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Piano 2 Piano

Piano Grade 2 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales, arpeggios and broken chords, sight-reading and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Piano Grade 2 (2017 & 2018)

Piano requirements and information

Subject code: 01

The Piano requirements and information provide a summary of the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM graded Piano exams.

They are detailed within the exam sections below (Pieces, Scales, arpeggios and broken chords, Sight-reading and Aural tests), immediately after the grade-specific requirements, and are available to download here.

Further details, as well as administrative information relating to the exams, are given in ABRSM’s Information & Regulations which should be read before an exam booking is made.

Eligibility

There are eight grades for Piano and candidates may be entered for any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Piano. Candidates for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz instrument; for full details, including a list of accepted alternatives, see Regulation 1d.

Instruments

ABRSM Centres provide a piano suitable for exam purposes. The piano will be upright or grand. Practice before the exam cannot be arranged, but examiners will recognize that the instrument may be one to which candidates are unaccustomed. When exams are held at Visits (i.e. premises provided by the Applicant and visited by the examiner), a suitable piano must be provided. A digital piano may be used, provided it has a clearly recognizable piano tone, a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including a sustaining pedal.

In the exam

Examiners: Generally, there will be one examiner in the exam room; however, for training and quality assurance purposes, a second examiner may sometimes be present. Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece. They may also decide to stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment. Examiners will not issue, or comment on, a candidate’s result; instead, the mark form (and certificate for successful candidates) will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Before beginning: Candidates are welcome to adjust the piano stool height (the examiner will help with this if necessary) and to play a few notes to try out and get used to the piano.

Order of the exam: The individual sections of the exam may be undertaken in any order, at the candidate’s choice.

Further information

Pieces

Three pieces: one chosen by the candidate from each of the three Lists, A, B and C - 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Attwood download download Allegretto
1st movt from Sonatina No. 3 in F
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
2 Mozart
arr. Norton
download download Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen (For a Girl or a Woman)
from Die Zauberflöte, K. 620
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
3 Susato
arr. White
download download La Mourisque
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
4 J. Clarke download download The Prince of Denmark's March
 
Encore, Book 1
ABRSM

More details
No. 25 from Baroque Keyboard Pieces, Book 1
ABRSM

More details
5 L. Mozart download download Polonaise in C
 
P. 14 from L. Mozart: Notenbuch für Wolfgang
Schott (ED 3718)

More details
6 Telemann download download Dolce
from Fantasia No. 4 in G
 
Keynotes, Grades 1–2
Faber

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Reinecke download download Song
2nd movt from Serenade, Op. 183 No. 1
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
2 Smetana download download Waltz in G
No. 2 from Poklad melodií, Vol. 2
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
3 S. Wilson download download The Stowaway
No. 7 from Ship Ahoy!
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
4 Bortkiewicz download download Through the Desert
 
No. 19 from Romantic Piano Anthology, Vol. 1
Schott (ED 12912)

More details
5 Gedike download download Petite pièce
Op. 6 No. 11
 
No. 7 from Russian Music for Piano, Book 1
Chester (CH01987)

More details
6 Holst
arr. Benziger
download download Jupiter
from The Planets, Op. 32
 
Piano Mix 2
ABRSM

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Trad. Scottish
arr. Michael
download download The Piper o' Dundee
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
2 Prokofiev
arr. Blackwell
download download The Cat
from Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
3 Schmitz download download Gospel Flair
No. 43 from Mini Jazz, Vol. 1
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
4 Eben download download The Goose-girl in Winter
 
No. 30 from Eben: Hands Together – 52 Czech Folk-tunes
Faber

More details
5 Simone Plé download download La poule dans le jardin (The Hen in the Garden)
from Les chants et les jeux
 
No. 15 from Simone Plé: Les chants et les jeux
Lemoine

More details
6 Sarah Watts download download Rock Pools
 
Sarah Watts: Jazz Stix, Book 1
Kevin Mayhew (3611281)

More details
Sarah Watts: Razzamajazz Repertoire Piano
Kevin Mayhew (3612016)

More details

Piano requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Pedalling: The use and control of pedalling, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome rather than the strict observance of any printed pedal indications (which may therefore be adapted or omitted, as appropriate). Pieces whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on pedalling (whether marked in the music or not) should be avoided if appropriate pedalling cannot be managed.

