• Sandra Howe

ABRSM Piano Grade 1: Stuff of Nightmares?


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I have recently added my chosen pieces from the ABRSM Grade 1 syllabus. The pieces are as follows:


Theme: from Theme and Variations, Sonatina No. 4 in D by Thomas Attword

Wiengenlied: No 4 from Five Songs, Op.49, arr. Nancy Litten by Johannes Brahms

The Lonely Road: No. 6 from Work and Play by Felix Swinstead

Happy Day by Ian King

Who Said Mice? From Cats by Joan Mary Last

The Egyptian Level by Kevin Wooding

I loved the Theme by Thomas Attword, although it is quite a tricky piece for grade 1 standards. There is a legato alberti bassline with a staccato melody, which is quite a difficult technique to achieve especially for young beginners. It is, however, an enjoyable piece to play and flows logically under the fingers.

Wiegenlied or “Cradle Song” is such a well-known piece I had to include it. Lots of younger students will love to play this and it is a fairly simple arrangement and fun to play.

The Lonely Road has a simple melody line with tied chords in the bass and occasional melody lines/decoration for the bass hand. A great piece for beginners with opportunity to learn about phrasing, developing legato technique and bass hand movement.

Group C pieces are usually my favourite and this syllabus is no exception. Happy Day is a super fun bluesy piece with a swung melody, Who Said Mice? Tells a tale of a cat chasing a mouse and The Egyptian Level is perfect for Halloween.

One of my students chose the Cradle Song and The Egyptian Level for her pieces with the aim of sending her chosen victim to sleep with the Cradle Song, proceeding to give them nightmares by playing The Egyptian level as they slept!

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