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#3073217 01/24/21 04:51 AM
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I am returning to playing seriously after 38 years, I dabbled a bit over the years so I can say I 'kept my hands in' but not seriously enough to keep up my ability.

My main problem is I have no idea what my grade was as I took no exams lol

I had 5 or 6 years of weekly hour long lessons until school exam pressures, and being a teenager, meant I gave them up.

I have been playing seriously for just over a month now, and have realised I can pretty much sight read levels 3-4 from music I have bought, (One of my children decided to throw away my old sheet music as it was stored in her bedroom and she was 'tidying up' so I can not refer back to that!) but I am struggling to find new things that are the right level for me to tackle as they are either too easy or too hard to keep me interested.

Can anyone recommend a book of music that is graded from level 5?

None of the books I have bought are specifically graded, but I feel it would make my life easier if I could work out where I am now so I have a starting point for progression.

I don't want to keep buying books and having to trawl through them for things I feel are appropriate and I am completely unable to buy a reasonably priced printer at the moment (all out of stock), so buying online sheet music is out of the question.

Thanks grin


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Originally Posted by Mema
Can anyone recommend a book of music that is graded from level 5?

None of the books I have bought are specifically graded, but I feel it would make my life easier if I could work out where I am now so I have a starting point for progression.
I teach using the ABRSM syllabus, and all my students do the exams (as is usual here) but for adult returners, I'd say: don't get hung up on grades. I never did when I was a student in my teens, despite also doing all the grade exams with my teacher - I just sight-read through any music scores I could get hold of (and that was in the pre-computer age, so there was no internet, let alone IMSLP), purely for my own pleasure, and if it was too difficult, I'd go on to something else - or put it aside to have another go six months to six years later, if it sounded really appealing.

There are graded books from the likes of RCM, but personally, I'd recommend something like "Classics to Moderns in the intermediate grades" (Vol.17 of the Music for Millions series) which contain 115 original classical pieces from Baroque to 20th century - all worth learning.

For a book that covers a big range from intermediate to advanced, I've had fun recently (re-)acquainting myself with the pieces in an anthology volume that contains many familiar pieces (and 'names', including Elise wink ) that some people in PW have mentioned using when they were students, called "Everybody's Favorite Piano Pieces", which you can continue to learn from as you progress into advanced - as some of the pieces in it are pretty advanced. So, if you fancy showing off your chops with Prelude in C# minor or Rustle of Spring in the years to come.....

If you're more interested in non-classical music, "Ultimate Piano Solos" contains a range of music ranging from pop and movie theme arrangements (including Harry Potter and La La Land) to ragtime and musicals, suitable for intermediates to advanced. It also contains a few 'popular' classical pieces which - thankfully - are not simplified.


"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."
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Thank you, i will have a look at those. Elise is in my repertoire, I'm sure it didn't have the negative connotations 40 years ago that it does now and always loved it! It's one of the few I remembered playing back in the day and was in one of the books I purchased and was pleased to be able to still get through it with a few stutters lol.

I'm pleased to see one that is not simplified, that is the problem I faced when looking for books, I didn't know if they were saying the music was in there or if they were simplified versions.
Thanks again


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Originally Posted by Mema
I'm pleased to see one that is not simplified, that is the problem I faced when looking for books, I didn't know if they were saying the music was in there or if they were simplified versions.
As a classical pianist (who dabbles in everything and anything else when they take my fancy whistle), I have absolutely no truck with any simplified arrangements of classical music, if it was originally composed for piano/harpsichord. There is so much original piano/keyboard music for all levels out there that I see no point in desecrating a great composer's carefully-crafted piece (or even a mediocre composer's indifferent potboiler) by simplifying/removing notes or the key or (most frequently) both.

For pieces not originally composed for piano/keyboard, of course, anything - and everything - goes. For instance, I prefer Taneyev's and Pletnev's piano transcriptions of Tchaikovsky's Nutracker to the composer's own, and Liszt's arrangement/elaboration of Schumann's Widmung to his wife's straightforward version.

For pop and jazz, well, the world is your oyster to desecrate as much as you like......... grin


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Mema
I'm pleased to see one that is not simplified, that is the problem I faced when looking for books, I didn't know if they were saying the music was in there or if they were simplified versions.
As a classical pianist (who dabbles in everything and anything else when they take my fancy whistle), I have absolutely no truck with any simplified arrangements of classical music, if it was originally composed for piano/harpsichord. There is so much original piano/keyboard music for all levels out there that I see no point in desecrating a great composer's carefully-crafted piece (or even a mediocre composer's indifferent potboiler) by simplifying/removing notes or the key or (most frequently) both.



For pop and jazz, well, the world is your oyster to desecrate as much as you like......... grin


I absolutely agree. I would rather play an original simple piece than anything that sounds nothing like the original!

