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The had August as well in the past. I took my Grade 5 practical in August of last year smile


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Tyrone, I did purchase an Apple IPad and have bought an RCM app for music definitions. These apps do not work on an Android, have to get them from an Apple store. The rating was not good, it could be a more robust app. However, it as only $1.99. There are several apps all appear to be the same price that are geared for each exam level. This is supposed to provide practice for the exam and help prepare for it.


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I bought a white board to hang beside my piano, hoping to organize my time better (writing down what I have to achieve, the time I have left, and targeting some specific aspects to work on for a given practice session).

I'm not sure how much it will help, but I like the idea and got started tonight (even though I didn't manage to hang it. I'll need a drill. My screwdriver wasn't enough).

I hope it will help me getting ready on time for my exam. There is still a lot of things going on in my life, so nothing is less sure, but I'll do my best!

I've got an ultimatum at work, so this is getting stressful. I might lose my job...
But the piano brings me so much positive that it will stay in my life, no matter what. Exams or not. Work or not... My mind is simply not always 100% on it right now.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
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Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
I bought a white board to hang beside my piano, hoping to organize my time better (writing down what I have to achieve, the time I have left, and targeting some specific aspects to work on for a given practice session).

I started a piano journal this year and have been recording in it since about the 2nd or 3rd week of January. I am finding just the act of recording what I do to be helpful in organizing myself and paying attention to what I am doing or not doing.

Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
I've got an ultimatum at work, so this is getting stressful. I might lose my job...
But the piano brings me so much positive that it will stay in my life, no matter what. Exams or not. Work or not... My mind is simply not always 100% on it right now.

Off-topic: Hang in there! Perhaps you should take matters into you own hands and go looking yourself for a better circumstance. Why leave matters in the hands of others?


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The process of embracing a level of music (as defined by RCM or other systems) reaches higher levels of difficulty at each step. I think that would be less so if I had started at step one but I jumped in at level 5 a few years ago. Although I was successful at level 5 and 6, I wasn't pleased with my performance. At level 7 I made a decision that I am not focused on taking the exam, although I certainly may at some point, but I want to become truly competent at this level to where all the music is accessible in a reasonable period of learning. My plan is to play all the etudes in the level 7 book. I'm on #4. I'll also have a least 5-6 selections from each section under my fingers. My technique is close to the expectations for the level. The setback of tendinitis has been a problem so I'm working with Alexander technique (a professor from DU) to play with more relaxation. Also just watched a Josh Wright video on tips for relaxation. He has a youtube channel with many useful sessions.
https://www.joshwrightpiano.com/emailexclusivevideo.html

Anyway, I'm focused on enjoying my journey and making music.


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CadenzaVvi: The whiteboard sounds like a very good idea. Can you give some examples of what you might write on it? Is it high level (such as, "Play more relaxed in Beethoven Rondo") or more detailed (a la "apply circular wrist motion to RH triplets in development section of Beethoven Rondo")? (Can you tell what is troubling me right now? Ha ha! That bloody development section in Op. 14 No. 1 Movement 3...)

Tyrone: Another good idea, though I fear I would never be disciplined enough to follow through! That, and I can barely write a legible sentence in English (though I'm told my written Japanese and Cherokee are beautiful). Again, what sort of things are you writing in there? Have you ever heard of a zibaldone? Professor Mortensen has a video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XrCz-teNn0 (FWIW, I highly recommend Professor Mortensen's video series on how to practice. Parts of it are required viewing for my advancing students. The series is geared toward "advanced" students - undergraduate pianists or diploma students - but most of it is widely applicable.)

WiseBuff: I'd be very interested to hear if and how the Alexander technique is helping. I've read about it but never studied it. I have been battling tension issues myself, especially in my Beethoven piece for ABRSM Grade 8. My colleague/wise sensei has helped me a lot there, and I have picked up some of the methods they use in Russia. I have found that my personal tension problems usually stem from the wrist ("your wrists don't work!"). When I get the wrists properly engaged, the tension seems to melt away. I am also finding that my own playing (and teaching) approach is shifting to be heavily wrist-based. This seems to be part of what is often called the "Russian method", though it is clearly not exclusive to that country.

My ABRSM Grade 8 exam is coming up in about three weeks. I am hitting the Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms hard every day. I am also practicing scales and chords for about 45 minutes every day - they go more quickly now since my accuracy is approaching 100%. I am also practicing sight reading daily, and aural every weekday.

