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Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? #2523508
03/22/16 10:03 AM
03/22/16 10:03 AM
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kahtwoloo Offline OP
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I would like to test for the ASBRM exams. I've been teaching myself to play for the last couple of years but I focus only on technique and progressing quickly in terms of technical skill. I've also been studying theory at a somewhat reasonable pace for a little under year. After looking at the Grade 5 and 6 syllabi I feel like I could learn the pieces at my level of skill though I have a lot of catching up to do for music theory. Am I deluded? Are these levels too high to too shoot for a first time taker?

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Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2523518
03/22/16 10:42 AM
03/22/16 10:42 AM
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fizikisto Offline
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That depends,
I suspect that there are a lot of people who have reached a much higher standard than that without ever testing officially. Someone like that could possibly pass the grade 6 exam without too much trouble even if it were their first time testing. Whether or not you can do it based on your skill level is an open question that's impossible for anyone here to know without being able to evaluate your playing.

I think that self learners who play classical music often overestimate their skill. That doesn't mean they can't play well or enjoy playing for themselves or others. But they may not really be at the sort of technical standard that they think they are.

The best way for you to know this is to hire a teacher. It doesn't have to be a full time weekly lesson deal, just hire someone to evaluate what level you're really at and make suggestions how you can improve if needed.

Warm Regards


Nord Stage 2 HA88
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Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: fizikisto] #2523536
03/22/16 11:56 AM
03/22/16 11:56 AM
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I began taking ABRSM exams a couple of years ago at grade 4, even though I had played pieces at a much higher level. The exams are about a lot more than the pieces. Training for the sight reading, technical, and aural skills takes a lot more time and effort than I had anticipated. I am now preparing for grade 7, and it takes a huge effort. With each grade level, the examiners expect more not only in skill, but in musicality.

At grade 5, you could play a piece with all the correct notes, and still not get a good score. This is the dividing line between beginner and intermediate, and the pieces are expected to be polished to a high level. The supporting tests, - scales, arpeggios, sight reading, and aural are also more involved.

Often returning adults do skip to grade 5 as a starting point, but I would really advise working with a teacher if you are going to attempt this level. A teacher who is familiar with the ABRSM exams will know what is expected, and can advise you if you are ready. It is a nerve-wracking experience, and being confident that you will pass is a very good thing.

A grade 5 theory exam is required before you are allowed to sit the grade 6 practical. It is pretty straight forward, and there are good books available to help you prepare. The theory exam is three hours.


Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2523540
03/22/16 12:08 PM
03/22/16 12:08 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by kahtwoloo
I would like to test for the ASBRM exams. I've been teaching myself to play for the last couple of years but I focus only on technique and progressing quickly in terms of technical skill. I've also been studying theory at a somewhat reasonable pace for a little under year. After looking at the Grade 5 and 6 syllabi I feel like I could learn the pieces at my level of skill though I have a lot of catching up to do for music theory. Am I deluded? Are these levels too high to too shoot for a first time taker?


Good advice here already. In general, I recommend the first time making it easy for yourself. You've never done it and don't really know what the standard is or even how the whole procedure goes. This adds to the possibility of mistakes as well as realizing that you may need more preparation than you gave. You can always retake them if you do poorly, but you may want your first experience to be positive.

Fizi is correct in saying that self-learners tend to over-estimate their ability. We all need a second pair of ears - preferably experienced ones - to be able to hear what's wrong. Sometimes funky rhythms seep in that we're not aware of, or the balance between the hands is not right, things like that which may be hard to even know it's a thing when you're self-teaching.

Finding a teacher that can help you prepare and recommend the level that would be worthwhile is best.


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Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2523578
03/22/16 01:40 PM
03/22/16 01:40 PM
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Michiyo-Fir Offline
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If you can consult with a teacher and that's what you want, your teacher would be able to tell you if it is feasible or not. I studied with a teacher when I was younger, and we did RCM levels (this is the grading system that is most common in North America). The first level my teacher prepared me for was grade 6, and the next one was 10 (the RCM goes 1-10 instead of 1-8 like ABRSM).

So with the correct preparation, and training, it's not unfeasible at all.


Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2523582
03/22/16 01:53 PM
03/22/16 01:53 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by kahtwoloo
I would like to test for the ASBRM exams. I've been teaching myself to play for the last couple of years but I focus only on technique and progressing quickly in terms of technical skill. I've also been studying theory at a somewhat reasonable pace for a little under year. After looking at the Grade 5 and 6 syllabi I feel like I could learn the pieces at my level of skill though I have a lot of catching up to do for music theory. Am I deluded? Are these levels too high to too shoot for a first time taker?

If you've never had a teacher, yes, I think you're deluded to think you'll be able to pass Grade 5 ABRSM (you can't take Grade 6 ABRSM until you've passed Grade 5 Theory) simply by self-learning.

As has already been said, you need a lot more than just playing all the right notes in the right order at the right time to pass Grade 5.

