Exams

Keeping exam repertoire fresh

With exams looming this term, students may be feeling as if they have been living with their exam pieces for aeons. I remember this feeling well, the same pieces of music facing me at my lessons, week after week..... Nothing beats being well prepared for an exam: knowing your repertoire inside out, being entirely secure… Continue reading Keeping exam repertoire fresh

Exams, Music theory, Piano teaching, Studying music

Aural Masterclass Part 2 – Cadences

Cadences are the punctuation marks in music (see my earlier post on Musical Punctuation Marks). Some cadences are very final (.) while others pause for only a moment (,). Some introduce the performer/listener to a new idea or section in the music (:), others leave the listener wanting more (....). Cadences can asks questions (?),… Continue reading Aural Masterclass Part 2 – Cadences

Exams, Piano teaching, Practising, Studying music

Aural Masterclass Part 1 – Intervals

The first in an occasional series of posts to help students prepare for aural tests. Understanding intervals is an important aspect of playing and studying music, and this is why music exams test candidates on their knowledge of intervals. An interval is the distance between one note and another, and is always described as a… Continue reading Aural Masterclass Part 1 – Intervals

Exams, Piano teaching, Practising

Picture Scales & Arpeggios

Here are some useful visual aids for students and teachers. I have found these picture scales and arpeggios particularly helpful with younger students or those who find it easier to visualise the notes on the keyboard rather than reading from the score. They are relevant for ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall exams. Click on the link… Continue reading Picture Scales & Arpeggios

Exams, Students

Guest Post: Piano exams success – 9 key points

With the spring exam season upon us, I asked a friend and colleague of mine, Melanie Spanswick, who has experience as an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), to offer some tips on how to do well. Here are her 9 key points for exam success:   Preparation is… Continue reading Guest Post: Piano exams success – 9 key points

Exams, Practising, Students

How to play…. ‘When Paris Dreams’

This brief, yet very atmospheric piece is from the alternative repertoire list of Trinity Guildhall Grade 2 piano, and would suit a more mature student or one who can give it the requisite wistfulness. In my edition of Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams), the date under the composer's name is 1939, which immediately conjures… Continue reading How to play…. ‘When Paris Dreams’

Exams, Practising, Repertoire, Students

How to play…. ‘Petit Mystère’

This beautiful miniature is a wonderful introduction to the impressionistic music of French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, and even the early compositions of Olivier Messiaen. The composer, Simone Plé, was contemporary with all three composers. She published two volumes of music for children. The title gives a clue to the mood and atmosphere… Continue reading How to play…. ‘Petit Mystère’

Exams, Performing, Piano teaching, Practising, Repertoire, Students

How to Play….. Song of Twilight

This charming and haunting piece by Japanese composer Yoshinao Nakada blends eastern and western culture in musical form. A spacious right hand melody is hung over the steady, almost hypnotic pulse of left hand chords. Separate hands practice is crucial in this piece. You want to achieve a sense of the melody floating over the… Continue reading How to Play….. Song of Twilight

Exams, Piano teaching, Practising, Repertoire, Students

How to play……Allegro non Troppo

What a treat for the left hand this piece is! A moody "'cello" melody with plenty of scope for expressive shaping, with an agitated right hand figure of repeated chords, this piece is redolent of Chopin's Étude Opus 25 no. 7. Separate hands practice is crucial here - and not just in the early stages… Continue reading How to play……Allegro non Troppo