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Piano 6 Piano

Piano Grade 6 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales and arpeggios, 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 6 (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 and arpeggios, 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 J. S. Bach download download Invention in A minor
BWV 784
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
2 Handel download download Courante
3rd movt from Partita in C minor, HWV 444
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
3 Mozart download download Rondo
3rd movt from Sonata in C, K. 545
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
4 J. S. Bach, trans. Whittaker download download Andante
3rd movt from Pastorella in F, BWV 590
 
P. 16 from Bach Transcriptions for Piano
OUP

More details
5 Beethoven download download Andante
1st movt from Sonata in G minor, Op. 49 No. 1
 
Beethoven: Sonata in G minor, Op. 49 No. 1
ABRSM

More details
Beethoven: The 35 Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1
ABRSM

More details
6 D. Scarlatti download download Sonata in F
Kp. 378 (L. 276)
 
D. Scarlatti: 3 Sonatas for Keyboard
Bärenreiter (BA 6589)

More details
No. 123 from D. Scarlatti: 200 Sonatas, Vol. 3
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.8480)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Gade download download Scherzo
No. 2 from Akvareller, Op. 19
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
2 O. Merikanto download download Valse lente
Op. 33
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
3 Skryabin download download Prelude in E
No. 9 from 24 Preludes, Op. 11
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
4 Cervantes download download Los tres golpes
 
Beyond the Romantic Spirit, Book 1
Alfred (21388)

More details
5 Hummel download download Andantino in Ab
No. 57 from Klavierschule
 
No. 8 from Hummel: 16 Short Pieces
ABRSM

More details
6 Martinů download download Pohádka
No. 4 from Loutky (Puppets), Book 1
 
Martinů: Loutky (Puppets), Book 1
Bärenreiter (H7875)

More details
Martinů: Loutky (Puppets), Books 1–3
Bärenreiter (H7970)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Bartók download download Joc cu bâtă (Stick Dance)
No. 1 from Román népi táncok
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
2 Mel Leven
arr. Churchill
download download Cruella de Vil
from The 101 Dalmations
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
3 Karen Tanaka download download Masquerade
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
4 Mike Cornick download download Modulations
from Blue Piano
 
Mike Cornick: Blue Piano
Universal (UE19762)

More details
Encore, Book 3
ABRSM

More details
5 Dello Joio download download Moderate
1st movt from Suite for Piano
 
Dello Joio: Suite for Piano
G. Schirmer (GS28362)

More details
20th Century American Composers – Upper Intermediate Level
G. Schirmer (HL50600069)

More details
6 Khachaturian download download Study
No. 5 from Pictures of Childhood
 
No. 5 from Khachaturian: Pictures of Childhood
Boosey & Hawkes

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 and arpeggios

21 marks

 

 

 

 

Scales (similar motion)

all keys, major and minor
(minors both harmonic and melodic)

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Staccato scales ‡

Group 1: A, Eb majors

or

Group 2: E, Bb majors

hands separately

4 octaves

Contrary-motion scales §

Group 1: A, Eb majors and harmonic minors

or

Group 2: E, Bb majors and harmonic minors

legato, hands beginning on the key-note (unison)

2 octaves

Staccato scale in thirds

C major

hands separately

2 octaves

Chromatic scales

beginning on any note named by the examiner

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Chromatic contrary-motion scale

beginning on A# (L.H.) and C# (R.H.), a minor third apart

legato

2 octaves

Arpeggios

all keys, major and minor

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Diminished sevenths

beginning on B and on C#

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

‡ The candidate chooses one of the two groups

§ Same group as chosen above

 


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

Grade 3

up to 8

3/8

A, Bb, Eb major
B minor

Hands playing together outside 5-finger position

  • 2-note chords in either hand

Grade 4

c. 8

6/8

As previous grades

Hands playing together outside 5-finger position

  • anacrusis
  • chromatic notes
  • pause signs
  • tenuto

Grade 5

c. 8-12

As previous grades

E, Ab majors
F#, C minors

Hands playing together outside 5-finger position

  • 4-part chords (2 notes max. in either hand
  • simple syncopation
  • slowing of tempo at end

Grade 6

c. 12-16

9/8
5/8
5/4

C#, F minors

Hands playing together outside 5-finger position

  • triplet rhythms
  • clef changes
  • use of right pedal

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

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. To sing or play from memory the upper part of a two-part phrase played twice by the examiner. The upper part will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note and then count in two bars. (If the candidate chooses to play, the examiner will also name the key-chord and the starting note, as appropriate for the instrument.) If necessary, the examiner will play the phrase again and allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).
  2. To sing a melody from score, with an accompaniment played by the examiner. The candidate may choose to sing from treble or bass clef. The melody will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. First the examiner will name and play the key-chord and the starting note and then give the pulse. A brief period of preparation will follow during which the candidate may sing out loud. The examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note again and then count in two bars. If necessary, the examiner will allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).
  3. To identify the cadence at the end of a phrase as perfect or imperfect. The phrase will be in a major or minor key and will be played twice by the examiner. The chords forming the cadence will be in root position. Before the first playing, the examiner will play the key-chord.
  4. (i) 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: texture or structure; the second will be one of the following: dynamics, articulation, tempo, tonality, character, style and period, texture/structure.

