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Performance Grades: Booking for June Performance Grades is open now until 13 May.

Performance Grade exams

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check our Dates and Fees page for details.

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Sight reading for young pianists

1 year ago
Karen Marshall

Karen Marshall

Karen Marshall is a private, peri and classroom music teacher from York. An award winning author she has written 17 publications to date including ABRSM Piano Encores and joint edited Piano Star Grade 1. She is a co-author of the beginner piano method, Get Set! Piano as well as being trained in teaching music to special needs students. She is passionate about all children having access to a good quality music education.

Sight reading and aural tests are often a dreaded part of music exams but they don’t need to be feared. Piano Star Theory establishes dynamics and articulation so that young pianists can become familiar with the concepts. Sight reading after beginning stages often has dynamics omitted, which can make it very hard for students. Piano Star Theory cleverly uses the visual prop of a megaphone that amplifies sound in the shape of a crescendo mark to help students understand music gradually getting louder. Actually putting dynamics onto the music and playing it allows students to practice writing the terms. Encouraging students to think about the different musical effects that they can have on the music is great way to making them comfortable with playing music dynamically. Piano Star Theory uses a ‘pizza illustration’ for a fun dynamics quiz along with dynamic detective activities! It is important to identify a sound before linking it to a symbol and if a student can’t identify how legato or staccato sounds aurally, they will struggle to perform it themselves. Piano Star theory provides some practical examples that can be played. Visual representations are cleverly used in Piano Star Theory in a way that children can easily relate - they include a ‘smooth cat for legato’ and ‘spiky hedgehog for staccato’If you’re wondering how you can incorporate some of these techniques into your lesson you could try this activity: Play some legato and staccato passages to your student and ask them to identify them as legato or staccato, perhaps even using images of a Cat (for legato with a phrase mark) and a Hedgehog (for staccato with dots above a note).Piano Star Theory is packed with quizzes, aural tasks, singing and playing activities with exercises, crosswords and games all to make music theory accessible to all. Opportunities to compose and wonderful clear theoretical explanations of tricky concepts such as time signatures and the grand stave will all work together to make music theory not only understandable but a huge amount of fun!

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