New SE22 Piano School web site coming soon!

Our new web site is online and this blog has moved. We will no longer be updating this blog.

Have a look at our new site: SE22 Piano School.

Click to visit our new web site!

Click to visit our new web site!

New Students: For lesson enquiries, please email lorraine@se22piano.co.uk for an application pack. Lessons are £25 for 30 minutes or £50 for an hour. We are meeting prospective students in the February half-term for a consultation lesson to determine readiness to start the piano. We have vacancies on Monday and Saturday afternoons.

Join Our Mailing List:
Find out about our latest vacancies by joining our mailing list: http://mad.ly/signups/22304/join

Music Aptitude Tests:
If you are applying for secondary state school entry on a Music Aptitude place, have a look at our dedicated web site for MAT training tests. http://musicaptitudetest.co.uk/

Performance Opportunities in London:
If you would like to socialise with fellow pianists and musicians, then have a look at our regular events in Central and South London. Observers and performers most welcome. Beginners are encouraged to come and share your repertoire.

Saturday 20 July at Jaques Samuel Piano Showroom:
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/217875

Saturday 10 August at Jaques Samuel Piano Showroom:
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/217877

Buying a Piano
Many visitors to our site are looking for advice on buying a digital piano. We recommend the Roland SuperNATURAL digital piano. Simon Pollard from Two Circles Music can also advise on acoustic piano purchases if you are based in the UK so do get in touch with him: simon@twocirclesmusic.com. Two Circles Music also offer a great discount to our students and web site visitors, use the promotional code DULWICH13 at the checkout for a 5% discount and free next day P&P on all sheet music purchased online.

Two Circles UK Sheet Music retailer

Exam Results:
View our students’ exam results and achievements in this gallery: ABRSM Piano Exam Results

Safiya, age 7, Grade 3 ABRSM Piano, Distinction. January 2013

Safiya, age 7, Grade 3 ABRSM Piano, Distinction. January 2013

Grade 8 Distinction - student of Lorraine Liyanage

Grade 8 Distinction – student of Lorraine Liyanage

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Year 5 students: It’s not too early to start preparing for the Music Aptitude Test for 2024 secondary school admissions.

Don’t leave it until the last minute to prepare for the Music Scholarships. Give yourself the best chance of success by booking a 1-to-1 tutoring session where will give you information on how to work with your music teacher to get ready for the tests you will sit in Autumn 2023. Some students choose to have a follow-up lesson in Summer 2023. Others are fine with just the lesson plan we provide. This does vary on the playing level of each student so we will advise you at the time of the consultation lesson how best to proceed.

If you would like to book a 1-to-1 lesson then contact us directly: musicaptitudetests@gmail.com

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Secondary School Music Scholarship Repertoire

Musical Aptitude Test - Specimen test paper (answer sheet)
MAT – Specimen paper answer sheet

We have created a target set of training materials for the Music Aptitude Test in conjunction with music technology experts. These sample tests are created in line with the MAT syllabus and will help you prepare for the test. Our test materials  Blank test sheets and answers are available to download on our dedicated Music Aptitude Test web site.


It’s the time to be thinking about pieces to learn for October auditions to Southwark secondary schools such as Kingsdale and Haberdasher’s. Here’s a collection of pieces that my students have played for various auditions over the past few years. I always try to pick pieces that are slightly off the beaten path so that you will not be playing something from a current exam list. The worst thing to do at an audition is to turn up clutching a graded exam book. It doesn’t show that you have thought creatively and come up with a special piece to present. Chances are loads of other candidates will play the same piece too and that won’t make you stand out. Feel free to bow before and after your performance and always make eye contact with the people in the room. Enter the room confidently and with a big smile on your face, even if you are so nervous that you feel a bit queasy! These are all entirely normal feelings to have when faced with an audition, interview or public speaking. All of these things are what you go through on the audition day!

Debussy’s The Snow is Dancing:
I was a massive Debussy fan when I was about age 10. A lthough I have long since grown out of his music, I return to it time and time again for my students as it is a very popular choice with ages 10+. My interest first started with Children’s Corner, from which this lovely little piece is taken. The sheet music is here.

John Field’s Nocturne no.5
An achingly beautiful piano piece. Make sure you choose a contrasting piece that is uplifting and lively if you play a softer piece such as this.

Shostakovich’s Lyrical Waltz (Dance of the Dolls)
A pretty waltz around Grade 5 in difficulty.

