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Violin syllabus 2020-23


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#1 willobie

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 18:54

The new syllabus was launched today and I've taken delivery of books Initial-Five.  I'm interested know what other teachers think - especially the new Initial exam?

 

Trinity launched their new syllabus on Tuesday - there seems to be a lot of overlap of repertoire...

 

W


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#2 Jlma

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 20:20

Hi there

 

So far, I only had a look at both but not the actual sheet music. So I can only comment on the pieces I know (loads though) and my first impressions:

 

I'm quite disappointed that so many pieces are staying for another 4 years! After 4 years and with a year overlap, some more change would have been welcome. 

 

On top, both boards are recycling each other's current pieces and those from the syllabus before that, which many of us will still remember!

 

Some are obviously standard pupils repertoire. Vivaldi g major and Bach concertos - we shouldn't rob pupils of these pieces just because they're overplayed. For them it's a new experience and only fair they get the chance to play them in an exam.

 

Occasionally, a piece was/is a lower or higher grade in the other board (but then obviously one has to take into account how it's being played), but on the whole at least they seem to agree about the difficulty.

 

Interestingly, Trinity now offers less choice! ABRSM has now 30 pieces to choose from, Trinity only about 22 to 24 depending on the grade (sorry haven't counted them all exactly).

 

The Brahms d minor at grade 8 is obviously completely ridiculous - it's on ABRSM's very own FRSM list. I understand they expect a different level of playing, but even so, there would have been works much better suited to the average grade 8 student who is nowhere near professional level. So that one is obviously not a real option.

 

Also, I think Mozart and Beethoven sonatas should be left to post grade 8 and should not be on a grade 7 or 8 list. Many professionals have a lot of respect for these, and played by a grade 7/8 student they tend to sound more unsatisfactory than say, Haydn or Beriot or Ten Have (which are luckily on the lists), which I think are far more suitable for that level. 

 

I will have to have a closer look at both board's Initial requirements. I'm glad the Prep test is gone though, I never saw the point because it was so much harder than ABRSM's own grade 1 exam. I've always used Trinity's Initial exam a lot even when parents wanted their children to switch to ABRSM after that.

 

But Trinity's Initial requirements seem to become harder with each syllabus change so I will certainly look into the ABRSM option.

 

The piece "Bell Ringers" set for Trinity Initial requires fluent and fast A major scale descending playing, meaning finding 3rd finger quickly on the lower strings and faster than the actual scale required in the scale requirement for grade 1. This is something many beginners struggle with, especially when asked to maintain a good left hand shape. So sometimes I don't know how certain pieces end up in a grade. Do they actually try out pieces with really average pupils? If a pupil can play Bell Ringers in tempo and technically well, they are by definition well beyond Initial level but more around grade 2. 

 

Just first impressions! There might be more of this once I've had a proper look. Planning to try out all the pieces I don't know over the summer. I'm always interested in the alternative pieces and not just the standard exam books. I'm glad that despite the initial disappointment that I know so many inside out that there is at least something new or at least not so familiar to discover.

 

I had so far 2/3 of pupils on Trinity and 1/3 on ABRSM. The technically and generally weaker ones I tend to always put on ABRSM as it is obviously almost impossible to fail.

 

Now, with the new syllabus, I'll have to see. 

 

It would be interesting to read about other teacher's views.


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#3 BabyGrand

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 21:33

Is that Bell Ringers out of Wagon Wheels?  I do find students tend to find that one tricky, but it's really good for them!  I'd put it at just below Grade 1 level, so it seems about right for Initial.  It doesn't have to be played overly quickly.  That is, if it's the same piece!  

 

I haven't seen any of the books yet - I pre-ordered Grades 1 - 8 ABRSM and so they should be on their way to me.  I'll order Trinity books when I find somewhere with a good offer...  Looking forward to exploring them all!  smile.png

 

I find new syllabus time exciting but not so good for the bank balance!  


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#4 willobie

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 21:47

I like the look of the new ABRSM Initial exam.  It seems to be a logical step before Grade 1.

