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Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? #2756400
08/07/18 06:31 AM
08/07/18 06:31 AM
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Steven Carr Offline OP
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Looking at what piano material is classed as grades 1 to 5, I see there is simply tons of great music I would like to play.

Unless you really have a hankering to play Chopin Nocturnes or Beethoven Sonatas, and why not if you do, I don't see any great reason to get past grade 5 piano.

I tinkered with the piano quite a few years ago, and it seems to me that in the past 20 years there has been an explosion in sheet music for grades 1 to 5 that I actually want to play. From a dearth of material to books with hundreds of nice songs in them.

Even grades 1 or 2 have some great songs nowadays, rather than the dire stuff I learned 35 years ago, when 'Home on the Range' was the highlight.

Last edited by Steven Carr; 08/07/18 06:34 AM.
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Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756402
08/07/18 07:04 AM
08/07/18 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Steven Carr
Even grades 1 or 2 have some great songs nowadays


Arguably, it has always been there, it's just so much easier to find and access these days.

I do agree with your sentiment that there's enough beautiful music for a lifetime from grade 1-5. You, of course, don't need to advance past grade 5, but I would suspect if you spend some years learning grade 5 material it will get easier and easier and grade 6 material may become just about perfect for you. You'll likely get better as a player, even without specifically practising to advance through the grades.


Tim

Started playing January 2017

Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756404
08/07/18 07:34 AM
08/07/18 07:34 AM
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Yes, there is a wonderful selection of music for grades 1-5, but you will be surprised at how the horizon moves as your ability to play and your breadth of repertoire increase.


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Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756438
08/07/18 09:31 AM
08/07/18 09:31 AM
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Toronto, Canada
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Good point. I've always advocated that the most beautiful music is rarely the most difficult. Nonetheless, we always strive for more sophistication. The thing is though, you can take pieces up a level too. Consider Twinkle Twinkle Little star in a grade 1 or 2 book vs. Andre Previn playing it. Different arrangements sure, but the same piece.

The other thing to consider is that the more sophisticated the material, the smaller your receptive audience. For general non-educated listening, the masses are more attracted to what they can understand. So, the real gold is within reach for most musicians with reasonable dedication.

That said, the goal posts are always moving and when you are mastering grade 5 material, there will be some beyond that level that is now within reach and you'll want it too. Grades don't really matter so much unless you are within a graded system. There is a lot of stuff like theory and such that matter for grades, but doesn't matter as much, if you just want to play nice.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756460
08/07/18 10:10 AM
08/07/18 10:10 AM
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I agree in principal, but disagree with the level. In my opinion, grade 8 is the sweet spot. There is an immense body of beautiful music between levels 7-8 that is unavailable at grade 5. Grade 5 pieces are somewhat less elaborate, and the body of work up to grade 5 is not as fulfilling to me.

Now, I guess anyone can arbitrarily set the bar as high or low as they wish, but to me, Grade 8 seems achievable and at this level I feel I would never bore. Beyond this, Grades 9-10 or graduate level, seems like it would take a much higher level of discipline and time commitment than I am able to make. However, who knows, once I reach Grade 8, I may feel differently!


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 20, Posthumous, in C-Sharp Minor
Pachelbel Canon in D
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756463
08/07/18 10:12 AM
08/07/18 10:12 AM
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Portugal
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If you think about grades "mechanically", there seems to be a linear relationship between technical competence and repertoire. If you reach a high grade eventually you became able to play Beethoven's sonatas but you can
also play simpler pieces in a much safer, musical and personalized way.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756486
08/07/18 11:00 AM
08/07/18 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Steven Carr
Looking at what piano material is classed as grades 1 to 5, I see there is simply tons of great music I would like to play.

Unless you really have a hankering to play Chopin Nocturnes or Beethoven Sonatas, and why not if you do, I don't see any great reason to get past grade 5 piano.

I tinkered with the piano quite a few years ago, and it seems to me that in the past 20 years there has been an explosion in sheet music for grades 1 to 5 that I actually want to play. From a dearth of material to books with hundreds of nice songs in them.

