The Student Room Group

HELP- Choosing pieces for ABRSM piano diploma (performance)

Any recommendations? I'm a bit stuck... all I have on my list right now is Ravel's Sonatine (that third movement though...).

Any suggestions for practice pieces to brush up on technique are also appreciated :smile:

Thanks!
Reply 1
Hi! :smile: I'm not a pianist, so can't help with the technique, but re. the Dip programme, it's a good idea to show variety both in terms of style and period. (I played some baroque fantasias so I could talk about ornamentation and the like, a classical concerto, and then a set of theme and variations by Chopin and then Debussy, for example.) Mostly though, I'd recommend listening to and playing as many of the pieces as you can, and just go for which you enjoy most - you'll be practising them for quite a while at the end of the day!

Good luck :smile:
Chopin's Variations Brillantes Op.12 is a really good piece to learn (it's in the DipABRSM repertoire list and the LTCL additional repertoire list :P)
Schubert's Sonata in A Major D664 is a beautiful piece ^.^ It's not too difficult either

Those are my main recommendations, but I also know:

Lennox Berkeley, Concert Study in Eb - A bit difficult, but quite a lot of fun
Rachmaninoff, Preludes Op.32 No.5 and No.12 - Both are not very difficult, but are also quite beautiful

And a Bach Prelude and Fugue goes down quite nicely as well :smile:
Reply 3
Thanks guys :biggrin:
Original post by nghz
Thanks guys :biggrin:

Just ABRSM forums is a good place to go to for dip enquiries :
Original post by nghz
Any recommendations? I'm a bit stuck... all I have on my list right now is Ravel's Sonatine (that third movement though...).

Any suggestions for practice pieces to brush up on technique are also appreciated :smile:

Thanks!


Pick a nice baroque/classical piece. Look at Bach's Preludes and Fugues both WTC I and II, Mozart Sonatas, Haydn Sonatas, Beethoven Sonatas. Remember you'll have to play the complete sonata, not just a single movement (though you probably know that already!)

I'd then pick a big romantic piece; look at pieces by Schumann, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms.

With the sonatine, that should cover the time allocation but if it doesn't, I'm guessing you're only going to need probably 5 more minutes of playing so choose a relaxing, delicate, modern piece (can also be your own choice i.e not on the set list) perhaps Gershwin, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Shostakovitch, Stravinsky. Since you've already chosen the Ravel, I'd stay clear of another impressionist/French/poetic piece so don't bother looking at Faure, Poulenc, Debussy etc.

Regards to your question about 'practice' pieces - use the finger exercises by Dohnanyi; I cannot stress this enough - these exercises should be your bible - just simply set aside 5-10mins of your practice time for these exercises, they really really help, trust me! For actual 'pieces' I'd suggest starting with some Chopin Etudes both Op. 10 and 25. I started with op 10 no 5 and op 25 no 12 a couple of years ago, I'd say those are the two that are most manageable. For now at DipABRSM level, stay well clear of all Liszt studies, Rachmaninoff studies, Scriabin studies, Saint-Saens etc. etc. Chopin's an excellent starting place for etudes yet still gives you enough of a technical challenge!

If you need any more advice, feel free to ask - I've played a lot of what's on the diploma set lists, including the Sonatine, so ask away!
(edited 10 years ago)
Original post by Alleykat606
If you need any more advice, feel free to ask - I've played a lot of what's on the diploma set lists, including the Sonatine, so ask away!


Have you tried/learnt Mazeppa, Transcendental Etude S.139 No.4 by Liszt before? I need some help with getting the theme sections up to speed, and to make the development sound more musical (it's difficult because of the massive arpeggios in the left hand, while trying to get the right-hand to play accurately and with a soft touch)

I'm trying to get the Mazeppa ready by the time my junior RAM/RCM auditions come round >.<

(edited 9 years ago)
Original post by Applequestria
Have you tried/learnt Mazeppa, Transcendental Etude S.139 No.4 by Liszt before? I need some help with getting the theme sections up to speed, and to make the development sound more musical (it's difficult because of the massive arpeggios in the left hand, while trying to get the right-hand to play accurately and with a soft touch)

I'm trying to get the Mazeppa ready by the time my junior RAM/RCM auditions come round >.<



oh god...such bad memories of this piece! To be honest, it's a bitch, but if you practice it right, the rewards are amazing...

