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New ABRSM piano syllabuses ‘champion continuity and change’

The Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Fats Waller, Razaf & Brooks and new commissions by emerging composers Kristina Arakelyan and Shruthi Rajasekar feature in ABRSM’s new piano syllabuses

The London-based examinations board has announced new piano syllabuses for 2023 & 2024 which feature almost 50 composers for the first time and 30% more pieces than in previous years. 70% of the previous repertoire has been retained.

There are many more pieces by women composers, including Kristina Arakelyan and Shruthi Rajasekar who were amongst six young composers taking part in ABRSM’s inaugural Composer Mentoring scheme, which aimed to help equip composers from a wider range of backgrounds with the skills and knowledge needed to write music for education.

ABRSM’s Academic Director Philippa Bunting said, ‘With our new syllabuses, Piano 2023 & 2024, we have gone deep and wide in search of music from diverse traditions, with pieces originating from Cairo to Colorado, Kingston to Kinshasa, and Melbourne to Montreal.

‘We understand the importance of establishing a personal connection with the music you play, and seek to open our musical horizons as learners open theirs. At the same time, we have thought carefully about the needs of both teachers and learners choosing our syllabuses. As a result, we have included pieces that we know have previously been popular and successful exam pieces. We have also extended the life of most pieces from the 2021 & 2022 syllabus to allow more time to explore them.’

ABRSM’s new piano syllabuses have previously always seen a 100% change of repertoire. The decision to simply refresh the 2021 & 2022 lists with new pieces brings the approach for piano closer to that of other instruments and is designed to address some feedback that the piano repertoire changes too frequently.

The new repertoire lists take effect on 1 January 2023 and apply to both Practical and Performance Grades. All supporting tests for Practical Grades are unchanged from 2021.