Grade 1 Foreign Terms

Foreign Terms

Grade 1

There are a list of foreign terms you need to know and understand for Grade 1. These are often found just above the first note of a piece and dictate how the piece is to be played – whether it is fast, with feeling etc.
Other terms (such as crescendo/cresc. or diminuendo/dim.) can be found scattered throughout a piece of music.

It is a good idea to start learning these early on, so you don’t get overwhelmed by them all.

I recommend using a Memrise course developed by users, available here. Memrise is a mobile app and website designed to teach people foreign languages, and as such I think it is a good piece of software to help learn the foreign terms.
It helped me quite a lot and is definitely worth a shot.

There is also Test yourself post on ABRSM’s forums by another user, where the translations to the foreign terms can be seen by highling the line with the term on.

Learn however suits you best, but if you start early it is a guarenteed few marks. If you start late, you will be spending hours and hours in the days before the exam just to get a few marks, which at that stage could be time better spent!


All Terms

  • A Tempo – In Time
  • Accelerando (Accel.) – Gradually getting quicker
  • Adagio – Slow
  • Allegretto – Fairly quick, but not quite as quick as allegro
  • Allegro – Quick (literally cheerfli)
  • Allegro Moderato – Moderately Quick
  • Andante – At a walking pace (literally going) – medium speed
  • Cantabile – In a singing style
  • Crescendo (Cresc.) – Gradually getting louder
  • Da Capo (D.C.) – Repeat from the beginning
  • Dal Segno (D.S.) – Repeat from the sign
  • Decrescendo (decresc.) – Gradually getting quieter
  • Diminuendo (dim.) – Gradually getting quieter
  • Fine – The end
  • Forte (f) – Loud
  • Fortissimo (ff) – Very loud
  • Legato – Smoothly
  • Lento – Slow
  • Mezzo – Half
  • Mezzoforte (mf) – Moderately loud (literally half loud)
  • Mezzopiano (mp) – Moderately quiet (literally half quiet)
  • Moderato – Moderately
  • Pianissimi (pp) – Very quiet
  • Piano (p) – Quiet
  • Poco – A little
  • Rallentando (rall.) – Gradually getting slower
  • Ritardando (rit. or ritard.) – Gradually getting slower
  • Ritenuto (rit. or riten.) – Held back
  • Staccato (stacc.) – Detached
  • Tempo – Speed, time