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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.


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13/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - B1

The Reef (No. 5 from in Southern Seas)

Walter Carroll.

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.





Teaching Notes


One of the things an examiner will award marks for, is when your performance conveys the style and character of the piece. "The Reef" is a very dramatic composition, so will need big contrast of dynamics. To achieve a strong fortissimo, try to use the weight of your arm, not being afraid to come away from the keys a little in the opening chords. As you leap off each chord, land ahead of time on the following chord, thus making the big changes of position easier. However, not only the fortissimo but also, the quieter sections need noting. The crescendo/decrescendo patterns in bars 5-8 & 15-18, need to be very wide ranging to imitate the crashing of the ocean waves against the Reef.

There are many staccato markings in this piece, which strangely are at the same time as pedal markings, which effectively "neutralizes" any staccato effect. Therefore, the purpose of these markings is to indicate the type of touch needed, rather than the acoustic effect achieved. However, be careful at the end of bar 10, the last beat is not pedalled and so these notes will sound staccato. You may also have noticed in the above video performance a slight ritardando in this bar.

In bars 19 & 20, there is yet another kind of articulation, that is slurs with staccato dots and these should be played separated but not too short.

Finally, notice that the last 4 bars should be a little slower.


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07/08/2018

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06/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - A3

Petit Jeu

Georg Philipp Telemann.

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.



Teaching Notes


First of all, notice the title of this piece. It translates as "Little Game" and so your aim should be to make this piece sound playful.


LH quavers are lightly detached throughout, in keeping with the style of music from this period. Also notice, that all dynamics and articulation marks are editorial. Feel free to be creative with dynamics, but as you do so, remember that music from this period uses stepped or terraced dynamics. It might be an idea to make  any changes on the half bar, that is after three quavers, which is where phrases start and finish. Play this video again and see if you can notice any variations from the ABRSM edition.


Talking of the starts of phrases, notice that this piece starts with a three quaver upbeat. Try not to make the notes in this "part bar" too heavy, (despite the editorial forte marking), but rather lead them into the first beat of the first complete bar, which is where the  natural accent should lie.

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03/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - A1

Bagatelle in C

Ludwig van Beethoven.

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.



Teaching Notes

The major section of this Bagatelle, poses a challenge in achieving a good legato. The official ABRSM Teaching Notes  for this piece suggest, pedalling between each quaver beat may help maintain the legato, but the tempo for this section is quite fast and especially at Grade 4 level it might cause more messiness than help. In any case, it would be a good idea to practice a good legato fingering initially WITHOUT pedal to start. Some notes are impossible to make legato between successive chords, such as when there are repeated notes, but the technique is to lift those notes which are repeated and make the rest of the chord legato.


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.

Get the Official ABRSM Teaching Notes HERE

Another thing to bear in mind is that the dynamics are editorial suggestions only. You may have noticed that the video performance above uses different dynamics to those printed in the ABRSM Grade 4 book. Have a listen again if you didn't catch this the first time. For example, I played bars 5 and 6 piano returning to a mezzo forte in bar 9. Feel free to experiment, the examiner will give credit for creativity that is in keeping with the style and character of the piece.
In the minor, middle section, always be sure to keep the LH quieter than and just supporting the RH. This tonal control will also help achieve a good mark in the exam.

Finally, notice again in the performance above, that the tempo is not always strict. There is often an easing of the tempo towards the ends of phrases. As before, listen again and see if you can spot this.


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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