Tag: programme notes

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!

More on My Online Piano Consultation Lessons

Teresa Wong

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教授:专业美国印第安纳大学音乐学院毕业、钢琴演奏硕士、黄颖妍音乐学校创办人黄颖妍老师

出版书籍包括: Technique Transformation Piano Exercise Book / 钢琴技巧改造练习书册,Piano Freedom(暂定: 钢琴真自由),Music on Wings Piano Beginner Course Book 钢琴初阶课程。

网上课程内容:钢琴技巧改造训练,英国皇家音乐学院级别及文凭演奏考试训练,英国圣三日音乐学院文凭演奏考试训练,美国音乐学院面试预备训练,音乐历史、音乐乐理、听力、视唱、键盘技巧、钢琴即兴和伴奏、音乐创作、钢琴演奏等训练,以及音乐学术文章写作。

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有兴趣跟黄老师上课的话,请直接联络我们。电邮是twsomusic@gmail.com. 

课程可以以广东话、国语、或英語上课。

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[:en]Piano Diploma Exams: Programme Notes (ABRSM/TCL)[:zh]Diploma Exams: Program Notes[:]

[:en][anti-rclick]May 15, 2011


For students preparing for diploma exams or even music students studying at a university/conservatory, occasionally there are chances to write “program notes”, which simply said is to introduce about the pieces performing in one’s concert/recital (exam).

So how do we write some decent programme notes?


Just like writing a good essay or story, there should always be a clear and well-planned structure, with the following three parts/paragraphs: introduction, main body, and conclusion.

In the introduction, you can write something about the composer – for the more obscured/less well-known ones – or about the genre/background of the piece – do not write “J.S. Bach is the most famous composer from the Baroque period. He was born in….” etc. this sort of obvious information. Make the introduction short and brief, with a couple clear points to give background to the piece.

In the main body, you can first explain the title of the piece. It usually tells about either the genre/structure/form of the piece, or the meaning about the piece. E.g. if it is a sonata, then the first movement would most likely be in sonata form; but do not write “in a sonata form, there are exposition, development and recapitulation”, unless there is in fact any deviation from the normal structure. Write something special about the piece.

Do not be too technical about the structure. Merely write about the key change and thematic materials is boring! Remember, the programme notes is for general audience’s reading. However, do not be too sentimental or even make something up about the piece. You have to provide some solid information while at the same time give our own personal judgment or feeling about the music. After all, it is all about balance.

The main body is the biggest part of the whole programme notes, like the main course, the entrée to a great full meal. Select a few ideas and drop them down on a scrap paper before you actually write the paragraph. How many ideas you have to select depends on how long the program notes you are going to write. Play or listen to the music to get more grasp of what elements you want to bring out in the notes.

The conclusion, or the ending of the program notes is not always necessary, however useful at times. Close with a clean ending sentence with a clear solid idea to round up the whole notes. Make sure you present all your ideas in the main paragraph and do not leave anything hanging unfinished.


***

Now, let me give you a sample of my programme notes I wrote some years back here:


Ballade Op.23 in G minor (1835) Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)

Inspiration from poetic and literary fields was important in music from the Romantic period. The term “ballade” was used as a title for a collection of four pieces by Chopin, whose choice of title might have been inspired by a reading of his Polish compatriot Mickiewicz’s literary ballads. This particular piece is said to be influenced by the ballad “Konrad Wallenrod”, in terms of its poetic style and structural design.

This ballade, written in 1835, subtly reveals the composer’s love and yearning for his native country Poland which he left for Paris to further his career. Starting with a rather slow and suspending motion with tremendous heaviness, it flows into a moderate waltz-like tempo, with longing emotion in the first theme; it then becomes more restless and expands into sparkling movement. The second theme is colorfully sentimental and serene. However, the tranquility is put to a stop by the return of the first theme and the music gradually becomes more strikingly powerful. A brilliant passage on the high register is followed by a light-hearted section which dance rhythm allows only a brief respite before the musical rage comes back again in a wave-like motion. The last presentation of the varied first themes brings the music to the coda in which Chopin’s complicated emotion seems to outburst in a thunderous storm. This outbreak of sentimental sadness and burning rage is brought to an end by glistening scales and shrill octave progressions.


***

The ABRSM has published a brief guide to writing programme notes a few years ago. It is a useful reference for you all. Click here for the link.


I shall give you more samples of my programme notes later.


Until next post,


Teresa Wong


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[:zh][anti-rclick]May 15, 2011


For students preparing for diploma exams or even music students studying at a university/conservatory, occasionally there are chances to write “program notes”, which simply said is to introduce about the pieces performing in one’s concert/recital (exam).

So how do we write some decent program notes?


Just like writing a good essay or story, there should always be a clear and well-planned structure, with the following three parts/paragraphs: introduction, main body, and conclusion.

In the introduction, you can write something about the composer – for the more obscured/less well-known ones – or about the genre/background of the piece – do not write “J.S. Bach is the most famous composer from the Baroque period. He was born in….” etc. this sort of obvious information. Make the introduction short and brief, with a couple clear points to give background to the piece.

In the main body, you can first explain the title of the piece. It usually tells about either the genre/structure/form of the piece, or the meaning about the piece. E.g. if it is a sonata, then the first movement would most likely be in sonata form; but do not write “in a sonata form, there are exposition, development and recapitulation”, unless there is in fact any deviation from the normal structure. Write something special about the piece.

Do not be too technical about the structure. Merely write about the key change and thematic materials is boring! Remember, the program notes is for general audience’s reading. However, do not be too sentimental or even make something up about the piece. You have to provide some solid information while at the same time give our own personal judgment or feeling about the music. After all, it is all about balance.

The main body is the biggest part of the whole program notes, like the main course, the entrée to a great full meal. Select a few ideas and drop them down on a scrap paper before you actually write the paragraph. How many ideas you have to select depends on how long the program notes you are going to write. Play or listen to the music to get more grasp of what elements you want to bring out in the notes.

The conclusion, or the ending of the program notes is not always necessary, however useful at times. Close with a clean ending sentence with a clear solid idea to round up the whole notes. Make sure you present all your ideas in the main paragraph and do not leave anything hanging unfinished.


***

Now, let me give you a sample of my program notes I wrote some years back here:


Ballade Op.23 in G minor (1835) Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)

Inspiration from poetic and literary fields was important in music from the Romantic period. The term “ballade” was used as a title for a collection of four pieces by Chopin, whose choice of title might have been inspired by a reading of his Polish compatriot Mickiewicz’s literary ballads. This particular piece is said to be influenced by the ballad “Konrad Wallenrod”, in terms of its poetic style and structural design.

This ballade, written in 1835, subtly reveals the composer’s love and yearning for his native country Poland which he left for Paris to further his career. Starting with a rather slow and suspending motion with tremendous heaviness, it flows into a moderate waltz-like tempo, with longing emotion in the first theme; it then becomes more restless and expands into sparkling movement. The second theme is colorfully sentimental and serene. However, the tranquility is put to a stop by the return of the first theme and the music gradually becomes more strikingly powerful. A brilliant passage on the high register is followed by a light-hearted section which dance rhythm allows only a brief respite before the musical rage comes back again in a wave-like motion. The last presentation of the varied first themes brings the music to the coda in which Chopin’s complicated emotion seems to outburst in a thunderous storm. This outbreak of sentimental sadness and burning rage is brought to an end by glistening scales and shrill octave progressions.


***

The ABRSM has published a brief guide to writing program notes a few years ago. It is a useful reference for you all. Click here for the link.


I shall give you more samples of my program notes later.


Until next post,


Teresa Wong


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