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Piano Exam Group

Posted By: WiseBuff

Piano Exam Group - 08/06/15 12:29 PM

There have been many threads or comments related to the piano exams both ABRSM and RCM. Some do them and some hate them so they are clearly not for everyone but some of us find them useful benchmarks of progress or challenges that inspire. Still the work can be daunting. This thread could be a place where we offer some support and conversation along the way.

Two years ago I successfully prepared for and passed the Level 5 exam and I'm currently working towards the Level 6 RCM exam. None of my teacher's other students assign themselves such mountains to climb. It'll take me at least until next year to have the repertoire ready to play for an examiner. I'm taking the Coursera "Music Theory" course to refresh my theory. I'm practicing the aural with online and CDs.

Still...Some days the exam work moves productively and other days I'm tired of all of it. Today is one of those days where my motivation is waning. Would love to hear how you're preparing and how you manage the ups and downs.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/06/15 02:08 PM

I think an exam support thread is a great idea. It is a long, hard journey from one exam to the next, and it is nice to have moral support. Doing the exam route requires a lot of time and dedication, and the requirement to polish pieces and technical exercises to a higher quality than might otherwise be done. That said, I believe that following this course has been very valuable in the development of better skills at the piano. So, I would be interested in hearing everyone's experiences or questions about doing the exam.

For anyone taking ABRSM exams, and I can share my experiences. The pieces were not the hard part for me. The sight reading, aural skills, and technical requirements took far more time for me than learning the pieces. These auxiliary skills are a major part of the test and need to be proficient to get a good score. That was a shock to me when I started this route. The sight reading is far more difficult than I expected, and by grade 5 you need to be able to perform any scale or tonic arpeggio.

My first examiner was a very encouraging lady, who calmed my nerves completely. As a result, the exam was not stressful. After the exam, she talked to me about how much experience that I had, and encouraged me to keep going. The next exam I took was the grade 5 theory exam, which is required to take practical tests above grade five. Preparing for that exam required a lot of study. It was a three hour exam, and was not easy.

Last fall I took the grade five practical, and the examiner was all business. He never cracked a smile, but he did speak with me afterward in a cordial manner. I am glad he was not my first examiner, but I was well prepared and not overly nervous. So - be prepared for anything! In November I will will sit Grad 6.

I have tried to learn a lot of pieces at my level. I am now set on three pieces for the November exam, Over the Rainbow, Minuet and Trio from the Sonata in Bb by Beethoven, and Erster Schmerz by Bortkiewicz. The Minuet and Trio is about 70 bpm, and needs to go to 100=1/4 played in 1/16th's. The trio is particularly tricky. Ester Schmerz is a piece I started two weeks ago. I have another romantic piece I can play if this one does not mature well.

I am still making the odd mistake in scales and arpeggios, especially melodics, which worries me. The sight reading is a holy terror. I now can sight read very well at the grade 5 level, but it is like they took a major step up at 6! Changes in clefs, irregular time signatures, complicated rhythms, lots of ledger lines. Eek! So I am doing 1/2 per day on this and every other day Aural test work. Aural is fine except the singing from the score with accompaniment. A singer I am not!

Posted By: Moonsh1ne

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/06/15 02:44 PM

SwissMS, you've just completely turned me off from any sort of exams with that description crazy
Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/06/15 03:04 PM

I will surely not be taking any piano exams. Why stress yourself out with such things if you don't plan on doing this professionally? Well, maybe some of you are planning a career but I don't.
Posted By: MomOfBeginners

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/06/15 03:29 PM

Exam support thread is a great idea. Clearly, this is a thread for those who already think that exams are worth the effort. Debates about whether or not exams are worth anything can be taken up in a different thread.

I took piano exams ages ago in RCM where you're given a grade out of 100. With a number, the difference between 89 and 91 look big (my opinion). My daughters now take California Certificate of Merit (CM) evaluations. This is their own choice. (We ask them every year and they choose to go through with it.)

In CM, you're just given Excellent, Good, (can't remember the other two, but something like Average and Not Well Prepared), plus many comments by the evaluator. The CM system seems to reflect the fact that your evaluations are subjective in the first place, so I like that better. Perhaps because of the loose grading, my daughters don't feel all that stressed by it.

