Grade 2 Piano

In this post we will explore all the pieces in the Trinity Grade 2 Piano syllabus for 2021 – 2023. This is a varied, colourful compilation of music spanning many eras and encompassing diverse styles. These include Italian Baroque, jazz and even some rock. Like all music exams, you must choose three of these pieces to present. To do this well, you’ll need to listen to all of them so that you can build a varied program. This means that you can’t play three pieces that are in the same style. Show the examiner (or any audience that you play for) that you can play many different styles.

Where is the Grade 2 Piano Sheet Music?

To make use of this post – and to take your grade 2 piano exam – you’ll need the Trinity syllabus. You can buy it here. Once you have this book, you will be able to play all the pieces. It also includes the exercises and scales that you need to present in your exam. The studies are at the back of the book and you have to prepare three of them, one from each set.

Minuet in G

This grade 2 piano book starts off with a stately minuet. This is a type of dance, usually for two people. To play this piece convincingly, you will need to count precisely and show control over dynamics. Minuets are like waltzes. They have three beats in each bar. This is your chance to show off your precision and poise. It’s always a good idea to include a classical piece like this in your program, so open the tabs below and learn more about this sunny piece.

Learn about the Piece

As the title suggests, this piece is in the key of G major. This is something we can tell by looking at the key signature. You’ll find this just after the clef. Look closely at it and you’ll notice one sharp symbol. These symbols tell us which key needs to be sharp. Usually, this means that we must play the black key. In this case, we see that the symbol is on the top line, which is usually where we find F. Therefore, we must play an F sharp throughout this piece, which puts us in the key of G, because the G major scale has an F sharp in it.

Throughout the piece, we need to have a clear 3/4 feel: one two three, one two three…You also need to be very precise with your quavers. This music is all about clarity and structure.

Watch the Video!
Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Minuet in G (Georg Bohm)
Let’s Play
Left Hand: bars 1 – 8
Left Hand: bar 9 – end
Right Hand: bars 1 – 8
Right Hand: bar 9 – end

Allegro in C

If you want to really impress, go for this Allegro. It’s one of the trickier pieces in the book and will push you to play with precision and finesse. Learn more below:

Learn about the Piece

Johann Wilhelm Hässler was a renowned musician and teacher. He was also a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. He lived an interesting life spanning Germany, Britain and Russia. This little piece is a bright, energetic allegro that will show off your technique. The piece has two main parts, each of which you must repeat (although not in the exam). The first part requires strict alternation between quavers and semiquavers. The second part, in contrast, introduces a new rhythm that you must play precisely. It’s written in C, but beware of the F sharp in bar 7!

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Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Allegro in C (Hassler arr. Hall)

Canzonet

The third piece in the Grade 2 syllabus is Canzonet. This piece is quite slow and it would go well with some more lively pieces. If you would like to show off sensitivity of touch, phrasing and dynamics, this one is for you! Click the tabs below to learn more about the piece and hear a demonstration.

Learn about the Piece

This is a lyrical, contemplative piece that will challenge you to play with balance and sensitivity. Its name is an Italian term for a type of song style that emerged in the 16th century, around 1550 AD. You might see this word in a number of forms: canzonet, canzonette or canzonetta. These songs are secular, which means they deal with everyday subjects like love, the countryside or even politics. If we call a piece of music secular, we are saying that it is not a part of religious worship. As we’ve seen before, the relationship between music and the church is deep and complex. During the Baroque era, music and art gradually came to have their own life, outside of worship.

Composer, Teacher

This particular song comes from the works of Christian Gottlob Neefe. Interestingly, he was the first piano teacher of the great Ludwig van Beethoven. He even helped the great composer with some of his earlier works. This little piece comes from one of his operas. I’m not sure what it’s about, but it has a longing, thoughtful quality. To play it well, you must pay close attention to phrasing marks. These are the slur lines you see over the top of a group of notes. Imagine you are singing the notes. They must be legato throughout, with a sensitive, song-like quality. A good Italian word to have in mind here is cantabile, which means “as if sung”.

