Music Technique Skills-Building Program

The Technique Skills Building Program consists of 6 levels for pianists and 5 for the strings, starting from Beginner up to Artist ( Professional for pianists). It is currently open to all Nelly Berman School of Music piano & string students.

The online music technique competitions take place two times a year, during the fall semester and spring semester. It is our desire and goal that this new studies competition will motivate our students to develop superior technique which will, in turn, allow them to play some of the most beautiful and sophisticated repertoire in music literature.

Teachers of participating students assign the suggested studies for each of the skill levels listed below; students will then electronically submit their performances. Students need not record studies for all required skills at once. They can spread out their submission of studies (and scales for strings students) and audition over multiple semesters. Each student receives a score based on technical skill and musicality for each study (and scales for string students) that they submit.

Participants will gain a clear understanding of what it takes to move up a level and what kind of repertoire, upon completing their level, they will be able to perform successfully. 

Students who complete the Artist/Professional Level will be posted on the NBS Wall of Fame and be invited to represent NBS at an annual award winners’ Gala Concert.

The cost for participation is $25 per student for the first two study/scale submissions, then an additional $10 for every additional study/scale submitted, with the total cost capped at $50 per student. Students will receive the judges’ scores and comments and those who complete a level will receive a certificate of completion.

Guidelines for studies/etudes selection:

Instrument : PIANO

Teachers should assign students studies appropriate to their level. 

LEVEL I – Beginner

Level I A: 4 studies from the Russian School of Music Volume 1 part 2, memorized and at performance tempo.

Level I B: 4 studies from the Russian School of Music Volume 2, focusing on the following technical skills listed below.

To pass level I and move to level II, you must complete a study for all listed skills:

  1. Scale based study emphasizing the right hand 
  2. Scale based study emphasizing the left hand
  3. Arpeggio based study
  4. Mixed technique study, i.e. staccato, skips, playing both hands together, etc.

LEVEL II – Advanced Beginner

Choose 4 studies from Czerny-Germer Book 1 focusing on the following technique skills. To pass level II and move to level III, you must complete a study for all listed skills:

  1. Scale based study emphasizing the right hand 
  2. Scale based study emphasizing the left hand
  3. Arpeggio based study
  4. Mixed technique study, such as thirds, repetitions, chords, specific patterns etc.

LEVEL III- Intermediate 

Level III A: 2 studies from Czerny-Germer Book 2

Level III B: 2 studies from Czerny-Germer Op. 299 Book 1

Level III C: 2 studies from Czerny Op. 299 Books 2-4 (optional: replace 1 study from Czerny Op. 299 Books 2-4 with 1 study from Liszt Op. 1 “ Etudes in 12 exercises”)

Choose 6 studies or etudes focusing on the following technique skills. To pass level III  and move to level IV you must complete a study for all listed skills:

  • Scale based study
  • Arpeggio based study
  • Mixed technique: thirds based study/or large chords, turns, repetitions, jumps, etc
  • Octave based study, or another mixed technique, if the hand is too small for octaves

LEVEL IV – Advanced

4 studies from the two suggested composers must be performed to pass level IV and move to level V:

Level IV A: 2 studies from Czerny Op. 740 (larger etudes)

Level IV B: 2 studies from Moszkowski (12 virtuosic etudes)

  • Scale based study
  • Arpeggio based study
  • Mixed technique: thirds based study/or large chords, turns, repetitions, jumps, etc
  • Octave based study, or another mixed technique, if the hand is too small for octaves

LEVEL V – Artist

3 etudes from two or three of the suggested composers must be performed with emotional expressive texture, with the melody interwoven through the technical elements to pass level V and move to level VI

  • Chopin from Op 10 No 5, 9, 10, 11., Op 25 Nos. 1, 2, 5, 9.
  • Liszt Transcendental Etudes No. 1
  • Rachmaninov Études-Tableaux Op. 33 2nd edition: No. 2 in A minor, No. 5 in D minor, No. 8 in G minor

LEVEL VI – Professional

2 etudes from the following composers must be performed to complete the Nelly Berman School of Music “Technique Skills Building Program”:

  • Chopin Etudes Op. 10 and 25, excluding Etudes listed in Level 5
  • Liszt Three Concert Etudes, Transcendental Etudes 2-12
  • Rachmaninov Virtuosic Etudes from Op 33 (excluding Etudes listed in level 5) & Op. 39.
  • Scriabin Virtuosic Etudes
  • Prokofiev Three Etudes
  • Stravinsky Etudes
  • Ligeti Etudes 
  • Kapustin Etudes

Instrument: VIOLIN

Teachers should assign students studies appropriate to their level. 

