My Favorite RCM Grade 4 Pieces (12 Selections)

Today’s video is a selection of 12 RCM Grade 4 pieces that I particularly enjoy. In the video, I discuss why these are my favorites, the challenges of playing them, and a quick recording so you can hear what it sounds like.

In this blog post, you’ll find a list of all the pieces discussed in the video, and what books they’re from. All the links are to Sheet Music Plus, who I’m affiliated to. They’re a great online music retailer and I highly recommend them!

RCM Grade 4 Pieces: List A

scarlatti Aria (Sonata in D Minor, K 32)

This beautiful Aria is very haunting, and surprisingly modern-sounding for the era (which is how I feel about Scarlatti in general).

Aria from Sonata in D minor, K. 32 by Scarlatti

  1. Category: List A
  2. Book: Celebrate Scarlatti
  3. Difficulty: Easy
  4. The challenge of this piece lies in its expressiveness, and playing the 32nd notes and trills accurately.

Bach Minuet in G Major BWV Anh 116

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid – my mom used to play this one. It’s pretty straight-forward to learn and has a bright and even lively character, rare for a minuet.

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Selections from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
Edited by Christos Tsitsaros. Schirmer Performance Editions. Softcover Audio Online. 32 pages. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.296589).

Minuet in G major, BWV anh. 116, by Anon.

  1. Category: List A
  2. Book: Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
  3. My version: Selections from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach (Christos Tsitsaros)
  4. Difficulty: Easy
  5. Figuring out the details is what’s difficult here: Ornaments and Baroque playing style (detached, with well-chosen slurs). Much is left to the performer’s discretion here.

RCM Grade 4 Pieces: List B

Beethoven German Dance in E flat Major (no. 9)

Beethoven’s German dances feel like a bridge between Baroque and Classical repertoire, and is a good gateway to more challenging Beethoven pieces (like his Sonatinas, as the book title suggests). These are short and sweet, with catchy and simple melodies.

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Beethoven — Dances of Beethoven
19 Short Pieces to Play Before His Sonatinas. Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Edited by Maurice Hinson. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Classical; Masterwork; Romantic. Book. 48 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.2092).

German Dance in E flat Major (no. 9), WoO 13, by Beethoven

  1. Category: List B
  2. Book: Beethoven Dances for the Piano (19 Short Pieces to Play Before His Sonatinas)
  3. Difficulty: Medium
  4. Keeping a steady detached rhythm in the left hand and the few well-placed sforzandos. Some of the fingering work takes a little thought as well.

Clementi Sonatina in G major (no. 2)

The second and third movement are specifically in the grade 4 RCM syllabus, but I say might as well learn the whole thing. Clementi sonatinas are the gold standard for people beginning their sonatina journey, and this one is very appealing.

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Clementi — Six Sonatinas, Op. 36
By Kim O’Reilly. By Muzio Clementi (1752-1832). Edited by Willard A. Palmer. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork CD Edition. Form: Sonatina. Classical; Masterwork; Romantic. Book & CD. 64 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.22525).

Sonatina in G major, op. 36 no. 2, by Clementi

  1. Category: List B
  2. Book: Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
  3. My version: Six Clementi Sonatinas (ed. J. Latulippe)
  4. Difficulty: Challenging
  5. Clementi’s Sonatinas are bright and technically demanding for the intermediate pianist. There are plenty of scale runs, arpeggios and fast finger patterns to contend with, as well as hand leaps.

RCM Grade 4 Pieces: List C

Bartok Allegro non troppo (For Children 1, no. 33)

Bartok isn’t for everyone, but I love his cool and innovative use of chords. This is a Hungarian folk tune, and as such has a very catchy melody. But what Bartok does with that melody, is, as always, entirely distinct.

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Bartok – For Children, Volume 1
Volume 1. Composed by Bela Bartok (1881-1945) and B. Edited by Peter Bart. BH Piano. 48 pages. Boosey & Hawkes #M060112300. Published by Boosey & Hawkes (HL.48012051).

Allegro non troppo (For Children book 1, no. 33), by Bartok

  1. Category: List C
  2. Book: For Children, Vol. I + II (Boosey & Hawkes)
  3. Difficulty: Challenging
  4. Bartok’s meticulous details make this a challenge to play. All of his instructions are just so, and constantly varied. It seems every note has its own detail, so pay attention!

Grechaninov Returning Home op. 119 no. 16

This is the one book I don’t have (I haven’t found a hard copy of Grandfather’s Album), but it’s available online on imslp.org. I love this album, though, and the Romantic pieces are very appealing and gorgeous. There isn’t a ton of good Romantic early-intermediate repertoire, but this is definitely one of them.