 

W


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#5 Misterioso

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 11:09

On top, both boards are recycling each other's current pieces and those from the syllabus before that, which many of us will still remember!

 

So if we still have old syllabi on our shelves with the relevant pieces in (even if now appearing in different grades) is it OK to present those for an exam?


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#6 violincjj

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 11:51

They are still offering Prep Test as well though I think?
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#7 Jlma

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 12:36

 

On top, both boards are recycling each other's current pieces and those from the syllabus before that, which many of us will still remember!

 

So if we still have old syllabi on our shelves with the relevant pieces in (even if now appearing in different grades) is it OK to present those for an exam?

 

 

I guess if the piece is the same (no other arrangement), then yes.

 

It says in the ABRSM syllabus:

"Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription (appearing as ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ in the syllabus list), the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. For all other pieces, editions are listed for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). Information on sourcing exam music is given on p. 13."

 

In the Trinity syllabus, it says:

"We publish selected pieces for violin in our graded repertoire books. Recommended editions for other pieces are listed in this syllabus, but candidates may perform from any reliable edition which has not been shortened or otherwise simplified. Editions containing inauthentic performance directions are not acceptable. If a particular edition must be used, this is indicated in the syllabus. Product codes for publications are included where available."

 

 

They're strict about not allowing photocopies, except for page turns (or as a reference for the examiner in Trinity exams if non-Trinity- publication book) but if you have bought an original copy once I don't see why one couldn't use it.

 

It doesn't seem a problem if it's from a general publisher as it's then kind of "neutral".

 

But it means a candidate could turn up with an old (or current) Trinity exam pieces book at an ABRSM exam or vice versa Sounds fun particularly if the piece is or used to be for a higher or lower grade in the other board. Not sure if it sends the right signal to the examiner, but I guess it's not forbidden? Perhaps one should email the boards to clarify...


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#8 Jlma

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 12:43

Question: I've noticed that ABRSM now only offers the pieces contained in the Exam pieces books for audio download. They used to have all the alternative list ones as well - but perhaps not any more because there are just so many pieces now? Does anyone know if the alternative list pieces are included on the CDs?

 

I can't find any information regarding this on Trinity either - they always only used to do the pieces in the exam books on CD. Apparently a download is now also available, but I don't know if it contains the alternative list pieces?


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#9 BabyGrand

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 16:48

Question: I've noticed that ABRSM now only offers the pieces contained in the Exam pieces books for audio download. They used to have all the alternative list ones as well - but perhaps not any more because there are just so many pieces now? Does anyone know if the alternative list pieces are included on the CDs?

 

I can't find any information regarding this on Trinity either - they always only used to do the pieces in the exam books on CD. Apparently a download is now also available, but I don't know if it contains the alternative list pieces?

 

No, the CDs (ABRSM) have just the pieces from the book.  I'm quite disappointed in this, too.  I've often had students choose an alternative piece from a book that doesn't come with a CD, but they were still able to practise with the accompaniment because it was on the exam book CD.  I'd rather have fewer alternatives and have them all on the CD!  

Trinity no longer seem to offer a CD with the book at all - you have to buy it separately.  I'm not too impressed with that - greater cost and takes up a lot more room on the shelves!  If I'm going to have to buy it separately, I would hope it does at least contain all the pieces (alternatives included), but my impression from what I've seen online is that it is just for the pieces in the book.  According to Amazon, the Grade 7 CD is £20 for 6 pieces!  That's outrageous!  ohmy.png  I am actually dumbfounded.  

I feel like we are paying more for these books and CDs than every year, and yet getting less in them.  sad.png   


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#10 BabyGrand

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 18:30

The more I think about this, the less I get it.  If we don't know what the alternative pieces sound like, why would someone choose them?  I've often let my students (of any of the instruments I teach) listen to all the pieces in their grade and see which ones they like the best, especially at the higher grades.  Even just the 30 second samples from the AB downloads page is enough to get an idea.  

