Grade 4 abrsm

Grade 4 abrsm DEFAULT

Guide To Passing Grade 4: ABRSM Piano

We’re well into our list of guides to the ABRSM Piano Graded exams and today we’re focusing on Grade 4. Unlike Grades 1-3, Grade 4 does differ slightly in its structure and introduces some fantastic techniques into any pianist’s repertoire that will excel them into a fantastic level of play.

Much like the other grades, grade 4 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests, however what they do introduce is some slight differences in the ways the exam is marked, which we’ll break down below.

Before we jump into these differences, if you haven’t already, we’d highly recommend reading our guides to grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 first as they are all full of some fantastic tips to help relax you before the exam (which can be applied to any level of play!).

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Differences To The Exam

As always, the lead rule stands with Grade 4 and the approach that candidates should take…The examiners want to see you pass! Too often are examiners demonised as being too harsh or critical, but ultimately their sole purpose is to see you pass and encourage a joy for learning. Remember that they have been in your position before, so fully understand all of the pressures and nerves that can come with examinations.

If you are struggling with performing in front of others, read our guide to overcoming stage fright here.

When it comes to the sight reading stage of the exam, there are a few new techniques that you may need to learn and understand beforehand, namely: 6/8 timing, anacrusis (one or more unstressed notes before the first bar line of a piece or passage.), chromatic notes, pause signs and tenuto. If you are unsure on each of these, your teacher will be able to help you!

The Aural part of the exam also differs slightly in that you will be asked to play from memory a melody played twice by the examiner. The melody will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. This is an exercise which your teacher should have practiced in depth with you as playing from memory can seem a little strange to some at first. There is only one phrase to sing at Grade 4 but it is longer and a little more challenging to remember than the Grade 3 tests.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the Aural at this level is to sing 5 notes from the score. You have to read the notes from a score in this test and sing (or hum) them aloud. You will be given the key chord and starting note first such as C in a C major chord. The key to this exercise is to sing slowly, not only does this give you more time to think about the next note, but the examiner will be able to help you by playing the right note if you get a note wrong. Thankfully however, there are only a number of ways of arranging only five notes one after the other, so if you practise a lot you will start to remember the patterns. If you are unsure, speak to your teacher for more practice! 

More Piano Tips & Tricks

Understanding the detail in music. This part of the exam should be relatively straightforward as it is similar to grades 1-3. Here you will listen to a short piece played on the piano. Afterwards you will be asked two questions. One question will be about either: The major key or  minor key of the music, the tempo of the music and whether the music uses smooth or detached notes.

The second question however will be about what in the music gives the piece its character. Musical Character is essentially what gives the music it’s ‘feel’, or characteristics. For example, a piece that could be described as ‘dreamy’ or ‘peaceful’ likely sounds that way because it is slow in pace and gentle in dynamics, or it might have an expressive tune with a flowing arpeggio accompaniment. It’s important here to be specific and show off your knowledge, not only will it spark a nice conversation between you and the examiner, but speaking about music is every musicians favourite thing to do!

We hope this short guide to understanding the requirements of the grade 4 ABRSM piano exam helps you on your next step of your musical journey! If you are ready to step up your piano game and upgrade your piano, you may want to speak to our experts or visit our piano showroom today!

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Performance Directions Quiz Grade 4 – ABRSM


Take this Performance Directions quiz to test your knowledge of your ABRSM Grade 4 words! 

Remember for the ABRSM Theory exam you will need to learn a selection of Italian Terms. These terms are used to describe the tempo (speed), style and mood and Dynamics (how loud or soft the music should be). This quiz will also include the different musical signs that you are required to know. Including, the accent sign, staccato sign, repeat sign and the pause sign to mention a few! 

This is a 15 mark quiz. It includes a selection of 10 random performance directions from the Grade 4 syllabus, followed by 5 questions from the previous grades! 

Every time you do this quiz the questions will be different! So be sure to use this quiz regularly to ensure you have a good grasp of all of your performance directions.

Remember, learning your words will not only help you with your music theory knowledge. It will also help to improve your playing, in particular sight reading! Performance directions tell us how to play the piece so that we are able to interpret our pieces effectively! Just playing the notes on the page is not enough if you are to achieve a convincing performance of your pieces! 

Let us know how you get on with this Grade 4 performance directions quiz in the comments below! See if you can aim for the full 10 marks before moving onto the Grade 5 Performance Directions quiz!

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This book contains nine pieces from ABRSM's Grade 4 Piano syllabus for 2021 & 2022, three pieces chosen from each of Lists A, B and C. The pieces have been carefully selected to offer an attractive and varied range of styles, creating a collection that provides an excellent source of repertoire to suit every performer. The book also contains helpful footnotes and, for those preparing for exams, useful syllabus information.
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Product details

  • Sheet music | 24 pages
  • 227 x 303 x 4mm | 106g
  • 09 Jul 2020
  • Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1786013215
  • 9781786013217
  • 5,031

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🎹How to play ABRSM Piano Grade 5 Exam 2021 2022 All 9 Pieces tutorial - Hampstead Piano Academy

Here is a piece that will appeal to this candidates who possess flamboyance, confidence and excellent finger facility. It is an exhilarating piece to play containing an undercurrent of menace with a slightly sparse atmosphere. There are scale passages to play in the RH and slurred quavers in the LH. If chosen to play for the exam it would be an excellent piece to complete the set.

Minuet and Trio, D. 41 No. 21 Schubert

This piece, although elegant, refined and reminiscent of Mozart, doesn’t involve the emotions too much. The trio is not overly contrasted to the minuet. In some cases, players may find it difficult to maintain the listener’s interest.

Gavot: 3rd movement from Suite No. 2 in Bb Alcock

On first hearing this piece, the candidate may be intimidated by the presence of a number of ornaments. However, this pieces well-worth considering with its elegance and touches of Handel’s style. It is in ternary form and the middle section, although maintaining its elegance, contrasts well with the outer sections. It contains a number of different melodic patterns which help provide the listener with continuity and interest.

Allegro assai: 1st movement from Sonatina in F, Anh.5 No.2 Beethoven

Another justifiably well-known piece, is Beethoven’s Sonatina in F. Although there are references to Mozart’s style, it is unmistakably written by Beethoven. It contains drama within a refined manner, many scale passages and two-note slurs and the development section provides enough variation to maintain the listener’s interest. This may be the candidate’s first exposure to a piece written by Beethoven and would be a rewarding experience both learning and performing it.

Saraband: from Suite in E minor, BuxWV 236 Buxtehude

This piece may well appeal to those candidates who prefer playing music that is less relentless in its energy and momentum and this piece by Buxteude way well fill that category for them. It is a serenely beautiful piece containing a melancholic character, haunting and elegiac melodies and poise. The player must be capable of voicing particular notes and allowing the LH to support the RH in a resonant but non-obtrusive way.


4 abrsm grade


ABRSM 2021-2022 Grade 4, C:1. Teasing Song ~ Béla Bartók. Piano exam piece


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