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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by WTM
Select your composer from the drop down list and look through the editions, it shows ratings for pieces. I've found the ratings quite reliable.

By reliable, I assume you mean self-consistent. Because as ratings go, the Henle ratings are all consistently higher than those given by the graded piano exams: ABRSM, RCM, etc.

Their ratings seem to be more towards the top end.

I suspect a lot of grade 1-4 ABRSM pieces would be a 1 on Henle and a lot of Grade 8 ABRSM would be 5/6/7. Obviously it has things like the Hungarian Rhapsodies and Hammerklavier, they're way beyond RCM 10 and ABRSM 8. They're not intended to be a likeness towards grades.

Last edited by WTM; 06/28/19 09:53 AM.

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Yes, the scales are different. Henle 7 is way tougher than ABRSM 7.

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Originally Posted by GinaL1960
I am a 59 year old female and I have been taking private piano lessons, consistently, for the past 13 and a half years. My teacher told me that I am at the advanced Intermediate level now. I feel like piano practice is the same as hitting my head repeatedly against a brick wall, at times. That's how frustrating it is.


Thanks for being honest. That’s been my experience with other instruments that I’ve worked at long periods of time, ten years on the violin, and almost ten years on the classical guitar. I don’t expect piano to be any different.

If fun is what you’re after, figure out a way to play in a ensemble. In an ensemble, you can find solace in other people’s shortcomings, lol, instead of constantly facing your own, which is what happens when you study a solitary instrument.

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I’m not a fan of Henle’s “grading” system, I prefer the RCM system. There seems to be a big disparity between the two. For example, the Beethoven I’m working on, op 49 no 2 is listed as a 3 by Henle and as a grade 8 by the RCM, that’s a huge difference. The Henle system gives the impression that this piece, at a level 3, is only slightly more difficult than a beginner level piece.

Last edited by John305; 06/28/19 01:15 PM.

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One thing about learning, the more you know the more you realize that there is to know. I think there are many beginners disguising as "advanced" just because they brute force their way into learning (badly) a difficult piece, and there are several intermediate students that knowing just how much more there is to improve and learn, still consider themselves to be beginners.

I really thought about how to classify one's piano skills. I think using a difficulty ranking for the pieces that the person can play is a good starting point, but you should consider the time required to learn the piece and the mastery level that it can be achieved (how well the piece is being played). Of course, all those things are subjective, but I think difficulty ratings are sort of a good reference. To establish a benchmark, this is completely arbitrary but is something I use as a reference, one should not take more than 3 hours to learn and play one page of any piece on a certain level. The highest level that you can achieve that is the level that you are on.

Using Henle difficulty ranking as a reference, if you can play any (several, you can`t test all pieces) one-page piece rated as Lv.3 after working on it for less than 3 hours, but you needed +8 hours to properly play one page of an Lv.4 piece, then you are still at Lv.3, which I consider as late beginner. To me, the Henle scale goes like this:

Lv.1 - Elementary Beginner; Lv.2 - Beginner; Lv.3 - Late Beginner; Lv.4 - Early Intermediate; Lv.5 - Intermediate; Lv.6 - Early Advanced; Lv.7 - Advanced; Lv.8 - Late Advanced; Lv.9 - Virtuoso

That is pretty much the reasoning that I did with myself to justify that I am still a beginner. I like this approach because it is measurable. I also did that sightreading test (SARS) for the first time and scored only 340, which puts me into a late-beginner level, so it is consistent with my reasoning.

I don`t know what happens when you reach an advanced level, but I do like to think that real advanced players can pick up advanced pieces very fast. I presented an RCM Lv.8 piece (Heller Op.45 No.15) to work with my teacher and he didn't know that piece but he had no problem sight-reading it almost perfectly, after looking at the score for just a few seconds. So, to me that is the real measure: how fast can you learn, and play well, any piece at a given level.

Note that this classification approach can't deal with other types of pianists, that can't read sheet music, but can play by ear and improvise very well. For that, you would have to use another strategy, but I think it would be more subjective.


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For anyone less than Grade 8 ABRSM (= Grade 10 RCM), I'd use this:

https://qualifications.pearson.com/...evel-Music-Difficulty-Levels-Booklet.pdf

This long list includes a lot of pieces that non-advanced students would play, and was produced for the state music exams in the UK, and therefore corresponds to the ABRSM and Trinity grade system, which is also similar to the AMEB in Australia. To convert to RCM grades, multiply by 1.25 (i.e. RCM x 0.8 = ABRSM)

The Henle grading system is really for advanced pianists (i.e. at least Grade 6 ABRSM) and frankly, is somewhat inconsistent from what I can see. You'd have to multiply Henle's grade by between 1.5 to 2.5 to get a roughly equivalent ABRSM grade.


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Another good source of skill level is Piano Syllabus.

"Grades are drawn from the specific syllabus relating to each entry, while the 0 - 10 rating is an attempt to establish a consensus level of difficulty for each piece, regardless of which syllabus they are drawn from."

Piano Syllabus


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It seems pretty clear to me. If you’re posting in the “Adult Beginners” forum, then by definition you’re a beginner wink.


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Originally Posted by Cheshire Chris
It seems pretty clear to me. If you’re posting in the “Adult Beginners” forum, then by definition you’re a beginner wink.

Nah. They'll let anyone in. cool


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I felt like a beginner until about grade 4 - the first few years of learning. I now feel like I’m intermediate, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel advanced. Maybe if I reach grade 10.

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Beginner, intermediate & advance are just artificial labels. Someone like myself play pieces at an intermediate level but sight-reading is still not proficient. A lot of times I'd listen to recordings to learn pieces by ear than strictly reading off a sheet. I have no problem playing a few hymns in church from memory.

There are a few people in the family who took lessons before and supposedly passed conservatory exams. They have certificates that would rank them as advanced players but haven't played many years so can't really rate their playing. And then there is a man I met a few years ago who probably had a few piano lessons when he was a child (like 60 years ago) and decided to take up piano after retirement. He learned to play Debussy "Clair de Lune" by watching online video demos. He would imitate finger sequences without getting into music notation. For a music teacher, not being able to read would classify him as a beginner but a listener would rate his playing at an advanced level even when he only learned to play a few pieces by ear.

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