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Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Canzonet (Neefe arr. Waterman & Harewood)

Mazurka

No Grade 2 Piano syllabus would be complete without a traditional dance piece. This piece is a brisk, flexible tune in two sections. Its name comes from a folk dance originating in Poland. This dance became popular throughout Europe in the 19th century and inspired some great works for the piano. Most notable among these are the Mazurkas of the Polish-French composer Frederic Chopin.

Learn about the Piece

This Mazurka has many of the features typical of the genre. For example, we have a “hop step” on the second and third beat in bar 4. We produce this accent through the little crushed notes that look like small quavers with lines through their stems. These marks are called acciaccatura, which is fun to play and even more fun to pronounce. In essence, play them as fast as you can, to get to the E.

Watch the Video!
Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Mazurka (Maria Szymanowska)

Island in the Sun

This piece is the only duet in the book. Duets can be great fun to play; you play the candidate part and your teacher plays the duet part. This is a laid-back piece that depicts an afternoon on a beach, somewhere far away…

Learn about the Piece

The piece is in the key of G major. This means that we must play an F sharp throughout, as the key signature tells us. When you play a duet with another player, it is very important that you count precisely. This is because any time that you play too fast or too slow will affect the other person. If you don’t stay together, the piece won’t make sense to the hearer. In this piece, focus on counting your quavers exactly and listening to the duet part that is playing two octaves lower than you.

Watch the Video!
Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Island in the Sun (He-man)

FreuDich/Feelicitous

In German, the word “freudich” means “friendly”. This piece is full of light, joy and motion. It sounds like a bunch of happy children skipping across a field. Learn more about the piece below:

Learn about the Piece

The piece is in sunny D major. The key signature tells us to play F sharp and C sharp – these are the black keys we find in the D major scale. The recurring idea in this piece is a quaver followed by two semiquavers. The quaver is staccato, so you need to make a little bounce in the wrist. The left hand keeps up a steady quaver rhythm underneath the agile right hand throughout. Watch the video below to see how it’s done.

Watch the Video!
Trinity Grade 2 Piano: FreuDich/Feelicitous (Michael Proksch)

Fun Fair Blues

One of the areas in which Grade 2 Piano will challenge you to grow is rhythm. This piece includes swing, which is a jazzy way of reading quavers. If you want to play something cheeky, fun and challenging, this piece is a natural choice for you. Open the tabs below to learn about swing, accents and other topics.

Learn about the Piece

This piece is in F major. We have a single flat in the key signature: B flat. We have to count our quavers a little differently. Instead of the usual “one and two and”, we must count “one-two three”. To do this, lengthen the first quaver and shorten the second. This gives the music a forward-moving, skipping quality. Quavers that fall on the beat are long, those that are off the beat are short. There are plenty of tricky articulations and accidentals throughout the piece. You have to pay close attention to these, so that you realise them accurately. Here’s a demo:

Watch the Video!
Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Fun Fair Blues (Naomi Yandell)

Orpheus in his Underpants

This is definitely the strangest title in the grade 2 piano syllabus. The composer, Mark Tanner, is giving us an ingenious take on a famous classical melody, the “can-can” from Offenbach’s Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld. If you want to play something that is quirky and fun, while still drawing on a great classical work, this piece is for you. Click on the boxes below to learn how to put it together.

Learn about the Piece

Jacques Offenbach wrote Orpheus in the Underworld in 1858 AD. He composed it as a comedic opera, an “Opéra bouffon“. These were popular, funny shows that became very popular in the 19th century. Another composer who wrote music for these productions was Giacomo Rossini. In this particular one, Offenbach borrows from the Ancient Greek story of Orpheus. But in his version, Orpheus is not a semi-divine son of Apollo, as in the original story. Instead, he’s a violin teacher who has to be shamed into rescuing his wife from Pluto. As you can imagine, all kinds of silliness ensues.

