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Exploring the new ABRSM flute syllabus 2018: Grade 7

Whisper it quietly but this might be time to invest in whole pieces or compilation books, rather than buy the ABRSM book itself!

List A:

This is another strong list with a more diverse range of periods than often.

The Rabboni Sonata in D major is particularly tuneful and highly recommended, especially for those less likely to be at home in the Baroque period.

For those who are, the Telemann Sonata in G major is a strong choice. Gluck’s Che faro senza Euridice arranged by Boehm is an absolutely wonderful piece published in the ABRSM book but it’s also available in Romantic Miniatures Volume 2 which you could then use for grade 8!

 

Less familiar are:

Frederick the Great: Allegro from Sonata in B flat Spitta No 76.

If you splashed out on the complete volume of these sonatas for grade 5 this one is a great option here. It’s also available separately and is well worth the money as the whole sonata is delightful.

The movement set is a lovely and sprightly fast movement which could be  tricky for the fingers. If you can sort out the tonguing to suit yourself you will be rewarded with a happy piece that will bring joy to everyone!

Serini: Andantino grazioso and Allegro assai from Sonata No 1 in D major

The beautiful slow movement which is quite Romantic in character is followed by a very lively Allegro assai. This is fiddly rather than difficult with the editorial trills making the writing very intricate.  It’s a challenge, as it should be at this level, but refreshingly different.

 

 

List B:

Again, the supporting pieces are strong. You may not need to look any further than the Poulenc, Faure, Berkeley or Tea for Two but there are other really interesting options available to explore too!

Edward German: Intermezzo

This is a lovely Intermezzo with a rather rambling rhapsodic format that is charming .It will need work to cement the ensemble as a result, especially as there are several changes of speed. Definitely worth a look though, especially if you liked the Saltarello from the last syllabus.

Moszkowski: Spanish Dance from 300 Years of Flute Music.

This will be valuable if you are looking for slightly less daunting. The Spanish style is one that everyone knows and there is plenty of character in the writing to help with interpretation. Blessed with a straightforward structure, this is definitely not as technically demanding as some of the other pieces. You may also have this book already so it makes sense to play something completely different from it!

Paul Wachs: La Flute de Pan from Romantic Miniatures Volume 1

This is another great French flute piece that has a lot in common with the  Mel Bonis that is published in the ABRSM book. It’s a little more straightforward in harmonic style though. It has a charming rhythmic simplicity, and if you have a student with a supple tone, good breathing and decent intonation, this is perfect!

List C:

There are some most interesting studies set for this grade which includes both core repertoire and the opportunity to leave your comfort zone! You might have already introduced your student to the Telemann Fantasias, or the  CPE Bach Unaccompanied Sonata so you’re instantly ahead of the game! However, be sure not to miss the expressive Prill Study in D minor from More Graded Studies Book 2 which is a tone colour challenge, and there is  the Toreador’s Song from The Bizet Notebook if you need something very well-known.  As ever though, there is always room for something different!

Alicia Hart: Scats from Scatadoodle

This book features at grades 4 and 5 (good value again!) and introduces the concept of the scat-singing technique used by jazz players. It’s a great choice if your accompanied pieces are more traditional. This piece has a natural swing rhythm which should be quite easy to learn as the patterns are quite repetitive. It’s technically fairly demanding with some big leaps around the flute but it’s is very well written with plenty of places to breathe. Playing this from memory would be relatively easy for any player used to doing this and would be very impressive in the exam!

There is just so much quality in the music set for this grade that you could quite easily never repeat the same set of pieces – even over 3 years!

 

 

Exploring the new ABRSM flute syllabus 2018: Grade 6

The choice of repertoire in all three lists is very wide and there is quite a variation in standard. Programme planning is a must now  and there is so much to choose from  – an embarrassment of riches!

List A:

All the greats are represented on this list so you may feel that Bach, Handel and Telemann are all you need to complement the repertoire from the ABRSM grade 6 book. This would mean you miss out on these gems though!

