Friday, 28 September 2012

Improve your Grade 1 Aural [ABRSM]: Online Exams, Apps, and Resources:

Aural Book APP trainer is free!
Aural skills are important for musical development. The ability to hear and understand musical features, will improve your playing and your appreciation of music. You will develop according to ABRSM, your "inner ear" and "musical ear".

Grade 1 ABRSM Aural is a component, you can't ignore. If you do well in this element, the better your chances of moving upto the next category of achievement, if that aim is to get a Merit, or a Distinction.

Practice makes perfect, as the old adage goes. So if you're preparing for an exam and haven't even covered the Aural aspect, help is at hand. There are practice simulated exams on the Internet. These are wonderful to supplement your weekly lessons, and with Aural training, the more you practice, the better your score and skill will be.

For the non musician parents out there, the ABRSM exams are using standardised terminology, so they will use smooth and detached as synonyms for legato and staccato.

Smooth = Legato (where one note connects seamlessly to another note without a perceived 'break' in the musical line)
Detatched - Staccato (plucky sound, like you would hear on a pizzicato effect on a stringed instrument)

Online Practice Tests

ABRSM (official) Mock Aural Tests

E-musicmaestro Practice Tests

The UK Music Teachers website has example sound file questions with an answer sheet.


AURALBOOK for ABRSM Grade 1 HD - FREE on Itunes

ABRSM (official) - Aural App Trainer £4.99 for Grades 1-5 which works with the Ipod, Ipad and Iphone.

Both apps give feedback after the simulated test, to give you an indication of what needs to be improved.

ABRSM Guide to Aural Exam Requirements

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Leeds International Piano Competition 2012 winner: Federico Colli

The infamous Leeds International Piano Competition launched the careers of Radu Lupu and Andras Schiff.  This year, 24 year old Italian pianist, Federico Colli wins the prize together with a prize fund of  £18,000 prize money (nearly $30,000 USD). Enough to buy a nice Yamaha Grand Piano, but not quite a Steinway. He performed "masterly" Beethoven's Emperor concerto for the final, which sealed the prize. No stranger to winning international competitions as you'll see in the video below!

Watch Federico Colli perform Mozart's Piano Concerto #27 (3rd Movement) at the Mozart International Piano Competition in Salzburg, 2011 (which he also won!)

Federico studies with some eminent Piano Professors, one of which is
Boris Petrushansky, a disciple of the famous Pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus (who taught Richter) who wrote The Art of Piano Playing. His other teacher is Russian Konstatin Bogino, winner of the 1979 International Munich Contest.

Also not to be missed, watch Federico perform the 'monumental' Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Simple 10 finger Piano Songs - Easy Tunes for beginners

Chopin's Left Hand
It's a dillemna for many piano teachers and perhaps a frustration for beginning piano students. They want to play tunes they know and recognise, but in the interests of reading music, they'll have to plough through exercises in their tutorial book, playing one or two notes at a time. However, there's a lot of five finger piano tunes you can learn or teach quickly which we learned in a previous blog.

 Furthermore, there's merit in getting all ten fingers moving to develop finger independence early on. It's also very motivating for a student to start playing familiar tunes.

Starting on C - 10 Finger Position Pieces
Starting position: Left hand and right hand thumbs together on Middle C (sharing middle C)
Right hand on C,D,E,F,G (Fingers 1,2,3,4,5, from left to right)
Left hand on C,B,A,G,F (Fingers 1,2,3,4,5 from right to left )

If You're Happy and You Know It

If You're Happy and You Know It
GG↑     CCCC                 CC [Left Hand]
L4L4  L1L1L1L1           L1L1 [or R1 instead of L1]

Clap Your Hands
BCD  [Left Hand on B, Right Hand on C,D]

If You're Happy and You Know It
GG          DD       DD           DD
L4L4        R2R2    R2R2      R2R2

Clap Your Hands
C   D    E


If You're Happy and You Know It
CC ↑         FF          FF     ↓ AA
R1R1        R4R4       R4R4   L3L3

And You Really Want to Show it
↑ FF    EE        E   D   CC
R4R4  R3R3    R3   R2  R1R1

If You're Happy and You Know It
EE           DD     DD       C B 
R3R3       R2R2  R2R2    R1L2

Clap Your Hands!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
GG ↑      DD         E E      D
L4L4     R2R2      R3R3   R2

How I Wonder What You Are
↓ CC     BB        AA          G
L1L1     L2L2      L3L3        L4

Up Above  the Sky    So High
↓  DD  C  C   BB     A  A
R2R2  R1R1  L2L2  L3L3

Like a Diamond in the SKy
↓  DD    CC       BB AA
R2R2  R1R1  L2L2  L3L3

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
GG ↑      DD         E E      D
L4L4     R2R2      R3R3   R2

How I Wonder What You Are
↓ CC     BB        AA          G
L1L1     L2L2      L3L3        L4

Happy Birthday Song

Happy Birthday To You!

GG       AG      C    B

L4L4    L3L4    L1   L2

Happy Birthday To You!

GG       AG      D    C

L4L4    L3L4   R2    R2

Happy Birth  .................Day Dear  " name here"
GG   G (octave higher) E   C           B A
L4L4  R5                          R3  R1           L2 L3

Happy Birthday To You!
↓ FF       E C      C

R4R4    R3R1     R2R1

The Wheels on the Bus

The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round
G   CCCC                           E   G   E    C
L4  L11111                         R3 R5 R3 R1

Round and Round, Round and Round
DDD    B A G
R222   L234

The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round
G  CCCC                        E   G   E    C
L4 L11111                      R3 R5 R3 R1

All Day Long
D   G   C
R2 L4 L1

Further Reading