List of entrants for the non-competitive harpsichord performance in Dulwich Village

Our first performance opportunity of the 2017/2018 academic year is ‘Hands on Harpsichord‘, an event for pianists to try out the harpsichord in a workshop and then participate in an informal recital. You may already be learning a suitable piece as part of your graded exam preparation. Do check with me if you are not sure. Music written in the 17th & 18th centuries is the most suitable for the harpsichord. If you do not have a suitable piece, there is a selection of Easy Baroque pieces below graded in order of difficulty. This event is supported by Southwark Council which enables us to keep the entry costs low for performers and completely free for audience members.

Ticket Booking:
Junior Class: Grades 1 to 5 (8 spaces available)
Senior Class: Grade 6+ (6 spaces available)
Performer tickets can be booked online only and the ticketing site shows you how many tickets are left if you select the drop-down menu. Once all the performer tickets are allocated, the event will be marked as sold out. Audience members are admitted free of charge and there is plenty of seating. Children of all ages welcome.

Students to enter the Junior Class:
Micah, Maisy, Scarlett (already entered), Luke, Thomas, William, Oliver, Edie, Susanna, Boo, Alex Mc, Lauren, Bonnie, Rachel, Yuchen, Benjamin, Edward, Samson, Elliot, Kellehers, Evan, Orla, Lucille, Gabriel, Edie L, Connor, Nsikan, Isabelle, Ella W, Theo M, Yola, Sam, Freddie

Students to enter the Senior class:
Rowan, Hannah,

Pre-Grade 1 Level:
Little Sonata by Wilton is manageable for any student that is working on, or has passed, Prep or Initial pre-Grade 1. This shouldn’t take more than a few lessons to learn and master fluently.

Pre-Grade 1 or Grade 1 level:
Old German Dance by Praetorius
Prelude by Purcell
Quadrille by Haydn

Grade 2:
King William’s March by Clarke

Pieces for intermediate graded students can be found in this compilation of pieces from the 17th & 18th centuries:

Student Resource Centre

As we receive a high volume of emails, please check here for an answer to your query. The most common questions relate to the timetable for lessons; readiness for exams; the scholarship process and rescheduling lessons.

When Do Lessons Start/Finish?
Our timetable is always viewable on our web site. In addition to this, printed copies are available from you teacher. We also attach the timetable to every group email sent at least once each half-term.
[Click to View Timetable] [Click to View Summer 2017 Newsletter]

Why Can’t I Reschedule My Lesson?
We are unable to accommodate requests to reschedule weekly lessons if you are unable to attend. However we will do our best to inform you of any cancellations that may be coming up and you are welcome to come at those times although we do not often get much notice when a student is absent. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to let your teacher know if you are unable to attend a lesson.
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Why Can’t I Change My Lesson Time Mid-Year?
The timetable takes many hours to put together. For the 2017/2018 timetable, it took us nearly a month of changes and over 100 emails back and forth between students and teachers to accommodate the requests for lesson time changes. As a small business, we can only cope with this huge administrative burden once a year when we offer all students the chance to request a new lesson time. The new timetable is published in July and your lesson time remains unchanged for 2017/2018. If you schedule another activity in your lesson time, there is no guarantee that we are able to find you a suitable lesson time so please do not presume we can rearrange the timetable. Each teacher works on a set day and not all teachers live locally so they are not available 7 days a week.

How Long Until I Can Sit Grade 1 Piano?
There is no simple answer to this question. Each student learns at a different pace and shows a different level of commitment to learning the piano. Generally, students that are able to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to practising the piano on a frequent basis and have the support of their parents, will see the greatest amount of progress. Some of the things that will hinder progress include: Missing lots of lessons; forgetting to bring books to lessons; not buying the required books; not completing the set tasks each week; lack of a regular practice routine. This list is not exhaustive!
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Can I Get a Music Scholarship?
Many of our pianists will be working towards music scholarships for state secondary schools such as Habs, Prendergast and Kingsdale. These schools use either a Music Aptitude two-stage test or an audition. Music Scholarships, as the name imply, are for musicians that display a a passion and enthusiasm for music above and beyond the basic level. With the pressure for school places in Dulwich being extremely high, the schools are fortunate to receive a large volume of applications. The musicians that are most successful are the ones that have a track record of performing in youth initiatives such as Animate Orchestra, singing with the Multi-Story Orchestra, just to name a few of the local opportunities. The latter requires no formal music training and is a great opportunity to get involved with local music making in Peckham. The system for private school music scholarships is more focussed on levels of attainment and musicians hoping to be considered for these would require two instruments, one at least Grade 3, the other around Grade 5 as a minimum, but most candidates offer a much higher standard. It would be expected that you are playing at least at Merit level, if not Distinction level on both instruments.
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When Can I Sit My Exam?

Preparing for an exam is like preparing for a marathon – there is lots of focussed preparation to be done over a long period of time, you can’t leave it all to the last minute and hope for the best on the exam day! We expect our musicians to have a committed regular (ideally daily) practice routine that allows them to make significant progress from week-to-week. Students that are taking over 4 terms to learn their graded exam requirements may be struggling to keep up with the demands of the exam and your teacher may suggest having a break until ready to tackle the exam. Your teacher is always monitoring your progress and attainment during lessons and we meet each term to discuss which students are showing readiness for exams. All students must be able to pass a mock exam in order to be entered for the exam. This ensures that you have all areas of the exam to a good degree of fluency and can spend the few weeks between the exam entry deadline and the actual exam refining and polishing the requirements. We believe it is better to be well-prepared and achieve the best mark that you can than rushing through from grade to grade and achieving a lower mark. A great sense of confidence and self-satisfaction is achieved by knowing you have prepared thoroughly, performed several times in public and have given the best performance that you can on exam day.
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How Long to Get to Grade 1?