Even grades 1 or 2 have some great songs nowadays, rather than the dire stuff I learned 35 years ago, when 'Home on the Range' was the highlight.

If truth be told, the majority of those who do the ABRSM grade exams don't get past Grade 5, partly because you need Grade 5 Theory to do the higher grades in Practical. As to how far they actually progress in their skills beyond that, no-one knows. But at Grade 5, you can already play the easiest of the Chopin nocturnes and waltzes and the easiest movements from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven sonatas. (The equivalent for RCM is around Grade 6).

But as some others have said, the better you get, the more wonderful rep opens up to you. And because the easier pieces feel easier to play, you can do more with them, in terms of nuances, expression and personality, whereas if you're struggling just to play the right notes in the right order at the right speed, other things that make music music tend to fall by the wayside. We've all experienced returning to old pieces that we once played, and discovering that we're able to do so much more with them, because they are easier to us now than when we first learnt them. Just like your teacher can sight-read a piece you've been trying to master for several weeks, and play it more beautifully and expressively than you can, even though he/she hasn't practiced it - because it's so easy for him/her.


"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: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: bennevis] #2756491
08/07/18 11:23 AM
08/07/18 11:23 AM
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Quebec city, QC
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Just like your teacher can sight-read a piece you've been trying to master for several weeks, and play it more beautifully and expressively than you can, even though he/she hasn't practiced it - because it's so easy for him/her.

That happens all the time!

Though I've learnt recently that my teacher had played some of my pieces when he was younger, so it wasn't sightreading, in most cases.

In any ways, it is still impressive. And sometimes, it makes me feel like this. :P


For my part, there is so much difficult repertoire I'd like to play one day that I don't think I will settle to a level at one point. Debussy's Images, Chopin's ballades, Beethoven's sonatas, Schubert's impromptus... I have so much years ahead of me that I think with patience and hard work, one day, it will become possible.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: CadenzaVvi] #2756522
08/07/18 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jouishy


For my part, there is so much difficult repertoire I'd like to play one day that I don't think I will settle to a level at one point. Debussy's Images, Chopin's ballades, Beethoven's sonatas, Schubert's impromptus... I have so much years ahead of me that I think with patience and hard work, one day, it will become possible.

That's one advantage that younger people - especially kids - have over the older & grizzled amongst us.

Imagine a kid being told that he will never get better than he presently is at baseball (or ice hockey, or whatever your national sport is). Of course that's inconceivable - after all, he is learning new things all the time at school, he's growing taller and stronger year by year, so why should improvement stop at baseball, as long as he keeps practicing?

When I was a kid and learning piano, I never thought my improvement would stop. In fact, I never even thought I was slow, though compared to the vast majority in ABF, my progress was slow - five years before I could play K545 properly, for example. My teacher was happy with my progress (at least, she never told me to hurry up and get better more quickly wink ), so I was too. And I had concrete proof of my progress in the form of successive ABRSM grade certificates, one a year, enough to keep my parents happy and keep paying for my lessons.

So, if you're an adult learner, and if you do want to keep improving, practice, practice, practice and keep learning from your teacher.

Obviously, if you're happy with what you've already got, whatever level that is, that's fine too......... 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: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756526
08/07/18 02:29 PM
08/07/18 02:29 PM
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Quebec city, QC
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I'd be curious to know the demography of this forum. Being in my early 30's, where am I among all the people here? Rather young or rather average?


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: CadenzaVvi] #2756535
08/07/18 03:08 PM
08/07/18 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jouishy
I'd be curious to know the demography of this forum. Being in my early 30's, where am I among all the people here? Rather young or rather average?



The link below has links to the 2011 and 2012 surveys. I’m not able to find the 2015 results
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2486788/1.html


"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
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756536
08/07/18 03:33 PM
08/07/18 03:33 PM
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It looks as though the majority of us are on the wrong side of 50 (or the right side, depending on which color of the rainbow you prefer wink ).