Hand stretch: Candidates should choose the most suitable pieces for their hand size from the syllabus lists. If necessary, they may occasionally adapt the music by ‘spreading’ chords or omitting notes at wide stretches, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to syllabus@abrsm.ac.uk no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorized photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Scales, arpeggios and broken chords

21 marks

 

 

 

 

Scales (similar motion)

G, D, A, F majors

E, D, G minors
(natural or harmonic or melodic at candidate’s choice)

hands together and separately

2 octaves

Contrary-motion scales

C, E majors

hands beginning on the key-note (unison)

2 octaves

Chromatic scale

beginning on D

hands separately

1 octave

Arpeggios

G, D, A majors

D, G minors

hands separately

2 octaves

Broken chords

F major

E minor

hands separately, as pattern below:

2 octaves

Piano Grade 2 broken chord pattern

 


Piano requirements and information: Scales and arpeggios/broken chords

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio/broken chord etc. required at each grade, as well as aiming to hear, in Grades 6–8, a balance of the specified articulations. When asking for requirements, examiners will specify only:

  • the key (including minor form – harmonic or melodic – in the Grade 6–8 scales) or the starting note
  • left hand or right hand, or hands together
  • the articulation (Grades 6–8)

All scales, arpeggios and broken chords should:

  • be played from memory
  • ascend and descend according to the specified range (and pattern)
  • be prepared legato, unless the syllabus specifies staccato (or both)
  • be played without pedalling
  • be played without undue accentuation and at a pace that is consistent with accuracy and distinctness

Candidates are free to use any fingering that produces a successful musical outcome.

Candidates are free to start at any octave, provided the required ranges are covered. For all ‘hands together’ requirements, the hands should be one octave apart, unless otherwise indicated.

Arpeggios and dominant sevenths are required in root position only, except where otherwise indicated. Scales in thirds or a third apart should begin with the tonic as the lower note, while scales in sixths or a sixth apart should begin with the tonic as the upper note.

Books of scale requirements are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Sight-reading

21 marks

Piano requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music which they have not previously seen. They will be given up to half a minute in which to look though and, if they wish, try out all or any part of the test before they are required to play it for assessment. The table below shows the introduction of elements at each grade. Please note that these parameters are presented cumulatively, i.e. once introduced they apply for all subsequent grades (albeit within a logical progression of difficulty).

Grade

Length (bars)

Time

Keys

Hand position

Other features that may be included

Grade 1

4

4/4
3/4

C, G, F majors
A, D minors

Each hand:

  • playing separately
  • in 5-finger position

Simple:

  • dynamics
  • note values
  • articulations

Occasional accidentals (within minor keys only)

6

2/4

C, G, F majors
A, D minors

Each hand:

  • playing separately
  • in 5-finger position

Simple:

  • dynamics
  • note values
  • articulations

Occasional accidentals (within minor keys only)

Grade 2

As Grade 1

As Grade 1

D major
E, G minors

Hands playing together

  • dotted notes
  • tied notes

For practice purposes, books of specimen sight-reading tests are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. To clap the pulse of a piece played by the examiner, and to identify whether it is in two time or three time. The examiner will start playing the passage, and the candidate should join in as soon as possible, clapping in time and giving a louder clap on the strong beats. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time or three time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.
  2. To sing as ‘echoes’ three phrases played by the examiner. The phrases will be two bars long, in a major key, and within the range of tonic–dominant. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note (the tonic) and then count in two bars. After the examiner has played each phrase, the candidate should sing back the echo without a pause, keeping in time.
  3. To identify a change in either pitch or rhythm during a phrase played by the examiner. The phrase will be two bars long, in a major key. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the tonic and then count in two bars. The examiner will play the phrase twice, making the change in the second playing, after which the candidate should identify the change by describing it, or singing/clapping. If necessary, the examiner will play both versions of the phrase again (although this will affect the assessment).
  4. To answer questions about two features of a piece played by the examiner. Before playing, the examiner will tell the candidate which two features the questions will be about. The first will be one of the following: dynamics (loud/quiet, or sudden/gradual changes), articulation (smooth/detached); the second will be tempo (becoming slower/faster, or staying the same).

 


Piano requirements and information: Aural tests

Listening lies at the heart of all good music-making. Developing aural awareness is fundamental to musical training because having a ‘musical ear’ impacts on all aspects of musicianship. Singing, both silently in the head and out loud, is one of the best ways to develop the ‘musical ear’. It connects the internal imagining of sound, the ‘inner ear’, with the external creation of it, without the necessity of mechanically having to ‘find the note’ on an instrument (important though that connection is). By integrating aural activities in imaginative ways in the lesson, preparation for the aural tests within an exam will be a natural extension of what is already an essential part of the learning experience.

In the exam

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams. The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is the object. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).

Assessment

A number of tests allow for a second attempt or for an additional playing by the examiner, if necessary. Also, where there is hesitation on the part of the candidate, the examiner will be ready to prompt, if necessary. In any such cases, this will affect the assessment. Marks are not awarded for each individual test nor deducted for mistakes but reflect the candidate’s overall response in this section.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in new editions (from 2011) of Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice, available for purchase from music retailers and from the ABRSM music shop.

