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American (United States) Piano grading system #1610311
02/01/11 01:52 PM
02/01/11 01:52 PM
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MrHazelton Offline OP
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What is the American Piano grading system called? My teacher doesn't do the whole grading thing, but I'd like to know where I stand in this system. I'd also like to know what's expected of a pianist at different levels within the system. Thank you.

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Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1610363
02/01/11 02:40 PM
02/01/11 02:40 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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We don't have a "national" grading system. Surprise. We're a pretty independent lot, after all!

Several organizations, such as MTNA and their affiliate state chapters have a grading system. Others, like Piano Guild, have another. There is a sister organization of ABRSM which has it's grading system. California's independent teaching organization, MTAC, has it's own system as well.

Music publishers have their own systems, which differs from publisher to publisher, and music serials (periodicals) have a system of grading.

There is some broad agreement if you talk in terms of elementary, intermediate and advanced, but even that's not hard and fast. Most would agree that elementary are pieces from complete beginner works up to the easiest sonatinas of Clementi and dances of Bach; intermediate through up to the easiest of sonatas of Beethoven and Mozart, and the Inventions of Bach, and advanced, up from there.





"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1610425
02/01/11 04:02 PM
02/01/11 04:02 PM
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Gyro Offline
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A very rough guideline is: beginner, intermediate, advanced-intermediate, and advanced. In the beginner stage, you're learning the basics and are working on easily manageable pieces--an example of pieces in this category might be the pieces in Alfred Bk. 1, or any other book 1 in another instructional series. Intermediate is a broad category and a person might stay in this level for quite some time: you've learned the basics of playing and now have graduated to more difficult, buy still relatively manageable pieces--examples in this category might be the pieces in Alfred Bk. 3, or any other bk. 3 in another series. And the student might start playing the easier classical works as an intermediate, for example, the standard sonatinas in the teaching repertoire.

Advanced-intermediate is also a broad category. This is the category that 90+% of all players end up in--for life. The pieces in this category are not easy, and yet they have the characteristic that they can be played by anyone with a lot of hands-on coaching by a teacher; for example: Bach Italian Concerto, Mozart Sonata in C, Traumerei, Minute Waltz, etc.

Advanced is for students who can get into the better conservatory programs. For example, the audition repertoire for the top conservatories is typically: a difficult WTC piece; a complete, challenging Classical Era Sonata; a substantial Romantic Era piece, like a Chopin Ballade; a fast concert etude; and an impressive modern era piece--all played from memory, note perfect, and with verve. This is the stage that separates the superior players from all the rest. A talented student can get such a repertoire prepared in a few yrs.; lesser players could not prepare such a repertoire in a lifetime of effort. The pieces in this category are in another league--concert pianist-level--and average players cannot play them even with extensive coaching from a teacher.

Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1610516
02/01/11 05:08 PM
02/01/11 05:08 PM
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Sydney, NSW, Australia
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Elissa Milne Offline
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A lot of the music published as advanced in the US is around Grade 6/7 standard ABRSM (based on current exam syllabus), Grade 5/6 standard AMEB/Trinity Guildhall. There is still some considerable learning to be done between this level and the levels required for entry into piano performance programs in Australian universities and conservatoria, where at least 4 more 'years' of study would be needed to have a chance of securing a place.


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Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1610927
02/02/11 05:31 AM
02/02/11 05:31 AM
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suniil Offline
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This is the topic attracts me. I, myself not a piano player but my daughter is. It would be nice to have a table or similar stuff, that equates all the Grading together. I only knows ABRSM / Trinity GH and have difficulty in understanding US level system.

Not going to hijack this thread, but will open a thread to seek some help from you experts here!

Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1611035
02/02/11 09:21 AM
02/02/11 09:21 AM
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MrHazelton Offline OP
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Thank you for the feedback. It's a bit disapointing that there is no official US grading system.

Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1611096
02/02/11 11:18 AM
02/02/11 11:18 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by MrHazelton
Thank you for the feedback. It's a bit disapointing that there is no official US grading system.
No, I think that's the beauty of the United States. It's always interesting to get transfer students who moved from other places and see how they've been taught piano.


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Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: AZNpiano] #1611142
02/02/11 12:22 PM
02/02/11 12:22 PM
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MrHazelton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by MrHazelton
Thank you for the feedback. It's a bit disapointing that there is no official US grading system.
No, I think that's the beauty of the United States. It's always interesting to get transfer students who moved from other places and see how they've been taught piano.
I would think that a national grading system would produce more well rounded students. I've looked at some of the international grading systems and they have listed what the student needs to be capable of for each grade. I could do most of what is listed on the lower grades (up to grade 4 perhaps, depending on which system you are using), but not quite everything. This tells me that I have knowledge gaps. I've also seen some videos of people at different levels. I remember one video of an adult student who began as an adult. He was playing at the grade 8 level and I was quite impressed. It would be nice to know where I fit and what I need to do to get to the next level, and the one after, and so on.

Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1611149
02/02/11 12:29 PM
02/02/11 12:29 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,758
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Originally Posted by MrHazelton
I would think that a national grading system would produce more well rounded students.

I think the following items are more important toward the production of well-rounded students:
1) dedicated students,
2) capable teachers,
3) supportive parents,
4) the availability of a good practice instrument,
5) good method book series,
6) festivals, competitions, and exams for the student, and
7) lots of performance opportunities.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1611154
02/02/11 12:36 PM
02/02/11 12:36 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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You can go here (ABRSM) for a complete syllabus of piano exams for ABRSM. They have quite a few pieces at each level, so perhaps you can use this to make a judgement. BTW, this link will down-load a pdf file.



"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1611170
02/02/11 12:58 PM
02/02/11 12:58 PM
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childofparadise2002 Offline
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You can check out the national music certificate program.

http://www.nationalmusiccertificate.org/

The curriculum is the same as RCM but it's an attempt to create a national standard.

Re: American (United States) Piano grading system [Re: MrHazelton] #1611315
02/02/11 04:41 PM
02/02/11 04:41 PM
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Gyro Offline
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You can look up various online lists of the pieces in various grades, but this is not necessarily a cut and dried thing. A lot depends on your talent level and what interests you. Moreover, the pieces in some standardized list may overlap to some degree in difficulty.

I personally see these lists as not really necessary in the US, where there are no standardized tests to advance to the various grades. Furthermore, almost everyone ends up in the so-called advanced-intermediate category, for life, anyway, and most people will get there before they know it. You start off in beginner's level, which typically doesn't last long. Then you go into intermediate, which is a broad category open to various interpretations about what's actually in it. And then, before long, you are in adv.-interm., and you'll stay there for life, typically, so there's no need to worry about if what you're playing there will allow you to advance upwards, because the next step up is advanced, which is essentially concert pianist-level, and is off limits to all but the best players.

Note however, that there is essentially nothing that is off limits to anyone, if he is willing to work it up slowly, using repetition in place of talent. For example, if you are intermediate or adv.-int., or even beginner, there is nothing to stop you from digging into anything, no matter how difficult, and conquering it by repetition over a long time. A while back, an experienced adv.-int. player asked on the forums why she couldn't play the Heroic Polonaise after 3 mos. of effort. A talented conservatory player can do that, but not an avg. player. An avg. player would typically need 3 decades, not months, to play it, maybe ten yrs. just to get it more or less in hand, then another 20 yrs. of grueling repetitive work-until-your-fingers-fall-off to polish it up.

Last edited by Gyro; 02/02/11 04:45 PM.

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