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Music Examinations Preparation

Top Tips From Professional Music Teachers

Pieces and Studies

~ Choose the pieces you really like with your teacher.

~ Practice slowly. Once you know the piece, practice it through without stopping, keep going and even if you make a mistake.

~ Tackle on short section you encounter with difficulties at a time with patience.

~ Practice with metronome, always work on a slower pace and gradually increase the tempo as you practiced on.

~ Prepare in good time – do not practice last minute before your exam. Practice regularly.

Suggested Books: Abrsm Exam Pieces Book  (Abrsm Publishing)

Grade 8 Piano Anthology (Edition Peters)

Josephine Koh Teachers’ Choice 2011-2012 (Wells Music Publishing)


Scales And Arpeggios

~ Practice daily as they are essential for building good technique.

~ Practice slowly with metronome.

Suggested Books: Piano Scales & Arpeggios (Abrsm)

Improve your scales! (Faber ff)

Hanon (Alfred / RhythmMp / Schirmer Performance Editions)

Czerny (Alfred / RhythmMp / Schirmer Performance Editions)



~ Keep going without stop is the key to a Pass

~ Watch out for the key and other details.

~ Do more

Suggested Books: Piano Specimen Sight Reading Tests (Abrsm)

Joining the Dots (Abrsm)

Sight Reading (Alfred)

Sight Reading For Today (Bosworth)

The Sight-Reading Sourcebook For Piano (Chester Music)

Right@Sight Piano (Edition Peters)

Improve Your Sight-reading! Piano (Faber ff)

Perfect Your Sight-reading! (Faber ff)

Piano Time Sight-Reading Book (Oxford)

Sight Reading for Young Pianists (Poco Studio)

Progressive Sight Reading Pre-Grade One (Simon Soh)



~ Listen to as much music as possible and attend live concerts whenever you can.

~Sing more or back to the tunes you have heard for the first time you on the Television or radio.

~ Join choir, band, chamber group or orchestra.

~ Read more books on the composers, their background, style and their work.

Suggested Books: (NEW) Specimen Aural Tests Grades (Abrsm)

Aural Training in Practice (Abrsm)

Ear Training Book (Alfred)

Prep Course For the Young Beginner Activity & Ear Training Book (Alfred)

Aural Time! (Bosworth)

Aural Test Survival Book (Edition Peters)

Improve your Aural ! (Faber ff)

ABC Of Aural Awareness (RhythmMp)


Other Advice From Professional Musicians

~ Practice separate hand at slow pace (be patient) , only speed up when you are “note perfect”

~ Practice everyday, of course. Everybody says “Practice make perfect!”

~ Concentrate and ignore any distractions

~ Warm up 10-15 mins before lesson, try to include scales, arpeggios, and sight reading each time you practise

~ Perform more often to family and friends, play with confidents.

~ Keep your instrument tuned and clean all the time

~ Ask if you do not understand, and jot it down

~ Listen to lots of music – pop, classical, jazz etc..

~Take good care of yourself by – eating a healthy, varied diet

– drink lots of water

– getting lots of sleep

– aiming for a good posture

– avoid real loud music that could damage your hearing

~ Enjoy and appreciate all kinds of music

2018 ABRSM Music Theory Syllabus Changes

ABRSM has made some minor changes to their Music Theory exams at Grades 1 – 5.  The new focus is on essential music theory knowledge and understanding at these levels. But there will be no changes to Grade 6 – 8 questions.

The key changes are:

  • Implementing multiple choice questions for musical signs and terms
  • Simplying questions so they are easier to understand. For instance:
    • -minimizing the amount of information on Time Signature questions (Grades 1 – 3)
    • -Simplifying Intervals questions layout (Grades 4 and 5)
    • -Simplifying the format for Grade 5, Question 7 (chords at cadence points), where Roman numerals are used to describe chords
  • Removal of word-setting, melody-writing and rhythm-writing questions, and the Grade 5 SATB short/open score question (these will be replaced by some questions based on existing focus on specific areas of theory knowledge familiar to candidates)
  • Renewing the format of all exam papers so they are more visually appealing

Overall, the underlying knowledge for each grade stays the same. Candidates are not required to learn anything new to prepare for the exams.

Grade 5 in Music Theory (or in Practical Musicianship or any solo Jazz instrument) remains a prerequisite before candidates could enter for Grades 6 – 8 Practical examinations.

If you plan on taking up an Intensive Music Theory Lessons at our school, give us a call or drop us a note and we’ll contact you soon..

Choose the right violin/cello/guitar sizes

Following is a simple guideline on how to choose the right sizes for Violins, Cellos and Guitar players.

Sizes of Violins

  • 1/16 – Suitable for young children age 3 to five years old. with an arm length of 14 to 15 3/8 inches.
  • 1/10 – Also for young musicians age 3 to 5 years old, with an arm length of 15 3/8 to 17 inches.
  • 1/8 – Again, for young violin enthusiasts age 3 to 5 years old with an arm length of 17.1 to 17.5 inches.
  • 1/4 – This violin is suitable for children 4 to 7 years old with an arm length of 17.6 to 20 inches.
  • 1/2 – For children ages 6 to 10 years old, with an arm length of 20 to 22 inches.
  • 3/4 – Children 9 to 11 years old with an arm length of 22 to 23.5 inches will enjoy playing this size violin.
  • 4/4 – For violinists age 12 and above with an arm length of 23.5 and up. This is the size for adults.

Sizes of Cellos (By Age Group)

  • 1/8 size – 4 to 6 years old
  • 1/4 size – 5 to 7 years old
  • 1/2 size – 7 to 11 years old
  • 3/4 size – 11 to 15 years old
  • 4/4 size – 15 and above

Sizes of Guitars (Acoustic/Classical)

  • 30″ (1/4 size)  –  Age 5 to 7
  • 34″ (1/2 size)  –  Age 7 to 9
  • 36″ (3/4 size)  –  Age 9 to 13
  • 38″ (7/8 size)  –  Age 14 to 20
  • 39″ – 42″ (Adult sizes)  – >Age 20

How To Rosin Your Violin Bow or Cello Bow For First Time Use

Most students and parents who bought their first Violin or Cello are excited to test out the instrument when they brought it home, only to be bewildered that no sound is produced when they put the bow to the strings. What’s missing? Well, it is the Rosin!

Bows are made from Horse tails and they’re obviously really dry when they’re new. These are some simple steps to rosin the bow for first time use:

  1. Use a sandpaper to remove the glossy surface of the rosin (optional but recommended)
  2. Start from the bottom of the bow, work out a 6 inch section for about a minute each time, all the way to the top.
  3. Be patient. It may take a few minutes during the initial bow preparation process.
  4. Wipe off any excess rosin powder on the bow or violin strings with a lint free cloth.