2022 our 25th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
72 members (bob@pei, Abdol, Animisha, AJB, BMKE, Calikokat, CharlesXX, B3boy, 19 invisible), 683 guests, and 287 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 2,182
BrianDX Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
OP Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 2,182
I think when I was new at the ABF I posted something like this, but after two years of piano studies with an excellent teacher, I have slightly different views.

Here is a very specific case. In a couple of months I should be moving into material that the authors of my lesson books consider the early Intermediate level. But I'm not sure.

For fun, I found an easy Chopin piece that is listed at Grade 3 in the ABSRM series. So, if I can eventually learn this piece in whatever amount of time it takes, is that really the same skill level as opposed to being able to learn the piece properly in say, a week or so?

In other words, do you measure progress only in one dimension (what you can eventually learn to play), or two dimensions (what you can play, and how long does it take to master it)?

To me this is kind of a variation of learning a "stretch piece". If it takes forever to learn it, have you really achieved the skill level implied in the piece?


Yamaha C2X | Yamaha M500-F
Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
Curriculum: Faber Developing Artist (Book 3)
Current: German Dance in D Major (Haydn) (OF); Melody (Schumann) (OF)
(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 144
S
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
S
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 144
Intersting question. What's the Chopin piece BTW?

Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 3,057
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 3,057
I think that in the spirit of the grade system you're supposed to be able to master a piece at your level in about one or two months. Below your level might take maybe a couple of weekly lessons but not more than a month. Two levels below should be your sight reading level.

Of course, it's all subjective and comparing a Bach piece to a Chopin piece regardless of level is like apples and oranges.

Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,129
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,129
Is not easy to answer to this because it requires few postulates.
The first postulate is that there are different kind of general techniques like passage works, held notes, double notes, arpeggios, etc.
The second postulate is that each composed uses a different musical language, or even the same composer, might change language during his life. Debussy is different from Beethoven, young Beethoven is different from late Beethoven.
The third postulate is about our talent and ability to learn, each one of us is different, has different hands and something comes easier, something harder, but it's almost always a different experience from person to person. A person might have a fantastic passagework techniques and a strong musical instinct interpreting Mozart and another strong double notes and understand Chopin better.
The forth postulate is a person "character" or ability to drink the bad medicine in order to get better. Some people can play something that they don't like with the same focus and intensity they do what they like, some people don't.

How all of this influence progress and our perception of progress?

Let's use a good reference for progress, the RCM syllabus. many levels, many pieces each level.

Unless the progress is too slow (one bar per week) or too fast (one page every day) I consider that a piece at "your level" is when you are able to play correctly, between 80% to 100% performance tempo between between 1/2 page to 2 pages per week. It's a pretty broad range but, from my experience, gives me an idea if the work is going to be productive or not. Also, removes the variable of "speed of learning", because you are either into the parameters or you are out.

It's also judge your technical development, because if at a certain point, you get stuck on the same four bars for a month waiting to develop a certain technique, is telling you that you are learning a new trick.

All the rest is up for judgment and the "barriers" between levels are not made of stone, but very blurry.
You should mark all the pieces you perform in one year, check the correspondence in the RCM syllabus or J. Magrath book and make an average... if the number grow, you are progressing, if doesn't, you are probably filling voids in your preparation.

It's about 2 years that I'm gravitating between Grade 9 and Dipl ARCT pieces filling voids of composers that I never played before and technical challenges that need to be resolved, but non the less, I feel I'm progressing because at this point I find less and less pieces where I stop for weeks on few bar to be resolved technically. It's weird said by an agnostic, but you need faith, mainly in yourself.


Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 3,057
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 3,057
Originally Posted by Sketches
Intersting question. What's the Chopin piece BTW?

I guess op 74 no 2 is the only one that fits the description.

Joined: May 2012
Posts: 668
F
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
F
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 668
Originally Posted by BrianDX
In other words, do you measure progress only in one dimension (what you can eventually learn to play), or two dimensions (what you can play, and how long does it take to master it)?


I skimmed the syllabus once. I can't remember if there were criteria for time taken in development of repertoire, or time taken in learning scores. Time taken for learning new work is a valid benchmark in the professional world. Time is money. I can't believe it would not be assessed eventually. It may or may not be in a syllabus, but if you go on to work for somebody, you'll be competing with people that can learn things both well and quickly.


nada
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,294
B
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,294
It seems obvious to me that the time and effort required to learn a piece is a crucial metric!
If I take 10 times longer to learn something than you, then clearly I'm not at the same level.

