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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
For those who know of people who did it in 18 months or 2 years, or other ridiculously short amount of time, what are their stories? Child prodigy? Did they have to go to school? Homeschooled? Where did they get all the time to practice? I’m guessing these weren’t adult beginners.

There is a fellow on Reddit who got from complete start to conservatory auditions in under 3 years, which are arguably above ABRSM 8. Might have been 2.5. That would have been something like 15-16 to about 18yo. PW forum member computerpro3 has posted a similar story about himself getting from I supposed an ABRSM 3-ish level to conservatory in 2 years. One of PW's forum members has told on Reddit about a conservatory classmate of hers who went from zero to the conservatory in 2-3 years and then struggled once there. This sort of thing is not unheard of.


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There is a pianist on PW who went from 0 to conservatory in 3-4. He posts videos occasionally but not a blog. He had a teacher and worked like the devil. During that time, he never asked ‘how do I’, or ‘is it possible’. he just worked toward a goal and applied. He was an absolute beginner.

There’s a lesson in there.... confidence, determination and hard work. 😊.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
There is a pianist on PW who went from 0 to conservatory in 3-4. He posts videos occasionally but not a blog. He had a teacher and worked like the devil. During that time, he never asked ‘how do I’, or ‘is it possible’. he just worked toward a goal and applied. He was an absolute beginner.

There’s a lesson in there.... confidence, determination and hard work. 😊.

+1 That is a great lesson to learn.



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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Originally Posted by outo
There was a thread some years ago about someone trying to do it in 1 year...Did we ever hear back?



Here is the thread to which you refer.

Did we ever hear back? .........Yes, those that were keeping an eye on the OP's blog announced that the project had been abandoned due to injury.


Not surprising. The other issue is that the brain can't be pummeled into learning. It takes time for synapses to connect. I would say that those who can excellerate to such a degree are quite rare. Not unheard of, but exceedingly rare.


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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I’m very glad they have introduced torture into Grade 5. Remembering all the fingering and notes for all major and minor was painful torture. No wonder so many people give up piano.


Majors and natural minors were easy for me, it's going to harmonic and melodic minors that drives me nuts, lol. Just when you think you accomplished something, you kind of didn't. 😂😂😂


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Originally Posted by dogperson
There’s a lesson in there.... confidence, determination and hard work. 😊.


I'm not arguing with you, just adding, that the method of practicing is also a key to success I guess. It's not only about the years and the number of hours spent practicing, but the way of practicing, and the openness for musicality as well. You can have confidence and hard work, but if you're practicing and thinking mechanically, it won't work.

I think one of the most important things is to learn how to practice.
And the other thing to have in mind all the time is to have something to tell, to think about music, to always tell a story, to have every note of your piece heading somewhere. Sometimes it's easy to forget during all the practicing, but it is the primary goal after all. (For this I found very useful to watch master classes for opera singers (maybe even more useful, than to watch master classes for pianists). Or a lot can be learnt by listening to good singers, for e.g. Dimash Kudaibergen - it is full of dynamics, and the way they use their voices is one of the best example for using the piano).

So as far as I'm concerned the way of practicing and one's thinking about the dynamics of the music is the fourth pillar to achieve this goal. It can extend or cut down the length of time of reaching the desired grade.

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Originally Posted by Moo :)
ARBSM is particularly annoying with the scale requirements (Grade 6 all the scales?!), sillies in aural test (e.g. signing requirements - I still remember my teenage thinking why do I need to sing the base, waste of time, and I think this more strongly now) and mandatory requirement to learn theory (and pay for more ARBSM exams!).

Hope I didnt put you off. Much better just to play piano and not do grades and enjoy it x.


For my grade 6 AMEB (similar to ABRSM) I have had to learn a manageable amount of scales. But in this grade arpeggios have to be played in root,1st, & 2nd inversions as well as the addition of dominant and diminished 7th arpeggios. On exam day I could be asked to play anything from a list of 54 items. It wasn't daunting until I made a list smile However, I don't think any of the technical work is a waste of time. If I could do it all without much effort then it might be a waste of time, but I have struggled in so much of it, I feel better for it when I start to succeed. But not just because I am overcoming just physical or mental challenges, but because it is all contributing to an understanding of music.

Last edited by earlofmar; 05/19/19 09:04 PM.

Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

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Just remember, playing the piano should be enjoyable, not a death march. Enjoy the journey and take time to smell the roses along the way.

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Oh in my student's case, he was just brutally determined, and was blessed with a phenomenal ear. I wouldn't say he was a prodigy , but actually I believe that child prodigies are rare if they exist at all. I'll explain that one another time.

