Why use Graded Anthologies?

Supporting Your Piano Playing Journey
Written by ANDREW EALES


It’s hardly a secret that I have long had a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards graded music exams. Certainly, many of my students have found them positive, and over the years it’s been a joy to watch players that I have taught getting distinctions, with plenty of success stories across all eight ABRSM grades and beyond.

But while supporting independent assessment for its recognition and celebration of achievement, I am less enthusiastic about the extent to which a syllabus can skew the curriculum and compartmentalise learning. Worse, pressure (explicit or implicit) to take regular exams can for some cast a long shadow over what should be a joyous journey.

When it comes to Graded Anthologies, I have a more unequivocally positive view. As a general rule, these seem to me to offer most of the benefits of a progressive graded system, with few of the problems that mitigate against effective musical learning, and none of the exam-based issues that can so easily discourage and demotivate players.

Without further ado, here are four key benefits of using Graded Anthologies which I value, and which students have clearly found helpful over the years:

Continue reading Why use Graded Anthologies?

Edition Peters’ Graded Anthologies 2023-24

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


In recent years, Edition Peters have been publishing anthologies of selected ABRSM Grade 8 pieces, a stroke of publishing genius predicated on the following ABRSM Syllabus statement:

“Candidates may use any edition of the music, except where a particular arrangement or transcription is specified. Editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and are not obligatory”.

With one of the most extensive music back-catalogues, Edition Peters have found themselves brilliantly placed to jump in with varied anthologies of the best syllabus choices, offering larger compendiums than ABRSM’s own publications (which offer just nine pieces).

With the advent of ABRSM’s 2023-24 Piano Syllabus (reviewed here), Edition Peters are back with a new set of publications which expand on their previous effort in two important ways:

  • this time, there are collections for Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8
  • in each volume, Edition Peters include a few own choice pieces in addition to the highlights of the published syllabus

Edition Peters would thus seem to have a more ambitious vision for this series, making it an ever more intriguing proposition. Some will see these books are alternatives to ABRSM’s official syllabus publications, while others will welcome them as hugely useful supplements that present a wider range of alternative piece selections.

In this review, I will offer a side-by-side comparison, listing the included repertoire so that readers can make an informed choice about which to buy, or indeed whether to purchase both…

Continue reading Edition Peters’ Graded Anthologies 2023-24

ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

Supporting Your Piano Playing Journey
Written by ANDREW EALES


Leading exam board and awarding body ABRSM have just announced their intention to replace their entire range of diploma assessments in performance, teaching and direction with a new set of qualifications by 2024.

Among the headline points, they plan to scrap the DipABRSM altogether (seemingly elevating the existing ARSM as its replacement), and replace their LRSM and FRSM diplomas with new assessments which candidates will be able to take digitally, online. We are not told whether the opportunity to take a live, face-to-face diploma exam will remain at all.

These basic points may understandably perplex some readers. For my own part, I regularly teach and prepare candidates for both ARSM and DipABRSM qualifications, so (as with many of ABRSM’s recent changes) this news will directly impact my own students and ongoing professional practice.

Continue reading ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

ABRSM: Pop Performer!

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


There has long been speculation that at some point ABRSM would launch a pop piano syllabus, but they have perhaps sensibly resisted any call to do so.

The wide disparity and significant difference in approach taken by Rockschool Piano and Trinity Rock and Pop Keyboards illustrates the difficulty in creating a syllabus that is both helpful and true to the skills required by keyboard players in the contemporary commercial sphere.

Some forget, too, that the four Royal Schools of Music affiliated to ABRSM don’t offer specialist courses in this field. And then there’s the issue of copyright clearances: ABRSM simply don’t have access to the latest chart material without permission and significant cost.

Happily, ABRSM have now addressed this last hurdle by teaming up with Hal Leonard, the world’s largest sheet music publishers, who represent the rights to an unparalleled catalogue of commercial hits. It is certainly to the board’s credit that they can both recognise their own core strengths and collaborate with so prestigious a partner.

