6 - B1

Moderato (No. 4 from Sechs Klavierstücke, Op. 12)

Max Bruch

Grade 6 ABRSM Piano 2019/2020 B1





Teaching Notes.

This piece will need very careful attention to articulation. For example, in bar 2 (and others similar), notice how there is a slur from the 1st to the 2nd semiquaver, but NOT on the others. This means that the final 4 semiquavers in this bar should be separated slightly. Not staccato as such, like the LH, but also, not completely legato. Generally the LH is staccato throughout, but sometimes a longer note is required. Notice that the staccato dots have disappeared from the LH in bars 22-24.

The slurred chords also provide a challenge. In some instances, the fact that the RH doubles one of the notes in the chord, will help (e.g. bar 8). In others, a careful fingering will be required to achieve a legato effect. For example, the chord on the 2nd quaver should be fingered 2,3,4 to enable a slur onto the next quaver chord.

Be careful also when there are dotted crotchets in the bass (bars 8 & 40) Make sure these are held to overlap the above harmonies.

There are quite a lot of tempo changes within this piece, and not just the ones that are marked. If you listen carefully to this performance video again you will notice the frequent use of rubato. Regarding the ones actually written in the part - the "a tempo" markings (bars 15 & 39) should start exactly on the semiquaver before the 2nd beat. Also, the stringendo in bar 30 indicates a quickening of pace, before the calando  (dying away) of bar 32.

Finally, always be careful to let the tune sing out, not letting the LH chords obscure the melody. As it says in the start - molto cantabile

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



12/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 1 - A2

Minuet in C - Grade 1 Piano

William Duncombe.

ABRSM Grade 1 Piano 2019/2020 A2.


Teaching Notes.


Make sure you hold the dotted minims of the LH their full length, not only in the opening bars, but also in the middle section (bars 10, 12, 14 & 16).

Unless marked otherwise with a legato slur, the crotchets in this piece should be lightly detached. This particularly applies to the bass line e.g. bars 5-8.

Also notice how some quavers are slurred but others are not. For example, in bar 7, there are 3 slurred quavers, but the 4th is separated.

A common mistake in the opening bars, would be to slur the last quaver of each bar onto the first note of the next bar. This would be incorrect. In bars 1-3, the last note of each of these bars should be separated from the next bar.

Also make sure that any changes of dynamics are "stepped" or terraced, that is, sudden changes rather than gradual changes.

A slight "rit" at the end might also be stylish.


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

Updated 6/11/2018

08/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 6 - C1

Tugela Rail

Darius Brubeck

ABRSM Grade 6 Piano 2019/2020.



This delightful piece explores a slightly different genre to that usually found in the ABRSM exams. You will need very exact counting and it might be helpful at first to practise against a metronome to get the chords that "anticipate the beat" timed correctly.

The whole piece is supposed to describe a rail journey, so bear that in mind as you perform. Although it is quite a fast tempo according to the suggested metronome marking, it should still have a "laid back" feel, with the the almost ostinato LH chords, possibly describing the monotony of the train's motion and the RH tune describing more the variation in scenery.

The rhythm of RH vs LH usually coincides. However, there are a couple of unexpected corners that could catch you out. For example, it might be tempting to place the first chord of bar 13 a quaver early, to match the RH. Be careful here that the RH "anticipates" the LH. Another place that might catch the less observant out is bar 44, where the harmony changes the pattern of the preceding bars.

Regarding, pedalling - the instruction at the beginning sempre refers to bars that have the same LH pattern. However, in bars 18 & 20, some variation from this pattern will be needed. The whole of these bars, should be without pedal, being careful here especially to lift between the phrases marked and observe the accent and staccato chord at the end. Similarly, the last chord of bar 44, should NOT be pedalled to enable the staccato. Other places where a deviation from the opening pedalling pattern is needed, are marked in the copy (bars 32-34 and 37-41).


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

06/10/2018

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NEW WHATSAPP GROUP for MusicOnlineUK


MusicOnline UK now has a Whatsapp group for Subscribers.


Join our new Whatsapp group for SUBSCRIBERS AND PATRONS of MusicOnlineUK to chat about anything related to Music Education. Even share their performances for feedback from other members of the group. Check out this performance of  Fröhlicher Landman shared with the group by Rishabh Raj 


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https://chat.whatsapp.com/4j1oLXNquVb9hTHxeiJCXR


05/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 1 - A3

Agincourt Song

15th Century - Anon.