Drouet: Allegro Moderato from Sonata in A minor from Three Little Sonatas for Flute and Piano

This is the first movement of the Sonata which has been used at grades 4 and 5 so you can complete the set. Not the most difficult piece on the list but utterly lovely!

 

Giuseppe Rabboni: Sonata No 8 in C major from Sonatas for Flute and Piano

If you didn’t include the Sonata in A minor for grade 5 then perhaps now is your chance to explore these wonderful sonatas. This rather expensive book comes with a beautiful performance and play-along CD – great for de-stressing in a traffic jam!

This slow, one movement piece is completely charming, and once you have stopped worrying about how black it looks on the page, relatively straightforward technically.  You do need a great sound though, and immaculate intonation would be an added bonus! You’ll love it!

Vivaldi:  Allegro from Concerto in D major RV783

This energetic movement will provide a serious technical workout. You  need to play all those notes through the tutti passages too so stamina will be an issue. It’s easy style-wise though so if you can play it, it plays itself!

 List B:

The two block-buster pieces on this list  are the Gaubert Madrigal and Andy Scott’s And Everything is Still. Start with these and you can’t go wrong! However, there are 2 new pieces by English composers that might be of interest at some point. Both have the same wistful character:

John Frith: Arabesque

This slow, lilting waltz is really appealing. It has good structure which underpins the elusive harmonies and a lovely short cadenza passage. Played with conviction it will sound gorgeous!

 Paul Lewis: Lullaby for Laura from Pictures of Childhood

The same applies to this piece too, but here the style is a little more accessible. The 6/8 rhythms hold the melody together and despite a little technical section in the middle, this is the easier of the two to play successfully.

List C:

The general listing is full of books you might already have. Highlights from them are:

Entr’acte from A Bizet Notebook arranged Simon Hunt 

This is the Entra’cte to Act 4 so it’s full of energy and colour and you get to play both the famous oboe melody as well as the semiquaver flute passages. It works really well as a solo piece and is a great way to get to know yet another of those wonderful Bizet pieces!

Cavallini: Theme and Variation from More Graded Studies for Flute Book 2

More Romantic writing here with a beautiful theme for showing off breathing and tonal flexibility followed by a triplet variation. Quite a workout!

 

Oliver Ledbury: Imaginings from Flute Salad.

If you think you know this book but haven’t looked at the last page please think again.

To play this interesting study you really will need imagination, as it is possible that it’s the first time your student will have encountered this kind of writing. Although not technically difficult, it needs really good pacing and flexibility of both sound and rhythm to capture the meaning of the title. It’s a wonderful piece though and great one to make a good contrast in your programme.

Have fun with all these  – everyone will be happy with whatever you choose!

Exploring the new ABRSM 2018 Flute Syllabus: Grade 5

Blog snapshot – my recommendations at a glance!

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!

List A              

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.

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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!

List B

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!

List C:

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!

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Exploring the 2018 ABRSM Flute Syllabus: Grades 3 and 4

Wonderful music abounds at these two grades and the emphasis is on original music which is great for players at this level. There are also lovely tunes to enjoy, as well as a good helping of pieces in the jazz idiom.

Blog snapshot – my recommendations at a glance

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 3

List A

This list is crammed full of music by the greats. Bach and Mozart plus Handel, Grieg, Offenbach and Vivaldi– what more could you ask for! There is also scope for something a little different though:

Eisel: Paisanne from Classical Music for Children

This unusual gavotte-style dance in D minor has easy rhythms and a small note range so the emphasis can therefore be on playing the notes quickly. There are also no printed dynamics or articulation so you can be your own editor for the first time! Also set is the Andante by the same composer. This excellent book is a modern version of Flute Fancies – a mix of lovely pieces through the ages up to Satie. The book appears on the Grade 2 syllabus as well, making it financial as well as musical sense.