Debussy’s Le Petit Negre:
A jolly little cake-walk. Don’t be deceived by the childish melody, it’s fiendish to play! This comes recommended by a teacher from a Junior Conservatoire as a brilliant audition piece for 10/11 year olds. The sheet music is here.

Karen Tanaka’s Wild Water Buffalo:
This beautiful contemporary piece will be a great discussion point as it’s written by a female Japanese composer who is still alive. Approximately Grade 4 in skill. The sheet music is here.

Debussy’s Passepied:
The final movement from the Suite Bergamasque, a Passepied, opens with a staccato left hand thats bounces along below a colourful melody line. The demands of the leaping left hand and the 3 against 4 will provide much food for thought for any pianist! This is the most challenging piece that we are preparing for the audition. The sheet music is here.

Bartok’s Rumanian Folk Dances:
Bartok wrote so much piano music that is accessible for intermediate level pianists. His folk music is highly evocative and perfect for young pianists to demonstrate their range of musical interpretation. The sheet music is here.

Ginastera’s Sadness
Ginastera is one of my all-time favourite composers, so whenever a student wants to learn his music, I am over the moon! This is one of his more easiest pieces in terms of the notes, although the expression requires a lot of skill. The sheet music is here.

Christopher Norton Rock Prelude
Norton is a British composer. His rock preludes are a fantastic collection of pieces from Grades 5 to 8 level approximately. Here’s two of the easier preludes. These are softer ones, but some of them are very fast and ferocious! The sheet music is here.

Laura’s Theme by Craig Armstrong
An easy piece from contemporary Scottish composer, Craig Armstrong. Check out his collection of pieces entitled Piano Works – the whole book is very beautiful and unusual. Lots of pieces are taken from films.

Liszt’s In festo transfigurationis domini nostri Jesu Christi
Liszt is known for his showmanship and writing some of the most difficult piano music in existence. However, not all of his music is hard to approach. This beautiful 2 minute piece was written in the later years of his life and has a deeply contemplative mood to it. It’s really not too difficult to play as long as an octave hand span and a light touch comes easily to you. The sheet music is hard to find so leave a message below if you would like a copy.

Tchaikovsky’s Seasons: July (Song of the Reaper)
Something slightly harder, around Grade 6. The sheet music is here.

Contemporary Music from Steven Cravis. Sheet music available here to download.
Just one of Steven’s many pieces. A little bit Einaudi-ish for my liking but very popular with my students! Not difficult at all, around Grades 3 – 4.

Read more online:
Tips for the Audition
Choosing the Right Audition Pieces
Acing the Music Aptitude Test (MAT)
Coping with stage fright

Posted in Haberdasher's Askes, Kingsdale Foundation School, Piano lessons, Schools | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Music Scholarship Auditions – Helping you achieve success at your audition.

We have created a target set of training materials for the Music Aptitude Test in conjunction with music technology experts. These sample tests are created in line with the MAT syllabus and will help you prepare for the test. Our test materials  Blank test sheets and answers are available to download on our dedicated Music Aptitude Test web site.


The start of the new year is the ideal time to start preparing for the Music Aptitude Tests for state school admissions. For student currently in Year 5, you will sit the MAT test in the Autumn so there’s plenty of time to brush up on the style of tests used by schools in England. Our training test materials offer you a wide variety of tests that are similar in style to those you will hear at Round One of the aptitude test.

Music-Aptitude-Test-tips

Of course, the pre-requisite of gaining a music scholarship is demonstrable musical talent. While Alleyn’s school in South London, for example, is explicit that it gives awards only to students with ‘exceptional musical ability’, it is common sense that with high demand for scholarships will come fierce competition and high standards. According to Tim Kermode, director of music at Alleyn’s, ‘as well as accuracy and technical proficiency, what makes a strong candidate stand out from the crowd is a performance with a real sense of musical shape and contrast – and with an understanding of the music.’

Thinking of a scholarship as an investment, one realises that schools will be looking for a young musician who has the personal skills to realise their talent. So young musicians should go into a scholarship audition knowing that they are not being tested solely on how well they sing or play their instrument but also on their enthusiasm for that music. Just as schools look for innate musical understanding rather than simple technical ability, they will select on the basis of the potential of musicians to throw themselves into musical life.