For those of you taking exams, you might like Dr. Marc Rochester's blog. He used to be an examiner, and I've found his anecdotes interesting. Google his name, and there are a few really interesting posts. Look for Music Examiner Anecdotes in his blog. Also look for a few other views he has on exams.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/06/15 03:37 PM

Rereading my writing above, I can see how it could sound discouraging. The truth is, I believe starting the exam route was the best move I have made since I started back at piano. I enjoy the challenge. Exams are certainly not for everyone, and everyone has differing goals with their piano journey. I see this thread as a place where people who want to try the exam route can get or give information, commiserate the hard times and celebrate successes!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/07/15 12:30 PM

I've enjoyed the piano for many years but stayed pretty much at the same level...maybe even sliding backward. Achievement has always motivated me and the exams are no different. Although the method books provide some theory, they do not delve into the subject as deeply as the exams require. There are certain concepts that are easy and others that use language that is unfamiliar to me. Music theory requires me to think beyond piano notation. That may be my biggest hurdle.

Scales and chords are the other competence that I've dabbled in but not mastered. For RCM level 6 I have 4 major and 4 minor chords. Must do scales in 16th notes at 60. That is really moving along and it must be flawless. I'm doing slow practice and really feeling my hand position and shape over the keys. AT a faster pace I've found that my left hand shape interrupts my scales and makes me miss black keys going down the scale. This work has also given me insight into the tension I carry into my playing. I'm consciously aware of the tension and teaching myself to be one with the piano movement.

For the moment I'm thinking I will do Bach French Suite #1 Sarabande; Kuhlau sonatina 55, No 2; and maybe a Schumann. The romantic era is easier for me for some reason so that one has several choices. The sarabande is short and killing me with the detail of finger movement.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 01:20 AM

WiseBuff, we are both preparing for RCM 6! Yay. Where are you on the theory exams. I've completed my theory exams last winter up to RCM 7, so now just have to focus on the practical for a while before facing more theory. The advance theory exam was brutal! I stayed in the exam room until the last minute.

SwissMS, you are an inspiration! I agree that male examiners tend to be all business. One of mine didn't even say "thank you" after I completed a piece. Actually they are all quite nice. Just can't let them intimidate you. Sight-reading and aural practice is my biggest nemesis. I can tell you right now if not for the exam, I would drop all the work for them like a hot potato. I actually think the exams is the only reason I would make it pass level 6 playing because I'm so lazy in learning all the necessary support skills for the higher levels on my own without some strict system telling me to do the sight-reading, singing, or advance theory.

MomOfBeginners, my children did both CM and RCM for a few levels, but recently I have decided they will focus on RCM and we regrettably dropped our participation from CM. I feel two exams a year is too much and RCM is more rigorous of the two. Either way, I believe for children having something like CM is better than not at all. Just don't tell the children that it is actually not possible to fail CM. Failing RCM, that's actually pretty easy to do.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 01:36 AM

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I will surely not be taking any piano exams. Why stress yourself out with such things if you don't plan on doing this professionally? Well, maybe some of you are planning a career but I don't.


I think it is easy to think that taking exam is just about that one day when you go to the exam center. Actually, it's really more about a change in your whole way of looking at what is needed and what is deficient throughout the whole year or two up to that exam day. The day after, you start all over preparing for the next even harder one. Without some external system setting the standards for me properly, I would probably just do what I like and be stuck at the intermediate level forever when my goal is to be able to play slightly higher than intermediate level repertoire someday. And yes, I would like to play them well, for myself. I know it is not necessary, but just a dream. The exam is a tool that gets me there. I think in the long run, it is harder to get there for someone starting piano as late as myself (in my 40's) without the strict goals and requirements of the exams.

Luckily I have a fairly successful career outside of music that I will never need to play piano for money. Besides, my co-workers who have their mid-life crisis buy their BMW's and Porsche's and go track racing also need to go back to school for that expensive hobby. I think a 6' Yamaha CX grand piano, lessons and exam fees is fairly cheap in comparison to racing. My inspiration is really came from my sister who got her 1st degree black belt in her 40's and recently got her 2nd degree black belt at 50. I figure if she could do that, I could pass a few piano exams. My sister also has no intension of changing career into security or combat related work either anymore than me becoming a professional musician. We are both happy with our careers.
Posted By: sinophilia

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 11:00 AM

I don't plan to take any piano exams, but I would really love to study as I had to take them! I downloaded the ABSRM syllabus for grades 1-5 and I'm trying to figure out what it is exactly that one should learn. I like structured learning, even if I'm scared to death of examinations. Don't know how I forced myself to finish university on time, and then get my motorcycle license laugh

Do you need to buy all ABRSM (or RCM) practice books to prepare for examinations? I only have the sight-reading ones. And I see that many of the exam pieces are not publicly available.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 11:39 AM

Like most piano students outside N. America, I did exams all through my student years. ABRSM was (and still is) the most popular exam board, not just in UK, but also in the tiny & insignificant country where I spent my childhood. There was no difference in the way the exams were conducted in that country and in the UK (where I moved to in my early teens), as ABRSM examiners from UK travel the world to do the examining, other than that they made allowances for the fact that your first language isn't English.