Shield: Old Towler arranged Emerson from An English Garland

This is a catchy number in 6/8 which will need to be played at a fast pace to be really successful. It’s completely different in mood to He Piped So Sweet (which is set for Grade 2), so the book is worth the outlay for the right student.

List B

You’re spoilt for choice here and there are three blockbuster tunes that everyone can sing along with!

  1. Gershwin: I Got Plenty of Nothin’ from Easy Gershwin
  2. You Only Live Twice from Hartbeat
  3. Hedwig’s Theme and Mr Longbottom Flies (Harry Potter) from Play HollywoodThis is a ‘must-have’ book with a ‘who’s who’ choice of 10 film themes. The playalong CD means hours of fun – exam or not!

But again if you’d like to be a little more adventurous:

Keith Bartlett: Happy Go Lucky from Just for Fun

The ‘No worries’ performance direction sums up this gem with its easy 6/8 tune in sunny C major – perfect!

Wedgwood: Scale-Learning Blues from Up-Grade Flute Book 2

This is another good value book with a variety of pieces that will really keep your student interested. Scale-Learning Blues is very good for teaching G minor with the swing making it all rather acceptable. There is also a D flat – there’s no time like now for learning that!

List C

Jazz-based studies are plentiful and these three are well worth a look. The books are set on other grades and very good in their own right – definitely worth the money!

  1. Of Mice and Keys or Search Engine from Jazz@Etudes
  2. Catch Up from 20 Fantastic Flute Studies. This book also contains pieces from the Grade 4 syllabus.
  3.  Yesterday’s Song or Waltzer from Flute Salad

My personal favourite, however, is something altogether different:

James Rae: Distant Shores from 42 More Modern Studies

This has such a beautiful melody!  A good sound and decent breath control will enable your student to make the most of the expressive intervals and meandering sequences that evoke the title so skilfully. A winner!

Grade 4: The Singing Grade

You can sing your way through a large part of this syllabus with anything from Bach to the Mexican Hat Dance!

List A

Drouet: Cantabile from Sonata in A minor from Three Little Sonatas

There is this a really appealing alternative piece should you need a change. It’s a great example of Classical elegance needing good breath control to sustain the melody and make the most of the phrasing. The other two movements of this Sonata are set for Grades 5 and 6 and the other two sonatas in the book are lovely too. This is a wise investment!

Another good compilation book to consider:

First Repertoire Pieces arranged by Peter Wastall

This is an old-fashioned type of book and if you consider yourself a traditional teacher you’ll love it! The two set pieces are the famous Vivace by JB Loeillet and an equally well-known piece by Wilhelm Popp – but you probably know them already!

Mendelssohn: The Shepherd’s Song

This is a wonderful and valuable piece of Romantic music which is at the top end of difficulty for the grade. Once mastered, however, it can be used for concerts, festivals, encores – in fact everything!

What makes it challenging? Rhythm, key, breath control, leaps, dynamics, and intonation – it even ends on a pianissimo top G. It is so worth it though, and if your student is good enough to play it they will forever love you for suggesting it!

List B

Michael Regan: Harmattan from Desert Winds

This has a lovely gentle jazz style which is held together by a rhythmic unity. You need good finger and lip control for this and as it’s quite a substantial piece stamina will be an issue for some. It has an approachable piano part too – hooray!

Arranged Ledbury:  A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square from Big Chillers

This is a great book to have if your student likes playing to their grandparents – it’s full of classic tunes like this! This one is irresistible and has been very well voiced for this level of flute player. The key is D major but there is an A major section in the middle. It’s relatively low though so it doesn’t have meltdown potential! There is also an element of performance skill required as the piece ends with the piano – hold that flute up until the end!

List C

These two options are sure to please:

Mark Nightingale Hard Drive or Scart Stomp from Jazz@Etudes

This is a great little book which is fun and contemporary with computer-speak titles. Both of these have a small note range to help concentrate the emphasis on the rhythm. Students will love them!