For getting up to speed, there's really nothing much you can do but practice it very slowly - it also helps to break it down into very small sections (about 1-2 bars) and play it up to speed, trying to be as accurate as possible. Do all the standard stuff - rhythms, crossing-over, note-by-note, taking out the inner and outer parts. However, you should remember it doesn't have to be blow-your-socks-off fast, and can be played actually rather steadily (listen to Ovchinnikov - he plays it wonderfully) and don't be afraid to just hold the tempo off especially for the larger leaps.

As for the development section, just focus on the melody in the LH - what I did was play the RH in full but missed out the full chords in the LH, playing just the top note - this should help you discover how to phrase and shape the music...when you've got that nailed then add in your chords. For the RH, when you're practising, don't worry about playing with a soft/gentle touch but focus on the accuracy first, and the touch will come as you know the piece more, trust me - really try to 'flick' your wrist and pick your fingers up, and generally loosen up. It's very easy to become stiff when playing this piece, even in the softer sections. Analyse the music too! Just like you would if you were doing it for Music A level - pick out the harmonic progressions, tonal shifts, interesting chords, melodic phrasing etc. this will help your understanding of the piece as well as musicality and memorising it.

It's a big piece, and I wish I'd be able to show you in person how to practice it because it's quite hard to do so in front of a computer! Good luck with your auditions though :smile: and what other pieces are you thinking of playing?
(edited 9 years ago)
Original post by Alleykat606
For getting up to speed, there's really nothing much you can do but practice it very slowly - it also helps to break it down into very small sections (about 1-2 bars) and play it up to speed, trying to be as accurate as possible. Do all the standard stuff - rhythms, crossing-over, note-by-note, taking out the inner and outer parts. However, you should remember it doesn't have to be blow-your-socks-off fast, and can be played actually rather steadily (listen to Ovchinnikov - he plays it wonderfully) and don't be afraid to just hold the tempo off especially for the larger leaps.


Yup, that's what I've been doing... For the past few months >.< Interestingly, I find the 1st occurrence of theme the most difficult, then the 3rd, then the 2nd, then the 4th one (I find the last one easiest because it's mainly plain octaves - my hands are small, and I seem to miss chords more) I wasn't gonna get it to Berezovsky speed anyway, I think he plays a bit too fast :tongue:

Original post by Alleykat606
As for the development section, just focus on the melody in the LH - what I did was play the RH in full but missed out the full chords in the LH, playing just the top note - this should help you discover how to phrase and shape the music...when you've got that nailed then add in your chords. For the RH, when you're practising, don't worry about playing with a soft/gentle touch but focus on the accuracy first, and the touch will come as you know the piece more, trust me - really try to 'flick' your wrist and pick your fingers up, and generally loosen up. It's very easy to become stiff when playing this piece, even in the softer sections.


I never thought of the practicing just the LH top note before - that'll be quite useful ^.^ The right-hand section reminds me a lot of Chopin's Etude Op.25 No.12 or perhaps Op.10 No.1, but the problem here is that I'm playing chords each time instead of separate notes, which tend to be my weakness (i.e. Ballade No.3 chordy-jumpy bit near the end)

Original post by Alleykat606
Analyse the music too! Just like you would if you were doing it for Music A level - pick out the harmonic progressions, tonal shifts, interesting chords, melodic phrasing etc. this will help your understanding of the piece as well as musicality and memorising it.


I've not finished my GCSE yet xD But yeah, I'll try doing that.

Original post by Alleykat606
Good luck with your auditions though :smile: and what other pieces are you thinking of playing?


