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ABSM Grade 8 Organ Advice?


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If you have not seen it, there's a very helpful information sheet, almost a crash course, on transposition on the RCO website.  It might help you to polish your technique in these remaining days.  See:


It assumes you will have the New English Hymnal available, but if not the hymn tunes suggested for the exercises could be found in other books.

For what it's worth, it's by far the most helpful thing I've come across on transposition.


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You will, of course, have been transposing a hymn tune every day since before you entered for the examination. And the same with sight reading.

When I did Grade VII & VIII 'General musicianship' years and years ago (1960's!) I bought some Grade I & II piano music from a second hand store and practised by transposing those pieces. In those days you had to prepare a transposition of a Grade II piano piece playing it in the original, from memory and then in the new key.

Because we are trained to play what is on the copy transposition doesn't, at first, come easy. It is only with constant, every day practice that is becomes so.  If you have been taking a hymn tune every day and transposing it up or down a semitone or tone and, if you have been sight reading every piece of music you come across then you will have no difficulties. Your teacher will have told you this and practised it with you.

The aural is the same. It isn't good enough to rely on innate musicianship or to 'run through' some aural tests the day before - as has happened to me! Transposition, sight-reading and aural should be a part of every lesson. If that has been so then you will have no difficulties.

All the very best and let us know how you got on!!!

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First of all, welcome back to the forum - we haven't heard as much from you of late, which is a shame as you started lots of really interesting and popular threads... but don't let posting here distract you from what needs to be done with your exam prep! Ha!

It really is only a matter of practising these skills as much as you can in the days that remain and being as self-critical as you can be. Aim to get full marks in both disciplines - also in your scales! Overall, try to aim for a good Distinction - ie, over 140. And then... with your skills nice and sharp keep them going so that these are ready for ARCO in the not too distant future. If you could get that diploma while you are still at school, that would be a really useful achievement. Good luck! (But, I don't really believe in luck - people make their own luck... growth mindset sort of chap, me!)


PS - Are you going to tell us what pieces you're playing?

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Thank you for the advice! I am practicing quite a lot since the Bach isn’t quite ‘well-going’ compared to my other two pieces. 

I am playing the first movement of the Bach Trio Sonata No.1 BWV525, Nun danket alle Gott by Karg-Elert and Toccata Primi Toni by Sark.

I transpose three hymns every practice session, sight read from C.S.Lang’s ARCO book and practice all exam material. I just have to polish up my left hand-pedal scales, scales in sixth and Bach Trio Sonata! 


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Oh dear! And you also spend time on this forum in the middle of the night (the time of your last post gives that away!) 

Get some sleep, practise hard, take note of the good advice above and you will be fine! Aim for an excellent mark and an excellent mark comes from looking at the minutiae as well, of course, being thoroughly musical! 

And don't forget to tell us how you got on!

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