 

Phillip Sparke: Party Piece from Skilful Studies

This is a traditional skills piece in a modern guise but when played well it takes us straight to a knees-up! Simple rhythms and an easy key range are balanced out by higher notes and a mix of tonguing patterns which will should convey all the ebullience of the title. If you are prepared to put in the practice this will be such fun to play!

Taking these two grades should be fun and with this amount of variety in the listings everyone should be happy!

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Exploring the 2018 ABRSM Flute Syllabus: Grades 1 and 2

So here we are again! Astonishingly it’s 8 years since ABRSM introduced a selection of the music for each grade in one book. This seemed such a big event back then, but now we are all used to the format, like it or not!

The marketing of the ABRSM volumes has been even more targeted this time, and can now be accessed in three ways:

  1. New Exam Packs (Grades 1-5) containing pieces, scales, sightreading and a download code to access performance and accompaniment material.
  2. Selected Pieces for Grades 1-7 containing pieces and the download code.
  3. Scales and Sight-Reading Packs for Grades 1-5

As excellent as these books are, they will become very familiar all too soon! I want here to draw attention to the part of the syllabus that is often neglected nowadays: the alternative pieces. ABRSM examiners are always delighted when players come in with something different, so they really are worth investigating!

Grade 1

Depending on your point of view, the entire syllabus for Grade 1 can seem either safe – with many familiar tunes and books listed – or a little disappointing in that there’s not a lot new. That is really a teacher issue though, and I’m sure that your students will love what’s on offer! Quite a number of the alternative books set for Grades 1 and 2 are great value for money, including Time Pieces Volume 1, Harlequin Book 1 and  Winner Scores All. These books contain pieces for higher grades too, and as they are compilations they also give plenty of additional repertoire.  Study books that fall into this brief include Fifty for Flute Book 1, 125 Easy Classical Studies and Skilful Studies.

If you’d like to branch out a little and still provide a good return on investment, the  Grade by Grade series definitely fits the bill.  This is an alternative ‘exam pack’ with pieces, scales, sight-reading and aural specifically tailored to the Grade 1 player., along with creative tasks which are great fun. Each piece has performance directions to help overall musical understanding, the scales are linked to the keys of the pieces and the both the sight-reading and aural content is very well explained. A performance and accompaniment CD is included. The famous Haydn Minuet and the Susato Rondo set on List A are both very tuneful and have  just the right amount of challenge to effectively stretch a younger player.  On list B Helen Long’s Spooked  is great!

Helen Long – Spooked sample

It’s an imaginative piece with quirky changes of rhythm and articulation in A minor that really capture the title. The piano part is an integral part of this piece, which  gives a great starting point for the understanding of vertical structures. In other words for players to learn that there’s someone else playing with you!

Also on List B,  Ten Top Pops is another book crammed full of pieces kids will want to play.

Set for Grade 1 is the Theme from Wallace and Grommit – who can resist that?! The main difficulty with playing something well-known is playing what’s on the page and not what’s in your head! You’ll also need a good pianist but that shouldn’t be a problem – everyone will want to  have a go at this one!

The most interesting study book on List C is Sad Song or Articulate from Thirty One, Two, Three  Studies. Each of these little gems has a title to give focus to your practice. You can sing Sad Song as well as play it, as it has easy rhythms and a straightforward phrase structure. Articulate is a little more of a challenge and the rhythms can catch you out. As you might expect from this title, tonguing is the challenge but clear dynamic markings help with managing those contrasts so loved by examiners!

Grade 2

This is only a small step up from Grade 1 and, as some books will be already be familiar, the transition should be seamless. There are plenty of classical tunes and familiar songs to encourage tonal development and they are great for singing too!

A lovely choice for List A is Hook: He Piped So Sweet from An English Garland. Those with a naturally good sound will love this piece as it is so beautiful! There are bars rest to count and pauses to negotiate, so working with a pianist will be a top priority.  This book of 12 eighteenth century English melodies is very unusual and quite charming.  It’s also used at grade 3 so it’s great value too!