Enter Pop Performer!, two books of solo piano arrangements of contemporary pop standards and chart hits carefully graded for players from Initial to Grade 5 level. These striking publications look like the work of ABRSM, with songs arranged by examiners and looking little different to the pieces in their official exam repertoire books. But with Hal Leonard’s stamp equally evident in the songs, not to mention the inclusion of their online audio Playback+ software, it’s clear that this is an equal and exciting partnership.

Pop Performer! is neither a new syllabus, nor a hint that one is on its way. On the contrary, these are arrangements that can be played for enjoyment by those taking ABRSM’s traditional grades, and the board makes much of the important point that they can be used as ideal fourth pieces for their recorded Performance Grades.

In other words, what we have here is the option to include commercial popular hits, carefully curated, arranged and benchmarked, alongside and within ABRSM’s existing exam offer.

I’ll state upfront that I think this is a brilliant concept, am impressed with the books, and anticipate that they will be the most essential “must-have” purchase for piano teachers and students in this new academic year. So let’s take a much closer look…

Continue reading ABRSM: Pop Performer!

The Gamification of Musical Learning

Supporting Educators • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


The rise and rise of electronic video, console and computer games over the last two decades has been spectacular. From Pokémon to Grand Theft Auto, and from Minecraft to Wii Sports, games have become hugely popular and lucrative, and some academics even suggest that they are now the dominant cultural form of the 21st century.

In his much-discussed paper Manifesto for a Ludic Century, Eric Zimmerman suggests that while the twentieth century was the age of information and of moving pictures, the twenty-first is the ludic (play-centric) century. He enthuses,

“Increasingly, the ways that people spend their leisure time and consume art, design, and entertainment will be games, or experiences very much like games.”

We certainly see growing evidence of gamification in music education. In this article I consider the transformative impact this may be having, for better or worse…

Continue reading The Gamification of Musical Learning

Nikki Iles & Friends: Easy to Intermediate

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Reviewing the first two volumes in the ABRSM series Nikki Iles and Friends when they appeared in April 2021, I concluded:

“I have no hesitation in declaring this series an “epic win” for ABRSM. Don’t hesitate in getting copies!”

Suitable for intermediate to advanced players (UK Grades 4-8), the books have proven popular with players in my studio here in Milton Keynes and elsewhere. You can read my full review here.

Somewhat sneaking under the radar, a third book has now been added to the series. Nikki Iles & Friends: Easy to Intermediate will, I am certain, have huge appeal to players who are less advanced.


The sensibly age-neutral cover matches the designs of the previous two books, but beyond that there are some points of departure worth noting, so let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading Nikki Iles & Friends: Easy to Intermediate

Graded Gillock • Three Essential Collections

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


I have long been an admirer of the brilliant piano music of William Lawson Gillock (1917-1993), so it is with huge pleasure and a sense of pride that I can now announce that, in conjunction with the Willis Music Company, I have selected and edited a new series of ‘graded’ collections showcasing a varied range of his best pieces.

Graded Gillock appears in three volumes, now available:


There’s little doubt in my mind that Gillock was one of the most significant educational piano composers of the twentieth century, as adept at turning out distinctively memorable and colourful piano pieces in an accessible style as he was at engaging the imaginations and enthusiasm of young learners, in doing so paving the way for today’s educational composers.

Gillock is perhaps best known here in the UK for his evocatively bluesy New Orleans Nightfall, stomping Swinging Beat and Latin-infused Carnival in Rio, all of which have been popular graded exam pieces in recent years. But what of his other music?

For this new series, I have used these favourites as a starting point, working with the composer’s long-term publisher Willis Music to explore and select Gillock’s most enjoyable and pedagogically useful music.

Continue reading Graded Gillock • Three Essential Collections

Singing in Aural Tests: the Bottom Line

Supporting Educators • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


The topic of singing in aural tests has long been a contentious one, but has become more so in recent years. Not only have growing numbers of teachers noted how unpopular the singing tests are, but research in the field of cognitive science now casts doubt on the previously assumed validity of such tests.

