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Piano Grade 8 Piano

2015 & 2016

Piano Grade 8 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Piano Grade 8 (2015 & 2016)

Piano requirements and information

Subject code: 01

The Piano requirements and information provide a summary of the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM Piano exams.

They are detailed within the exam sections below (Pieces, Scales and arpeggios, Sight-reading and Aural tests), immediately after the grade-specific requirements, and are available to download here.

Further details, as well as administrative information relating to the exams, are given in ABRSM’s Information & Regulations which should be read before an exam booking is made.

Eligibility

There are eight grades for Piano and candidates may be entered in any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Piano. Candidates for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz subject; for full details, including a list of accepted alternatives, see Regulation 1d.

Instruments

ABRSM Centres provide a piano suitable for exam purposes. The piano will be upright or grand. Practice before the exam cannot be arranged, but examiners will recognize that the instrument may be one to which candidates are unaccustomed. When exams are held at Visits (i.e. premises provided by the Applicant and visited by the examiner), a suitable piano must be provided. A digital piano may be used, provided it has a clearly recognizable piano tone, a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including a sustaining pedal.

In the exam

Examiners: Generally, there will be one examiner in the exam room; however, for training and quality assurance purposes, a second examiner may sometimes be present. Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece. They may also decide to stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment. Examiners will not issue, or comment on, a candidate’s result; instead, the mark form (and certificate for successful candidates) will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Before beginning: Candidates are welcome to take a few moments to try out the piano, and to adjust the piano stool (the examiner will be happy to help with this if necessary).

Order of the exam: The individual sections of the exam may be undertaken in any order, at the candidate’s choice.

Further information

Pieces

Three pieces: one chosen by the candidate from each of the three Lists, A, B and C - 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Alwyn download
Prelude and Fugue formed on an Indian Scale
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
2 J. S. Bach download
Prelude and Fugue in C minor
BWV 847
No. 2 from Das wohltemperirte Clavier, Part 1
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
3 D. Scarlatti download
Sonata in F minor
Kp. 239 (L. 281)
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
4 J. S. Bach download
Allegro in E minor
from BWV 1019
external link No. 20 from J. S. Bach: Easy Piano Pieces & Dances
Bärenreiter (BA 6572)
5 Handel download
Air and Doubles (The Harmonious Blacksmith)
4th movt from Suite in E, HWV 430
external link No. 21 from Handel: Selected Keyboard Works, Book 1
ABRSM

external link Handel: Eight Great Suites, Book 2
ABRSM
6 D. Scarlatti download
Sonata in B minor
Kp. 497 (L. 146)
external link D. Scarlatti: Sonata in A, Kp. 182 (L. 139) & Sonata in B minor, Kp. 497 (L. 146)
Bärenreiter (BA 6590)

external link No. 176 from D. Scarlatti: 200 Sonatas, Vol. 4
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.8666)
7 C. Schumann download
Prelude and Fugue in G minor
Op. 16 No. 1
external link C. Schumann: Romantic Piano Music (Vol. 1)
Bärenreiter (BA 6550)
8 Shostakovich download
Prelude and Fugue in A minor
Op. 87 No. 2
external link Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, Vol. 1
Sikorski–Boosey & Hawkes

external link Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, Vol. 1
Peters (EP 4716a)

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 J. L. Dussek download
Allegro con spirito
1st movt from Sonata in B♭, Op. 24*
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
2 Grieg download
Allegro moderato
1st movt from Sonata in E minor, Op. 7
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
3 Schubert download
Allegro ma non troppo
1st movt from Sonata in A minor, D. 537
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
4 Beethoven download
Allegro
1st movt from Sonata in G, Op. 14 No. 2
external link Beethoven: Sonata in G, Op. 14 No. 2
ABRSM

external link Beethoven: The 35 Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1
ABRSM
5 Field download
Rondo: Twelve O'Clock
external link No. 12 from Field: Nocturnes and Other Short Piano Pieces
ABRSM
6 Haydn download
Allegro moderato
1st movt from Sonata in A, Hob. XVI/26
external link Haydn: Sonata in A, Hob. XVI/26
Wiener Urtext (UT 50403)

external link No. 6 from Haydn: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3
Wiener Urtext (UT 50258)
7 Hummel download
Rondo all'Ungherese
Op. 107 No. 6
external link No. 5 from Hummel: Sonatas and Piano Pieces, Vol. 3
Universal (UE 93)
8 Mozart download
Allegro con spirito
1st movt from Sonata in D, K. 311
external link Mozart: Sonata in D, K. 311
ABRSM