(imslp link)

Returning Home, op. 119 no. 16, Grandfather’s Album, by Grechaninov

  1. Category: List C
  2. Book: Grandfather’s Album, op. 119
  3. Difficulty: Medium
  4. The notes themselves aren’t terribly complicated in this piece, but playing it with mood and expression takes a bit of work.

Norton Deep in Thought

I love the jazzy and ephemeral vibe of this piece. It’s really atmospheric and requires sensitivity of playing – but it’s not too hard to play.

Deep in Thought by Christopher Norton

  1. Category: List C
  2. Book: Christopher Norton Connections 4
  3. Difficulty: Easy
  4. Expression, expression, expression! This one’s all about the mood and atmosphere. The melody needs to ring clearly above the harmony notes.

Schumann The Wild Horseman op. 68 no. 8

Schumann’s Album for the Young collection is a classic, and I consider it essential in every pianist’s collection. The Wild Horseman is exciting and very fast, which is what makes it so challenging to play.

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Schumann — Album for the Young, Op. 68
Composed by Robert Schumann. Edited by Willard A. Palmer. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Masterwork; Romantic. Book. 80 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.620).

The Wild Horseman, op. 68 no. 8, Album for the Young, Schumann

  1. Category: List C
  2. Book: Album for the Young, op. 68
  3. Difficulty: Challenging
  4. The speed! The chords and notes are simple, but getting it up to speed takes quite a bit of work.

Tchaikovsky The Doll’s Funeral op. 39 no. 7

Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young is very similar to Schumann’s of the same name, but in his own unique late-Romantic Russian style. The Doll’s Funeral is appealing to adults and children alike in its drama and solemnness.

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Tchaikovsky — Album for the Young, Op. 39
Composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). Edited by Ylda Novik. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Masterwork; Romantic. Book. 64 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.485).

The Doll’s Funeral, op. 39 no. 7, Album for the Young, Tchaikovsky

  1. Category: List C
  2. Book: Album for the Young, op. 39
  3. Difficulty: Easy
  4. This solemn funeral march requires the use of una corda and careful syncopated pedaling. But the rhythm is repetitive and the left hand chord patterns make it easier to understand, so it’s a good starting piece for grade 4 beginners.

RCM Grade 4 Pieces: Etudes

Kabalevsky Folk Dance op 39 no 17

This difficult etude is a blast to play! It’s quite simple hands separately, but putting them together (and at the necessary speed) takes some work. This piece is really cheery and upbeat.

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Kabalevsky – 24 Pieces for Children, Opus 39
Composed by Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987). Edited by Margaret Otwell. Schirmer Performance Editions. Softcover Audio Online. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.296691).

Folk Dance, op. 39 no. 17, 24 Pieces for Children, Kabalevsky

  1. Category: etude
  2. Book: 24 Pieces for Children, op. 39
  3. Difficulty: Challenging
  4. There’s an abundance of speedy scale-like patterns in this piece, made more challenging by being staccato. Further compounding the challenge is the sheer speed required for this one.

RCM Grade 4 Pieces: Pop

Linus and Lucy (BigTime Kids’ Songs)

Everyone loves the tune Linus and Lucy! But it’s surprisingly difficult to play on piano. It requires lots of challenging rhythmic hand coordination. Luckily it’s such a fun tune that you won’t mind getting through the challenges.

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BigTime Kids’ Songs
Level 4. Arranged by Nancy Faber and Randall Faber. Faber Piano Adventures®. 40 pages. Faber Piano Adventures #FF3005. Published by Faber Piano Adventures (HL.420325).

Linus and Lucy, Guaraldi

  1. Category: pop
  2. Book: BigTime Piano: Kids’ Songs, Level 4 & above
  3. Difficulty: Challenging
  4. This is a difficult piece to play hands together, since the right and left hand rhythms are so different. But that’s precisely why I love teaching this piece! Everyone knows it, and it’s great for developing hand coordination.

Night Train (My First Jazz Standards Song Book)

Night Train is a catchy and enjoyable swing piece from the 1950s. It’s not as rhythmically challenging as many jazz pieces, so it can serve as a good starting point for those wanting to get into jazzier styles.

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My First Jazz Standards Song Book
A Treasury of Favorite Songs to Play. Composed by Various. Easy Piano Songbook. Softcover. 88 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.159635).

Night Train, Oscar Washington

  1. Category: pop
  2. Book: My First Jazz Standards Song Book
  3. Difficulty: Medium
  4. Though this piece is on the longer side (4 pages), it’s got lots of repetitive parts. The main challenges are the fast right hand scale patterns and triplet rhythms – the left hand is largely supportive and straight forward.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of my favorite RCM grade 4 pieces! There are over 100 to choose from, and I highly encourage to to explore many options to find your own favorites.

xo,

Allysia