LEVEL I – Beginner

To pass level I and move to level II, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales D minor, A minor (2 octaves)
  • Studies #10, #12

LEVEL 2 – Advanced Beginner

To pass level II and move to level III, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales C minor, F major (2 octaves)
  • Studies #6, #16

LEVEL 3 – Intermediate

To pass level III and move to level IV, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales D minor, G major (2 octaves)
  • Studies in the 3rd position – #15, #17

LEVEL 4 – Advanced

To pass level IV and move to level V, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales G major (3 octaves), F major (2 octaves)
  • Study in 1st and 3rd position – #50
  • Study in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th position – #56

LEVEL 5 – Artist

To complete the Nelly Berman School of Music “Studies Competition” Technique Skills Building Program:

  • Scales A major (4 octaves), F major (3 octaves)
  • Studies #28, #35

Sheet music is available for violin studies; please contact the office at office@nbmusic.com.

Instrument: CELLO

LEVEL 1 – Beginner 

To pass level I and move to level II, you must complete the listed studies and scales:

  • C Major and D Major in 2 Octaves 
  • 1 per bow and 4 note slurs
  • Dotzauer Book 1 #1

LEVEL 2 – Advanced Beginner 

To pass level II and move to level III, you must complete the listed studies and scales:

  • G Major and A minor melodic 
  • 1 per bow and 4 note slurs 
  • Dotzauer Book 1 #3

LEVEL 3 – Intermediate 

To pass level III and move to level IV, you must complete the listed studies and scales:

  • D Major and D Minor (harmonic and melodic) 
  • 3 octaves 1 per bow/3 and 4 note slurs 
  • Dotzauer Book 1 # 5 or # 15

LEVEL 4 – Advanced 

To pass level IV and move to level V, you must complete the listed studies and scales:

  • E flat Major and F minor (harmonic and melodic) 
  • 4 octaves 1 per bow/3 and 4 note slurs 
  • Dotzauer Book 2 #35 or # 38

LEVEL 5 – Artist 

To complete the Nelly Berman School of Music “Studies Competition” Technique Skills Building Program:

  • B flat Major and A Minor (harmonic and melodic) 
  • 4 octaves 1 per bow/3 and 4 note slurs 
  • Popper High School of Cello Playing #1

Instrument: CLARINET

LEVEL I – Beginner

To pass level I and move to level II, you must complete the listed studies and scales:

  • Scales: 2 octaves of 2 of the following major scales: E, F, G, Ab, A, Bb, C, D, Eb
  • 1 ‘Etude’ selected from Rubank Elementary Method pg. 34 or 42
  • Suggested supplemental solos: Ode to Music, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6

LEVEL 2 – Advanced Beginner

To pass level II and move to level III, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales: 3 octaves of 2 of the following major scales: E, F, G,
  • Scales: 2 octaves of 2 of the following major scales: Ab, A, Bb, C, D, Db, Eb
  • 1 study selected from the Jagow etudes
  • Suggested supplemental solos: 1 solo from the Clarinet Collection by G. Schirmer that is in a contrasting style to the etude

LEVEL 3 – Intermediate

To pass level III and move to level IV, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales: 3 octaves of 2 of the following major and minor scales: E, F, F#, G,
  • Scales: 2 octaves of 2 of the following major and minor scales: Ab, A, Bb, B C, D, Db, Eb
  • 1 study from the Rose 32 Etudes
  • Suggested supplemental solos: Stamitz Concerto No. 3, Weber Concertino, Solo de Concours (Messager), Solo de Concours (Widor), Poulenc Sonata
  • Suggested supplemental orchestral excerpts: Brahms 3, Beethoven 6, selected solos from Scheherazade