The marking was certainly consistent - it's fairly easy to get Distinction in Grade 1, but quite difficult after Grade 5. And unlike RCM (I believe), there is no mark deduction for not playing the exam pieces from memory, and nobody I know of played them from memory. Music exams are stressful enough without having to worry about memory lapses brought on by nerves.....

What the exam system gave me was not the satisfaction of getting the certificates year after year (which I'd long ago lost.... grin), but the all-round piano and (classical) music education that I acquired in the process - which I took for granted until I joined PW and saw (here in ABF and Piano Teachers forum) how many learners who were being taught by teachers not using any exam board system had big gaps in their technical development and knowledge of theory.

For instance, I'd acquired sufficient sight-reading skills by Grade 3/4 to attempt several movements from Mozart and Beethoven sonatas (and sing at sight, so I could join the school choir) and enough theory to compose simple pieces, and enough aural skills to play by ear and improvise, even though I was never formally taught composition or improvisation. And all the other students I encountered who were at my level had the same level of skills, so I could (and did) play with a violinist friend and sight-read our way through Mozart violin sonatas, and jam our way through pop tunes we'd heard on the radio.



Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 11:44 AM

8 Octaves, I completely understand why you want to follow a stricter academic cirriculum and respect that. For me, however, exams have always been a lot of stress and I wouldn't want to self-impose so much extra stress for something that is a hobby. I preffer to just use the RCM and ABRSM syllabuses as guidelines and to check my progress rather than as strict goals to achieve.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 11:47 AM

sinophilia - there are four books per level for the ABRSM exams - Selected Pieces, Technical requirements, sight reading, and Aural training. In addition to this, there are theory books at each level. There are really good online trainers for aural, and an iPad app by Wessar for sight reading. The syllabus lists the requirements at each level.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 12:06 PM

Sinophilia, my original intent on level 5 was to just prepare for the exam but then I did all that work and decided to try the exam too. I lived through the experience and ultimately (not immediately after for sure) it felt good to have that milestone affirmed with a pass. I buy the RCM books and find there's lots of good choice in there of repertoire. The theory study is specific to the exam so those books are important.

SwissMS, In RCM, the sight reading is a couple of levels lower than the performance level. Is that true in ABRSM as well? I've got several level 4 books and just acquired some popular and big band books for sight reading. Since they are primarily looking at rhythm, notes and general dynamics, I've improved a lot on that.

3Octaves, I've only completed written up to level 5 and wow, was that hard!! I know I need to take the written before (I think) the performance level. It's a different language and not one I can learn in the car on the way to work.

It takes me a couple of years of study to move toward the next level and right now I'm refreshing all aspects of the musical study. You are SO right that it is not about the exam but about the comprehensive learning that engages you in the process. My teacher says I'm her only adult student who WANTS to learn and study in this intense way...yes, she does help me.

Bennevis, I only wish I'd discovered the exam system earlier in my life. It absolutely gives such a comprehensive musical education for those of us who did NOT choose to major in music.

8Octives...tell me a little about your approach to the Level 6 exam? How are you preparing and when do you think you'll be ready? I work on all 5 pieces (repertoire and etudes) during the week as well as morning time with aural training. I'm working on B major for the last couple of weeks. As I said earlier, I've purchased a theory textbook and am taking the Coursera course...it's pretty basic so far.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 12:47 PM

Wisebuff - The sight reading tests for ABRSM are more difficult than I had originally expected. My teacher has said he believes that they are too difficult for the grades being tested. The grade 6 sight reading tests are about equivalent to the grade 5 performance pieces or above. For the test we are given 30 seconds to look at the piece, and then we play. What is most important is to keep going in correct rhythm without hesitations, corrections, etc. A passing score can have wrong notes, missed dynamics, but not corrections or hesitations. One time I was struggling with a sight reading example with a tricky Latin rhythm and jumps, and I could not play it without slow downs. My teacher sat down and played every single note wrong, but with correct rhythm and dynamics. I would have failed and he would have probably gotten a merit!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 02:29 PM

Ouch SwissMS. That does sound daunting. I know I stop too often to "think" about it.