I feel that I am about as ready for my Grade 8 exam as anyone can be. The aforementioned Russian professor also says I'm ready and that I "have no right to worry." So hopefully my confidence is rational and realistic. I am 100% confident that I will pass, and maybe 95% confident that I will pass with Merit. I would like to pass with Distinction, and I think I do have a shot at it, but I think that's about 50/50.


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I've put a picture in my post (though I understand that handwriting + French might not be easy to understand).

At the top, I've put my global goals and important date (exam is on May 25; still 23 days of practice. I need to play x, y, z pieces and meet a, b, c technical requirements).
Then, under that,I put the date and cue-word for things I want to focus during that practice period (often too ambitious... I might readjust over time ^^). So, yesterday, I wrote:

- Dozen, gr 5 (I have 4 exercices to know in each of group 3, 4 and 5 in the book 3 of A dozen a day. So yesterday I did the 4 exercices from group 5)
- V7 Ab arpeggio, Ab and fm scales (of the 6 scales and arpeggios I need to learn)
- Sight singing (2 melodies. I have a sight singing book with about 50 melodies of 8 bars each. So my goal was to do two of them. I did 4 in fact. I like sing singing... when alone! laugh )
- Debussy: half notes right hand (I know that I always struggle with transitions where the right hand has to play half notes. It is supposed to be easy, so it is kind of dumb. But since it's easier, I have practice it less. I have to fix that so I know exactly where to move and don't have a blank between this part and the previous).
- Chopin : page 3 and scale patterns. I don't know well my left hand in the third page. I'm often eyes glued to the score and so much in note reading that there is no room for thinking at everything else. So I want to focus on it a bit. And finishing scales definitely need some more work on them. My teacher gave me some orientation on ways to practice them. (But I didn't touch my Chopin yesterday, after all. I though I would practice for 2 hours, but I wasn't focused enough to practice more than 90 minutes. So I've stopped after 90 minutes).
- Pozzoli : phrases, rhythmic consistency / equality. My teacher told me my 4 eighth notes are not equal. I tend to play the first one a bit longer, than rush the 3 others. Still respecting the metronome, but subdivisions are not right. And for phrases, to avoid weighting on the first note of each group, my teacher told me to do a small crescendo between first and second group in each measure, and globaly, that second is always more important then first (second group more emphasized then first; second measure more than first; second 2-measures more than first 2-measures).

So, short cues (2-4 words per piece), but with a lot ideas behind them.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
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Interesting. I didn't notice the link before, but I referred to it while reading your post. I can read some French and speak a little with horrible pronunciation, but I don't know the musical terms in French. (I have taught in the Spanish language before and currently sometimes use Japanese with a student, but I always stick with American English musical terms.)

Does LA refer to A major, (and thus LAb to Ab major)? Then fa would be F minor? Interesting.

This is a very disciplined way to approach practice, and I respect it very much. It sounds like a good path to success.

Just don't overdo it to the point that you get sick of it! (I'm starting to want to throw up instead of practicing any more scales and arpeggios! Far too many for ABRSM Grade 8!)


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Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko"
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Ahahah, I get it. smile

For simplicity sake, I simply use upper case and lower case letters to refer to major and minor, respectively, but it is not a regular convention. The note names are the "solfege" notes: do, ré, mi, fa, sol, la, si (we say "si" and no "ti", but it is the same). So, yes, when I wrote LAb, it was for Ab (when I was younger and learnt for the first about the English notation, my reference points were F for fa, A for la (the only note outside fa which ends with an A) and B for si because Bb is pronounce «bébé» which is the French word for «baby» and, as a 8-years old, I thought it was funny).

As for rhythm, the words are ronde, blanche, noire, croche, double croche, triple croche, ... respectively for whole note, half note, quarter note, ... (the translation would be round, white, black, crochet, double crochet, ... which is quite logical. A whole note is round. A half note is blank in the middle, so white, in contrast to the quarter note which is filled in the middle, hence black. 1/8 note have a crochet. 1/16 have two crochets - so double crochets).