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates may opt to respond to alternative tests in place of the standard tests, if requested at the time of entry. Further information, including the syllabus for the alternative tests, is available at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds.

Piano Grade 2 Piano

Piano Grade 2 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales, arpeggios and broken chords, sight-reading and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Piano Grade 2 (2015 & 2016)

Piano requirements and information

Subject code: 01

The Piano requirements and information provide a summary of the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM Piano exams.

They are detailed within the exam sections below (Pieces, Scales, arpeggios and broken chords, Sight-reading and Aural tests), immediately after the grade-specific requirements, and are available to download here.

Further details, as well as administrative information relating to the exams, are given in ABRSM’s Information & Regulations which should be read before an exam booking is made.

Eligibility

There are eight grades for Piano and candidates may be entered in any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Piano. Candidates for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz subject; for full details, including a list of accepted alternatives, see Regulation 1d.

Instruments

ABRSM Centres provide a piano suitable for exam purposes. The piano will be upright or grand. Practice before the exam cannot be arranged, but examiners will recognize that the instrument may be one to which candidates are unaccustomed. When exams are held at Visits (i.e. premises provided by the Applicant and visited by the examiner), a suitable piano must be provided. A digital piano may be used, provided it has a clearly recognizable piano tone, a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including a sustaining pedal.

In the exam

Examiners: Generally, there will be one examiner in the exam room; however, for training and quality assurance purposes, a second examiner may sometimes be present. Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece. They may also decide to stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment. Examiners will not issue, or comment on, a candidate’s result; instead, the mark form (and certificate for successful candidates) will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Before beginning: Candidates are welcome to take a few moments to try out the piano, and to adjust the piano stool (the examiner will be happy to help with this if necessary).

Order of the exam: The individual sections of the exam may be undertaken in any order, at the candidate’s choice.

Further information

Pieces

Three pieces: one chosen by the candidate from each of the three Lists, A, B and C - 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Handel download download Impertinence
HWV 494
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
2 Schale download download Minuet in C
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
3 Vanhal download download Cantabile
1st movt from Sonatina No. 4 in G, W. XIII:125
(turns optional)
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
4 J. Clarke download download A Trumpet Minuet
 
No. 3 from A Keyboard Anthology, 1st Series, Book 1
ABRSM

More details
5 L. Mozart download download Allegro in D
 
Studio 21 (1st Series), Vol. 1
Universal (UE 17954)

More details
6 Mozart
arr. Bullard
download download The Bird-catcher's Song
from The Magic Flute
 
Pianoworks: A Night at the Theatre, arr. Bullard
OUP

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 J. Ferrer
arr. Waterman and Harewood
download download Sérénade espagnole (Spanish Serenade)
Op. 34
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
2 Vitalij Neugasimov download download Lullaby
from Pianoheads Collection 2
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
3 Schumann download download Gukkuk im Versteck (Hide-and-Seek)
from Album für die Jugend, Op. 68
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
4 Fly download download Hot Rolls
No. 8 from The Windmill
 
No. 8 from Fly: The Windmill
Forsyth

More details
5 Lysenko download download Raindrops
 
No. 5 from Splash!
Breitkopf & Härtel (EB 8796)

More details
6 Nicolai Podgornov download download The Little Flower
from Nicolai Podgornov's Graded Pieces for Piano, Vol. 1
 
Nicolai Podgornov: Nicolai Podgornov's Graded Pieces for Piano, Vol. 1
Universal (UE 34551)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Johnny Mercer
arr. Iles
download download I'm an Old Cowhand
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
2 B. Hummel download download Prelude
No. 1 from 10 Klavierstücke für Kinder, Op. 56b
(observing repeat)
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
3 Kaneda download download Gachou no Koushin (March of the Geese)
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 2
ABRSM

More details
4 Carol Barratt download download Lazy River
from Get It Together!
 
Carol Barratt: Get It Together!
Chester (CH 77594)

More details
Carol Barratt: Chester's Easiest Jazz
Chester (CH 61273)

More details
5 Garścia download download Twisters
from Miniatures for Piano, Op. 5
 
Garścia: Miniatures for Piano, Op. 5
PWM (7490)

More details
6 Heather Hammond download download On the Ball
from Cool Piano Sport, Grade 1–2
 
Heather Hammond: Cool Piano Sport, Grade 1–2
Kevin Mayhew

More details

Piano requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Pedalling: The use and control of pedalling, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome rather than the strict observance of any printed pedal indications (which may therefore be adapted or omitted, as appropriate). Pieces whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on pedalling (whether marked in the music or not) should be avoided if appropriate pedalling cannot be managed.

