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ABRSM Piano Scales & Arpeggios from 2021 Changes and Updates

After having kept to the same syllabus for a prolong time, ABRSM has finally updated the Piano Scales & Arpeggios from 2021 along with the launched of its new Piano Exam Pieces 2021 & 2022. So, what has changed?

Well, many are already aware that an Initial Grade (or pre-Grade 1) syllabus is newly introduced, which should not be confused with the Piano Prep Test. Apart from that, the greatest change in Scales is probably in the Grade 5 syllabus.

We lay down the changes in simple, easy to read bullet points for you:

  • Broken chords are no longer included for lower grades
  • Grade 1 descending scale option is removed
  • Hand separately only for Grades 1 to 5
  • Hands together for Grades 6 to 8
  • 3 octaves range removed for Grade 5
  • Volume of scales decreased for each grade, especially for Grade 5
  • Staccato introduced for Grade 5, LH and RH separately
  • 4 key scales are grouped progressively for Grades 6 to 8
  • Dominant 7th are now resolved to the tonic

The next question that many students tend to ask is what are Examiners looking for in this new syllabus?

According to Leigh O’Hara and Samantha Carrasco, two of the examiners, these are some of the key elements:

  • Accuracy (in execution)
  • Tempo (which bumps up in ascending grades)
  • Musical shaping / musical approach
  • “Sense of direction” in playing

Well, I hope this summary helps to clarify the key changes to the new Piano Scales & Arpeggios syllabus.