 

At the early grades, a lot of the alternatives are from books I have, but not at the higher grades, especially in lists B and C.  

 

The only person I can see doing well out of this is Alan Chan!!  


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#11 Jlma

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 20:27

The more I think about this, the less I get it.  If we don't know what the alternative pieces sound like, why would someone choose them?  I've often let my students (of any of the instruments I teach) listen to all the pieces in their grade and see which ones they like the best, especially at the higher grades.  Even just the 30 second samples from the AB downloads page is enough to get an idea.  

 

At the early grades, a lot of the alternatives are from books I have, but not at the higher grades, especially in lists B and C.  

 

The only person I can see doing well out of this is Alan Chan!!  

Agree even the 30 second samples of not so familiar pieces were sometimes useful. But a lot of the higher grades pieces can be found on youtube, often in professional or at least very good student versions - much better than Alan Chan who claims he's passed grade 8 violin (wondering how).

 

But you are right, not all of the pieces can be found in acceptable versions, and at least those should be included on the CD or download. I often play the beginning of pieces for pupils so they get an idea, but agree that without the accompaniment, which is often extremely important in higher grades they don't really get the full impression. Also, I don't  sound overly convincing when sight reading a modern, unknown g8 piece...Agree a good recording would help.

 

Regarding Trinity: You can apparently download the tracks from the books without paying extra or buying the CD, as long as you buy the book. I haven't tried it yet, but read this:

 

https://www.trinityc...m/site/?id=3792

 

I'll definitely look at the duet option both boards offer now for the lower grades. But I can't help thinking often beginner pupils sound better when accompanied by the piano... One in tune and one out of tune violin can sound somehow more painful. Somehow with the piano the overall effect is quite good. But will see...


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#12 BabyGrand

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 21:55

 

The more I think about this, the less I get it.  If we don't know what the alternative pieces sound like, why would someone choose them?  I've often let my students (of any of the instruments I teach) listen to all the pieces in their grade and see which ones they like the best, especially at the higher grades.  Even just the 30 second samples from the AB downloads page is enough to get an idea.  

 

At the early grades, a lot of the alternatives are from books I have, but not at the higher grades, especially in lists B and C.  

 

The only person I can see doing well out of this is Alan Chan!!  

Agree even the 30 second samples of not so familiar pieces were sometimes useful. But a lot of the higher grades pieces can be found on youtube, often in professional or at least very good student versions - much better than Alan Chan who claims he's passed grade 8 violin (wondering how).

 

But you are right, not all of the pieces can be found in acceptable versions, and at least those should be included on the CD or download. I often play the beginning of pieces for pupils so they get an idea, but agree that without the accompaniment, which is often extremely important in higher grades they don't really get the full impression. Also, I don't  sound overly convincing when sight reading a modern, unknown g8 piece...Agree a good recording would help.

 

Regarding Trinity: You can apparently download the tracks from the books without paying extra or buying the CD, as long as you buy the book. I haven't tried it yet, but read this:

 

https://www.trinityc...m/site/?id=3792

 

I'll definitely look at the duet option both boards offer now for the lower grades. But I can't help thinking often beginner pupils sound better when accompanied by the piano... One in tune and one out of tune violin can sound somehow more painful. Somehow with the piano the overall effect is quite good. But will see...

 

I agree with everything you've said Jlma.  

 

The other benefit of a recording is that it gives some idea of what the expectations are in terms of tempo, etc.  I certainly don't encourage students to mimic a performance, but sometimes when there's any uncertainty over something in the score, listening to the recording is a great way to clear things up!  It's also nice to have the recordings all easy to find, rather than having to go hunting on YouTube.  