external link Mozart: Sonatas for Pianoforte, Vol. 1
ABRSM

* Sonata also known as Op. 23

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Bartók download
Dance in Bulgarian Rhythm No. 4
No. 151 from Mikrokosmos, Vol. 6
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
2 Bridge download
Canzonetta
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
3 Chopin download
Waltz in B minor
Op. 69 No. 2
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
4 Fauré download
Andante quasi allegretto
No. 1 from Pièces brèves, Op. 84
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
5 Philip Martin download
Allegro con brio
No. 4 from The Rainbow Comes and Goes
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
6 Harry Warren and Al Dubin
arr. Iles
download
September in the Rain
external link Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 8
ABRSM
7 Bax download
Country-Tune
external link Bax: Selected Works for Piano
Thames (TH978206)
8 Brahms download
No. 1
from Four Ballads, Op. 10
external link No. 1 from Brahms: Four Ballads, Op. 10
ABRSM
9 Chabrier download
Habanera
external link Chabrier: Habanera
Bärenreiter (BA 10839)
10 Debussy download
Danse bohémienne
external link No. 4 from Debussy: Easy Piano Pieces and Dances
Bärenreiter (BA 6573)

external link Debussy: Six morceaux de jeunesse
Durand
11 Dohnányi download
Allemande
2nd movt from Suite in the Olden Style, Op. 24
external link Dohnányi: Allemande (from Suite in the Olden Style, Op. 24)
Simrock (EE 3133)
12 Hindemith download
Tanz der Holzpuppen (Dance of the Wooden Dolls)
from Tuttifäntchen
(either line in RH in bb. 79–81)
external link Hindemith: Tanz der Holzpuppen
Schott (ED 1734)
13 Janáček download
Sýček neodletěl! (The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away!)
No. 10 from Po zarostlém chodníčku (On an Overgrown Path)
external link No. 10 from Janáček: Po zarostlém chodníčku (On an Overgrown Path)
Bärenreiter (BA 9502)
14 Liszt download
Eglogue
No. 7 from Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année, Suisse
external link No. 7 from Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année, Suisse
Henle (HN 173)
15 Milhaud download
Tijuca
No. 8 from Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67
external link No. 8 from Milhaud: Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67
Eschig
16 Tchaikovsky download
Nocturne
Op. 10 No. 1
external link P. 104 from Tchaikovsky: Selected Works for Piano, Vol. 1
Alfred–Kalmus (K02038)

Piano requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Pedalling: The use and control of pedalling, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome rather than the strict observance of any printed pedal indications (which may therefore be adapted or omitted, as appropriate). Pieces whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on pedalling (whether marked in the music or not) should be avoided if appropriate pedalling cannot be managed.

Hand stretch: Candidates should choose the most suitable pieces for their hand size from the syllabus lists. If necessary, they may occasionally adapt the music by ‘spreading’ chords or omitting notes at wide stretches, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to the Syllabus Department no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorized photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Scales and arpeggios

21 marks

 

 

 

 

Scales (similar motion)

C, D, B, F#, F, Eb, Ab/G#, Db/C# majors & minors
(minors both harmonic and melodic)

legato or staccato as directed by the examiner, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Scales a third apart

keys as above
(majors & harmonic minors only)

legato or staccato as directed by the examiner, hands together

4 octaves

Scales a sixth apart

keys as above 
(majors & harmonic minors only)

legato or staccato as directed by the examiner, hands together

4 octaves

Legato scales in thirds

C and Bb majors

hands separately

2 octaves

Chromatic scales a minor third apart

beginning on any notes named by the examiner

legato or staccato as directed by the examiner, hands together

4 octaves

Chromatic scale in minor thirds

beginning on A#/C#

legato, hands separately

2 octaves

Whole-tone scale

beginning on E

legato, hands together and separately

2 octaves

Arpeggios

keys as for scales (similar motion) above

legato, hands together and separately, in root position, first and second inversions

4 octaves

Dominant sevenths

in the keys of C, D, B, F#, F, Eb, Ab, Db

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves

Diminished sevenths

beginning on any note named by the examiner

legato, hands together and separately

4 octaves


Piano requirements and information: Scales and arpeggios/broken chords

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio/broken chord etc. required at each grade, as well as aiming to hear, in Grades 6–8, a balance of the specified articulations. When asking for requirements, examiners will specify only:

  • the key (including minor form – harmonic or melodic – in the Grade 6–8 scales) or the starting note
  • left hand or right hand, or hands together
  • the articulation (Grades 6–8)

All scales, arpeggios and broken chords should:

  • be played from memory
  • ascend and descend according to the specified range (and pattern)
  • be prepared legato, unless the syllabus specifies staccato (or both)
  • be played without pedalling
  • be played without undue accentuation and at a pace that is consistent with accuracy and distinctness

Candidates are free to use any fingering that produces a successful musical outcome.

Candidates are free to start at any octave, provided the required ranges are covered. For all ‘hands together’ requirements, the hands should be one octave apart, unless otherwise indicated.

Arpeggios and dominant sevenths are required in root position only, except where otherwise indicated. Scales in thirds or a third apart should begin with the tonic as the lower note, while scales in sixths or a sixth apart should begin with the tonic as the upper note.

