Finding and Listening to Piano Exam Pieces Before Choosing

Finding and Listening to Piano Exam Pieces Before Choosing

Looking at the scores of the piano exam pieces and wondering if a piece is suitable for you; is a familiar situation most candidates face, with many lamenting the poor accessbility to their audios of quality playing. If you can hear the piece while following the scores; it can, in many occasions, give you a higher confidence whether you should choose that piece. While sight singing can help, it does not give a complete picture of the piece's demanding expressions and intentions, and is after all, not a skill everyone possesses. Here are some tips on how to find the audios. 

ThePiano Compiled Syllabus List
This is the easiest and fastest option. Go to the Piano Exam page, where you can find not only the exam dates and fees, but also the syllabus. We have collated the exam pieces, categorised by their Grades and Lists (List A, List B, List C); to give you a convenient overview. Simply follow the syllabus link that matches the graded exam, for example, the ABRSM 2015 Grade 8 Piano Exam SyllabusEach piece is presented with links of its composer and YouTube video; for you to learn more about its composer, and listen to its audio, respectively.

Exam Book with Audio CDs 
The music bookstore usually sells Piano Exam books in both flavours - the first type is just purely the scores, and the other comes additionally with audio CDs which contain the tracks for the exam pieces. For example, Yamaha sells the ABRSM 2015 Piano Grade 8 Exam book without CDs for SGD$22.86, and with CDs for SGD$40.80 (prices updated on 24 Aug 2015). The benefits are (i) you get it the book and CDs as a set, which makes it a complete package, without any hassle to search for the audios anywhere else, and (ii) the CDs contain even the alternative pieces! Note that the scores of the alternative pieces are not included in the exam book, and has to be purchased separately.

Buy Digital Audio Tracks
The Examination Board might sell the exam pieces' audio tracks on its website. For example, the ABRSM 2015 Piano Grade 8 page lists its pieces with a short audio extract for previewing, as well as a MP3 link which brings you to a shopping page where you can buy individual tracks for £0.99 each (SGD$2.19), or all the tracks as a package for £20.50 (SGD$45.37). If you only want to hear a few selected tracks, then this is a cheaper option than buying the exam book with audio CDs as a set. Let's calculate. The book costs SGD$22.68, and with, say, 3 tracks bought online for SGD$6.57; this brings the total to $29.25, which is a lot cheaper than the set at SGD$40.80. However, of course, buying all the tracks online is definitely a lot more expensive!

Search on YouTube and the Internet
You can, most of the times, be able to find the audio by performing a simple search on YouTube, and the Internet - just key in the title of the song, and add the composer's name, if needed. Well, because the results returned by the Search Engine might be extensive; you can be listening to a few versions of the piece before finding a decent one. Worse, a piece's audio might not be widely available at all, and you might end up spending a lot more time trying to hunt for it.