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Piano exams for adults #983701 06/23/08 09:12 PM
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babushka Offline OP
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I've read posts lately from people who sit for exams after reaching certain points in piano studies - these posts are largely from outside the US. I think most adults in the US taking piano lessons do not participate in any sort of formal exam program (but I could be wrong). Frankly I have to admire those who do take these exams - the very thought of it scares me.

So I'd like to hear your opinions about exams - is the exam prccess really useful, helpful? Should more of us be doing it? What do you think?

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Re: Piano exams for adults #983702 06/23/08 09:33 PM
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I've been wondering the same thing. I think I may be too old for nyssma smile
I would love to take the exams ... jus' because....


Therese

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Re: Piano exams for adults #983703 06/23/08 11:25 PM
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Check out http://www.nationalmusiccertificate.org/

My piano instructor is encouraging me to take these exams. The exam is a good way for one measure their progress. He says they are for both children and adults. It provides a rounded curriculum which includes sight reading, ear training, playing scales in addition to graded repertoire and etudes/studies. They also have theory exams. They have total of 11 levels/grades, starting with Preparatory level and going all the way to Grade 10. A child with about 2 years of learning and deligent practice can handle Preparatory level exam.

This exam originated in Canada where it is administered under a different name, RCM.


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Re: Piano exams for adults #983704 06/24/08 04:43 AM
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keystring Offline
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Quote
They have total of 11 levels/grades, starting with Preparatory level and going all the way to Grade 10. A child with about 2 years of learning and deligent practice can handle Preparatory level exam.
If it gives an perspective for adults, I'm in my 50's and I did the gr. 1 exam in violin after 6 months. The 7 year old ahead of me had been playing for 2 years and he did the same exam. My playing was more expressive but his had a certain solidity that came from the years of lessons, I would think. My expressiveness came from having heard a lot of music in my lifetime.

It's a bit funny sitting in the hallway with mostly children when you're at the earlier grades but after that it's quite normal. You're there to do an exam, everyone takes you seriously, and that's that. Kinda nice.

Re: Piano exams for adults #983705 06/24/08 05:04 AM
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I would make exams (and study with a view of taking them) if all that's examined would be what I want to do: playing classical piano.

As far as I understand, this is never the case, the exams requiring a more "rounded" knowledge than the piano playing: sight playing, music theory etc being an integral part of the exam. Now, whilst I might want to exercise sight reading and read something about music theory now and then, I am not interested in putting in those discipline the time and effort they require.


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

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Re: Piano exams for adults #983706 06/24/08 05:31 AM
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The "rounded" things are tools toward playing the instrument. In the RCM system and its American counterpart, music theory is a separate exam, btw. A student can do all practical levels of instrument playing without ever touching theory.

I am less familiar with piano. The RCM program has a repertoire for each grade level which features genres in each category, and certain playing skills are developed at each level with complementary technical study. The pieces will have that level of difficulty, apply the technical skills, and demand them. Theoretically it's supposed to mirror what you need to learn to do on the instrument to become an accomplished pianist and musician. A teacher might come up with the same program on his own.

The disadvantage of an exam is that you might be working toward a demand that you have well in hand while not working toward something you need but is not part of the exam material. One advantage is that a second well-selected adjudicator is assessing your playing. You get a full page assessment noting your strengths, weaknesses, suggestions so your playing has gone through a second pair of expert eyes.

Often teacher and student go through the adjudicator's remarks, possibly work on some of the suggestions or discuss them. I would prefer getting feedback in an exam scenario as opposed to in a contest.

Re: Piano exams for adults #983707 06/24/08 05:51 AM
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"The "rounded" things are tools toward playing the instrument"

I understood that this might be the logic, I just happen to disagree with this for my purposes.

"In the RCM system and its American counterpart, music theory is a separate exam, btw. A student can do all practical levels of instrument playing without ever touching theory".

ah, so they think one can do without making exams about the tools? Beautiful, just my thinking! smile .
I am almost tempted to look around to see whether they have some branch here in London.... might be a good idea for the future..


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

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Re: Piano exams for adults #983708 06/24/08 05:59 AM
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The tools, Innominato, are knowledge about genre by playing genre, and skills in technique by teaching technique in parallel which include studies designed to practice those skills which are first set out. The repertoire will use these skills and demand them, the technical end helps emphasize the skills.

In the very least, even without the exams, it is a comprehensive program that tries to include everything a musician would need. If a teacher is at a loss as to how to teach an adult this might not be a bad route to go. The material itself is presented seriously rather than childishly, in an organized manner.