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much distinction in the majority of music books blurb.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Mema
I'm pleased to see one that is not simplified, that is the problem I faced when looking for books, I didn't know if they were saying the music was in there or if they were simplified versions.
As a classical pianist (who dabbles in everything and anything else when they take my fancy whistle), I have absolutely no truck with any simplified arrangements of classical music, if it was originally composed for piano/harpsichord. There is so much original piano/keyboard music for all levels out there that I see no point in desecrating a great composer's carefully-crafted piece (or even a mediocre composer's indifferent potboiler) by simplifying/removing notes or the key or (most frequently) both.

You keep saying that but at the same time you keep recommending books from the "Classics to Moderns" series, which has many simplified arrangements, including some that were originally composed for keyboard. Just flipping through my copy of "New Classics to Moderns" right now I see a version of Bach's prelude in C that's been cut to the first half, a version of Für Elise with only part A, and a very simplified version of Chopin's E-flat nocturne transposed to C major. I'm not saying it's a bad book series but I do find your statements a bit inconsistent.

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Originally Posted by Mema
I have been playing seriously for just over a month now, and have realised I can pretty much sight read levels 3-4 from music I have bought
I'd say it's extraordinary.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
You keep saying that but at the same time you keep recommending books from the "Classics to Moderns" series, which has many simplified arrangements, including some that were originally composed for keyboard. Just flipping through my copy of "New Classics to Moderns" right now I see a version of Bach's prelude in C that's been cut to the first half, a version of Für Elise with only part A, and a very simplified version of Chopin's E-flat nocturne transposed to C major. I'm not saying it's a bad book series but I do find your statements a bit inconsistent.
You are looking at the wrong book.

I only ever recommended Easy Classics to Moderns and More Easy Classics to Moderns in previous threads, and Classics to Moderns (in the intermediate grades) - Vols.17, 27 and 37 respectively in the "Music for Millions" series. Their covers are red, blue and orange respectively. The three pieces you mentioned are not in any of those volumes.

I've never actually recommended any "New Classics to Moderns" books - which BTW don't have the blurb "original piano pieces as written by......" on their covers, as far as I can see (though I believe some people might have assumed that because I didn't say anything about other books in the same series, or contradict what they say). I don't own any of the "New" books, which to my mind are very poor value anyway.

People for some reason keep misunderstanding what I recommend - even though I always check what I write to make sure I mean what I say, and say what I mean -, including for example John Thompson: the only beginner's series I recommend are his Easiest Piano Course, which is the one I use. Not any of his other books. Yet another teacher (no longer here) keeps assuming I'm talking about his "Modern Course" or "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" even though I've contradicted him more than a few times........


"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."
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Mema
I have been playing seriously for just over a month now, and have realised I can pretty much sight read levels 3-4 from music I have bought
I'd say it's extraordinary.


I did say playing 'seriously'. I'm not in any way suggesting I suddenly started playing after nearly forty years with nothing in the middle and was able to sight read at that level. I am also, NOT able to play things at a level I used to, just trying to get back there and putting some effort into it now I have the time and means.


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Originally Posted by Mema
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Mema
I have been playing seriously for just over a month now, and have realised I can pretty much sight read levels 3-4 from music I have bought
I'd say it's extraordinary.

I did say playing 'seriously'. I'm not in any way suggesting I suddenly started playing after nearly forty years with nothing in the middle and was able to sight read at that level. I am also, NOT able to play things at a level I used to, just trying to get back there and putting some effort into it now I have the time and means.
By "sight reading" you mean playing a piece decently right from the first attempt? I think you need to be at grade 6 to be able to sight read decently pieces of 3rd/4th grade. So maybe you're underestimating the seriousness of your playing in these 38 years.

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Classic to moderns is an excellent suggestions. I have two Green (3) and Orange (5). I quite like russian music for the intermediate level as it is rhythmic so you can have a look. Many of them wrote children music series which are great. It depends on your taste and interest so if you have a particularly composer you like maybe someone can suggest something more specific.



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For classical pieces, one way I’ve found useful is to look up some of the pieces I like to play in the Henle books on their website as they assign a difficulty grade (not the same scale as ABRSM or RCM) to each piece. There is then an option to search by difficulty.

Alternatively there is the More Classics to Moderns series that has already been mentioned, and ABRSM publish graded anthologies (not just the exam pieces) that have good material.

There is also a list of pieces by difficulty published by Pearson you might be able to Google.

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I am in group classes with adult learners. Nobody in the group has taken a music exam. The level varies between upper beginner to upper intermediate.

I download pieces occasionally. Pop & movie themes are available in different keys & levels of difficulty. Try a few measures. Any piece that looks playable is at my level.

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Thank you all for the suggestions, I will take a look at them and hopefully find what I am looking for smile


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