Hand stretch: Candidates should choose the most suitable pieces for their hand size from the syllabus lists. If necessary, they may occasionally adapt the music by ‘spreading’ chords or omitting notes at wide stretches, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to the Syllabus Department no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorized photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Scales, arpeggios and broken chords

21 marks

 

 

 

 

Scales (similar motion)

G, D, A, F majors

E, D, G minors
(natural or harmonic or melodic at candidate’s choice)

hands together and separately

2 octaves

Contrary-motion scales

C, E majors

hands beginning on the key-note (unison)

2 octaves

Chromatic scale

beginning on D

hands separately

1 octave

Arpeggios

G, D, A majors

D, G minors

hands separately

2 octaves

Broken chords

F major

E minor

hands separately, as pattern below:

2 octaves

Piano Grade 2 broken chord pattern

 


Piano requirements and information: Scales and arpeggios/broken chords

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio/broken chord etc. required at each grade, as well as aiming to hear, in Grades 6–8, a balance of the specified articulations. When asking for requirements, examiners will specify only:

  • the key (including minor form – harmonic or melodic – in the Grade 6–8 scales) or the starting note
  • left hand or right hand, or hands together
  • the articulation (Grades 6–8)

All scales, arpeggios and broken chords should:

  • be played from memory
  • ascend and descend according to the specified range (and pattern)
  • be prepared legato, unless the syllabus specifies staccato (or both)
  • be played without pedalling
  • be played without undue accentuation and at a pace that is consistent with accuracy and distinctness

Candidates are free to use any fingering that produces a successful musical outcome.

Candidates are free to start at any octave, provided the required ranges are covered. For all ‘hands together’ requirements, the hands should be one octave apart, unless otherwise indicated.

Arpeggios and dominant sevenths are required in root position only, except where otherwise indicated. Scales in thirds or a third apart should begin with the tonic as the lower note, while scales in sixths or a sixth apart should begin with the tonic as the upper note.

Books of scale requirements are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Sight-reading

21 marks

A four- or six-bar piece, time and key signatures as Grade 1, with the addition of D major, E and G minors, and with each hand in a five-finger position and playing together. Some dotted and tied notes may be encountered.


Piano requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music which they have not previously seen. They will be given up to half a minute in which to look through and, if they wish, try out all or any part of the test before they are required to play it for assessment. The main technical parameters are outlined for the grade (see above); once introduced, parameters apply for all subsequent grades (albeit with a logical progression of difficulty). For practice purposes, books of specimen sight-reading tests are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. To clap the pulse of a piece played by the examiner, and to identify whether it is in two time or three time. The examiner will start playing the passage, and the candidate should join in as soon as possible, clapping in time and giving a louder clap on the strong beats. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time or three time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.
  2. To sing as ‘echoes’ three phrases played by the examiner. The phrases will be two bars long, in a major key, and within the range of tonic–dominant. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note (the tonic) and then count in two bars. After the examiner has played each phrase, the candidate should sing back the echo without a pause, keeping in time.
  3. To identify a change in either pitch or rhythm during a phrase played by the examiner. The phrase will be two bars long, in a major key. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the tonic and then count in two bars. The examiner will play the phrase twice, making the change in the second playing, after which the candidate should identify the change by describing it, or singing/clapping. If necessary, the examiner will play both versions of the phrase again (although this will affect the assessment).
  4. To answer questions about two features of a piece played by the examiner. Before playing, the examiner will tell the candidate which two features the questions will be about. The first will be one of the following: dynamics (loud/quiet, or sudden/gradual changes), articulation (smooth/detached); the second will be tempo (becoming slower/faster, or staying the same).

 


Piano requirements and information: Aural tests

Listening lies at the heart of all good music-making. Developing aural awareness is fundamental to musical training because having a ‘musical ear’ impacts on all aspects of musicianship. Singing, both silently in the head and out loud, is one of the best ways to develop the ‘musical ear’. It connects the internal imagining of sound, the ‘inner ear’, with the external creation of it, without the necessity of mechanically having to ‘find the note’ on an instrument (important though that connection is). By integrating aural activities in imaginative ways in the lesson, preparation for the aural tests within an exam will be a natural extension of what is already an essential part of the learning experience.

In the exam

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams. The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is the object. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).

Assessment

A number of tests allow for a second attempt or for an additional playing by the examiner, if necessary. Also, where there is hesitation on the part of the candidate, the examiner will be ready to prompt, if necessary. In any such cases, this will affect the assessment. Marks are not awarded for each individual test nor deducted for mistakes but reflect the candidate’s overall response in this section.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in new editions (from 2011) of Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice, available for purchase from music retailers and from the ABRSM music shop.

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates may opt to respond to alternative tests in place of the standard tests, if requested at the time of entry. Further information, including the syllabus for the alternative tests, is available at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds.

Sheet music & audio

Supporting applications

Piano Practice Partner

Piano Practice Partner helps you by playing one hand so you can play the other as you learn.

Scales Trainer

Scales Trainer is an app that helps increase fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

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