In the same vein, if you and I spend the same amount of time working on a piece, and at the end of that you play it way better, then we can conclude it's because you are "better" aka more advanced.

Of course that's a bit simplistic, and we could get into other factors at play. Just because we both worked on a piece for 2 weeks, say, doesn't mean we both put in as much time. Even if we put in the same amount of time, maybe one of us has much better practice habits.

But basically, I think we can mostly agree that how long it takes to learn a piece of a given difficulty is a key indicator.

It's been a noticeable benefit of the 40-piece challenge for me in fact - I have "Classics to Moderns Book 2", a collection of pieces all around the same level. It takes me considerably less time on average to learn a piece than it did at the start of the year.

I suppose the question is whether that progress (important, I consider) has had any bearing on what you might call my "level". I think it has, personally. I think it has helped me become a more rounded player and that that in turn leaves me better able to tackle more difficult (to me) pieces also.

Great reply from Ataru above, which I just read after writing the above. A very good way of looking at it, particularly the need to fill in gaps, acquire a wide range of skills, become competent at many different styles.


[Linked Image]
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 4,037
Z
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 4,037
While speed of learning is an indicator of progress for the individual it is still an insignificant one to anyone else.

The ability to play a grade 3 piece is also insignificant on its own. The mark in an exam is aggregated over a number of pieces in various styles. The higher the grade, the closer it gets to 'fugue plus sonata plus expressive plus technical suite'. No amount of Chopin material is sufficient to reach grade X if it doesn't include parallel compositions from the baroque and classical periods - or pieces in those styles - and commensurate ability with musicianship and technical ability in scales and arpeggios, etc.

The grading system, which is a level of achievement only, can only indicate progress when compared to previous achievements. Your own measure can include more factors, such as time and difficulty.

Sometimes pieces are chosen in exams for their musicianship requirement and their innate difficulties are not expected to be overcome (at tempo) except by the distinguished candidates.

A piece in and of itself can be difficult or easy, etc. but it can't readily be put into a category of grade X without other pieces. The same pieces are often used in different grades by the Board because they have different expectations for it at different grade levels.



Richard
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 205
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 205
I've often heard it said that it is perfectly reasonable to complete a level (say, an RCM level) in one year. Yes, I know there are a million variables, but let's talk in generalities and averages. A year might not be considered merely an arbitrary time period if the courses were designed to fit into one of them. Does anyone know if the levels were meant to be completed in roughly a year?

If it's true, it would support the two dimension idea.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
8

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
Offline

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
8
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
Originally Posted by BrianDX
In other words, do you measure progress only in one dimension (what you can eventually learn to play), or two dimensions (what you can play, and how long does it take to master it)?


How long it takes you to learn something is the more important criteria. I asked a pianist friend of mine who began working on the Beethoven Emperor concerto in the summer how long it would take him to learn the thing. He said about 3 months. That's how long it takes me to learn a Kuhlau sonatina. That right there tells you where he is and where I am.

Since you do have a teacher, whatever you could learn in one month to the satisfaction of your teacher is a good enough guideline for where you're at for now. As you pass the elementary levels and get into intermediate, the time would stretch longer to about two months, then maybe three months for the advance levels. That's it. It should not take much longer to learn a piece at your skill level.

If you decide to learn a piece beyond your skill level, then sky's the limit on how long that could take. I've heard many take a year to learn something. I couldn't do it. Also, there is no way to learn 20-25 pieces per grade level in a reasonable amount of time if every piece takes 4 to 6 months.

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,336
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,336
From experience, I'd be very careful progressing up the grades too fast. If the techniques and musicality is not progressing as fast as you are playing the higher grade pieces (cramming more difficult pieces in a shorter time than you need), bad playing techniques emerges and boy it takes forever to unlearn them. As a result, you may get stuck at a certain level and can't go further. Rather, take the time with getting the basics right and develop solid techniques and musicality. Eventually, it will take shorter time to get to where you want to go.


Be yourself

Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 347
D
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 347
Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
From experience, I'd be very careful progressing up the grades too fast. If the techniques and musicality is not progressing as fast as you are playing the higher grade pieces (cramming more difficult pieces in a shorter time than you need), bad playing techniques emerges and boy it takes forever to unlearn them. As a result, you may get stuck at a certain level and can't go further. Rather, take the time with getting the basics right and develop solid techniques and musicality. Eventually, it will take shorter time to get to where you want to go.