    (ii) To clap the rhythm of the notes in an extract from the same piece, and to identify whether it is in two time, three time or four time. The examiner will play the extract twice (unharmonized), after which the candidate should clap back the rhythm. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time, three time or four time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.

 


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 6 Piano

Piano Grade 6 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales and arpeggios, 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 6 (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 and arpeggios, 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 J. S. Bach download download Sinfonia No. 11 in G minor
BWV 797
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
2 Beethoven download download Minuet and Trio
3rd movt from Sonata in B♭, Op. 22
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
3 J. L. Krebs download download Allegro
1st movt from Sonata No. 2 in G, KWV 833
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
4 J. C. F. Bach download download Allegro in B♭
 
P. 38 from Easy Piano Pieces – Bach
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.14699)

More details
5 Mozart download download Allegro
1st movt from Sonata in C, K. 545
 
Mozart: Sonata in C, K. 545
ABRSM

More details
Mozart: Sonatas for Pianoforte, Vol. 2
ABRSM

More details
6 Telemann download download Fuga seconda
 
Pp. 12–13 from Telemann: Easy Fugues with Little Pieces
Schott (ED 9015)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Bortkiewicz download download Erster Schmerz (First Sorrow)
No. 5 from Aus meiner Kindheit, Op. 14
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
2 Chopin download download Mazurka in C
No. 3 from Four Mazurkas, Op. 33
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
3 Grieg download download Liten fugl (Little Bird)
No. 4 from Lyric Pieces, Book 3, Op. 43
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
4 Grovlez download download Le pastour
from L'Almanach aux images
 
Grovlez: L'Almanach aux images
Stainer & Bell (0534)

More details
5 Schumann download download Thema mit Variationen
2nd movt from Sonata in G, Op. 118 No. 1
 
Schumann: Three Piano Sonatas for the Young, Op. 118
Henle (HN 155)

More details
6 Turina download download Duo sentimental
No. 6 from Miniaturas, Op. 52
 
No. 6 from Turina: Miniaturas
Schott (ED 2106)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg
arr. Stapleton
download download Over the Rainbow
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
2 Villa-Lobos download download Carangueijo (The Crab)
No. 3 from Guia prático, Album 6
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
3 Jian Zhong Wang download download Long Deng Diao (Dragon Lantern Tune)
No. 5 from Five Yunnan Folksongs
 
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 6
ABRSM

More details
4 Richard Rodney Bennett download download Two Turtle-Doves
No. 2 from Partridge Pie, Book 1
 
No. 2 from Richard Rodney Bennett: Partridge Pie, Book 1
Novello (NOV100322)

More details
5 Sofia Gubaidulina download download Forest Musicians
No. 14 from Musical Toys
 
No. 14 from Sofia Gubaidulina: Musical Toys
Zen-On (ZO 8000406)

More details
No. 6 from Russian Piano Music from Glinka to Gubaidulina
Breitkopf & Härtel (EB 8748)

More details
6 Carl Vine download download Threnody
No. 5 from Five Bagatelles
 
No. 5 from Carl Vine: Five Bagatelles
Faber

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 and arpeggios

21 marks

 

 

 

 

Scales (similar motion)

all keys, major and minor
(minors both harmonic and melodic)

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Staccato scales ‡

Group 1: A, Eb majors

or

Group 2: E, Bb majors

hands separately

4 octaves

Contrary-motion scales §

Group 1: A, Eb majors and harmonic minors

or

Group 2: E, Bb majors and harmonic minors

legato, hands beginning on the key-note (unison)

2 octaves

Staccato scale in thirds

C major

hands separately

2 octaves

Chromatic scales

beginning on any note named by the examiner

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Chromatic contrary-motion scale

beginning on A# (L.H.) and C# (R.H.), a minor third apart

legato

2 octaves

Arpeggios

all keys, major and minor

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Diminished sevenths

beginning on B and on C#

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

‡ The candidate chooses one of the two groups

§ Same group as chosen above

 


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 piece of around twelve to sixteen bars in length, time signatures as Grade 5, with the addition of 9/8, 5/4 and 5/8, keys up to four sharps/flats (major and minor). Triplet rhythms, some clef changes and sparing use of the right pedal 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 sing or play from memory the upper part of a two-part phrase played twice by the examiner. The upper part will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note and then count in two bars. (If the candidate chooses to play, the examiner will also name the key-chord and the starting note, as appropriate for the instrument.) If necessary, the examiner will play the phrase again and allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).
  2. To sing a melody from score, with an accompaniment played by the examiner. The candidate may choose to sing from treble or bass clef. The melody will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. First the examiner will name and play the key-chord and the starting note and then give the pulse. A brief period of preparation will follow during which the candidate may sing out loud. The examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note again and then count in two bars. If necessary, the examiner will allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).
  3. To identify the cadence at the end of a phrase as perfect or imperfect. The phrase will be in a major or minor key and will be played twice by the examiner. The chords forming the cadence will be in root position. Before the first playing, the examiner will play the key-chord.
  4. (i) 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: texture or structure; the second will be one of the following: dynamics, articulation, tempo, tonality, character, style and period, texture/structure.

    (ii) To clap the rhythm of the notes in an extract from the same piece, and to identify whether it is in two time, three time or four time. The examiner will play the extract twice (unharmonized), after which the candidate should clap back the rhythm. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time, three time or four time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.

 


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.

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Melody Writer

A tool designed to help improve your melody writing and music theory knowledge and understanding.

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