Rihanna, Studio Ghibli and Black Panther appear in new official piano syllabus

6 June 2024, 16:29 | Updated: 6 June 2024, 16:33

Rihanna, Studio Ghibli and Black Panther appear in new official piano syllabus
Rihanna, Studio Ghibli and Black Panther appear in new official piano syllabus. Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The music of Rihanna, TV and anime will sit alongside composers Bach and Schumann in the new official piano syllabus unveiled by ABRSM.

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Music from Black Panther, Studio Ghibli films including Spirited Away, and family favourite movies like Wallace and Gromit all feature in a major update of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’s (ABRSM) official piano syllabus.

The piano arrangements of popular TV and film pieces sit alongside classics by Debussy, Mozart, Grieg, Schumann and Bach, as well as popular jazz tunes like Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag.

ABRSM’s updated syllabus also includes works by exciting composers of today, including Wibbly Waltz by Sarah Watts and In the Dead of the Night by Edmund Jolliffe at Initial Grade, alongside ‘Lift me up’ from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

At Grade 1 and Grade 2, piano students can learn Amit Anand’s Cyberspace Detective, Way Out West by Pete Letanka, and The Singing Swan from ABRSM’s Artistic Director, Alexis Ffrench.

‘Always with Me’ from Joe Hisaishi’s Spirited Away has been arranged for Grade 3.

Up at Grade 8, advanced pianists can learn ‘Il Porco Rosso’, from Studio Ghibli movie Porco Rosso.

Other new syllabus highlights include music by women composers including Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Fanny Hensel and Mélanie Bonis.

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The refreshed ABRSM repertoire for 2025 and 2026 is designed to reach even more learners across the world by celebrating music originating from composers from the UK, across Europe, Japan, Australia and beyond.

The exam board has also compiled a selection of pieces for one-handed piano for Grades 1 to 5.

ABRSM’s Head of Assessment and Curriculum, Ali Bowen-Davies, said it’s been “wonderful to explore music from around the world and across different genres” for the next year’s syllabus.

“Learners and teachers will find composers of the expected core repertoire such as Scarlatti, Mozart and Liszt, alongside works by Rihanna, Joe Hisaishi for Studio Ghibli, and Alexis Ffrench,” Bowen-Davies added.

“This sheer variety means learners can enjoy inspiring music from baroque and classical to pop, stage and screen, whilst broadening their own creative interpretations of a variety of styles. There really is something for everyone in these new iterations of ABRSM Piano syllabuses and we’re so excited to be able to share these!”

As part of the 2024 refresh, audio recordings of the ABRSM’s entire syllabus are now available through all major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon, for students to listen to alongside their practice.