Apr 26 4 Piano Exam Syllabuses There is an abundance of piano exam syllabuses out there. It can be confusing and overwhelming when choosing which exam your students should sit. Some are based around traditional syllabuses, with classical repertoire, scales and other technical exercises. Other more modern syllabuses test rock, pop and jazz skills.
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Linked below is a copy of the online syllabus which is free to use and has all this but in more detail. Grade 1 piano: overview So first, an overview of grade 1. Grade 1 piano does not mean beginner — there is still what I like to call musical kindergarten, which, depending on your age and commitment, lasts anywhere between 6 months and 3 years more on the six month end as an adult, closer to the three year end as a child.
I understand. There are a lot of great pieces at higher levels. But you gotta walk before you can run. Grade 1 is all about developing hand independence, as well as musical sensitivity — conveying a scene or an emotion through music. List A There are four categories — technically five — for your pieces. The first category is List A, which at a grade 1 level is anything written between mids to the s.
These pieces, to me, are the most difficult — they require precision of playing, and both hands are usually doing completely different things, which builds hand independence.
To make playing these pieces more enjoyable, I suggest research into the dance form — what is a minuet? What is a bourree?
Once you understand the dance, they style, when it was played and for whom, the title has more meaning, which makes it more fun. Also do some research into the composer, or the collection the piece is from — go beyond just playing the notes written on the page.
Many of these pieces are littered with expression markings like crescendos, diminuendos, accents, staccatos, and so on — and there lies the challenge. These pieces are in preparation for pieces by guys like Chopin — the really expressive romantic repertoire that starts coming around in grade 6 or so. List C Then we hit List C pieces. These are inventions — an invention just means a piece based on imitation. This is the premise of what a Bach invention is, only his are infinitely more complicated and details.
These are little pieces designed to build a particular skill — like maybe playing staccato, or playing chromatic scales. They target an area of technique. Basically, if you do an exam, you have the option of substituting a pop song for the study. You can play a pop song that is either at your grade level, or the grade immediately higher so grade 2. It depends. Some of these pop songs actually have very complex rhythms, and are almost always longer pages as opposed to 1.
So you need to know how to, say, play C chord, and then invert it a few times. You can also take a look at the Grade 1 Technique book, which has everything written out. In the syllabus, it gives specifics, like how fast the scales are expected to be, and what specific ones you need to learn, so definitely check that out. Sight reading involves reading a song fragment on the piano, as well as reading a rhythm to clap — both are going to be easier — sight reading usually steps down a level or two.
Unfortunately for the ear tests, you kind of need a teacher or friend to play the examples for you — someone who at least understands the very basics of piano. Another route is to get books that include these grade 1 pieces — these books often have songs at a variety of levels, not just grade 1. So for example, you could get this Kabalevsky book, which has a few pieces at a grade 1 level, but it also has some preparatory level pieces, grade 2 and even grade 3.
This is a good route to take if you want to have a more interesting piano book collection, or if you want to diversify beyond the pieces provided in the Grade 1 books. I always love your feedback, and want to help you out as much as I can.
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