Tips for Autumn ABRSM Exam Candidates (Session C)

Distinction, Grade 1
Distinction, Grade 1

Here are a few tips to help you on your way to exam success this term.

1) Wear gloves to keep your hands warm. If there is no warm-up room, ask your parent/guardian to test you on your key signatures for scales. Then look at your pieces and imagine you are playing them and hearing the tune in your head. Mimic playing on a desk in the room, or even your lap and press the notes as you would on a piano. Concert pianists rarely have the luxury of a warm-up piano as they will be spending most of their time travelling around to venues and stuck in a hotel room. They have to use the same methods to warm-up when there is no piano available.

2) Greet the examiner and look them in the eyes when you say hello to them. You will be amazed how many candidates shuffle into the room and stare at their feet. Making eye contact and saying hello makes all the difference and helps you feel confident.

3) The biggest tip for sight-reading is that you must always keep going. Never stop and never go back to correct a wrong note. Make sure you use your 30 seconds to check the key and time signature, and practise playing the first and last bar. If you do anything correctly, make sure you begin and end precisely.

4) Sing loudly – even if you hate singing! Don’t mumble or turn away from the examiner. A clear sound like “la” is better than humming. Also clap loudly and confidently when/if required.

5) Say thank you and goodbye on your way out.

6) Dress smartly – school uniform is fine. Don’t keep your coat on for the exam, ditto hoods and hats! Tie long hair back so your face is not obscured during the exam.

7) Take a big, deep breath before you go into the exam room. Enter the room with a big smile on your face.

Above all, remember the examiner wants you to pass. 

Wishing you the very best of luck for your exam!

EPTA UK Workshop for Piano Teachers, November 23rd

EPTA London Regional Event for Piano Teachers
Open to all teachers, not just EPTA members.
Sunday 23 November, 9.45am to 5pm.
Cecil Sharp House, Regent’s Park

Topics Covered:

  • The new ABRSM syllabus including Alternative List pieces
  • Running an Effective Private Piano Teaching Practice
  • Q&A session focussing on Practising the Piano and methods to motivate your students
EPTA Workshop for Piano Teachers
EPTA Workshop for Piano Teachers – Click to book tickets online.


Online ticket booking now available:
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/277648
£47.50 / £40 (Early Bird, limited stock available).

A one day event for piano teachers with Tim Barratt and Graham Fitch. Pianists and students are welcome too. Please ensure you have emailed us once you have booked your ticket so that we can contact you to finalise arrangements and send you sheet music samples.

Email londonpianoevents@gmail.com once you have booked your ticket or for more information.

9.45am. Registration & Welcome.

A one day event for piano teachers with Tim Barratt and Graham Fitch. Pianists and students are welcome too. Please ensure you have emailed us once you have booked your ticket so that we can contact you to finalise arrangements and send you sheet music samples.

Email londonpianoevents@gmail.com

9.45am. Registration & Welcome.

Note on sessions 1 and 2: Participants are encouraged to prepare the pieces in advance and try out the piece (or small sections for longer pieces) with Tim and Graham for demonstration purposes. Please note it is not a Masterclass format where you will receive individual tuition on the piece.

1) Session with Tim Barratt focussing on the new ABRSM syllabus, Alternative List.
Pieces chosen (please note that not all may be covered due to time constraints)
Grade 1 – Lajos Papp: Waltz No. 5; Kevin Wooding: House on the Hill
Grade 2 – Garscia: Twisters, Mozart: Bird Catcher’s Song; Heather Hammond: On The Ball
Grade 3 – Kullak: Witches’ Dance; Torres: Aurora
Grade 4 – Bortkiewicz: Russian Peasant Girl; Bartok: Standing Still (Romanian Dance)

2) Session with Graham Fitch focussing on the new ABRSM syllabus, Alternative List.
Pieces chosen (please note that not all may be covered due to time constraints)
Grade 4 – Fuchs: Morgenlied
Grade 5 – Jensen: Lied (Song), Op. 33 No. 10
Grade 6 – Schumann Thema mit Variationen: 2nd movt from Sonata in G, Op. 118 No. 1
Grade 7 – Cui: Waltz, Op. 31 No. 2

3) Running an Effective Private Piano Teaching Practice
– Writing watertight Terms and Conditions for lessons. All teachers are invited to submit their Terms and Conditions at the time of registration so we can share these with the other participants if you agree to this. It would be useful to compare and contrast the varying terms that teachers offer. 
– Recruiting Students
– Consultation Lessons and Interviewing New Students
– Organising and maintaining a Waiting List 
– Having an Online Presence and Using Social Media.