If you have a good teacher, he will be able to assess not just your technical and musical skills in your set pieces and scales & arpeggios, but also your sight-reading and aural skills - all of which are part of the Practical exam - and tell you whether you can aim straight for Grade 5 with possibly a bit more time working on your weaknesses, or whether you should be trying for a lower Grade instead.

The problem is, you don't know what you don't know, which is why you need a teacher.....

(Of course, if you're not planning to do exams, you can go on self-teaching, if that's what you prefer).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2523621
03/22/16 03:55 PM
03/22/16 03:55 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,251
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline
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I started with piano background having weekly lessons and taken ABRSM grade 3 and 5 exams (and grade 3 and 5 theory exams) many years ago. I was then on and off violin lessons for several years. Then I had a year of lesson and took AMEB grade 5 violin. While I skipped straight to grade 5 violin and passed, I did have prior exam experience and a solid year of lessons plus some music theory knowledge. Without that I don't think I could have done it.

Don't forget there are scales, sight reading and aural tests making up to 60 points. If I am correct, the total score is 150 and you need 100 to pass. 3 exam pieces only make up to 90 points. I've never gotten full score for exam pieces. Highest I got for a piece was 29, the rest were between 25 and 28. And if I am correct, at grade 5, you are required to play from memory 3-octave scales and arpeggios for all keys plus a bunch of other stuff. That alone requires a lot of work and guidance. You will also be asked music related questions based on the sight reading piece. Aural tests aren't that easy either.

What I'm trying to say is that grade 5 is quite involved. Do you know all the required exam elements and the required standards and are you sure you can get there all by yourself with no prior exam experience?

Get a teacher :-)





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Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2523829
03/23/16 10:45 AM
03/23/16 10:45 AM
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Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Online content
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I think the repeated advice -- to find a teacher to evaluate your status -- is really sensible.

It's one of the things an experienced teacher should be able to do. Some may baulk at being asked to evaluate you on a one-time basis, rather than accept you as a regular student. But you'll find someone who knows the exam system, has put students through it, and will say:

. . . "Sure -- come in to my studio. It'll take an hour, and cost you $X."

It'll be money well spent.



. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2525383
03/28/16 12:49 PM
03/28/16 12:49 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 76
South Coast UK
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pmh Offline
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I thought I would talk a bit about my experience. I was 46 years old and with some small past experience of playing the piano. I got the bug to play and found a teacher who ambitiously put me in for grade 5 having never taken exams before. I studied hard for 18 months and my practice was up to 4 hours per day. I had a large pack of cards with a scale written on each card and would shuffle and choose at random. The exam was nerve racking and I was completely exhausted by the time I took it. My performance was average at best and I passed with a score of 110.

The punchline here is that it totally put me off playing. I developed a phobic block and eventually gave up completely. 10 years later at the age of 58 I am contemplating restarting but feel very sensitive about it. In other words its very important to choose a grade that will not stress you to the point of motivational destruction and a good 'realistic' teacher can be vital in making a good decision in this respect.


Kemble Compact Acoustic Piano, Yamaha CVP 709 Polished White, Pianoteq Standard, Galaxy Vintage D.
Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2525393
03/28/16 01:23 PM
03/28/16 01:23 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
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western MA, USA
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hreichgott Offline
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Hi kahtwoloo, What is the advantage of skipping grades?


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Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: pmh] #2525425
03/28/16 02:45 PM
03/28/16 02:45 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by pmh
I thought I would talk a bit about my experience. I was 46 years old and with some small past experience of playing the piano. I got the bug to play and found a teacher who ambitiously put me in for grade 5 having never taken exams before. I studied hard for 18 months and my practice was up to 4 hours per day. I had a large pack of cards with a scale written on each card and would shuffle and choose at random. The exam was nerve racking and I was completely exhausted by the time I took it. My performance was average at best and I passed with a score of 110.

The punchline here is that it totally put me off playing.

Personally, I believe that if anyone is planning on doing ABRSM exams, they should always do Grade 1 first before thinking of skipping. Grade 1 is easy to pass, you gain confidence from it, the examiners know it's your first, and allow for all sorts of nerves, even stop-starts etc. (I stop-started in one piece in my Grade 1, having started on the wrong note - yet I got Distinction......).

Even Ed Balls started with Grade 1 - and how old is he? grin


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Is skipping to ASBRM grade 5 or 6 realistic? [Re: kahtwoloo] #2529729
04/11/16 01:03 PM
04/11/16 01:03 PM
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CoolJL Offline
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People do this, instead of starting from the beginning you start at Grade 5, because they have been playing the instrument for a while and are at sufficient level. Only thing about ABRSM exams are that although most part is about playing the piano, the Aural test isn't, so that probably need practising with a teacher. As people have said also, after Grade 5 you need Grad 5 thoery or equivalent to take further exams.

Last edited by CoolJL; 04/11/16 01:08 PM.

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