Piano Scales in exams

There are too many scales in ABRSM piano exams: far more than for other instruments – and I have sat across the table from the chief examiner and told her so. Why are there just scales and arpeggios and not technical exercises, as for other instruments?

Anyway, I can pretty much predict what students will find harder at the higher grades:

  • Diminished and Dominant Sevenths
  • Minor scales starting on black notes (especially melodic minors)
  • Scales in thirds and sixths – especially the black note minors again

Thank goodness that contrary motion scales are dropped in Grade 8 – don’t get me wrong: I practise contrary motion scales – they wake me up at the start of practice sessions – they sort the swans from the geese, as it were.

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