I wholly agree with you. In fact, I agree with mostly everything you say, they are of sound and sensible thinking and your approach to learning and piano performance is very good.
This begs the question.. why the signature? I always wanted to ask that. You can word it in other ways that are not so negative or self-pitying (how I see it). Be confident in your presentation of yourself and state that expression in your sig i say. But that is just my opinion.
I look forward to your next contribution.


debussychopin.
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 11,256
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 11,256
Your initial post, and all responses, assume a graded syllabus is being used. For all of us not using a graded syllabus, how is progress best measured?


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 3,057
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 3,057
Well, you can still check your pieces on pianosyllabus.com to see where you stand. Take a piece you learned a year ago. What grade is it? How long did it take you to learn? Then take a piece you've just learned and which took about the same time to learn. What grade is it? Now you can see your progress over a year.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 2,182
BrianDX Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
OP Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 2,182
Great comments everyone! Once again the ABF has proven itself a valuable tool in my pursuit of a piano education.

I'll answer/comment on a few points here (although all were great!)

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
Since you do have a teacher, whatever you could learn in one month to the satisfaction of your teacher is a good enough guideline for where you're at for now. As you pass the elementary levels and get into intermediate, the time would stretch longer to about two months, then maybe three months for the advance levels. That's it. It should not take much longer to learn a piece at your skill level.

This is exactly where I am right now. Currently it takes me about 3-4 weeks to progress the harder pieces to a point where my teacher passes me on it. Of course, a year ago it ALSO took me 3-4 weeks to master an early to mid-elementary piece (I bet it wouldn't take me that long now - Qazsedctf's exact point I believe). Oddly enough, I just learned a "difficult" left-handed piece in 15 minutes and passed it 3 days later. Go figure... smirk

Originally Posted by Sketches
Interesting question. What's the Chopin piece BTW?

Wiosna (Op. 74 No. 2). Qazsedctf nailed it! smile

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075

From experience, I'd be very careful progressing up the grades too fast. If the techniques and musicality is not progressing as fast as you are playing the higher grade pieces (cramming more difficult pieces in a shorter time than you need), bad playing techniques emerges and boy it takes forever to unlearn them. As a result, you may get stuck at a certain level and can't go further. Rather, take the time with getting the basics right and develop solid techniques and musicality. Eventually, it will take shorter time to get to where you want to go.

I have brought this exact issue up several times with my teacher in the last two years, the latest time being just last night. She assured me that she will keep me at the end of my current books until I have sufficiently mastered the skills presented.

Thanks much.



Yamaha C2X | Yamaha M500-F
Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
Curriculum: Faber Developing Artist (Book 3)
Current: German Dance in D Major (Haydn) (OF); Melody (Schumann) (OF)
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,129
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,129
Originally Posted by dogperson
Your initial post, and all responses, assume a graded syllabus is being used. For all of us not using a graded syllabus, how is progress best measured?


Just for the sake of discussion you have 3 cases.

1) You can play all the music you look at. progress doesn't mean anything anymore to you because you can play everything.
2) You can't play a single piece of music you look at. As in case one, progress doesn't mean anything because you can't do anything.
3) You can play some of the pieces you put on the music desk. Forget the one you can play and put the one you CAN'T play on another desk. After a certain amount of time go back on the pile of pieces you weren't able to play... if you still can't play any of these pieces, you aren't progressing, if you can play even one, you are progressing.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
8

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
Offline

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
8
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
Originally Posted by BrianDX
This is exactly where I am right now. Currently it takes me about 3-4 weeks to progress the harder pieces to a point where my teacher passes me on it. Of course, a year ago it ALSO took me 3-4 weeks to master an early to mid-elementary piece (I bet it wouldn't take me that long now - Qazsedctf's exact point I believe). Oddly enough, I just learned a "difficult" left-handed piece in 15 minutes and passed it 3 days later. Go figure... smirk


That's awesome. That means you are exactly where you need to be, so good going. Learning the "difficult" LH piece in 15 minutes then reaching "put-away" status 3 days later has got to be a anomaly. RCM sometimes has things misplaced in a non-ideal grade level as well, but I've never encountered anything really easy or hard like that before. confused

Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 144
S
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
S
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 144
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Sketches
Intersting question. What's the Chopin piece BTW?

