Continuing my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus, this week I am having a look at the pieces in the main book for Grade 4 (click here to view my previous post featuring Grade 3, and click here to view Grade 2). The following video is a preview where I highlight one piece from each list (A, B, and C) for the grade:

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The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos on the Online Academy is available here):

LIST A

J. S. Bach: Prelude in C minor, BWV 999 

Built from a harmonic progression and originally written for lute we can recreate some of the resonance of that instrument either by short touches of pedal, or by overholding some notes of the broken chords. 

Kabalevsky: Etude in A minor (No. 3 from 30 Children’s Pieces, Op. 27) 

A valuable étude for the lower intermediate player that will accelerate technical development, this piece is built from familiar scale patterns in right hand against a simpler left hand featuring slurred quaver pairs. It makes an excellent recital piece. 

Schubert: Minuet and Trio, D. 41 No. 21 

An elegant minuet and trio with some pleasing chromatic touches, this pair of dances is full of interest as well as challenges in touch and articulation. 

LIST B

Arens: Moonbeams (No.1 from Rendezvous with Midnight)

Barbara Arens’ imaginative and beautifully-written nocturne needs a flexible approach and generous pedalling to bring out its many expressive possibilities. It is certain to be a popular choice.

Bridge: Miniature Pastoral (No. 2 from Three Miniature Pastorals, Set 1) 

This delightful piece brings as many rewards as it poses challenges to the lower intermediate player, and will certainly help develop sensitivity to touch and responsiveness to mood and character.

Schumann: Erster Verlust (No.16 from Album für die Jugend, Op. 68) 

Describing the tender feelings evoked by a child’s first experience of loss, Schumann’s gorgeous miniature would not be out of place as a calming recital encore. It demands great sensitivity to mood and phrasing; light touches of pedal (not marked in the score) add colour. 

LIST C

Bartók: Teasing Song (No.18 from For Children, Vol. 2) 

A folk melody, presented in different keys, is passed from left hand to right and back again – with an off-beat chordal accompaniment in the other hand. The mood is light, with plenty of touches of humour. The player will need to attend to varieties of touch, articulation and dynamics.

Ben Crosland: I Hear What You Say (No. 4 from Cool Beans!, Vol. 1) 

A beautifully atmospheric piece in which melodic lines are woven together over a steady left hand accompaniment in crotchets. This piece requires careful attention to dynamics, pedalling and tone colour.

Sam Wedgwood: Shark Soup (from Sam Wedgwood’s Project, Book 2) 

This entertaining contemporary jazz-style piece presents challenges in rhythm and articulationIt will take a keen eye and a measure of concentration to play this piece as precisely as the composer has indicated. 

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