Either Feux Follets or Chopin's Sonata No.3, Op.58 4th movement ^.^ I can play both of them to about performance standard now (but of course, I spent over a year on Feux Follets >.<), so I just need to make sure I keep practicing :biggrin:
(edited 9 years ago)
Original post by Applequestria
Yup, that's what I've been doing... For the past few months >.< Interestingly, I find the 1st occurrence of theme the most difficult, then the 3rd, then the 2nd, then the 4th one (I find the last one easiest because it's mainly plain octaves - my hands are small, and I seem to miss chords more) I wasn't gonna get it to Berezovsky speed anyway, I think he plays a bit too fast :tongue:



I never thought of the practicing just the LH top note before - that'll be quite useful ^.^ The right-hand section reminds me a lot of Chopin's Etude Op.25 No.12 or perhaps Op.10 No.1, but the problem here is that I'm playing chords each time instead of separate notes, which tend to be my weakness (i.e. Ballade No.3 chordy-jumpy bit near the end)



I've not finished my GCSE yet xD But yeah, I'll try doing that.



Either Feux Follets or Chopin's Sonata No.3, Op.58 4th movement ^.^ I can play both of them to about performance standard now (but of course, I spent over a year on Feux Follets >.<), so I just need to make sure I keep practicing :biggrin:


Good luck with learning it :smile: it'll take time but just be patient and it'll eventually 'click' and then you've got it

Wow...big pieces! Hope you have a great (and brave!) teacher!
Original post by Alleykat606
Good luck with learning it :smile: it'll take time but just be patient and it'll eventually 'click' and then you've got it

Wow...big pieces! Hope you have a great (and brave!) teacher!


Somehow managed to get into the Junior Academy of the RAM (wasn't able to attend the RCM auditions), despite a lot of big mistakes (especially on Mazeppa - I think I must have missed every right-hand octave in the last variation)

I also messed up those scaley parts of the Chopin Piano Sonata Op.58 Mvt.4 >.<
(edited 9 years ago)
Original post by Applequestria
Somehow managed to get into the Junior Academy of the RAM (wasn't able to attend the RCM auditions), despite a lot of big mistakes (especially on Mazeppa - I think I must have missed every right-hand octave in the last variation)

I also messed up those scaley parts of the Chopin Piano Sonata Op.58 Mvt.4 >.<


That's excellent - well done! Ah a few mistakes doesn't matter :smile: Do you know who your teacher is?
Original post by Alleykat606
That's excellent - well done! Ah a few mistakes doesn't matter :smile: Do you know who your teacher is?
Nope, not yet - I've only got an offer letter and some student admission sheet.

Do you know when I get to know who my teacher is?
(edited 9 years ago)
Original post by Applequestria
Nope, not yet - I've only got an offer letter and some student admission sheet.

Do you know when I get to know who my teacher is?


Umm did you ever get asked at audition or on the application who your first-choice would be? If not then you should get to choose before September anyway.

It would also be good to have some consultation lessons perhaps to see which ones you prefer. I've had lessons with a few so you can ask me but it's best you go organize a lesson yourself to see which teacher suits you (regarding communication, rapport, specialising etc.)
Original post by Alleykat606
Umm did you ever get asked at audition or on the application who your first-choice would be?


My parents filled in my application form without me knowing >.< I didn't get asked either. It sounds pretty interesting though, that you get to choose your teacher, because I wasn't able to when I first went to the RCS.

Original post by Alleykat606
It would also be good to have some consultation lessons perhaps to see which ones you prefer. I've had lessons with a few so you can ask me but it's best you go organize a lesson yourself to see which teacher suits you (regarding communication, rapport, specialising etc.)


Actually, could you PM me and recommend some teachers (and give some details about what you thought about each)? Thanks ^.^
Reply 15
I did my dipabrsm 2 years ago and I remember the best tip for choosing your programme is to pick pieces that aren't very well known! Examiners get less bored and might enjoy the freshness of your programme - plus it gives you something to talk about in the viva voce when they ask you why you chose your pieces.