Which is to say, our best playing years are still to come. All the more reason to start practicing, if you haven't already started. (And practice harder, if you're already practicing thumb).


"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: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756542
08/07/18 03:48 PM
08/07/18 03:48 PM
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Grades in music are a completely artificial construct and there is no reason necessarily to limit yourself. You can limit yourself and be happy with it but there is no real reason to. The difficulty of putting limits is you may find you use this as an excuse not to develop or to stop many pieces that you are learning. 'This is too hard' can be a good excuse every time you have a hard piece and want to stop. I have done this a before ! This can really harm enjoyment and playing. You may get into a musical hole. Also the ability to have focused work may be limited. This ability to break down a hard part and to practice is really what makes a good pianist. This is whatever level. Even simple pieces have parts like this and this is often again not grade dependent.

I am quite a fan of not rushing and it always pains me when I hear an amateur butcher a very advanced piece so I do agree somewhat with the idea of sticking to your comfort zone and allowing time to develop. To develop musical interpretation takes time. You can really tell where this doesnt happen. Often people are amazed at people who play hard pieces, self taught, without practice but really to many of us who took years to play such pieces it sounds bad. Often they are one trick ponies and I have never really seen a great interpretation in someone who has only a short time at the piano with such pieces however we have
countless examples in these recitals of amazing sounding interpretations from people here on pieces within their ability but they dont get much notice !

Also I personally have found that we all have strengths and find certain pieces easy than others which often do not relate to any grade syllabus. I therefore think that you need to avoid any rigid idea of a ceiling of abilities related to grades. I am about to play an advanced Mendelssohn piece which I hear and I'm surprise I can just pick it up but I struggle with quite easy Bach or Chopin. I think it is a combination of be lack of exposure and lack of enjoyment (I play Mendelssohn and even my teacher introduces me to others as such and personally hate Bach and Chopin - not sure if this is a musical crime - but this shows in what i can play). Some styles, e.g. Jazz (never played Jazz!), I am clueless and probably would sound like a joke if I tried.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756548
08/07/18 04:41 PM
08/07/18 04:41 PM
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Quebec city, QC
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Interesting survey! Thanks for the link.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: dogperson] #2756586
08/07/18 06:32 PM
08/07/18 06:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,916
Midwest USA
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Jouishy
I'd be curious to know the demography of this forum. Being in my early 30's, where am I among all the people here? Rather young or rather average?



The link below has links to the 2011 and 2012 surveys. I’m not able to find the 2015 results
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2486788/1.html
Neither the 2014 or 2015 Surveys link any more. I wonder if someone can find a fix for this. Any suggestions?


[Linked Image]
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: bennevis] #2756593
08/07/18 06:53 PM
08/07/18 06:53 PM
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Posts: 4,843
*sigh* Salt Lake City
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Originally Posted by bennevis
...the wrong side of 50 (or the right side, depending on which color of the rainbow you prefer wink ).


Usually number lines have bigger numbers going to the right, so I'm on the right side.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Stubbie] #2756603
08/07/18 07:46 PM
08/07/18 07:46 PM
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Posts: 2,763
Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Jouishy
I'd be curious to know the demography of this forum. Being in my early 30's, where am I among all the people here? Rather young or rather average?



The link below has links to the 2011 and 2012 surveys. I’m not able to find the 2015 results
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2486788/1.html
Neither the 2014 or 2015 Surveys link any more. I wonder if someone can find a fix for this. Any suggestions?


I did the '11 and '12 surveys - someone else did the others.

It would be easier just to do another survey and see what we are now.

I can do it, or do we have a volunteer? Not hard to do on Google Docs, or there are probably other ways.