In this article I will explore the requirements of the five main boards, consider the links between singing and “audiation”, touch on some basic scientific research (with links for those wanting to read more) and suggest change.

Continue reading Singing in Aural Tests: the Bottom Line

Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Alexis Ffrench’s star has continued to rise since my review of Hal Leonard’s Alexis Ffrench: The Sheet Music Collection a couple of years ago.

Last year Ffrench became Composer in Residence with Scala Radio; readers will be still more interested in the recent announcement of his appointment as the new Artistic Director of ABRSM, the music examination board, a role of which he has enthusiastically said,

“I can’t wait to start working with ABRSM’s Chief Executive, Chris Cobb, and his wonderful team in service of teachers and learners all over the world!”

On the creative front, Ffrench recently released his latest album on Sony. Truth introduces thirteen brand new tracks, including collaborations with singer Leona Lewis, guitarist Jin Oki, and with the lush backing of a 70-piece orchestra.

According to the artist,

“In writing these pieces, as we were all locked down, I imagined what the world would look like if we all asked ourselves the question “who am I and what is my purpose in the world?” and what we, as a human race, could create and change together. Out of that intensely personal moment, and as a reaction to feelings I could barely fathom at the time, these songs were born – as an elegy to the audacity of hope.”


Hal Leonard have just published the official sheet music folio of all the tracks from the album in solo piano transcriptions, the subject of this review…

Continue reading Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2023-24

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
ABRSM have selected my original composition Fresh Air for inclusion in the Grade 1 Piano Pieces book for 2023-24. I have however written the following review as a fully-independent agent, and as a teacher who has entered students for ABRSM exams for 30 years. Readers will note that my conclusions are entirely consistent with my other writings.

The arrival of a new piano syllabus from ABRSM has become etched in the calendar as a biennial event of important interest for piano teachers here in the UK and in those countries where the board has a significant presence.

The current 2021-22 syllabus, reviewed here, was launched at the height of the pandemic in Summer 2020 and met a mixed reaction, its broadly popular repertoire accompanied by a revision to the scales syllabus that divided opinion.

For this new syllabus, ABRSM tell us that they have refreshed the pieces lists to give a greater choice of repertoire than ever before, including “music by a more diverse range of composers”. Of particular interest:

  • There are now 39 pieces per grade, divided equally between Lists A, B and C.
  • 70% of the 2021 & 2022 repertoire has been retained.
  • The contents of Piano Exam Pieces books have been fully updated with nine new choices per grade.
  • A further nine “new” pieces have been added to the ‘other piece’ lists for each grade.

The 2023-4 syllabus is valid both for the “Practical Grades” (ABRSM’s face-to-face exams) and their recently introduced “Performance Grades” (which despite their name remain video recordings, made at the candidate’s leisure and submitted online).

From August 2022, the Performance Grades are available “on demand”, which should in my view add to their popularity. As with the Practical Grades however, those taking Performance Grades 6, 7 or 8 must first have passed ABRSM’s online-only Grade 5 theory exam or accepted alternative.

The 2023-24 syllabus comes into effect on 1 January 2023, and only then can candidates begin to present pieces from the new lists. There is a one year overlap up to 31 December 2023 but all three set pieces must be prepared from the same syllabus.

For Practical Grades, the scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural-test requirements remain exactly the same as for the 2021-22 syllabus.

As in previous syllabus reviews, I will consider the new publications, repertoire trends and content, select some of my favourite choices at each grade, and share some initial conclusions… read on to find out more!

Continue reading ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2023-24

Andrew Eales: Fresh Air

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


I am delighted to announce that my composition Fresh Air has been selected and licensed by ABRSM for inclusion in their 2023-24 Grade 1 Piano Exam Pieces book.

The piece was originally composed for and published in the 2018 Editions Musica Ferrum collection Mosaic 1.

The composition is a gentle tune which I wrote in my head while walking in the local park with my dog Bella one lovely spring morning. The chords I’ve used mostly lack their bass note, giving a sense of weightlessness, as if floating in calm blue skies.

