Category: dipABRSM viva voce

Reference Books For Specific Topic: Chopin

For those who are preparing for their piano performance diploma exams (ABRSM/TCL- dipABRSM/ATCL/LTCL/LRSM), here are some references on programme notes writing:

Title: Chopin: The Reluctant Romantic
Author: Jim Samson
(background/analysis (not structural) of works like Ballade and Scherzos)

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Title: Chopin, the four ballades‎
Author: Jim Samson

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Title: Chopin’s Letters 
Author: Frederic Chopin
Editor: E. L. Voynich 
Publisher: Dover Books on Music

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Title: Chopin: The Man and His Music
Publisher: Dover Books on Music
Author: James Huneker

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Title: In Search of Chopin
Publisher: Dover Books on Music
Author: Alfred Cortot

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Chopin: The Piano Concertos
Publisher: Cambridge Music Handbooks
Author: John Rink
Editor: Julian Rushton 

5 Tips to Prepare for Your Piano Diploma Exam (ATCL/dipABRSM)

Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for your piano diploma exam:

 

1. Read the Official Syllabus

Read the syllabus carefully: everything is written out very clearly in the syllabus provided by the music exam board you’re taking exam with, from the repertoire list, to time limit, writing format and word count. Go to the relevant link for your piano diploma:

ABRSM

Trinity College of Music

 

2. Choose a Well-balanced Program

It is advised to choose a program that includes pieces of not only from different musical periods but also varieties in musical styles and technical command. So think tempo contrast, different genres and structures (sonata/character piece/technical piece/fugue).

3. Show Your Strength and Hide Your Weakness

The recital program is for you to SHINE, to show your performance ability and musical understanding, rather than displaying your shortcomings in commanding a piece or two. Know your strength – usually your teacher (if you have one) would know quite well what that would be. Explore your ability and learn to perform pieces of higher level of difficulties is commendable, but knowing your limit is worth noting especially for exam purpose.

 

4. Combine Interest and Mastery in Your Exam Pieces

Choosing pieces you would like to learn is very important – but so is choosing pieces you CAN perform them technically and musically to the level of the diploma exam required. Do not choose pieces just because they are popular or technically demanding, but at the same time do not choose some music simply because they are obscure thinking the examiners have never heard and do not know how to mark them (think “new music”) – if that ever happens I suppose you as the candidate would not understand how to play it either! And don’t forget you have to talk about them if you’re taking any diploma exams with the ABRSM!

 

5. Understand the Difficulty when Preparing for a Diploma Exam

Preparing for a performance exam at a diploma level (whether ATCL/dipABRSM or higher) is a huge step up from grade 8 level – you have to not only learn how to play the piece but also really present the pieces at the performance level that a diploma requires. It’s a PERFORMANCE not just an exam.

Give time to prepare for it. Listen to a lot of performances, read a lot about the music, the history and the composer (you can find a lot of information online or at your local library). Find a great teacher to help you: even if it’s not regular lessons, take some lessons from a teacher or two to get advice and suggestions on your performance would really help you improve and be prepared for the exam.

Good luck to all of you who are preparing for your upcoming piano diploma. Enjoy the process and have fun with it!

 

Teresa Wong

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DipABRSM: Examples of Viva-Voce Questions(2)

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