Guide for beginner piano parents
Confused about all the terms, words or concepts used in music? Want to support your child in their learning? Here is an easy guide to demystify music education.
Here are the very basics...
ABRSM- The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. The main examination body in the UK and worldwide.
Acoustic piano- traditional piano where sound is produced from mechanical means.
Aural- another word for ear-training. Includes rhythm, melody, pitch, pattern recognition, interval recognition. In exams they are specified for each grade.
Composer- author of the music (e.g. Mozart, Beethoven).
Composition- creation of an original piece of music.
Digital piano- modern piano where sound is produced my digital means.
Genre- style of music. Includes in chronological Western order: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Jazz, Blues, Contemporary pop.
Grade- exam level in music. Begins at Grade 1 (which is beginner) all to Grade 8 (which is advanced).
Grand piano- large piano where string are horizontal to the ground. Often seen in concert halls.
Improvisation- creation of immediate 'in the moment' music.
Learn by ear- learning to play a piece from listen to audio recordings.
Learn by rote- learning to play a piece from watching hands.
Method book- books specifically designed to teach complete beginner the music basics.
Metronome- device that produces sound at regular time interval.
Middle C- the C note at approx. middle of the piano. Usually the first note students learn.
Pedals- foot levers at the bottom of the piano. Standard is 3 pedals (soft, sostenuto and damper).
Repertoire- music pieces. In exams there are 3 required for each grade
Scales- set of musical notes organised usually from lower to higher notes. In exams they are specified for each grade.
Sight-reading- reading and performing music previously unseen. In exams they are specified for each grade.
Theory- fundamental concepts behind music. Includes note types, symbols, chords, musical terms. With ABRSM, Grade 5 theory exam is a requirement to progress to higher grades.
Trinity- Trinity College London. Another examination body in UK.
UCAS- UK University and College Admission Service. Higher music grade exams have associated UCAS points that benefit university application.
Upright piano- piano where strings are vertical to the ground. Often seen in domestic homes and piano studios.
If you want to know more...
Arpeggio- notes of the chord played one after each other, normally linked to scale.
Bar- segment of the music, shown in sheet music as being between the short vertical lines which are bar lines.
Bass clef- music symbol at start of line and often on bottom horizontal lines, usually for LH.
Chord- two or more notes played at same time.
Flat- usually a black key, closest black key to the left of the original note.
Legato- to play smoothly
Major- usually sounds bright and happy. Can refer to types of scales and arpeggios.
Minor- usually sounds dark and sad. Can refer to types of scales and arpeggios.
Note types- notes held for different number of beats. Includes: crotchets, quavers, semibreve, minim, dotted...
Rests- symbols that mean 'silence'
Sharp- usually a black key, closest black key to the right of the original note.
Staccato- to play short/ detached
Stave lines- horizontal lines across the sheet music, note lie on or between these lines.
Treble clef- music symbol at start of line and often on top horizontal lines, usually for RH.