Sam

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756640
08/07/18 10:54 PM
08/07/18 10:54 PM
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Posts: 3,882
Finland
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I am quite happy to be on the right side of 50 except for one thing...my hands are definitely not going to grow any more... I guess my only hope is that the keyboards will shrink smile

Personally I couldn't care less about grades, but I have some music I want to play so badly I cannot settle for intermediate. Some of my favorite composers simply forgot to write anything in that catehory. But I do continuously seem to find new gems that don't require advanced piano skills.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756666
08/08/18 01:02 AM
08/08/18 01:02 AM
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Grade levels is an arbitrary way of measuring a person's skill playing an instrument. Doesn't bother me playing a movement out of a Beethoven sonata or a Bach suite at a Gr. 3 or Gr. 4 level piano. A lot of Classical repertoires can be downloaded off the Internet. Many of these pieces can be learned on your own as long as you spend the time. There are people in the family who claimed they passed their conservatory Gr. 6 but can't play a simple tune like "Happy Birthday". Besides the certificate on his/her wall, there is nothing to demonstrate that person's playing ability. When Beethoven wrote the Moonlight Sonata, I don't think he intended the piece to played by students at a specific grade level because of the technical requirements.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756693
08/08/18 04:49 AM
08/08/18 04:49 AM
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Grades don't matter... But if we do not have some reference in terms of difficulty levels the learning would be chaotic and it would be difficult to estimate our technical level and plan our own evolution.

One can say that grades are not absolute but this is obvious because there are different system of grades. Grades are also useful for the musical education systems, which can evaluate several students simultaneously by the same parameters. But a private teacher could use, especially with adults, some grade system as a first approach and them make adaptations based on the student goals, his talent, age and so on.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2756717
08/08/18 07:07 AM
08/08/18 07:07 AM
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It depends on what your goals are, but for me, ABRSM grade 8 is a good goal. Being able to play at that level opens a wide universe of music to play. That does not mean that you need to take the exams, but I think following a structured program of advancement is a good idea.

As you advance in skills, you hear more in the music.You will hear the multiple voices, the polyrhythms, etc, which makes the music more interesting. The simple pieces begin to sound...simple. The higher level pieces are richer, fuller and more enjoyable to listen to. This is not only true for classical music, but also nice arrangements of pop, or jazz, or ragtime.

Last edited by SwissMS; 08/08/18 08:55 AM.
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: SwissMS] #2756734
08/08/18 08:20 AM
08/08/18 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by SwissMS
As you advance in skills, you hear more in the music.You will hear the multiple voices, the polyrhythms, etc, which makes the music more interesting. The simply pieces begin to sound...simple. The higher level pieces are richer, fuller and more enjoyable to listen to. This is not only true for classical music, but also nice arrangements of pop, or jazz, or ragtime.

While this may be a natural consequence of learning to play the piano, many people appreciate multiple voices, polyrhythms, etc. just as music appreciators, and don't play any musical instruments.


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2757232
08/09/18 08:32 PM
08/09/18 08:32 PM
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I agree there’s a ton of great music. I’m in grade 5 now, and I’ve made sure to take my time and enjoy every level. But I definitely am looking forward to some of the higher level pieces as well!

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2757275
08/10/18 01:43 AM
08/10/18 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Steven Carr
. . .

Unless you really have a hankering to play Chopin Nocturnes or Beethoven Sonatas, and why not if you do, I don't see any great reason to get past grade 5 piano.
. . .
.


Your targets might change, as your skill increases. You might want to learn some jazz, or boogie-woogie -- and find that you simply need more skill to handle the music.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2757379
08/10/18 11:30 AM
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As has been said earlier, the more skill you acquire, the easier it is to play simple repertoire. Skill allows you to remove the barrier between you and the instrument. You no longer play the piano. You make music.

In the Suzuki method for violin, the most advanced students, playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto for example, on the final concert, also played ‘Twinkle’, the first piece they learned. It is an eye opener for the beginners to realize the potential in such a simple piece.

Re: Do you need more than Grade 5 piano? [Re: Steven Carr] #2757381
08/10/18 11:32 AM
08/10/18 11:32 AM
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Lots of great responses but unclear whether the OP has read them! We're talking to ourselves!

Steven Carr, where are you!

Last edited by cmb13; 08/10/18 11:33 AM. Reason: typo

Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 20, Posthumous, in C-Sharp Minor
Pachelbel Canon in D

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