The scholarship usually consists of two parts:

1) The Musical Aptitude Test (MAT), State schools only
Read all about this test here at our dedicated MAT web site. Students that do not pass the Musical Aptitude Test will not be invited to audition. This test does not test theoretical musical knowledge, but is designed for students to show their musical awareness through a series of tests that test your musicality.

If you are selected as a high-scorer in the Music Aptitude Test, you are then invited to audition.

Our site has video tips and hints on how to ace the trickier sections such as the Texture section:

2) The Audition.
Here’s our list of tips for Audition Day. Two pieces in contrasting styles are usually the normal requirement for auditions. The pieces that you present at audition must be given very careful consideration.

Private schools ask for a minimum standard of Grade 5 on your first instrument and around Grade 3 on your second instrument. See here for the financial details of the music scholarships offered by various schools in the South London area. Be aware that the two most commonly presented instruments are the violin and piano, so you will need to be playing at Distinction level in order to make yourself stand out at the audition. Lesser-played orchestral instruments are always much in demand and do not always require such a high level of playing as there is less competition. Pianists have the toughest time at auditions as the bar will be set very high. Do start preparing months in advance and do not underestimate how much extra practice you will need to put in!

Start preparing your piece(s) well in advance of the scholarship audition.
Choose pieces that you can play well, ideally to performance standard from memory, but do not overstretch yourself by trying to play something that is too hard. Do not choose something from your graded exam book. I repeat – do not turn up clutching the latest ABRSM exam book. If you do, chances are there will be several other students turning up with the same book and playing the exact same pieces. Select a piece with your teacher that shows off the best of your musical talents and is perhaps a bit quirky or something memorable. With so many students auditioning for the scholarships, you really must make sure that your performance is polished, unique and stands heads and shoulders above the rest! Here’s a variety of pieces that my students have played at auditions for state or private schools.

 

Rumba Toccata
If you’re looking for a showstopper piece, then look no further than Paul Harvey’s Rumba Toccata!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oUqPKbjgNk

Billie’s Song by Valerie Capers
Something different by a living American female composer – a piece inspired by Billie Holiday. Look up the life story of Valerie Capers,  it’s a great talking point during your audition. This piece is Grade 4 in difficulty. Available from the collection ‘Portraits in Jazz’.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDEiKd3WhZw

Karen Tanaka’s Wild Water Buffalo:
This beautiful contemporary piece will be a great discussion point as it’s written by a female Japanese composer who is still alive. Approximately Grade 3 or 4 in skill. The sheet music is here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ye3q6B7tqM

Laura’s Theme by Craig Armstrong
An easy piece from contemporary Scottish composer, Craig Armstrong. Check out his collection of pieces entitled Piano Works – the whole book is very beautiful and unusual. Lots of pieces are taken from films.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dirAZldeMHA

Contemporary Music from Sketch Music by Nikolas Sideris.
These pieces would be a fantastic talking point in any audition. ‘Cheap Rip-Off’ is my favourite!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SEw9lS2pBM

Musical Versatility

If you play more than one instrument or can sing, make sure you present all your skills fully. Don’t be worried if you are not of equal standards on both instruments. When preparing for auditions, few children will be able to pick up a second or third instrument to any helpful extent (if they can then they probably do deserve a scholarship), but in the lead-up to a scholarship audition instrumentalists would certainly benefit from working on their singing – see below.

Sing, sing, sing!
Schools are always crying out for singers for choirs and musicals. It’s an attainable extra skill and it will help anyway in aural tests. Though obviously don’t commit to 7 years of Choral Society  unless you do really like singing! Anyone can sing, and good instrumentalists should be excellent at sight singing once they have got to know how their own voices work (this does not have to take long).

Speak up!
You will be asked about your musical interests outside of lessons. Be prepared to speak about:
1) Favourite Composers, Conductors, Orchestras, Concert Venues, Performers
2) Any prizes you have won at school or at local music festivals
3) Improvisation skills, ensemble playing skills
4) Performances you have organised – charity events, recitals at church/youth club etc.

Don’t just talk about your graded exams – everybody does these, but not many do much above and beyond the exam, so really use this chance to shine. Any interest in composition, improvisation, music technology or competence in rock instruments which might not be eligible for a scholarship might just be enough to separate one potential scholar from another.

Stay Calm
Easier said than done, but if you are a veteran of performing in public then hopefully you will have developed strategies to keep the nerves under control. Also make sure you have performed your audition pieces several times under some sort of pressure to mimic the nerves you will feel on the day. Take part in festivals, concerts, stage your own concerts and invite your neighbours!