Harlequin Book 1 is a familiar and well-loved book, so it’s lovely to see that some new pieces have been set from it. The repetitive form of Tchaikovsky’s Ancient French Song makes this piece easy to learn, and it’s good for those struggling with the second octave as all the repeated sections are up there. You’ll also need to have a singing sound to make this sound really French – despite the Russian composer!

List B is all about singing too, and although  Wouldn’t It Be Loverly will be the ABRSM book  blockbuster there are some great – and surprising! – alternatives. There is something for everyone here!

Mr Benn from Mr Benn for FluteYounger players will be thrilled by the inclusion of this popular song and if they are real Mr Benn fans they will be able to learn all the other pieces in the album too!  The familiarity alone should make light work of practising, which is good news as it’s not as easy as you might expect. (The piano part also has it’s moments!) They can play The Wizard for Grade 4 if they can wait that long!

At the other end of the style spectrum  is the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black from HartbeatI’m not sure quite what Mick Jagger would make of his heavy rock number being played by fledgling flutes, but I daresay he is delighted to reach a new audience! Paul Hart has arranged this really well  so the piece is pitched at exactly the right level for the grade. Put away your prejudice – if your student is a good player with attitude, you can’t lose – and their parents and grandparents can rock along too!

There is plenty of good music to choose from on List C, but Jasmine Flower from More Graded Studies Book 1 is possibly the nicest. The Simultaneous Learning concept behind this book points you in the right direction before you start. This should help your student to focus on the musical as well as the technical detail. However, in this case I think they’ve missed a trick. The pentatonic scale used here (D major minus a few notes) is easily practised, and the impact this tonality has on the origin of the piece will really help the understanding of the style. You could even add in some improvisation exercises. Mike Mower has a similar piece in his excellent Junior Musical Postcards which encourages exactly that. It’s a really appealing piece and certainly makes a change from all that jazz.

This new syllabus certainly provides a great deal of choice for younger players.  Mixing and matching between the ABRSM publications and other books will definitely help making the exam process stay fresh for another four year!

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Exploring The 2014 ABRSM Flute Syllabus: Grades 6 and 7

By the time we reach this more advanced level, playing skills should be at the point where the choice of repertoire is based on stylistic considerations rather than technical ones. The 2014 ABRSM syllabus reflects this, with a myriad of pieces to choose from.

The good thing here is that most of the works are originals rather than arrangements. At Grade Six, List A is dominated by Baroque composers but the inclusion of a Walckiers Scherzo in the ABRSM book and a movement from a little-known concerto by Leopold Mozart further down the list means that you also have viable alternatives. The Walckiers in particular will be very popular despite its foray into E major for the lyrical trio, and the ‘bien rhythme et avec verve’ performance direction at the start gives you a flavour of its upbeat style. The Leopold Mozart Presto is similar and perhaps more tricky, but both pieces offer a refreshing change from the ‘there’s nowhere to take a breath’ dilemma. Perhaps the most interesting Baroque piece is actually in the unaccompanied section, again in the ABRSM book, with a sensitive arrangement by Trevor Wye of a Handel Allemande in C minor.

French music is well represented in the List B pieces of both grades. The wonderful Roussel Aria will have a much wider audience as it’s now in the book, and Caplet’s dreamy Reverie is available in The Flautist’s Collection Book 3, a lovely selection of music edited by Paul Edmund-Davies. These two pieces should be on everyone’s radar! For fans of Gaubert, the Sicilienne is still with us, and it is one of his most loved pieces. When bought together with the Madrigal, it represents a very good purchase.

List B opens up still further with two pieces by living artists. The American flautist and composer Gary Schocker is starting to gather a real fan base in the UK, and Spring Energy (or Heigh Ho) from Dances and Daydreams is typical of his quirky style. Here, strong rhythm, changing metre and unexpected harmonies give the almost-familiar melody a twist. Luckily the main theme keeps recurring in various guises to help with the technique, and the ending is suitably abrupt. Another contender for Best Piece of the Syllabus is And Everything is Still… by Andy Scott. Andy is really beginning to make a name for himself, and this is one gorgeous piece. Grab a copy now and enjoy the simple melody which ‘unravels alongside delicate harmonic statements, creating a calm and gentle atmosphere.

