A question for you – what makes a good grade 5 flute player?
It’s notoriously difficult to excel at this grade so it is perhaps an interesting exercise to think about which of the following your potential candidate might possess before matching them up with repertoire. :
- The basics – a more developed sound with increased finger speed, and snappier tonguing
- More stylistic awareness which results in the choice of a balanced programme
- Confidence in their playing and the ability to take ownership of the performance
The ABRSM book for this grade is very strong and will challenge all these questions most successfully. But even so there is plenty of variety and quality to be found elsewhere. There will come a time when the examiners will be very happy to hear some new music!
This is a classic list including the usual mix of Handel, Telemann and Beethoven, plus an arrangement of the Dvorak Humoresque. The Allegro from the Sonata in G major by Pietro Locatelli from 300 Years of Flute Music will also be very popular and used a great deal.
This compilation is also included at grades 4, 6, 7 and 8 – another great value purchase!
Drouet: Rondeau from Sonata in A minor (Three Little Sonatas)
If you didn’t include the Cantabile from this Sonata for grade 4, here is another chance to explore Drouet’s charming style. Easy on the eye, ears and technique, this is a good way to learn about structure as the movement uses repeats and da capos in a more intricate way than usual. You’ll love it!
Frederick the Great: Allegro assai from Sonata in A minor, Spitta No. 21
The music of the flute enthusiast Frederick the Great has been overshadowed by that of his teacher Quantz and is not often played. This Allegro, together with another one set for grade 7 are both really interesting.
Mainly set in the middle register, the articulation is tricky but the small range of notes used helps to limit the technical demands. It’s rhythmically engaging and lovely to play. You can purchase this Sonata separately but if you have fallen head over heels for Frederick’s charms, this and the equally appealing Sonata No 76 set for grade 7 are available in one volume!
Giuseppe Rabboni: Sonata No 10 in D minor from Sonatas for Flute and Piano
If these sonatas have passed you by, you are in for a real treat! Although the book appears expensive it is set for grades 6 and 7 too, and includes a demonstration and playalong CD. This is beautiful and worth the purchase price alone!
The great thing about all these Sonatas is that they are all so tuneful. You do need your wits about you for this one though. A great sound and musicality will help but poise and a sense of style are essential to bring this fabulous slow movement to life!
There are more stunning tunes on this list which contains some little-known pieces which are soon to become famous!
Bock and Harnick: Sunrise, Sunset from Roll Over Bach arranged by Adam Gorb
One of the great songs from Fiddler on the Roof and the arrangement is lovely.There is a real duo feel here with the evocative sweeping melody passing between flute and piano in the opening section. The famous chorus doesn’t appear until bar 34, and even then it’s still split between the instruments. This is more akin to a fantasy than a straightforward transcription, which if played beautifully, could be most effective.
Richard Lane: Caprice
This is a very appealing if rather quirky piece. The rhythms are relatively simple and the whole piece lies nicely in the middle of the flute so the principal task here is to learn the notes in the passage work and accomplish the main tonguing patterns.The partnership with the piano will deliver the interesting harmonic style and, best of all, it’s only a minute long!
Wilhelm Popp: Spanish Dance from Romantic Miniatures Vol 1
This is yet another fantastic piece! It’s one of those gems that sounds more difficult than it actually is, so it’s great fun to play! The straightforward rhythmic structure and technical challenges are simply presented to get you off to a flying start. It’s then possible to play it at the correct Bolero speed which is so evocative of Spain. All you need then is a pair of castanets!
There isn’t really a dud on this list – you can’t go wrong!
Bizet: Gypsies Dance from A Bizet Notebook arranged Simon Hunt
It’s such a treat to be able to play these good solo flute arrangements of Carmen for an exam. A treasure of a book, it’s very good value especially as it is set for grades 3, 6 and 7 as well. This famous dance is quite short so the detailed finger patterns will be the focus of attention here. Everyone knows this tune though and that always makes practising easier!
Helen Madden: Icing on the Cake from 20 Fantastic Studies
I love this book of well-written original studies by Helen Madden, all of which have great titles. Each one has practice tips too. This one is technically demanding and the composer herself recommends slow practice. A clear incentive perhaps? You also need really good control of dynamics to fully bring out the character which should be ‘stylistic and bold’. If you like real jazz you’ll love this.
Investing in music at this level is still difficult to encourage, but with this amount of choice the task of persuading parents to part with their money should be much more straightforward!
Find this exam music and more using the Just Flutes Exam Music Finder