4) Informal performance opportunity Teachers/pianists/students that wish to perform may bring along a short piece from the new ABRSM syllabus to play at the closing session of the day. There will be the chance during the day to practice in the break time.

Tea, coffee and biscuits included in event price but please bring your own lunch. The cafe may be available on-site but we will not know this until nearer the time of the event. We will inform all participants accordingly.

The event is sponsored by Casio and a range of their digital pianos will be available on the day. The venue also has an acoustic piano.

ABRSM Music Exam facts and figures!

Grade 8 Distinction - student of Lorraine Liyanage
Grade 8 Distinction – student of Lorraine Liyanage
Click here to view more ABRSM Exam results
Click here to view more ABRSM Exam results

Later today I will be publishing our ABRSM and Rockschool exam results from the July Summer session. In the meantime, here’s some interesting information taken from the ABRSM web site about the number of candidates entering for graded exams by instrument. You can see just how popular the piano is in the UK and also what grades candidates achieved at examinations. As a keen harpsichordist, it’s a shame that only 15 students entered exams in 2009. I’m hoping to boost those numbers by getting more pianists learning the harpsichord too! I organise harpsichord competitions for musicians of all ages and abilities as well as workshops at Handel House Museum and Peregrine’s Pianos.

1) Entries by instrument/subject.
Source: ABRSM page 

2009 entries by instrument including graded music exams, Prep Test and Performance Assessment
Instrument Entries
Piano 124,090
Theory of Music 45,275
Violin 35,587
Flute 28,832
Singing 27,657
Clarinet 23,022
Alto Saxophone 10,812
Cello 8,166
Trumpet 7,821
Guitar 5,035
B Flat Cornet 3,401
Descant Recorder 2,897
Oboe 2,768
Trombone 2,459
Viola 2,072
Jazz Piano 1,803
Horn 1,393
Harp 1,392
Jazz Alto Sax 1,209
Bassoon 1,077
Double Bass 1,033
E Flat Horn 960
Euphonium 651
Treble Recorder 574
Tenor Saxophone 509
Organ 490
Percussion 479
Baritone 402
Tuba 379
Practical Musicianship 290
Jazz Clarinet 268
Soprano Saxophone 257
Jazz Trumpet 212
Jazz Flute 172
Jazz Tenor Saxophone 119
Jazz Trombone 53
Bass Trombone 22
Jazz Cornet 22
Jazz Soprano Sax 16
Baritone Saxophone 15
Harpsichord 15
E Flat Soprano Cornet 7
Jazz Baritone Sax 3
Jazz Flugelhorn 2

2) Practical exam statistics
Source: ABRSM Page 

2009
Grade Pass Merit Distinction Fail Total
1 29,833 29,822 14,982 1,253 75,890
2 25,893 19,269 7,370 1,646 54,178
3 22,506 16,262 6,016 1,714 46,498
4 16,337 10,819 4,119 1,610 32,885
5 15,116 9,318 3,772 1,953 30,159
6 6,044 4,258 1,948 855 13,105
7 4,053 3,033 1,782 701 9,569
8 3,307 2,851 2,542 858 9,558
271,842

3) Theory Exam statistics
Source: ABRSM Page 

2009
Grade Pass Merit Distinction Fail Total
1 1,004 1,886 4,312 385 7,587
2 615 1,414 2,881 183 5,093
3 1,212 1,662 1,409 533 4,816
4 773 915 636 339 2,663
5 7,709 7,528 3,695 3,094 22,026
6 433 136 27 246 842
7 121 74 16 21 232
8 143 88 12 96 339
43,598

I believe that the average age for a candidate taking Grade 1 piano is 10. I cannot find the exact reference for this, although there is mention of this in an old copy of ‘Libretto‘, a magazine published by the ABRSM. This also states that the ‘typical Grade 5 practical candidate is 14 years old’.

ABRSM’s graded music exams for individual instruments, singing and Theory as well as diplomas and Music Medals are accredited by the regulatory authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and are part of the National Qualifications Framework. In Australia, Canada and South Africa, ABRSM exams can be used for credit towards the relevant qualifications taken by students completing compulsory secondary education. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) includes Grades 6–8 in the tariff for UK university and college entrance.