I doubt I will overdo it. I'll simply won't use it some time if I don't feel like it. But having it litteraly in front of me is an incentive to think about some clear immediate goals, instead of wandering on the piano. I often start my practice with playing a whole piece, and either stopping at the first struggle point to practice that part, or going through all of it and trying to pinpoint what portion was the least mastered and work on that part. But it doesn't always work. Something, by the time I get to the end, I'm not sure what was the worst and play through it once me. Or I don't get to the end and stick to practice the first parts. And often, if I take a minute to think about it, I know what are my weak points and I don't need to play it to identify them. So identifying goals at first save some time (though going through pieces once in a while is necessary too... it helps glueing things together and helps realized when I get mixed up because things are slightly different the second time - things like that).

Overall, I'm trying a new tool. I'll see over time if it is beneficial or not.
Considering my exam is coming by very fast, I need a little bit more strict organization in the weeks to come if I want to be ready on time (which I still doubt is possible. But this is no reason not to try to be!).


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
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Good luck on your exams CadenzaVvi and Dr. Rogers. I take my exam in 3 weeks here as well.


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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
I am also practicing scales and chords for about 45 minutes every day

Yuck! You'd have to pay me $$$$$ to do something like that. 45 minutes is way too much.


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Good luck to all who are taking exams soon. Relax and enjoy your music. It helps to remember that they want to pass you.


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Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Good luck to all who are taking exams soon. Relax and enjoy your music. It helps to remember that they want to pass you.

Thanks but seriously starting to panic here. I don’t think I can fix what I need to in 5 weeks


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Good advice that has helped me most: Don't practice pieces all the way through more than once or twice. Find the measures that need the most work and give them the bulk of your practice time. Slow the pieces way down and build in more relaxation and muscle memory. Clear your mind of judgmental thoughts. Get in your flow, your zone, of just being with the music. I'll look forward to hearing about your experience.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
I am also practicing scales and chords for about 45 minutes every day

Yuck! You'd have to pay me $$$$$ to do something like that. 45 minutes is way too much.


I don't know why it is, but I find I absolutely love practising scales. I can imagine it being really nice to practise them for 45 minutes every day, even though at present, I only know about a dozen… It's so soothing, and I get really into it.

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It reminds me of my teacher.

I can't say I love practicing scales. But I don't hate it either.
But my teacher seems to find it very boring.
I have to learn some scales for my exams and when I ask him question about the proper way to practice and play them, after 10-15 minutes, he often goes like "ok, can we move on?" which amuse me very much. I sometimes answer "should'nt I be the one finding it boring and you pushing me to practice them?".

And it makes me think of another situation: at one lesson, I was often stopping myself because something wasn't to my taste. I was stopping and saying "no, that was too quiet" or "not enough legato", "wrong pedal", ... at one point, my teacher said "I'm the one supposed to tell you that. Continue playing. I'll stop you if I judge it's bad".

So it seems like we reverse our roles sometimes. laugh


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
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Ok - exam is in four weeks (as of yesterday). I had a run through with people I don’t know very well yesterday and completely blanked on the Bach fugue. I’m going to arrange to play on other people’s pianos - has anyone here done that for exam prep? My hubby also suggested perhaps a psychologist might help with my anxiety. This is a real problem. And the stupid thing is I deal with people all day long and no problem speaking for crowds etc. I just can’t get past piano performance anxiety! Sorry - this a bit of a mini vent for me


Gave up on exams - playing whatever I feel like
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Liszt Consolation #2
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Good luck, cagal! I think playing in front of different people will help. I take lessons at a music school and my teacher is currently in Europe, so I have to practice my exam pieces today and next Saturday in front of other people. I take my exam next Sunday! sick


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Originally Posted by cagal
I just can’t get past piano performance anxiety! Sorry - this a bit of a mini vent for me

Try these two books:


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"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
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Originally Posted by cagal
Ok - exam is in four weeks (as of yesterday). I had a run through with people I don’t know very well yesterday and completely blanked on the Bach fugue. I’m going to arrange to play on other people’s pianos - has anyone here done that for exam prep? My hubby also suggested perhaps a psychologist might help with my anxiety. This is a real problem. And the stupid thing is I deal with people all day long and no problem speaking for crowds etc. I just can’t get past piano performance anxiety! Sorry - this a bit of a mini vent for me


Always a good idea to play on as many different pianos as possible. Before my last exam I took a mock exam with another teacher I didn't know. My regular teacher was there as well and not surprising the pressure got to me and I completely stuffed up. However, knowing then what to expect and working on some weak spots really helped. I found it very useful the day of the exam to combat the nerves by just relaxing as soon as the nerves started to build up, that and I made sure there was no outside pressure that could distract me on the day.


Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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