Read more online:

Tips for the Audition
Choosing the Right Audition Pieces
Acing the Music Aptitude Test (MAT)
Coping with stage fright


Buy-Music-Aptitude-Test-Now

Posted in Alleyn's, Auditions, Haberdasher's Hatcham, Kingsdale School, Music Scholarships, Musical Aptitude Tests, Piano lessons | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

What is the Musical Aptitude Test (MAT)?

Gold-Music-Aptitude-Test-workshops


This blog is out of date. See here for online tutoring:

We have created a target set of training materials for the Music Aptitude Test in conjunction with music technology experts. These sample tests are created in line with the MAT syllabus and will help you prepare for the test. Our test materials  Blank test sheets and answers are available to download on our dedicated Music Aptitude Test web site.


Musical Aptitude Test - Specimen test paper (answer sheet)
MAT – Specimen paper answer sheet

Our test materials, blank test sheets and answers are available to download on our dedicated Music Aptitude Test web site. The site also contains information on individual and group training lessons held at our South London piano studio in East Dulwich. Browse through our blogs for lots of video tips and hints for mastering each section.


Music-Aptitude-Test-tips

Many students applying for secondary schools on a music scholarship will be required to take a Musical Aptitude Test (MAT). This is usually a multiple choice test with 60 questions designing to test a candidate’s sense of musicality. For state schools that use the MAT, very often (but not always) the test is sat in a room full of students and it is a listening exercise. Scroll down to the end to see the variety of MAT often found at private schools.

The group MAT assesses your understanding of Pitch, Melody, Texture and Rhythm. Some schools such as Ashmole Academy use a longer test with graphic scores. We have training materials available for download to cover these tests. Generally, I find that candidates that score highly in aural and sight-reading tests in their exams find these questions relatively easy as they have a good understanding of the following subjects:

Pitch

Higher or Lower?
This part of the test asks you to listen to two sounds.  You have to decide if the second note is higher or lower than the first or the same. Ask yourself if the second note is rising (higher) or falling (lower) or staying the same.

Melody
If a student is able to sing back a short melody or play it back on their instrument, this will stand them in good stead for the Melody questions. You can help your child at home by playing their favourite songs and asking them to sing back different sections of the songs to you, just using one syllable such as “la” instead of the words.

The Melody questions will play you one extract of 5 notes in length. The second version may or may not be different and you will be tested on whether you can hear the difference in a melody line by selecting the number of the note that is different.

Texture
The Aptitude Tests play a chord and ask you to identify how many notes you can hear. A chord is two or more notes. In the tests, they will ask you to differentiate between 2, 3 or 4 notes being played at once. The more notes are in the chord, the more dense the sound appears. Here are some tips for tackling the tricky Section 3 of the Music Aptitude Test which is available from our MAT Training Web site.

Rhythm
Sense of rhythm can be developed by plenty of clapping exercises. You can help your child at home with this by playing their favourite songs to them, then asking them to clap back short sections of the song to you. Once they have mastered familiar songs, then present unknown songs to them to see how they cope with unfamiliar rhythms.

Pitch
Sing the lower, middle or higher note of a chord (nb. this is not used by all schools):


Individual MAT
This is usually conducted one-on-one with the assessor at the piano.

Common questions that can be asked are:

  1. Listen to a scale played on the piano and sing it back
  2. Clap back a series of rhythms as an echo
  3. Listen to a chord and isolate one of the notes and sing it back, i.e. in a 3-note chord, sing the middle note, or in a two-note chord, sing the highest. This is a difficult exercise and may be given to choristers, not instrumentalists.
  4. Listen to a note played on the piano and sing it back
  5. Listen to a tune and then sing it back
  6. Sing at sight from a score whilst accompanied on the piano
  7. Play a piece of pre-prepared music, either prepared a few days in advance, or on the day

Read more online:

Buy the specimen Music Aptitude Tests

Schools that have used the MAT in recent years include (please check via the links below whether the school are offering the MAT for 2016 entry):

Posted in Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Aural & Ear Training for Pianists, Musical Aptitude Tests | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Music Aptitude Tests for 2019 secondary school entry

Gold-Music-Aptitude-Test-workshops

Now that the Easter break is over, many of my students at the SE22 Piano School in London will start preparing for the Music Aptitude Tests that take place this Autumn for 2019 state school entry. The tests vary from school to school, but the basic sections that are included in all tests are covered in our training tests that can be purchased online.
http://www.se22piano.co.uk/downloads/music-aptitude-tests/

Music-Aptitude-Test-Round-One

Pitch

Higher or Lower?
This part of the test asks you to listen to two sounds.  You have to decide if the second note is higher or lower than the first or the same. Ask yourself if the second note is rising (higher) or falling (lower) or staying the same.