Here’s my recording of the piece, followed by my practice tips…

Continue reading Andrew Eales: Fresh Air

ABRSM’s Piano Star

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


ABRSM’s colourful Piano Star series of books for elementary players has been one of their most popular successes of recent years, and I was happy to be a contributor, my original compositions featuring in all four core music books.

I have previously written independent reviews of two series extras in which I had no involvement, Piano Star Theory and Piano Star Duets, but have yet to introduce the core series.

As with the Mosaic Series, even though I cannot independently review these publications they clearly belong in the Pianodao Music Library. This article will therefore offer a basic series overview, personal insight into the music I contributed, and I hope, enough information for readers to decide whether to take a closer look for themselves…

Continue reading ABRSM’s Piano Star

The Mosaic Series

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Mosaic is a series currently comprising four music books, each showcasing fresh and varied repertoire newly commissioned and composed by piano educators from around the world.

The pieces are loosely graded, arranged in order of difficulty, compiled as books suitable for elementary, intermediate and advanced players, and published by Editions Musica Ferrum. A fifth book (reaching towards Grade 8 level) is currently planned.

I am honoured to be one of the composers featured in all four books, alongside such well-established names as Barbara Arens, Ben Crosland, June Armstrong and others.

The collections are a natural addition to the Pianodao Music Library, and while I obviously cannot ‘review’ them in quite the usual way, this article will introduce the series with an overview of the concept, several recordings, and hopefully sufficient information for readers to decide whether to take a closer look.

Continue reading The Mosaic Series

Piano Grades Are Go!

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Compared to the large quantity of music reviewed here for intermediate and advanced players, relatively few publications for elementary players make an appearance. This is perhaps in part because so much of the music written for beginning players is swallowed whole into lucrative method book series and exam resources. But there’s also no denying that it’s particularly difficult to write standout, imaginative music at this level.

Pianodao features reviews for relatively few of the publications received, in the hope of offering the clearest, well-informed and most helpful recommendations, thus saving readers time. Nothing makes it onto the site unless I would very happily use in my own teaching studio.

How wonderful, then, to introduce a brand new collection of “20 Characterful Solos” by Victoria Proudler. Piano Grades Are Go! has just appeared from EVC Music and is that rarest of beasts: a genuinely stunning music book for elementary players. I will be adopting it with my students, and believe other teachers should consider doing so too. Let’s find out why…

Continue reading Piano Grades Are Go!

Decoding Music Theory

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Of the various “innovations” ABRSM have made of late, the replacement of their popular written theory grades with online multiple-choice exams has perhaps been the most controversial, and seems already to be leading to an emphasis on logic-driven trick questions in place of the more creative elements which were a feature of the previous syllabus.

Happily, fact-based learning can still be fun-filled. Proving the point, Melodic Decoder founders Shona Newey and Alison Wood have recently self-published four slim books billed as, “interactive detective stories for children learning ABRSM music theory”.

These colourful and genuinely enjoyable story-puzzle books could be just the ticket for enthusing younger musicians with music theory, so let’s don a deerstalker and investigate…

Continue reading Decoding Music Theory

Achievement, Assessment and Motivation

Supporting Educators • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


With a single Tweet, the exam board ABRSM have in the last week provoked what they have themselves described as a “passionate debate”.


Defending their stance, ABRSM confirmed that these are the words of their Chief Examiner, John Holmes, quoted from a presentation at an event in London. In the context of his talk, Holmes will no doubt have made many other points, adding balance and nuance to his position.

That said, his view of a “virtuous circle of motivation” was surely not made up on the spot. We must accept this as his well-rehearsed position on the nature of and relationship between musical achievement, assessment and intrinsic motivation.

Discussion of these important concepts must be welcomed. As teachers it is our basic responsibility to question ideas, absorb good material, develop subject knowledge and promote better understanding. These issues are of course also of interest and importance to the parents of any child learning to sing or play a musical instrument.