Sticking with living composers, Rob Buckland’s Charming Snakes in the ABRSM book will really appeal to those wanting to move away from the more traditional studies for the solo piece. The exotic writing contrasts a rhythmic dance-like figure with a flowing chromatic melody to produce a compelling piece that would stand up very well in a concert.

At Grade Seven, the ABRSM book may be less appropriate, as by now students often wish to purchase complete works. However, it does still have a part to play in introducing unusual repertoire at a reasonable cost. If you missed the Popp Sonatina in C last time round, here is another chance to savour its virtuosic flute writing. You need reasonable fingers for this, but everyone enjoys flashing around in an easy key! The Sonatina by the Dutch composer Jaap Geraedts is a gem – tuneful and rhythmic, with good ensemble skills essential for a successful performance. The charm of André Caplet’s Petite Valse is embodied in the rubato, where almost every bar changes speed. An excellent choice if you have already learned the Reverie at Grade Six, these two pieces together work well in a concert. The excellent With Life (also available in Russell Stokes’ book Tricky Jazz Singles) provides the best change of style for list C.

Away from the AB book there is an even broader range of genres. The pick of the Baroque choices on List A is possibly the B minor Sonata by Telemann. This is quite a dark work, and the two set fast movements have real technical challenges, especially as the writing is all in the lower registers of the flute. The other movements are not so hard, and playing the complete sonata is perfectly possible at this level.

If you prefer something sunnier, you might like to look at the Rondo from the Sonata in D major by the nineteenth century German composer Johann Wilms. This is a lively Allegro, with a spritely theme and a brief D minor interlude. Thirds and sixths abound in the duet style writing with the piano, which helps the ensemble, and the whole piece is very approachable, not to mention enjoyable!

Two works jump out from List B. The first is an absolutely delightful Nocturne by Lily Boulanger from a bargain of an album entitled Flute Music by Female Composers. Worth the money for this wonderful vignette alone, with its beguiling melody and simple accompaniment, this rather special book contains a range of material from the Baroque to contemporary works and will hold your interest for a very long time. Fujiko in Vocalise: Songs Without Words is another good piece by Andy Scott, this time in a more obvious jazz style. Its languid melody becomes ever more improvisatory without losing its melancholy and reflective feeling. Allthe pieces in this album, edited by Clare Southworth, have a song element but they are varied and well worth dipping in to.

Another alternative to the more traditional studies set for the solo list is the Polka from Dynamic Dances by Allen Vizzutti. If you have already used this book at Grade 5, you will appreciate the rhythmic drive of these pieces which evoke the character of the dance with a modern twist.

If you want to play the Kohler Study from Op 33, you might like to purchase the duet part published separately by IMC. This adds another layer of difficulty – performing the solo version will seem very easy by comparison!

These grades are important for a developing flute player and the need for variety as well as technical development has never been more acute. There is a great deal of interesting material here, which will make the task just a little easier.

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Exploring The 2014 ABRSM Flute Syllabus: Grades 1 to 3

ABRSM LogoThe publication of a new ABRSM syllabus is about as big an event as it gets in the publishing world these days, and having a piece set for grades 1-3 will generate a great deal of interest. The two parts of the 2014 listing (the AB books themselves and the extra set repertoire) will represent a large part of the material used by many flute teachers over the next few years, so it is fascinating to see what we have in store and how we can make it work for us.

