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26 September 2022

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Grade 2 ABRSM Piano 2023 - 2024 Teaching Notes

Ecossaise in G Wo0 23
Ludwig van Beethoven arr Czerny

Teaching Notes
Careful attention needs to paid to the articulation in this piece. The LH is detached throughout and the RH should be slurred only where marked. However, notice that in the footnote some of the articulation markings are editorial and in particular that in bar 4 is not how the above performance is interpreted. 

On the contrary, the first quaver of bar 4 is separated from the following crotchet to keep consistency with other bars that have a similar rhythm (for example 2, 6, 13 and 14).

Likewise, the dynamics are open to interpretation. Those in bars 4 and 7 are again editorial, and it could be argued that they are too fussy, whereas keeping the first 8 bars "p" throughout provides a more effective contrasting "f" on the third line. 

Gavotte in F 

J. L. Dussek

Teaching Notes
As with the first piece, printed dynamics and articulation are editorial suggestions only and you will notice in the above performance some variations from what is printed on the page. Don't be afraid to deviate from the book, indeed the examiner will be impressed by a thoughtful creative interpretation.

In this performance, as is stylistic with much music from the period, the next to shortest note (in this case a crotchet), is played in a separated style. 

Notice also that bar 9 is played "p", which makes an effective echo of the melody heard at the beginning.

Finally, notice the very subtle easing of the tempo in bar 24, just before the return of the main melody in bar 25.

Tarantella: from "Little Stories"

Agnieszka Lasko

Teaching Notes
Pay attention to the exact lengths of notes in this piece. For example, the LH is bar 1 is to be played very short, but in bar 2, the dotted minim needs to be held for it's full length. Similarly in bars 7 and 8 there is a contrast between long and short notes that needs to be observed.

In bar 10, the ABRSM edition suggests taking the top note with the LH, but as long as the effect sounds correct, I would propose that it is just as easy, if not easier to reach this with your RH. 

Also note at this point that the pedal from the previous bar 9, must release exactly on the beginning of the bar, so as to achieve the staccato effect.

Seeing as repeats are not required in the ABRSM exams, bar 25 should be played "ff" ignoring the "2nd time p" marking.

Forget-me-not Waltz
Stephen Duro

Teaching Notes
The main thing to focus on in the performance of this piece is balancing the voicing. That means basically that the melody should always be more prominent than the accompaniment.

Be careful with rests. For example in bar 8, the old phrase ends on the first beat, where both hands release. The same is true after the second beat of bar 16, second beat of bar 22 and the first beat of bar 24. Also watch out when the RH continues playing over a LH rest such as in bars 28 and 30.

Dynamics are a bit sparse in the book apart from the opening "mf" and a crescendo / diminuendo over the last two lines, so you may notice a little extra shading in the above performance, like the slightly louder repeat of the melody in bar 11 easing off again before bar 17.

Finally notice the directions "rit" (bar 16) and "rall al fine" (bar 29).

Lullaby - No.5 from "Six Sketches"
C. V. Stanford

Teaching Notes
Phrase marks not only tell you which notes are joined together, but also where to breathe. The general rule is that the last note of a slurred group is lifted and you will notice in the above performance this helps add "breaths" to the music, as if you were literally singing it. Note particularly the lifts in the LH of bars 19 and 20.

The opening is marked "p", but leave yourself room to get even quieter in bar 5 where it is "pp". The climax of the piece is reached in bar 13, so don't be shy of using a fairly firm tone here in the crescendo leading up to the "mf".

Finally, observe the subtle dotted minims in the lower part of the LH in bars 8 and 12. The bass note should sustain right to the end of the bar. 

As an optional extra, but quite stylistic, an easing of the tempo with a rit would fit in nicely in the last couple of bars. (Think what the title was!!)

Kangding Love Song
Trad. Chinese arr. Austin Yip

Teaching Notes
Always make sure that the melody sings out over the accompaniment. In other words, work hard to play the LH softer than the RH for the first none bars.

As mentioned in the previous piece, the general rule is that the last note of a slurred group is lifted. In practice, that means that the 2nd  beat "G" in bar 2 is NOT connected to the 3rd beat, but I guarantee that most beginner students will try to play this bar as a three note slur rather than a two note one.

From bar 10, be very careful about the length of the RH minims, they all start on the 2nd beat but must continue until the end of the 3rd beat, that is overlapping the LH notes on this 3rd beat. Again, a common mistake is likely to be that students will release the RH early as the LH starts in each of bars 10-12 and 14-17.

In bar 18, be careful to observe the LH rest on the 2nd beat, in fact, both hands should release together in this bar on the first beat.

Railroad Blues 
David Blackwell

Teaching Notes
The instruction at the beginning indicates that the dotted quaver / semiquaver rhythm should be interpreted as a swing rhythm, that is dividing the beat into the ration of 2:1. This will then flow naturally with bars that have a triplet written in them (for example, bar 3). However, for consistency, the very last two quavers before the tied minim should also be "swung". 

Notice the marking "heavy" under the LH at the beginning. This applies specifically to the lower chords, which is unusual because, in general it is considered better to not let chordal accompaniments get too overpowering for the melody, but in this case, it is deliberate and descriptive of the "chugging" train.

Otherwise, the piece is simple and self explanatory, just watch out for some of the rhythmic details such as the LH rests in bars 11 and 23 and the long RH semibreve in bar 12.

Mozzie: from Easy Little Peppers 
Elissa Milne

This piece will need careful articulation. On the first line it is easy enough to make the LH staccato while the RH is just holding the long chord, but more skill will be required when one hand is detached and the other legato such as the 2nd beats of bars 5-7 for example.

In bar  9, don't miss the small rise and fall in dynamics.

Another feature of this piece is the accented notes. It might help to imagine these as "mosquito bites" (note the title of the piece).

Kristina Arakelyan

Teaching Notes
A good performance of this piece will depend on understanding where the melody is. As a general rule, the busy quavers are NOT the melody, but rather it is the longer notes. Let's start the "investigation" at bar 9, where there is only one voice, marked "espress", obviously the melody right? Now look at the LH part of bars 1 and 2, the same notes, i.e. the melody. So be sure to bring these longer notes to the forefront and conversely the quavers keep softer in a supporting role. 

A slight "rit" can be applied to bar 7, similar to the one actually prescribed at the end.

Watch out for the quaver rests in the LH of 21 and 22, there should be a moment at the end of both these bars where only the RH can be heard.

Finally, in bar 23, notice the the last three notes are all tied into the next bar. You will obviously need to release them to play the crossed over top E in the last bar, but make sure all three are being held as the pedal is applied in bar 24 (then you can let go).

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