Books of scale requirements are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Sight-reading

21 marks

A piece of around a page in length, time and key signatures as Grade 7, with the addition of 12/8 and B and Db majors. Three-part chords in either hand, spread chords and simple ornaments may be encountered.


Piano requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music which they have not previously seen. They will be given up to half a minute in which to look through and, if they wish, try out all or any part of the test before they are required to play it for assessment. The main technical parameters are outlined for the grade (see above); once introduced, parameters apply for all subsequent grades (albeit with a logical progression of difficulty). For practice purposes, books of specimen sight-reading tests are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. (i) To sing or play from memory the lowest part of a three-part phrase played twice by the examiner. The lowest part will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note and then count in two bars. (If the candidate chooses to play, the examiner will also name the key-chord and the starting note, as appropriate for the instrument.) If necessary, the examiner will play the phrase again and allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).

    (ii) To identify the cadence at the end of a continuing phrase as perfect, imperfect, interrupted or plagal. The phrase will be in a major or minor key and will be played twice by the examiner. The chords forming the cadence will be limited to the tonic (root position, first or second inversions), supertonic (root position or first inversion), subdominant (root position), dominant (root position, first or second inversions), dominant seventh (root position) or submediant (root position). Before the first playing, the examiner will play the key-chord.

    (iii) To identify the three chords (including their positions) forming the above cadential progression. The chords will be limited to the tonic (root position, first or second inversions), supertonic (root position or first inversion), subdominant (root position), dominant (root position, first or second inversions), dominant seventh (root position) or submediant (root position). First the examiner will name and play the key-chord, then play the three chords in sequence, finally playing each chord individually, pausing for the candidate to identify it. The candidate may answer using technical names (tonic, first inversion, etc.), chord numbers (Ib, etc.) or letter names (C major in first inversion, etc.).

  2. To sing the lower part of a two-part phrase from score, with the upper part played by the examiner. The candidate may choose to sing from treble or bass clef. The lower part will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to four sharps or flats. First the examiner will name and play the key-chord and the starting note and then give the pulse. A brief period of preparation will follow during which the candidate may sing out loud. The examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note again and then count in two bars. If necessary, the examiner will allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).
  3. To identify whether the modulations at the end of two different passages are to the dominant, subdominant or relative minor/major. The first passage will begin in a major key and the second will begin in a minor key; each passage will be played once by the examiner. Before playing each passage, the examiner will name and play the starting key-chord. The candidate may answer using technical names (dominant*, subdominant, relative minor/major) or the letter name of the new key. (* Minor-key passages may modulate to the dominant major or minor but the candidate is only required to specify ‘dominant’ in such cases.) 
  4. To describe the characteristic features of a piece played by the examiner. After hearing the piece, the candidate should describe any notable features (such as texture, structure, character, style and period, etc.). The examiner will prompt the candidate with questions only if this becomes necessary.

Piano requirements and information: Aural tests

Listening lies at the heart of all good music-making. Developing aural awareness is fundamental to musical training because having a ‘musical ear’ impacts on all aspects of musicianship. Singing, both silently in the head and out loud, is one of the best ways to develop the ‘musical ear’. It connects the internal imagining of sound, the ‘inner ear’, with the external creation of it, without the necessity of mechanically having to ‘find the note’ on an instrument (important though that connection is). By integrating aural activities in imaginative ways in the lesson, preparation for the aural tests within an exam will be a natural extension of what is already an essential part of the learning experience.

In the exam

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams. The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is the object. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).

Assessment

A number of tests allow for a second attempt or for an additional playing by the examiner, if necessary. Also, where there is hesitation on the part of the candidate, the examiner will be ready to prompt, if necessary. In any such cases, this will affect the assessment. Marks are not awarded for each individual test nor deducted for mistakes but reflect the candidate’s overall response in this section.

Minor modifications (from 2011)

This syllabus includes the minor modifications introduced to some aural tests in 2011.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in new editions (from 2011) of Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice, available for purchase from music retailers and from the ABRSM music shop.

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates may opt to respond to alternative tests in place of the standard tests, if requested at the time of entry. The syllabus for these tests is available free on request from ABRSM's Access Coordinator. Examples of the alternative tests are available for purchase from Allegro Music (T +44 (0)1885 490375; E sales@allegro.co.uk). The minor modifications (from 2011) do not affect the alternative aural tests.

Piano Grade 8 Piano

2013 & 2014

Piano Grade 8 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Prerequisite for entry

Candidates for Practical Grades 6, 7 and 8 must already have passed one of the following qualifications (see Regulation 1):

  • ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or any solo Jazz subject. For alternatives, see the prerequisite page.

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Melody Writer

A new tool designed to help improve your melody writing and music theory knowledge and understanding.

Speedshifter

A practice tool that allows you to vary the speed of audio without altering the pitch.

 

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