Together, let’s begin to unpack some of the many positive ways that we can all celebrate our childrens’ and our own adult achievements.

Continue reading Achievement, Assessment and Motivation

ABRSM’s Performance Grades

Supporting Your Piano Playing Journey
Written by ANDREW EALES


In the last couple of weeks I have come across two well argued letters in the music press, the first by Alex Aitken and published in the September 2021 issue of Music Teacher magazine, the second by Pauline Carter and appearing in the October issue of the BBC Music Magazine.

Both writers lament a perceived decline in music education and single out ABRSM as being uniquely responsible. However, the very different solutions they propose point to the significant challenge that the board will face in charting a path that reconnects with all their stakeholders, and which restores confidence following their difficulties during the pandemic.

It is certainly beyond doubt that many in music education are reflecting anew on the role, relevance and value of music exams. For one thing, a lot of players continued to make excellent (sometimes better) progress in the absence of graded exams, discovering renewed enjoyment by focusing on a broader, less prescriptive curriculum.

On the other hand, the challenges of recent years have seemingly led to a diversification of approach, a confusing smorgasbord of options now available both online and face to face, offered by a growing number of exam boards who are equally accredited (if not all as widely known), and with a fading sense of a common recognised standard.

In this article, I will be reflecting on ABRSM’s new Performance Grades, and considering where they fit into this complex picture…

Continue reading ABRSM’s Performance Grades

Rediscovering Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notebooks

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


It is more than 60 years since the last complete critical edition was produced of the famous music notebooks that J.S.Bach compiled for his second wife, Anna Magdalena.

Keenly aware of the need to revisit both collections of 1722 and 1725, and in mind of the tremendous leaps made in Bach scholarship in recent years, leading expert Christoph Wolff’s new critical urtext has recently been published by Edition Peters.

This landmark treasure appears in two separate forms: the Premium Scholarly Edition is a hardback clothbound complete version, while the less expensive Practical Student Edition delivers the shorter pieces from the collections as a more conventional score suitable for learners.

For more information, read on for my full review of both versions…

Continue reading Rediscovering Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notebooks

Nikki Iles and Friends

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Nikki Iles will be known to many readers for her Jazz on a Winter’s Night book and subsequent series for OUP, and her recent Tales for Alice and Tales for Peter Pan collections for EVC Music, all of which I have been hugely impressed by.

Over the years, Iles has also contributed to the ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus and composed several memorable pieces for the board’s standard piano grades, which are always popular choices. And now she’s back with two new books of jazz pieces for ABRSM, between them bringing 29 new piano solos to the intermediate and advanced repertoire, composed and arranged by Iles and a stellar array of luminaries of the contemporary jazz world.

With the drawing power of Iles and friends, and the marketing clout of ABRSM, these two books are sure to fly off the shelves, so let’s take a closer look while we can!

Continue reading Nikki Iles and Friends

The Piano Trainer Scales Workbook

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


A couple of years ago I suggested to author Karen Marshall and publishers Faber Music that it would be really useful to have an all-in-one scales manual within the popular Piano Trainer series. And here it is!

According to Faber Music,

“This all-in-one workbook for scales, arpeggios and broken chords includes all the keys and basic shapes piano students should learn. With clear scale notation, easy-to-visualise keyboard diagrams and excellent theory activities to consolidate understanding and underline the importance of writing music. It is ideal for developing a bespoke scale curriculum.”

The Piano Trainer Scales Workbook is certainly all of this, and the 72-page book is chock-full of neat ideas and judiciously selected material, so let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading The Piano Trainer Scales Workbook

Piano Scale Mnemonics

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


Recommending a no-fuss scale book used to be a simple matter: just get a copy of the ABRSM Grade 5 book as was, and all the keys were there, clearly presented in order. But following ABRSM’s 2021 piano scales revision this is no longer the case, their new graded scale books offering a shockingly slight smattering of just a few scales, as limiting as they are limited.