I guess op 74 no 2 is the only one that fits the description.


Never heard that before and it is very nice thumb

Thankyou + BrianDX might have a wee play with it tomorrow.

I have no idea when it comes to grades, thought it might have been prelude 6 in B minor.

Last edited by Sketches; 10/08/15 04:59 PM.
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
8

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
Offline

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
8
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
Originally Posted by Ataru074
1) You can play all the music you look at. progress doesn't mean anything anymore to you because you can play everything.
2) You can't play a single piece of music you look at. As in case one, progress doesn't mean anything because you can't do anything.
3) You can play some of the pieces you put on the music desk. Forget the one you can play and put the one you CAN'T play on another desk. After a certain amount of time go back on the pile of pieces you weren't able to play... if you still can't play any of these pieces, you aren't progressing, if you can play even one, you are progressing.


This is definitely a possible approach. My only concern for it is that sometimes you need to try it before you know if you could do it, and with piano, trying could mean at least 2-3 weeks, and if you find something actually approachable, that's great, but if you discovered it is really too far beyond, you just lost 2-3 weeks. With a graded approach, you have a much higher level of confidence with what could be accomplished, including possibly styles and sub-genre outside your radar.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
8

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
Offline

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015
1000 Post Club Member
8
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,654
Originally Posted by grace_note
I've often heard it said that it is perfectly reasonable to complete a level (say, an RCM level) in one year. Yes, I know there are a million variables, but let's talk in generalities and averages. A year might not be considered merely an arbitrary time period if the courses were designed to fit into one of them. Does anyone know if the levels were meant to be completed in roughly a year?


I would agree to that for children. My children certainly did it at the pace; actually they are moving faster than that. At one point I was 3 grade levels ahead of them, both of them passed me, one long ago.

As a working adults with family and younger children, I find it impossible to progress at one grade level a year. The amount of energy I could give to watching 'House of Cards' (never seen it) is not sufficient for learning RCM 6. At the end of a weekday, I have enough energy to watch a concert pianist, but not enough to learn my own repertoire. I do try to put in 5-10 hours on weekends. Where is that self-driving car, so I could practice piano while stuck in traffic? Learning in spurts is possible for RCM 1-5 when I didn't have to learn so many notes. It's not working well at RCM 6.

I am pretty sure if I win the lotto, I could retire and learn faster, or that self-driving car thing could really help. It needs to be a self-driving van....

Correction: I had to think back and this is the actual timeline from what I remember for me plus some guestimating / projection. My results are decent, highest exam center score award even, but not higest state wide score award like my children.

RCM 1 - 4 months
RCM 2 - 6 months
RCM 3 - 8 months
RCM 4 - 1.5 years
RCM 5 - 1.5 years
RCM 6 - 2 years (current)

RCM 7 - 2 years (projected)
RCM 8 - 3 years (projected)
RCM 9 - 3 years (projected)
RCM 10 - 4 years (projected)

This puts it to 20 years to do all 10 grades. Coincidentally, my teacher told me recently that it would take me 20 years to learn piano.... hmm, interesting.

BTW, for children, they need a lot more time up front, but a lot less time in the rear. It took my son 3 years to get to RCM 2, but has since passed me and is accelerating while I seem to be going against a strong headwind.

Page 1 of 2 1 2

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
Piano Buyer - Read the Articles, Explore the website
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
What happened to ONKYO
by Abdol - 08/17/22 09:23 AM
Shiedmayer Grands?
by russmagi - 08/17/22 09:16 AM
Which would you recommend and why - K8, K20 or U3?
by plumberpw - 08/17/22 08:00 AM
C2X Silent (SH2)?
by Jadam - 08/17/22 12:25 AM
Happy Birthday, Bill Evans!
by Dfrankjazz - 08/16/22 10:52 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
What's Hot!!
FREE June Newsletter is Here!
--------------------
Forums RULES, Terms of Service & HELP
(updated 06/06/2022)
-------------------
Music Store Going Out of Business Sale!
---------------------
Mr. PianoWorld's Original Composition
---------------------
Sell Your Piano on our world famous Piano Forums!
---------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums43
Topics214,431
Posts3,216,947
Members106,103
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2022 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5