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ABRSM’s new Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022

3 years ago

ABRSM have just released their new Piano syllabus, for use in exams from 1 January 2021.

During the last two years, ABRSM have carried out a complete review of the syllabus to ensure it meets the needs of teachers and learners. Working with a range of specialists from across the world of music education, the result is a syllabus that offers a breadth of choice to stimulate the musical imagination and curiosity of all pianists, wherever they are on their journey.

Philippa Bunting, ABRSM’s Learning and Qualifications Director, has said: “Building on the work we did on the last syllabus, where we focussed on young learners at the outset of their musical journeys, we have for this syllabus sought to increase the range and diversity of musical choices available to learners at all levels. To achieve this, we’ve increased the number of pieces learners have to choose from, the number of pieces by female composers and composers from around the world, and we’ve also introduced a duet option so that candidates can build a strong sense of musical awareness as well as secure rhythm and pulse from the outset. We believe that in this syllabus there really is something for everyone, and the option to take it via either the Practical or Performance route only increases that musical choice.”

New repertoire lists

This new syllabus offers completely revised repertoire choices, and repertoire lists are now defined by musical characteristics rather than period of composition. This allows learners to show their full range of skills. The new repertoire lists, which contain a diverse choice of inspirational pieces, are the same for the long-standing Practical Grades and for ABRSM’s new remotely-assessed Performance Grades.

New scales requirements

Following extensive development work and valuable consultation with teachers, ABRSM have made changes to the scales requirements at every grade. The changes provide a more logical and gradual progression, from the new Initial Grade through to Grade 8. The revised requirements are fewer in number overall, making them more manageable for preparation and assessment, while still maintaining the rigour you expect from ABRSM exams through focusing on tasks that are appropriate to each grade in their level of demand.

ABRSM has an app to support the new scales requirements. Piano Scales Trainer is an all-in-one scales companion, which gives the learner at-a-glance feedback about which scales to focus on, enables them to reflect critically and also provides a fun way of playing scales along with the specially produced backing tracks. The app has been updated and covers all requirements at Grades 1 to 5 from the new Practical Grades syllabus (2021 onwards).

New supporting resources

ABRSM’s Piano Syllabus 2021 & 2022 is supported by a wide range of new books for teachers and learners:

  • Piano Exam Pieces from Initial Grade to Grade 8
  • Piano Scales & Arpeggios from Initial Grade to Grade 8 (revised to match the new scales requirements)
  • Scale Explorer (for Grades 1–5, a creative new resource for candidates learning the new scales requirements)
  • Initial Grade Specimen Sight-Reading Tests and Initial Grade Specimen Aural Tests
  • Teaching Notes from Initial Grade to Grade 8
  • Piano Star Duets (containing some pieces that feature on the Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022)

The supporting Piano Exam Pieces are available to buy with or without CD and audio downloads of individual pieces are also available to purchase online.

ABRSM’s Piano Practice Partner app has been updated with pieces from the new syllabus. Piano Practice Partner allows a learner to play along with real musicians’ performances, exactly as recorded or at a reduced tempo. The app allows the learner to practise one hand while it plays the other.

Introducing Initial Grade for Piano

A strong focus for ABRSM is to support beginners. Following the successful launch of Initial Grade for Bowed String players last year, ABRSM have introduced Initial Grade for Piano. This is a pre-Grade 1 regulated qualification designed to help beginners measure their progress and celebrate their achievements.

Initial Grade provides a route to Grade 1 and is a different exam experience from ABRSM’s Prep Test. The Prep Test provides young learners with a relaxed introductory exam experience - the candidate doesn’t pass or fail but receives encouraging feedback and a certificate on the day. Initial Grade is a formal assessment leading to a regulated qualification. This formal assessment provides helpful feedback via a mark form, a mark and a certificate for successful candidates.

Syllabus overlap

Candidates can use the new 2021 & 2022 syllabus in exams from 1 January 2021, with the 2019 & 2020 syllabus remaining valid until 31 December 2021.

Would you like to review ABRSM’s Piano syllabus products?

ABRSM always welcomes reviews of publications. Please contact ABRSM if you would be interested in reviewing their new Piano resources.

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