 

That's good news about the Trinity recordings.  Do you know if you get access to all the tracks, or are you limited to three?  I refused to buy the new ABRSM songbooks because there is no CD, and whilst you get access to recordings by buying the book, you only get 3, and then have to pay for the rest.  I think that's ridiculous and so my singing students are still using the old (or alternative) books!  I mean, for me as a teacher, obviously I need every track, but even for my students, who wants to waste a book by only singing three songs from it?!  Not to mention how useless it is if you want to listen to all the songs before choosing which ones to do for the exam - if you have to choose before you can listen!! I got the impression from chatting to our local rep that ABRSM were thinking of going down this route with future books for other instruments, so whilst I'm disappointed that the violin CDs only include the pieces in the book, I am at least glad that we still get a CD!  

 

I agree about the duets too.  I can see them being a great option for teachers who can't play the piano, and so their students are much more used to playing with another violinist than with a pianist.  My students are used to both, so it's not so much of an issue.  Unfortunately I find the violin accompaniments you can get for method books (which is what seems to make up most of the duet options in the syllabus) are a bit contrived - I just think the piano accompaniments sound better!  The pieces marked in the syllabus as "duet", with an actual duet part, are probably better, but I don't think I have any of those books. 

 

I agree, dodgy pitching is less obvious with piano accompaniment than violin!  I also find students tend to find it easier to keep a steady pulse when playing with a piano accompaniment rather than violin accompaniment.    On the other hand, the violin accompaniment option might be good for a very nervous / shy student - I have an adult pupil who plays so much better and more confidently when I'm playing the violin with her than when I'm playing the piano.  

 

I think if they gave a couple of duet / violin accompaniment options actually in the book, rather than just in the alternatives, it would make it seem a bit more like a genuine / "mainstream" option.  As it is, it kind of feels like they want to be able to say they've offered it, but they don't actually want too many teachers to do it!  unsure.png  


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#13 JimD

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 08:39

.......................Regarding Trinity: You can apparently download the tracks from the books without paying extra or buying the CD, as long as you buy the book. I haven't tried it yet, but read this:

 

https://www.trinityc...m/site/?id=3792

 

...

 

 

I got all excited when I read that, but I can't find any download links on my books (Raise the Bar) so it must just be for the exam pieces presumably. :(


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#14 Crock

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 15:50

 

Question: I've noticed that ABRSM now only offers the pieces contained in the Exam pieces books for audio download. They used to have all the alternative list ones as well - but perhaps not any more because there are just so many pieces now? Does anyone know if the alternative list pieces are included on the CDs?

 

I can't find any information regarding this on Trinity either - they always only used to do the pieces in the exam books on CD. Apparently a download is now also available, but I don't know if it contains the alternative list pieces?

 

No, the CDs (ABRSM) have just the pieces from the book.  I'm quite disappointed in this, too.  I've often had students choose an alternative piece from a book that doesn't come with a CD, but they were still able to practise with the accompaniment because it was on the exam book CD.  I'd rather have fewer alternatives and have them all on the CD!  

Trinity no longer seem to offer a CD with the book at all - you have to buy it separately.  I'm not too impressed with that - greater cost and takes up a lot more room on the shelves!  If I'm going to have to buy it separately, I would hope it does at least contain all the pieces (alternatives included), but my impression from what I've seen online is that it is just for the pieces in the book.  According to Amazon, the Grade 7 CD is £20 for 6 pieces!  That's outrageous!  ohmy.png  I am actually dumbfounded.  

I feel like we are paying more for these books and CDs than every year, and yet getting less in them.  sad.png   

 

This change to the ABRSM CDs just having recordings from the pieces from the book, and not the alternative pieces, is very disappointing.  On the ABRSM Downloads Store Page only the same recordings from the pieces in the book are available.  If I were to choose an alternative piece (and there are now more to choose them) I would want an accompaniment for home use, just the same as if I chose one from the book.  What is the rationale - other than saving money - for this?


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#15 ciaran

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 12:49

Very interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts! I have only really browsed through the new pieces books but my initial impression is that there seems to be varying difficulty of pieces within each list, particularly in the early grades. I think this is always going to happen to some degree but seems especially obvious this time around.

I also note that the 2nd mvt of Handel D major sonata is on grade 6 when once upon a time it appeared on grade 8 (albeit with the opening largo attached).
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