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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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  1. Hi Robert, for bar 19 and 20, those are phrase marking or staccato with slurs? If those are staccato with slurs, same goes to bar 9 and 10? But someone told me those are phrase marking, which is correct?

  2. Staccato with slurs is to be played semi-staccato. That is, detached but not as short as a normal staccato.