Theory is also a very handy thing to have, as is music history (another thing that is examined later in theory). I see so many adults asking for some kind of organized knowledge that maybe this isn't a bad thing.

I think that Britain has an excellent system too, either as demanding or more (?) and the RCM might exist where you are too.

Re: Piano exams for adults #983709 06/24/08 06:12 AM
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Keystring, I hear you.

Then I'd suggest that only the playing is examined, at least for those amateurs who desire so.

If, then, their playing is bad or worse *because* they did not spend countless hours practicing sight reading or getting a comprehensive knowledge of music history, they will not pass the exam or play worse and be rated accordingly, and amen to that.


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin
Re: Piano exams for adults #983710 06/24/08 07:33 PM
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I'm kind of interested in these because I didn't do graded exams as a kid. We did "Sigma Alpha auditions" (I don't know why they are called that as we weren't auditioning for anything wink ) run by the Sigma Alpha Iota chapter of the college my music prep program was associated with. And in high school we had state piano contest.

But neither of these things was the 'graded' type where you advanced to the next grade if you passed. You simply played your pieces before one or more judges and were given ratings and feedback.


Adult Amateur Pianist

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Re: Piano exams for adults #983711 06/24/08 08:21 PM
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Thanks for your responses. I am going to look into the nat. music cert. program - partcularly for music theory about which I am shamefully ignorant. I'd like to study the material although I doubt I would ever actually take an exam. Thank you PianoStudent1.

Re: Piano exams for adults #983712 06/24/08 11:58 PM
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NMCP doesn't requires that you complete your first theory exam, called BAsic Rudiments, until you finish Grade 5 practicals. In other words, one can cruise the first four levels of practical exams without worrying about theory.

One of the recommended books for Basic Rudiments is the "Keyboard Theory Series Preliminary Level by Grace Vandendool". See http://www.frederickharrismusic.com/fhmcUS/catalogue?selection=group&code=117

Just like you I am trying to get a better handle on theory and started working on this book couple of months back.


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Re: Piano exams for adults #983713 06/25/08 12:31 AM
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Exams make an excellent goal to work towards. You can neglect all but the performance of the pieces and do quite well. I was crap at scales!

Re: Piano exams for adults #983714 06/25/08 01:37 AM
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The Trinity Guildhall program has two categories of exams. If you just wanna play you can take the performers certificate exam which requires you to play 5 pieces and that's it.
The same goes for Rockschool.
If you want to do the Grade Exam, you do the scale, ear training you play 3 pieces. The theory is very basic -Know your songs, the key and time signatures, dynamic symbols etc
This is the first year in 25 years of teaching that I sent students for exams. It sure brought the level of playing up. Nothing like a deadline to get your motivation up. The adjudicators comments are very insightful for both student and teacher.

Re: Piano exams for adults #983715 06/25/08 04:17 AM
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I did Guild auditions this year (not an exam, just playing for a judge, 9 pieces with related scales and cadences, plus I chose to do transposition for my 10th piece). The reason I decided to do it this year is mainly that I notice I get much better lessons from my teacher when I am working toward Guild. Along with the incentive to get the pieces learned to performance level. It really forces a lot of focused work on both our parts.

Re: Piano exams for adults #983716 06/25/08 06:36 AM
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I'm trying to register with ABRSM forums as I want to start working towards theory and composition grading but the stupid website won't accept my registration. I've tried three times the last time using my work email address but although it goes through it says I have to wait for it to be aprooved and nothing happens even a week later. Whats worse is if I try to report it my registration seems to become instantly deleted so I have to start again. Emails to the support address have gone unanswerd. I could understand this incompetence if it had .gov as the suffix!


We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.
Re: Piano exams for adults #983717 06/25/08 06:55 AM
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Do they have fax or phone contact? When I registered for my last RCM exam, I had been told about it after the cut-off date and rather than risking and hoping, went directly to talking to someone live. Perhaps the ABRSM has similar contact possibilities? With RCM there has to be a teacher registered with them as well (I'm assuming, since I'm asked for my teacher's number) - how is it for the ABRSM?

Re: Piano exams for adults #983718 06/26/08 04:01 PM
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What exactly are the guild auditions? I have seen these mentioned several times, but I don't know any of the specifics. 10 pieces!? Wow, Laura D, how do you keep all this music in your head and fingers at the same time?

Re: Piano exams for adults #983719 06/26/08 10:24 PM
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The thing I like about exams are the detailed note sheets you are given afterwards - there's something rewarding about hearing someone dissect the way you play, even if it's criticism.


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Re: Piano exams for adults #983720 06/29/08 06:41 AM
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For what it's worth, I had exactly the same experience with the ABRSM forums.


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