The Summer ABRSM exam session is always a busy one for our SE22 Piano School students. We have 8 entrants from Grades 1 to 5 on the 28th of May. In preparation for the exams, we have been using these fantastic apps from ABRSM for sight-reading and ear training.
Before the apps were released just a few months ago, my students work through the excellent Joining the Dots book by Alan Bullard. I find these more engaging than the Paul Harris ‘Improve Your Sight-Reading books” which are quite monotonous and have no variety in the layout of each stage. Whilst we still use the book months in advance of the exam date, the ABRSM SightRead4Piano by Wessar app is very useful in the run up to the exam as a mock test of what to expect on the day. The 30 second preview must be used wisely as once the music vanishes, the metronome starts ticking and you have to keep pace with it otherwise you will be left behind! The lesson of “always keep going” is perfectly demonstrated by the vanishing bars. At first, this causes a lot of panic for my students, but with a few tries and a very slow metronome speed, they learn to read ahead which is a vital skill for sight-reading. Here is Rumbie trying out the app.
Another excellent app is the ABRSM Aural Trainer. This has plenty of tests to help you with the different sections of the aural test. In the supplementary section is a mock exam test for Grades 1 to 5. This is available in the free version. It also works on iPhone and well as iPad.
The app provides hundreds of exercises to help students improve their aural skills such-as sight-singing (reading and then singing the music you see) and pulse and metre (feeling the beat). It also helps users to develop their musical memory through echo tests (singing back short phrases) and to spot and describe when something sounds different in a piece of music. Here’s Columba trying out the clapping exercise.
ABRSM Aural Trainer Grades 1-3 & ABRSM Aural Trainer grades 4-5 costs £2.99.
ABRSM Aural Trainer Grades 1-5 costs £4.99