 

Melody
If a student is able to sing back a short melody or play it back on their instrument, this will stand them in good stead for the Melody questions. You can help your child at home by playing their favourite songs and asking them to sing back different sections of the songs to you, just using one syllable such as “la” instead of the words.

The Melody questions will play you one extract of 5 notes in length. The second version may or may not be different and you will be tested on whether you can hear the difference in a melody line by selecting the number of the note that is different.

Texture
The Aptitude Tests play a chord and ask you to identify how many notes you can hear. A chord is two or more notes. In the tests, they will ask you to differentiate between 2, 3 or 4 notes being played at once. The more notes are in the chord, the more dense the sound appears. Here is one of our students trying out Section 3 of the Music Aptitude Test which is available from our MAT Training Web site.

Rhythm
Sense of rhythm can be developed by plenty of clapping exercises. You can help your child at home with this by playing their favourite songs to them, then asking them to clap back short sections of the song to you. Once they have mastered familiar songs, then present unknown songs to them to see how they cope with unfamiliar rhythms.

Purchase the tests online:
http://www.se22piano.co.uk/downloads/music-aptitude-tests/

Posted in Music Aptitude Test, Musical Aptitude Tests, Piano lessons | Leave a comment

Upcoming recitals, January – May 2017

The Dulwich Music Festival adjudicators and SE22 Piano School team will be performing various recitals this year. Do come along!

Gary Branch & Lorraine Liyanage @ Clementi House, Kensington
26 February 2017
Piano Recital
[More Info]

Lorraine Liyanage @ Huguenot Museum, Rochester
25 March 2017
Elizabethan Virginals Recital
[More Info]

Lorraine Liyanage @ Horniman Museum and Gardens
25 April 2017
Hear it Live: Harpsichord Recital (TBC)

Lorraine Liyanage @ Huguenot Museum, Rochester
20 May 2017
French Harpsichord Music as part of ‘Museums at Night’.
[More Info]

Recital of French harpsichord music at the Huguenot Museum. Online ticket booking now open! http://huguenotmuseum.org/event/museums-at-night/

Posted in Harpsichord, Piano lessons, Recitals | Leave a comment

Iris cooks… Pol Sambol

Here is Iris’ latest cookery video filmed in Sri Lanka:

Posted in Kids, Piano lessons | Leave a comment

Music Aptitude Tests for 2019 state school entry

Gold-Music-Aptitude-Test-workshops

Please visit our new site. This blog is no longer being updated and some links may not work: Music Aptitude Test


Gold-Music-Aptitude-Test-workshops

Check out our newly updated Music Aptitude Test site:

http://musicaptitudetest.co.uk/

Music-Aptitude-Test-Round-One

The 4 sample tests contain 60 questions in each test (total 240 questions).
You can purchase these online for instant download.

If you are experiencing any issues with our online payment system, please email londonpianoevents@gmail.com and we will be able to assist you.

You will receive a Zipped folder containing:

4 complete specimen tests
Blank question sheet – multiple choice
Answer sheet

The files are Mac or PC compatible. Use your computer or laptop to download and unzip the files. You can then transfer these to an iPad or iPhone using iTunes. Do not use Outlook to download the link, please use a browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

For help with unzipping a folder, see here:

Buy the Music Aptitude Tests
Posted in Aural & Ear Training for Pianists, Music Aptitude Test | Leave a comment

Masterclass for Young Pianists in association with Casio Bechstein

25th September 2016 hosted by Dulwich Music Festival, Asylum & Maverick Projects, Caroline Gardens Chapel, Asylum Road, SE15 2SQ London. Performer and audience spaces are available for a free e…

Source: Masterclass for Young Pianists in association with Casio Bechstein

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Music Aptitude Tests: September 2017 State School entry

Please visit our new site. This blog is no longer being updated and some links may not work: Music Aptitude Test




Music Aptitude Tests
Try out the practice tests online in advance of the Autumn MAT tests for September 2017 state school entry. [musicaptitudetest.co.uk]

Posted in Music Aptitude Test | Leave a comment