Mark Tanner borrowed one of the iconic tunes from this opera and gave it his own spin. You can here the original melody here:

Can-Can from “Orpheus in the Underworld”

You will hear fragments of this melody throughout the piece. To play it well, pay close attention to rhythm and accidentals. Accidentals are sharps and flats that are not part of the key signature. These add colour and variety, allowing us to surprise the ear by introducing keys that are not supposed to be there. There is also plenty of articulation including staccato and legato marking.

Watch the Video!

The Penguin Parade

Penguins are goofy. They’re also very cute. And they’re especially silly when they march together in a column. This piece captures their quirky, choppy movements perfectly. Much like an earlier piece in the grade 2 piano syllabus, this one relies on swing. Click on the headings below to learn how to play it!

Learn about the Piece

At the top of the piece, there is an instruction that we are to play quavers as if they are triplets. So, when you see a pair of quavers, don’t count: “one and two and”. This is how we usually count quavers. But the composer wants us to count instead: “one-two three”. We make the first quaver longer. This is what we mean by “swing”. Swing gives the music a lilting, lazy character. In the video below you will hear the swinging quavers throughout. Try to avoid making accents.

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Trinity Grade 2 Piano: The Penguin Parade (Christine Donkin)

Bendin’ the Rules

This one is all about attitude, rock chords and accents. It’s the kind of piece that you can really show off with, by upping the tempo. If you feel like bending some rules for your grade 2 piano exam, open the titles below and learn how to put this one together.

Learn about the Piece

It’s not often that a composer tells us to play “sassily”, but there’s a first time for everything. This piece opens with staccato in the first bar and legato in the second. This is part of the feel of the piece – if you don’t bring out these articulations, it will sound quite boring. This piece is all about texture, and the hands seldom play together, so you can’t rely on harmony much. Practice each phrase individually, paying attention to the required touch. In the last bar there is a crescendo from piano right up to sforzando, which means you must play the last note as loud as you can.

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Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Bendin’ the Rules (Ben Crosland)

‘Nuff Said

Sometimes, you just don’t have much to say. You’ve said everything you needed to say, and you just want to sit back. This is the kind of piece that communicates that feeling. Syncopated rhythms, rock chords and interesting dynamics – it’s all here. If you need something edgy to complete your exam program, consider this piece.

Learn about the Piece

This piece relies on syncopation, which is what happens when we delay or play just after the beat. Wherever you have two of the same note tied with a line, this means that you must not repeat the note, but simply hold it for the required value. At the end there is a long crescendo that you must build up over five bars, ending in a loud crash. But be careful! The crash comes on the third beat of the bar, so you must wait.

Watch the Video!

Floating Balloons

This one reminds me of that feeling you get when you’ve been away from home for a while, and you find yourself missing it. It’s a warm, intimate piece that will allow you to show how sensitive you can be with your dynamics. There is also plenty of rhythmic subtlety. The piece also uses a large range on the keyboard, so you’ll need to be comfortable shifting between octaves. Learn more below:

Learn about the Piece

The piece begins with both hands in the bass clef. This means that we must begin with both hands in lower octaves. You can even shift slightly in your seat to make this comfortable. The first four bars are a gentle, lilting scale ascending from here, until we reach bar five and begin to come down again. After the repeat, keep climbing up until bar fifteen, where we have an octave sign. This tells us to shift our hand up one octave. Composers do this so that they don’t have to write lots of extra ledger lines.

What key are we in?

The piece has three sharps: F sharp, C sharp and G sharp. This means that we are in the key of A major. Remember, the A major scale has three sharps in it. Throughout the piece, remember that you can’t play F, C, or G. Instead, you must play the black keys. There are also some D sharps here and there.

Watch the Video!
Trinity Grade 2 Piano: Floating Balloons (Waris Sukontapatipark)

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