ABRSM Grade 1 Piano 2019 - 2020.




Teaching Notes:
Although the tempo is marked with a crotchet beat, it really needs to feel like "one in a bar". Speed however, should never take precedence over attention to all the details of dynamics and articulation. Learn all the small details thoroughly first, at a slow tempo gradually increasing this with a metronome.  Notice for example, the use of "terraced dynamics", there are no crescendi or diminuendi, only sudden changes of dynamic. 


Attention also needs to be paid to the articulation. For most of the piece, this is quite homophonic, that is, the parts move, slur, lift, together, (the last note of all slurred groups needs to be lifted). However, care needs to be taken in bars 14 and 15. In the former, there is a two note slur in the RH, which as mentioned above needs the last note lifted, whilst the LH continues the legato into bar 15. And again here make sure the RH staccato note contrasts with the LH legato.


Finally, don't miss the B flats in bar 10, even though previously there was a B natural. 



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




03/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 1 - A1

Theme - from Theme and Variations, Sonatina No.4 in DThomas Attwood ABRSM Grade 1 Piano 2019 / 2020 A1.


Teaching Notes:

The first challenge that you will encounter is the difference in articulation between the hands. For example, the opening three bars have a staccato RH, but a legato LH. The roles are reversed in bar 7. 

Also be careful in bar 6. Notice that only the last three notes of the LH are slurred. The first note should be kept separate from these last three.

The contrasting middle section, needs a sudden change in dynamic (from forte to piano) and also a change in touch. The tune becomes more smooth and it might be tempting, especially with the initial two repeated E's to continue the staccato style from the previous section. Even the repeated notes need to be longer here.

Watch out for the crotchet rest in the LH in bar 16. The first LH note in this bar needs to release exactly on the 3rd RH quaver.


Although only one poco rit is marked, in bar 16, a slight easing at the end might also be stylish.


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




02/10/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 7 - A3

Sonata in G K.283 - II. Andante

W. A. Mozart.

Grade 7 Piano ABRSM 2019/2020 A3.



Teaching Notes


The first thing to notice is the articulation markings. Mozart is very specific. Right from the very first bar you will notice that he uses staccato and staccatissimo markings. 

However, keeping in context with the style of the piece, these - staccatissimo markings should be played like a normal staccato and those “marked” staccato, although separated, should be a little longer. 

Be careful also in bars 5 and 6, that you make each note marked, separated. It could be quite easy to slur these notes in pairs.

The same is true for bar 14. Make sure that you make a little lift after each group of 4 demisemiquavers before the final staccatissimo quaver.

The examiner will also be listening out for your length of notes. Going back to the first bar, notice the rest in the LH. Make sure you release the crotchet after the first beat. Also in bar 2, you need to hold the lower dotted crotchet it’s full length.

Next notice how Mozart is very specific with his dynamic markings. Sometimes they change where you might not be expecting it. A typical case in point is in bars 22 and 23. It would be tempting here, to play the semiquavers G sharp forte and the end of the preceding run. However you need to make the last note of each run piano.

Next I want to talk about, feminine endings. These are a feature of Mozart’s music where you need to lighten the 2nd note of a slurred group. Take for example the 2nd half of bar 9. Here you need to lean a little on the first note and lighten the second note in each slurred pair. This makes the dissonance on the beat, that resolves off the beat, that much more poignant.

Finally, a little note on trills. In the ABRSM copy, there is printed a realisation of the trill in bar 6, where the upper note of the trill is tied from the previous note. The same principle should be applied throughout this movement, with the exception of bar 21, where the upper note is played again at the beginning of the trill. If you are able, a faster trill than that suggested would be better. In this video performance a triplet demisemiquaver is used. Practice slowly with 6 triplet demisemiquavers against each LH quaver, not forgetting the turn at the end and then gradually speed up the tempo, maybe with a metronome until you can play it relaxed with no tension in your hand.

If you are playing this piece for your exam, please let me know in the comments below.

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.

Did you know....
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31/08/2018

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

Étude in A minor

Louise Farrenc.

ABRSM Grade 5 Piano 2019/2020.



Teaching Notes


This Étude 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.

Did you know....
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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