How Long To Get to Grade 1 Piano?
How Long To Get to Grade 1 Piano?

How Long to Get to Grade 1? This is a question I am often asked, particularly by new students that have yet to start lessons, or students that have had a handful of lessons. The reason behind the parent asking is usually because there is a desire for the student to enter a local secondary school in the East Dulwich area on a Music Aptitude place or a Music Scholarship. You can read more about the scholarship process here:

In this article, I will discuss the journey a pianist must take to be ready for Grade 1. I believe that it is the hardest grade to achieve as there is much to conquer before being ready to sit the exam. The exam is so much more than just learning the three pieces, scales and the supporting tests. It is about creating a well-rounded pianist with enthusiasm and interest for all things piano.

  1. Do you have enough time to practise daily?
    A pianist that is able to practise daily will make the greatest progress week-on-week. By the time you are starting Grade 1, you will have a lot of material to cover and should be practising at least 20 minutes a day. Effective practising means that you are able to work with your teacher to identify the weak spots in your pieces/scales/supporting tests and isolate these, work on any errors, and return to your lesson the following week with an improved version of what you played last week. If your teacher has identified errors such as incorrect fingers/notes/rhythms/unsteady pulse etc. but your practising routine does not correct these, then you will be embedding these mistakes and they become harder to undo. It is worth taking the time to learn new material slowly and thoroughly instead of rushing through things hastily and inaccurately. Do not expect to be able to play your pieces within a couple of weeks.
  2. Listen to your pieces regularly.
    Your teacher can record the pieces for you if you ask your parent to bring their phone to the lesson. All exam boards offer the pieces for download, or your can purchase a CD. The local music shop on Grove Vale in East Dulwich has all the exam materials in stock. Listening to your pieces will make the tune more familiar to you which usually helps you learn the piece faster.
  3. Go and hear live music!
    Whether you are attending one of the many free recitals that can be found every day of the week in London, or whether you are going to a local music festival or student recital as an audience member or participant, do make the time to hear music live. If you are learning an instrument but have never seen and heard it performed, you won’t really understand all the capabilities of the instrument. It is also good to know about other instruments, not just the piano. This will be particularly relevant if you are aiming for a music scholarship as you will be expected to have a wider understanding of music beyond your chosen instrument.
  4. Perform at every opportunity.
    We know how vital it is for young musicians to perform, even if they have only had a few lessons. We create events that are inclusive to beginner pianists. Performing helps build your confidence as it can be daunting to perform in public to an audience, but it gets easier each time you do it. Exam day often brings about a case of the nerves and pianists that have performed in public regularly will feel confident and in-control on exam day.
  5. Learn lots of pieces, not just the 3 exam pieces.
    Whilst you only have to learn three pieces for your exam, the well-rounded pianist will have a far larger range of repertoire under their belt. We encourage all students to play duets with their teacher as this is a fantastic way to help you learn to play in time and keep a steady beat. This is absolutely vital for exam day as the examiner will be listening keenly for a steady pulse in your pieces, sight-reading and scales. In addition to learning exam pieces, your sight-reading skills can be developed by learning easy, short pieces alongside your three exam pieces. Whether or not you choose to do sight-reading in the earlier grades, you will still need to develop this skill as it will be tested in the higher grades. The ability to sight-read is a core skill to learning any instrument.
  6. Learn your music theory.
    Understanding music theory and how it applies to your exam work will help you with learning the pieces, scales and supporting tests as these all expect a good understanding of key signatures, intervals, dynamics and other basic theory concepts. The Musical Knowledge section of the exam will give you the opportunity to speak to the examiner and demonstrate your knowledge of your pieces. Working through the theory grades alongside your piano exam is always a good idea. We recommend the theory work books by Ying Ying Ng.
  7. Know your notes!
    The basics of note-reading must be firmly in place before we start working on the Trinity Initial Pre-Grade 1 Piano Exam. Students that are struggling to read both clefs on the piano will make much slower progress in preparation for the Trinity Initial exam. Pianists that cannot proficiently read music will be encouraged to learn lots of repertoire and work on note-reading fluency before starting the Grade 1 exam. The demands of the Grade 1 pieces will mean that it would be very difficult to make progress with the pieces without having a good level of note-reading fluency and recall.
  8. Trinity Initial Pre-Grade 1 exam
    We use a fantastic pre-grade 1 exam called Trinity Initial Piano that is the exact same format as the Grade 1 exam. The use of the exam allows the student to have a gentle introduction to the graded exam system. It also gives the teacher a good indication of how much preparation and progress is made each week in preparing for the goal of an exam. Some students that struggle to prepare for the pre-Grade 1 exam may prefer a less structured approach to lessons as the Graded exam system does require a good degree of focus, discipline and commitment.

Now that you have some idea of the requirements of the graded pianist, then the question of “how long to get to Grade 1” will vary hugely from one pianist to another. A keen beginner around age 8  that is well-prepared for the lesson each week and has a good sense of confidence with performing in public could aim for Trinity Initial within the first 18 months, and then Grade 1 another 12-18 months after that. Younger beginner pianists aged 5 to 7 may take longer to grasp the basics of piano playing so it is often 2 years till Initial Piano is started, and then usually another 12 – 18 months until the exam is taken.