Dance in Bulgarian Rhythm No. 4 from Mikrokosmos by Bartók

The ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) graded exam syllabus for 2015/6 is now readily available, and no doubt pianists across the world are selecting and practising the new set works. I went along to the launch a few weeks ago, held at Yamaha Music (formerly Chappell of Bond Street) in London, where…

A few thoughts on Practical Musicianship and Keyboard Harmony

Today’s post highlights an important yet often forgotten element in music education. Most pupils take instrumental exams at some point in their musical training and are therefore familiar with aural and sight-reading tests; nearly all practical exams have these elements, irrespective of level. However, a much broader based training is necessary if pupils are going to become rounded…

The Value of Music Theory

Last year I wrote a post about the importance of the Grade 5 Music Theory exam and it has become one of the most visited articles on my site. You can read it here. The main thrust of my argument is that theory, or the academic, written side of music, should never be side lined…

Practical tips for your music exam

December is upon us and the music exam period is now in full swing. Many may have already taken their practical exams, but for those who have yet to endure these worthwhile tests, here are a few ideas which might just help your preparation. I tend to focus on piano playing on my blog but…

Why is Grade 5 Theory so important?

In the last few weeks I have repeatedly been asked about the Grade 5 theory exam, so much so that it has inspired me to write this post. I am talking about the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) theory exam. The Grade 5 theory exam is significant to pupils because, if…

Do music examiners account for nerves?

Do music examiners account for nerves? Several readers have asked me this question recently. Everybody feels some kind of anxiety before an exam. It doesn’t really matter what type of test is being taken, it’s just the fear of being scrutinized. Some students deal with nerves better than others and the most effective way to…

Piano exam success: 9 key points

Several teacher friends and colleagues have recently asked me to suggest ways in which pupils can improve their chances of achieving good marks in their forthcoming piano exams. I examined for the ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) for 5 years both in the UK and abroad, and therefore, I have…