ABRSM Grade 7 - Piano Exam Pieces


Ibert - Le petit âne blanc (No. 2 from Histoires)

ABRSM Grade 7 – C2

This charming character piece is full of colour and contrasts, inviting the performer to come up with their own imagery, or a story line from the imagination. Make this as vibrant and detailed as you can! The mood is happy at the start, but after a while the little donkey’s delicate trotting (and occasional contented braying) is disturbed by a dark, chromatic inner voice that leads to a middle section that is much livelier and more exuberant. The player will need to develop control over light, bouncy staccato notes, and repeated chords.

Loading video...

Further notes

To get comfortable with the left hand at the start, the finger tips need to be active (not floppy). Allied to the fine sensations in the tips of the finger, the bounces needed to create light staccatos might come from the wrist, or from the forearm (or from a blend) but in whichever way you sense them the movements are tiny. My hand tends to coordinate these left hand bars with a small wrist circle, the 5th finger coming up and round, propelling the hand in the direction of the thumb. I also sense rotary movements between the thumb and 2nd finger, and between the 2nd finger and the 4th. These might be ingredients of your choreography too.

As with anything based on a five-finger position, the golden rule is to avoid fixing the hand. We need to keep two things in mind – mobility and alignment. Focus on keeping the forearm aligned behind the pair of playing fingers in this exercise and you will notice subtle differences in the alignment. Avoid fixing the thumb over the D# when playing the intervals of the fifth and fourth, allowing it to wander away somewhat from the key if it wants to.

After a little bit of preliminary slow practice on the semiquaver (16th note) pattern, I suggest practising the following skeleton stages at a faster tempo. It’s most important to do these extremely rhythmically, using a metronome or counting out aloud. Repeat each stage once or twice until secure before moving on to the next without stopping (keep the pulse alive in your body). You’ll notice the plan here is to play selected notes from the semiquaver stream, gradually adding rhythmical cells and subtracting others. There are plenty of other possibilities for rhythmic skeletons, see how many you can generate.

As with any string of fast-moving notes of the same rhythmical value, rhythm practice can be a useful practice tool (when done well). Here are some suggestions:

(The exercises can of course be adapted to the new note pattern from bar 11)

Click here to view an article and video in the Online Academy's Quarantine-Spots series with tips for tackling two challenging spots in bars 20 - 29.

Resources & links

  • Click here to view an article and video in the Online Academy's Quarantine-Spots series featuring this work.
  • Piano Exam Pieces 2021 & 2022, Grade 7 is available from the ABRSM online shop here.
  • Click here to view open domain editions for these works (external link).
  • Click here to listen to a recording of this work from the ABRSM exam pieces album on Spotify (external link).

The syllabus upon which these Practising the Piano Online Academy materials are based is © by The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and is reproduced by permission of the copyright owner. The Practising the Piano Online Academy is not an ABRSM product and is not endorsed by ABRSM.

Purchase options

This content is available as a separate, once-off purchase or as part of a subscription. Click "Buy" to purchase it or on "Subscription options" to get access to this content in addition to our growing library of over 300 articles for as little as £9.99 per month or £99.99 per year (Click here to sign-in to view this page if you are already a subscriber).

£25.00Buy More info Subscribe Back

View next...

Anyone Can Improvise!

Dedicated to helping everyone play the music they love and long to play, Lucinda Mackworth-Young introduces her step-by-step system for learning to play by ear and improvise, so that even classically trained piano players can play spontaneously, anywhere, anytime - and say “Yes!” when asked to play Happy Birthday!... Read >>


Lucinda Mackworth-Young Performing Improvisation

Spread Chords

Spread (or rolled, ripped, broken or arpeggiated) chords are simply chords where we play one note after the other, rather than playing all the notes simultaneously. Although this sounds relatively straightforward, there are questions and problems associated with spreading chords which this series of articles will seek to address.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing

Create First! - Part 1

Learning Music the Pattern Play Way

An introductory Pattern Play series that introduces the materials of music (scales, intervals, and chords) in creative and musical ways.... Read >>


Forrest Kinney Performing Improvisation

A Guide to the ABRSM Syllabus (2021 - 2022)

This series provides a detailed guide to the ABRSM piano examination syllabus for 2021 - 2022, including video walk-throughs with practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the main pieces (from initial to Grade 8), and a selection of alternative pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

A Guide to the ABRSM Syllabus (2018 - 2020)

This series contains resources and further links to other resources featuring the ABRSM syllabus (until 2020) and is designed for elementary level players, young musicians and their teachers. Articles in this series provide step-by-step (or phrase-by-phrase) approaches to learning a pieces thoroughly and securely, offer practice exercises to help solve... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

Beyond Stage Fright - Managing Performance Nerves

This short course aims to start you on the first steps of a journey to help you find ways to manage those nerves so that you can perform to your full potential and enjoy the whole experience. The course is divided into fives days with a short video for each... Read >>


Charlotte Tomlinson Performing

Beyond Stage Fright - Inspired Performance

This series features the first two weeks of Inspired Performance which is an online video and audio course which aims to help you move through your performance blocks towards a free, joyful and inspired performing life. It provides an overview of performance anxiety, how we experience nerves and how we... Read >>


Charlotte Tomlinson Performing

A Guide to the Trinity College Piano Syllabus (2018 - 2020)

This series features video demonstrations of a selection of pieces from Trinity College London’s 2018 - 2020 piano examination syllabus, with examples from each grade from Initial to 8. You will find plenty of tips for practice, as well as suggestions for piano teachers, and guidance on matters relating to... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

ABRSM Initial Grade - Piano Exam Pieces

This collection of video walk-throughs from our guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus provides practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the main Initial Grade pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

ABRSM Grade 4 - Piano Exam Pieces

This collection of video walk-throughs from our guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus provides practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the Grade 4 pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

ABRSM Grade 5 - Piano Exam Pieces

This collection of video walk-throughs from our guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus provides practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the Grade 5 pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

ABRSM Grade 6 - Piano Exam Pieces

This collection of video walk-throughs from our guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus provides practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the Grade 6 pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

ABRSM Grade 8 - Piano Exam Pieces

This collection of video walk-throughs from our guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus provides practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for a selection of the Grade 8 pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

ABRSM Grade 1 - Piano Exam Pieces

This collection of video walk-throughs from our guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus provides practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the main Grade 1 pieces.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

A Guide to the Trinity College Piano Syllabus (2021 - 2023)

This series features video walk-throughs of a selection of pieces from Trinity College London’s 2021 - 2023 piano examination syllabus, giving plenty of tips for practice, as well as suggestions for piano teachers, and guidance on matters relating to style and interpretation.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

Preparing for an Examination

This collection of videos offers general tips and suggestions for preparing or a piano examination. It serves as a complement to our repertoire guides and covers topics including sight-reading, aural, technical tests (scales and arpeggios), general preparation and practice strategies.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing Examinations

How to Improvise

A step-by-step guide to improvisation for classical pianists

Do you know your chords and scales but struggle to think of anything to play when faced with a piano with no sheet music? In these videos, Dave Hall provides a step-by-step guide to improvisation for classical pianists with activities for ear training, fundamental theory and most importantly, ideas to... Read >>


Dealing with Performance Anxiety

Although sharing your playing with others can be deeply rewarding, most pianists (including many professionals!) suffer from some form of stage fright at the prospect of playing in a public setting. In this video, Graham Fitch shares some of his thoughts and methods for dealing with performance anxiety.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Performing