The ABRSM books themselves provide a good range of styles for young players to experiment with.  The traditional Irish tunes set at Grades 1 and 2 provide a real finger workout, and Renaissance music makes a welcome appearance at Grade 2 with ‘Que je chatouille ta fossette’, attributed to Attaingnant. This piece appears in Music Through Time Volume 2, but is sure to be played much more often now. There is also a lovely arrangement of a Scarlatti Minuet at this level and a stunning Pergolesi song ‘Tre giorna son che Nina’ set at grade 3 which will need a musical player with a silky sound to perform it successfully.

A Flautist's CalendarThe neglected English composer Keith Amos is included at Grade 1 with ‘Lupin, the Pot-Bellied Pig’, a tuneful march sure to be very popular with younger players.  Grade 2 includes ‘February’s Rain’ from another over-looked book, ‘A Flautist’s Calendar‘  by Richard Kershaw. This is a contender for the loveliest piece set at any level, with a beguiling melody and flowing accompaniment.

There is also some rather obscure repertoire included, especially at Grade 3 where both the Claude Arrieu ‘Chanson de la Pasteur’ and David Gordon’s ‘Amazonian Mood’ will take some learning. If in doubt though, you can stay on safe ground with ‘Edelweiss’ at Grade 1!

The solo pieces have the usual mix of straight study, jazz, and simple tune. Highlights here are Nicky Iles’s ‘Jazz Waltz’ at Grade 1 which is a challenge to swing, and the enigmatic ‘Waltzlet’ by Mike Mower at Grade 2. My personal favourite though is Graham Lyons’s ‘Study in C’ which will keep your Grade 3 pupils happy – no key signature and a witty melody!

And what of the pieces that are not in the books? As this syllabus lasts until 2017 we will all surely need them. Luckily at these early levels it is possible to use the same alternative books for several grades, and these will obviously be the best place to start.

Harlequin Book 1Top of my list is ‘Harlequin’, an imaginative set of pieces put together by Simon Hunt and Cecilia McDowall. Harlequin Book 1 serves Grades 1, 2 and 3 and includes a CD which represents extremely good value. Composers used range from Daquin to McDowall herself, whose Grade 2 Circus Rag is not to be missed!

Another multi-purpose album is ‘Winner Scores All’ which appears at Grades 1 and 3. Here the flute part and accompaniment are sold separately and there will shortly be a CD playalong version too. ‘Truly Scrumptious’ set for Grade 1 is the main attraction, but both the Aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and a Grieg Norwegian Dance are tuneful alternatives for Grade 3. As with Harlequin, the repertoire is so varied that the book can be made to work really hard outside the exam environment as well.

Louise Chamberlain (aka Pam Wedgwood) has two pieces from her book ‘Step It Up!’ on the Grade 2 listing. Although both ‘Red Admiral’ and ‘King of Swing’ are jazz-based, this is a nice collection of tunes that most pupils will enjoy, especially as this CD has two speeds for each piece.

Hartbeat’ is an album worth buying for the cover alone! Paul Hart’s light style is already very popular and ‘Rainy Day in Paris’ will not disappoint you. This is the easiest piece in the book, and indeed ‘Lonely and Blue’ actually appears in the ABRSM Grade 4 book. Don’t let that put you off buying it though as there’s a wealth of good material here.

Globetrotters for FluteGlobetrotters’ is another interesting book that appears both in the Grade 1 ABRSM book and separately at Grade 3. Subtitled ‘12 pieces in styles from around the world’ and including a CD, both the Grade 1 ‘Guanabara Bay’ and the Grade 3 ‘Hole in my Shoe Blues’ have lyrics to help learning and a second flute part which really adds to the fun. This will prove to be a very popular book with developing players.

Two books from very well respected composers supplement the unaccompanied music lists. Philip Sparke’s ‘Skilful Studies’ and  James Rae’s ‘Style Workout’ provide interesting contrasts of style, with Sparke’s ‘Classical Theme’ at grade 2 being based almost entirely on a D major scale, whilst Rae’s ‘High Five’ at grade 3 is quite a  challenge. In 5/4 with some tricky rhythms, this will really test all round ability at this level.

However you choose your exam music, have fun and enjoy the new challenges it brings!