Good teachers everywhere are inevitably (if sadly) left looking for more helpful alternatives, and thankfully a number of well-known writers are presently forming an orderly queue to occupy the educational high ground that the exam board have so perplexingly ceded.

Paul Harris’s revised Improve Your Scales books look to a composite of all the exam boards for common sense, while Karen Marshall’s Piano Trainer series from Faber Music will soon add an all-purpose scales book specially devised to fill the gap. I will be reviewing both these resources in the coming months.

Meanwhile, here’s a new book from Catherine McMillan, whose unique take on learning scales will particularly appeal to children, and whose stunningly presented Piano Scale Mnemonics book is now a studio essential.

Continue reading Piano Scale Mnemonics

ABRSM: ‘Piano Star’ Duets

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


ABRSM’s popular Piano Star series, which originally aimed at bridging the gap between the pupil’s first tutor book and ABRSM Grade 1 piano, continues to grow. The seventh and latest book is Piano Star Duets, which offers 26 newly composed or arranged piano duets for ‘early beginners to Grade 2’, compiled and edited by David Blackwell and Karen Marshall.

With five of these pieces also selected as duet alternatives in the 2021-2 ABRSM Piano Syllabus, which I recently reviewed here, the book is likely to tempt teachers and students looking for a one-stop collection of duets that they can dip into over a couple of years of lessons. That the pieces have been commissioned from some of our leading pedagogic composers further adds to the attraction.

Before taking a look, full disclosure. I contributed a single piece each to four previous titles in the series. However, I receive no ongoing royalty income from those, have absolutely no vested interest in the series, and chose not to contribute to the Piano Star Duets collection. I write here with full independence.

So, with that out of the way, let’s jump in with all four feet…

Continue reading ABRSM: ‘Piano Star’ Duets

ABRSM Piano Scales 2021

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


With the publication of their 2021-22 Piano Syllabus (reviewed in full here), ABRSM have given their scales requirements a significant overhaul, also publishing new scales books and resources.

In this review I will consider three main areas of this development:

  1. The new syllabus requirements
  2. The new ABRSM Piano Scales & Arpeggios books
  3. Scale Explorer for Piano – a new series of five graded books written for ABRSM by Alan Bullard

Let’s get straight to it…

Continue reading ABRSM Piano Scales 2021

ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2021-22

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
PIANODAO REVIEWS POLICY


The launch of ABRSM’s biennial piano syllabus is always a significant event in the piano education world: particularly in the UK and Far East, where the exam board’s offerings remain hugely popular and influence much of what is taught.

For their 2021-22 syllabus ABRSM are heralding several structural changes:

  • A new Initial Grade, providing a pre-Grade 1 assessment that follows the same structure, content and marking criteria as their other graded music exams 
  • Completely revised repertoire lists and scales requirements
  • A revised list structure, with lists defined by musical characteristics rather than period of composition
  • More choice and variety of repertoire (30 pieces per grade)
  • A duet option from Initial Grade to Grade 3
  • A one-year overlap period, with the 2019 & 2020 syllabus valid until 31 December 2021.

The new Scales Syllabus and supporting publications are reviewed separately here.

ABRSM have also announced a “remote” alternative to their Practical Grades. Although these video-based alternatives are dubbed Performance Grades this is somewhat a misnomer; unlike the Practical Grades, where candidates must face performing live to an examiner, these new assessments take the form of a submitted recording of four pieces, including three from the Grade syllabus.

This Review

With a whopping 270 pieces included in the new syllabus, including 81 published in ABRSM’s nine Piano Exam Pieces books, even this in-depth review can’t cover every piece, and as always I recommend readers download the full syllabus lists from ABRSM’s own site.

However, as in previous years I will look at particular trends within the syllabus, the direction of travel, highlighting those general features which will interest teachers and players alike.

I will bookend the review with a more detailed look at two specific grades: Initial and Grade 8, representing the start and end points of a student’s journey through these assessments, and in which the broader changes in the syllabus are writ large.

And finally, I will offer a personal list of some of the highlights selected from each Grade in turn. So let’s jump in…

Continue reading ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2021-22