I did:
Bach - p&f in g minor book 2
Beethoven - sonata op10no2
Szymanowski - étude (this is really nice)
Dohnanyi - cascades (own choice)
Faure - barcarolle no1
Poulenc - toccata (quite famous but good for ending)


Posted from TSR Mobile
The Thing with practise is to play it veryslow and to use your time in What ever you cant get right example 2\3 timing as in the rachmaninov concerti.I hope this help
Reply 17
Original post by Alleykat606
Pick a nice baroque/classical piece. Look at Bach's Preludes and Fugues both WTC I and II, Mozart Sonatas, Haydn Sonatas, Beethoven Sonatas. Remember you'll have to play the complete sonata, not just a single movement (though you probably know that already!)

I'd then pick a big romantic piece; look at pieces by Schumann, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms.

With the sonatine, that should cover the time allocation but if it doesn't, I'm guessing you're only going to need probably 5 more minutes of playing so choose a relaxing, delicate, modern piece (can also be your own choice i.e not on the set list) perhaps Gershwin, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Shostakovitch, Stravinsky. Since you've already chosen the Ravel, I'd stay clear of another impressionist/French/poetic piece so don't bother looking at Faure, Poulenc, Debussy etc.

Regards to your question about 'practice' pieces - use the finger exercises by Dohnanyi; I cannot stress this enough - these exercises should be your bible - just simply set aside 5-10mins of your practice time for these exercises, they really really help, trust me! For actual 'pieces' I'd suggest starting with some Chopin Etudes both Op. 10 and 25. I started with op 10 no 5 and op 25 no 12 a couple of years ago, I'd say those are the two that are most manageable. For now at DipABRSM level, stay well clear of all Liszt studies, Rachmaninoff studies, Scriabin studies, Saint-Saens etc. etc. Chopin's an excellent starting place for etudes yet still gives you enough of a technical challenge!

If you need any more advice, feel free to ask - I've played a lot of what's on the diploma set lists, including the Sonatine, so ask away!

I found your suggestions are very useful. however, my son is 9 years old and he has small hands still, he will be just about to manage with 1 octaves on the sideway. I would thought most diploma piece will be have plenty of octaves?
Reply 18
Original post by Alleykat606
Pick a nice baroque/classical piece. Look at Bach's Preludes and Fugues both WTC I and II, Mozart Sonatas, Haydn Sonatas, Beethoven Sonatas. Remember you'll have to play the complete sonata, not just a single movement (though you probably know that already!)

I'd then pick a big romantic piece; look at pieces by Schumann, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms.

With the sonatine, that should cover the time allocation but if it doesn't, I'm guessing you're only going to need probably 5 more minutes of playing so choose a relaxing, delicate, modern piece (can also be your own choice i.e not on the set list) perhaps Gershwin, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Shostakovitch, Stravinsky. Since you've already chosen the Ravel, I'd stay clear of another impressionist/French/poetic piece so don't bother looking at Faure, Poulenc, Debussy etc.

Regards to your question about 'practice' pieces - use the finger exercises by Dohnanyi; I cannot stress this enough - these exercises should be your bible - just simply set aside 5-10mins of your practice time for these exercises, they really really help, trust me! For actual 'pieces' I'd suggest starting with some Chopin Etudes both Op. 10 and 25. I started with op 10 no 5 and op 25 no 12 a couple of years ago, I'd say those are the two that are most manageable. For now at DipABRSM level, stay well clear of all Liszt studies, Rachmaninoff studies, Scriabin studies, Saint-Saens etc. etc. Chopin's an excellent starting place for etudes yet still gives you enough of a technical challenge!

If you need any more advice, feel free to ask - I've played a lot of what's on the diploma set lists, including the Sonatine, so ask away!

your suggestion are very useful. however my son is 9 years old and his hands are still small and just about to manage 1 octaves on the side but not from the top. any pieces you would recommend that easier with octaves manageable?

Quick Reply