LEVEL 4 – Advanced

To pass level IV and move to level V, you must complete the two listed studies and scales:

  • Scales: 3 octaves of 2 of the following major and minor scales: E, F, F#, G, Ab, A
  • Scales: 2 octaves of 2 of the following major and minor scales: Bb, B C, D, Db/C#m, Eb
  • 1 etude from Kovacs Hommage a M. de Falla OR R Strauss, Cavallini 30 Caprices
  • Suggested supplemental solos: Stravinsky 3 Pieces for Clarinet, L’Abime des oiseaux, Sutermeister Capriccio, Martino A Set for Clarinet Mvt. I, Cahuzac Arlequin
  • Suggested supplemental concertos: Mozart Concerto, Weber Concerto No. 1, Debussy Premiere Rhapsody
  • Suggested supplemental orchestral excerpts: Mendelssohn Scherzo, Capriccio Espagnol, Beethoven 8, Mendelssohn 3, Rhapsody in Blue

LEVEL 5 – Artist

To complete the Nelly Berman School of Music “Studies Competition” Technique Skills Building Program:

  • Scales: 3 octaves of 2 of the following major and minor scales: E, F, F#, G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Cm (all forms)
  • Scales: 2 octaves of 2 of the following major and minor scales: D, Db/C#m, Eb/Ebm
  • 2 etudes – 1 from Paganini Dix-sept Caprices (Editions Musicales Alphonse Leduc); Hommage a J.S. Bach by Kovacs
  • Suggested supplemental solos: Francaix Theme & Variations, Brahms Sonata 1 or 2, Muczynski Time Pieces, Fantasy on Themes from Rigoletto, Romero y Andia Fantasy on Themes from Lucrecia Borgia, Devienne Sonata 1 & 2, Weinberg Sonata
  • Suggested supplemental concertos: Weber Concert No. 2, Nielson Concerto
  • Suggested supplemental orchestral excerpts: Beethoven 4, Shostakovich 9, Firebird Variations, Daphnis et Chloe, Pines of Rome

Instrument: OBOE

For scales, teacher should assign an age-appropriate tempo & articulation pattern. Listed studies are from the following books:

  • Edlefsen & Weber, “Student Instrumental Course: Oboe Student” (Level 1)
  • Edlefsen & Weber, “Student Instrumental Course: Oboe Student” (Level 2)

LEVEL 1 – Beginner

To pass level I and move onto level II, you must complete the listed scales & studies:

  • Perform the following 3 scales from memory (1 octave): Bb major, Eb major, F major
  • 2 studies: Edelfsen/Weber (Level 1), Lesson 4 #5, Lesson 5 #5

LEVEL 2 – Advanced Beginner

To pass level II and move onto level III, you must complete the listed scales & studies:

  • Perform the following 3 scales from memory: C Major (2 octaves), G major (1 octave), A major (1 octave)
  • 2 studies: Edelfsen/Weber (Level 1), Lesson 11 #7, Lesson 12 #1

LEVEL 3 – Intermediate

To pass level III and move onto level IV, you must complete the listed scales & studies:

  • Perform the following 3 scales from memory: Ab Major (1 octave), D major (2 octaves), E major (1 octave)
  • 2 studies: Edelfsen/Weber (Level 1), Lesson 27 #6, Lesson 28 #7

LEVEL 4 – Advanced

To pass level IV and move onto level V, you must complete the listed scales & studies:

  • Perform the following 2 scales from memory: A minor (natural, harmonic, melodic, 1 octave), D minor (natural, harmonic, melodic, 2 octaves)
  • 2 studies: Edelfsen/Weber (Level 2), Pg. 7 #5, Pg. 17 #2

LEVEL 5 – Artist

To complete the Nelly Berman School of Music “Studies Competition” Technique Skills Building Program:

  • Perform the following 2 scales from memory: Eb Major (2 octaves), C minor (natural, harmonic, melodic, 2 octaves)
  • 2 studies: Salviani Studies Vol. II, Pg. 2 #6, Pg. 10 #12

Donations by check (made out to NBSCMI and mailed to 461 W. Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041) or through Paypal (through nbsmusic.com/support) are appreciated to help support this program!