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Originally Posted by joe80
Oh in my student's case, he was just brutally determined, and was blessed with a phenomenal ear. I wouldn't say he was a prodigy , but actually I believe that child prodigies are rare if they exist at all. I'll explain that one another time.



In light of discussions I'm having just now on another thread, I'd be fascinated to hear your thoughts on that now?


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The scale and chord requirements on the ABRSM syllabus are indeed very onerous from Grade 5 through Grade 8. Even as a teacher, I'm having to work about 45 minutes a day on the scales and arpeggios for Grade 8, though I have cut back a little as I have them where I want them now. (Exam in five days!)

However, there is hope on the horizon!

Recently, ABRSM engaged with piano teachers regarding updates to the scales and arpeggios requirements for the next syllabus, 2021 - 2022. The proposed updates make the requirements much more realistic while still remaining pedagogically sound, perhaps even more so than the current syllabus. The improvements are too late for me, but I'm very, very glad that my students will benefit from the new, saner, requirements. I'm really looking forward to teaching it.

(ABRSM had intended to update the requirements for the 2019 syllabus. They circulated a proposal last year, but despite showing some promise it had some major WTF issues, especially in the higher grades. Some of the things proposed for Grade 8 were so wacky that many of us teachers were wondering if any actual pianists were involved in the proposal! Thankfully ABRSM scrapped that proposal and went back to the drawing board. They kept some of the best things from the previous proposal and came up with a really nice one for 2021.)

Now if they will only update the aural tests... I'm a strong singer but many of my students aren't. (I can't believe I'm agreeing with Moo on something. Isn't that a sign of the apocalypse?)


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One of the UK music examination boards gives an option. You have a choice of doing the scales/arpeggios or you can skip those and do a set etude instead. In the higher grades it becomes two set pieces, so effectively you are expected to play 5 pieces altogether.

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Originally Posted by chongjasmine
ABRSM

How long does it take one to move from beginner to grade 8? I mean the practical part of it.



I read that you have a Yamaha psr e443, Keyboard. Which has only 61 keys, is that right?

Later on if you are thinking of taking lessons and grades, you will need a proper piano, with 88 keys, weighted. Just a thought.

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I'm probably one of the few people here who never skipped a grade (I had no talent for skipping of any sort, let alone music) and did one ABRSM grade a year from age 10 to 18. Despite my total lack of anything resembling musical aptitude, I never found the exams too onerous, because I never felt 'pushed' by any of my three teachers, and I always had time for other music-related activities that my teachers never got involved in (singing in a choir, playing chamber music very badly with friends, playing pop by ear and adding my own very bad twisted improvs to them to make them sound even badder than they already are etc, etc). If any of my teachers ever entertained the possibility of me skipping grades, they never mentioned it to me, which is to say, the thought probably never entered their minds when they saw my tortoise-like progress....... grin.

Incidentally, during the time I was away from my parents (and therefore not disturbed by the TV) in boarding school, I spent most of my free time in the practise rooms, which was about two hours between school finishing and 'high tea', more on Saturdays. (The music department - with its practice rooms - was closed on Sundays).

Most students I knew as a kid (my neighbours' children and my cousins) skipped a grade or two between Grade 1 to 5. All my five piano-playing cousins (whose father was completely immersed in classical music, though he didn't play any instrument) achieved Grade 8 by 16. They all started learning piano at a younger age than me - between six to eight. One of them also learnt violin and got his Grade 8 in that too.


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Maybe it's not so much about how fast to move through the levels especially since some of us are not young kids. I've enjoyed my study of music and the levels of RCM keep me motivated and aware of my progress. I took level 5 as my first exam and then a year and 1/2 later took level 6. Now I'm immersing myself in level 7 so that I feel I have a stronger grounding in the technique, theory and repertoire. Oh and memorization too. At the speed I'm accomplishing that, I may never do the exam. However, there is great music at this level and I am learning at least 3 pieces in each category and the whole of the etudes before I consider the exam. We'll see...

Last edited by WiseBuff; 05/22/19 03:09 PM.

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Remember you can also skip grades. So you don't necessarily need to do them all in order.

For grade 6 you are required to take grade 5 theory.


Personally if I am starting I'll take some time and start at grade 6 or 7 but everyone is at a different level, so it all depends on what you feel comfortable with.


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I’ve been doing almost exactly one RCM grade a year as an adult. I am very busy so I don’t practice as much as my teacher would like. I’m sure I could move faster if I did, maybe every 8 months per grade. I don’t think it would be reasonable to move much faster than that and still have a job. Lol

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