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ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal school of Music) Grade 8 exam. 英国王立音楽院検定試験


Associated Board of the Royal School of Music grade exam。

My experiences to teach piano with ABRSM’s curriculum/help students to get ready for the exams, started 8 years ago with a Singaporean piano student. For I had never studied in UK, previously, I had no knowledge about it but now I feel very grateful that her parent had introduced me to this curriculums.


Last year, one of my student passed Grade 8 Piano practical exam with distinction and somehow, another student who is preparing for Grade8 in this fall came to me and I am assisting him to get ready for October/ November exam.


In order to pass Grade 8 in this curriculum, one has to have extensive knowledge of music theory, ability to recognize cadences( recognition of harmonic structure.)


Candidates have to exhibit an overall piano technique; scales and arpeggios(broken chords) of all keys in staccato and legato but also arpeggios in 1st and 2nd inversion, broken chords of Dominant 7th , diminished 7th chord, chromatic and diatonic scales, scales 3rd apart , scales in 6th apart. Scale in Third. sight reading ability, and perform three piano pieces from 3 eras( baroque, Classic or Romantic and contemporary) in front of a jury.

日本にはピアノ曲の難曲を弾ける生徒は いくらでもいるが、私にはむしろ残りの試験が大変に思える。

Piano pieces are not that hard. Especially in Japan, so many good piano students play extremely difficult pieces well but for me, the challenges are more the rest of the requirement.


It takes more than 1 hour to practice all the scales, arpeggios requirement. You never know which key a candidate was going to be asked to play until the exam time. There are 3 kind of fingering patterns in scales and 4 patterns in arpeggio. One has to be constructive and practice to learn to build strong synapses between brain(neurons) and finger/arms muscles.

私にできる事は 整理して、系統立てた指使いのアドバイスとコツを要約し、なるべく練習が時間少なくできる様にする事。幼少時からずっと音階アルペジオ類をやっていた生徒さんはまだ良いが、試験の為に短時間で習得しようとする人には大変。

What a teacher can do is to provide constructive ways to learn this vast amount of assignment efficiently. Of course, if a pupils had learned all these(scales & arpeggios) from childhood or for a certain length of time, they may not find them so hard but if somebody tries to acquire all those technique in order to make it for the exams, that becomes quite a hustle.


Same things for the test of recognizing styles , period, features, character of a musical piece, chosen randomly and played by an examiner on the exam day. In order to discern and describe characters of a music, one has to know musical terms, and has some knowledge to discern of which musical era the musical piece is from.


ABRSM describes Grade 8 level exam is an equivalent to an entrance exam to music schools( colleges) but I rather find the requirements are topics & contents( in Japan, in my time) music students learn after entering music schools.

演奏される音楽がルネサンス、中世か、バロックか、古典派か、ロマン派か近代か、と判断し、その根拠を述べるのには 各時代の音楽がどんな音がしていたのか、どんな様式だったのか、最低、各時代から数曲は知っていてなければ判らない。

Just telling whether a musical piece is from Renaissance( medieval,) Baroque, Classic, Romantic or contemporary era requires basic knowledge of how the music of respective era sound. At least one has to have experience of active listening of

musical pieces and stock of music from each period.



My role is to provide a crash course for exam candidate and I have to admit this worked really good for me for otherwise, I would never review and went through history of music so seriously. Same things could be said for music theory. I would never had a chance to review music theory if I had not have known and teach ABRSM curriculum.


After acquiring some knowledge of history of music, now I also can see more clearly why certain music bear certain styles and why and where the influences and traces of segment from history are from. How music had developed originally, from Monophonic Gregorian chant which was to recite the Bibles in monasteries, to be developed to Polyphonic, how music shifted from entertaining aristocrats with dance accompaniment or kings to show off their wealth and power, how scales and tonality were established, then musicians becoming more independent from patrons and with industrial evolution, how music had become more for ordinary people too and instruments had become larger, louder and elaborated,,,when people have more time to contemplate about our own, music have become more introspective, subjective, personal and flexible= romantic, then the tendency had reached to a saturating point, Modernism movement came in order to destroy all the pre-existing frameworks of music. Rejection of tonality, meter, destroying all the boundaries, however, there have been always some NEO ――- ism to employ trend and ingredients from the old; such as revival of clavichord, employing church modes and nationalistic traditional features from the past.


And more and more development of industry, musical instruments become widely available to anybody and ,,, therefore, I have been also playing piano and so do my piano students.


Looking at history, even history of music provides insight about human development.

Where we are now in the history and where we go,,, there are hints everywhere when we get an overview of history.

誰の言葉だったか忘れたが、音楽は過去から現在、より良い将来へのドアへ導く、良い意味で伝承されている人間の感情のかけ橋 だと。

I forgot who said this “ Music is the emotional bridge from past to present,

applied in right ways which opens doors to better future.

全ての私の気づきを ABRSMを受験する生徒さんに教える必要は全くなく、要点だけ、点が取りやすい様に伝授することが私の役目なのだが、この短期集中講座の用意のおかげで私の知識欲の泉が少し潤った。そしてその気づきを人間社会の向上の為に生徒達に伝えたいと思っている。

I do not need to teach all these information I learned to the ABRSM exam candidates but preparing crush course really enriched my craving for knowledge and want to try utilizing music as a bridge for past to present.


I have learned also there have been always cross-ways of secular music and sacred music, between music for aristocrats, churches and popular music. Interestingly, I have been playing piano in worship services in a Protestant church and see the same in church music nowadays.

I love arranging old hymnals into a little bit groovy/ up-tempo styles as long as the words are preserved in singable melody lines. I feel I would like to know more about popular (and folk tunes) music in order to find out what simply and easily grabs people’s heart. Art and music( cuisine too)are great medium to concoct differences in culture, past and present and ideology. That’s what I believe, to place Hope in Music.


It is much satisfying to teach with ABRASM than just teaching to play piano but so much to learn. No time to rest!


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