When I took the RCM Basic Rudiments theory exam I had practice tests to be prepared. I cannot find the "Official Examination Papers" for the Intermediate Rudiments. Anybody find those? I've looked at Frederick Harris and find everything but that.

Sinphonia, Frederick Harris now sells the books as a package if you like (repertoire, etudes, ear training and theory)
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 06:56 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
8Octives...tell me a little about your approach to the Level 6 exam? How are you preparing and when do you think you'll be ready? I work on all 5 pieces (repertoire and etudes) during the week as well as morning time with aural training. I'm working on B major for the last couple of weeks. As I said earlier, I've purchased a theory textbook and am taking the Coursera course...it's pretty basic so far.


Yes, I also did the Coursera course on music theory. Too be blunt it is far too basic. With the materials covered by that course, you'll not pass even the elementary theory exam. I use Mark Sarnecki's book to study for theory and I also purchased the answer book. After completing every exercise, any that I didn't get right and don't understand, I bring it to my teacher, and she goes over them for me. Luckily my teacher love theory. I passed the intermediate exam for level 6 last summer, so just focusing on the practical these days.

Generally, I try to separate the technical practice from the repertoire on any give day because my time is constraint. I try to get the sight-reading and hearing exercises out of the way as early in the day as possible because I discovered that if I do them late in the evening, it's too hard for me. I use the Four Star series with success doing EXACTLY as instructed in the book. So far the sight-reading at the exams have been easier than the book. On the last exam, I glanced at the sight-reading score and literally said "phew" in my head before playing it. Once I have the Four Star book done at least twice from cover to cover I feel pretty good to go.

As for the rest of the technical exercises, my teacher is really strict about how well they have to be played, so if I pass my teacher, I'm passing the examiner. The technique required to properly play technical portion is not something I could even begin to write about. I'm sure you concur how grateful you'd feel when you realize how difficult it is to learn proper technique and when your teacher has it in abundance and is slowly giving them to you. My goal is to play through the entire technical book in about 20 minutes everyday without mistakes. I'm not there yet, just about half way (F maj/min, Ab maj/G# min got dropped for B maj/min in the new syllabus, so I have to back track now).

When you say you're working on B major, you probably mean everything in B major, right? Scales, tonic triad solid/broken, dominant 7th, diminished 7th, arpeggios in tonic, dominant 7th, and diminished 7th? Yes, I do the same, but also include the minor key as well. I learn them as one set spending maybe 2 months each set.

I am only half way through the Celebration Series for RCM 6, so I am not sure when I will go for the exam yet. I try to put away maybe 25 pieces before picking 5 and signing up for the exam. The music at RCM 6 is wonderful, which helps me stay here for a long time without getting bored since my teacher is much more demanding before she would let me put something away these days. I plan to master most if not all etudes before picking 2 for the exam. I generally carry 1 etude with 3 repertoire pieces from each list A, B, and C, so by the time I complete the etudes, I would have sufficient number of pieces to decide which ones are my best bet for playing under stress. My current goal is be ready for the exam in the coming spring or summer.

I guess I don't prepare for the exam. I just do all the requirements for the level, then at the end of it, I'm ready. How about you? What's your approach for the exam?

I've heard that some would only learn 5 pieces and go for the exam. That seems crazy to me. How do they manage the next level having only learned 5 pieces from this one? That approach doesn't make any sense to me.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 07:04 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
A passing score can have wrong notes, missed dynamics, but not corrections or hesitations. One time I was struggling with a sight reading example with a tricky Latin rhythm and jumps, and I could not play it without slow downs. My teacher sat down and played every single note wrong, but with correct rhythm and dynamics. I would have failed and he would have probably gotten a merit!


Very wise advise indeed. For learning rhythm, do you not have lots of rhythm fragments which to practice clapping with everyday? Even at RCM 6, we're doing some seriously crazy rhythm exercises in the aural book, so I imagine ABRSM 6 would be a little harder.

BTW, you'll appreciate this. Try sight-reading "For Suzanna Kyle" by Leonard Bernstein in RCM 6. If that doesn't give you a headache, I'm not sure what would! laugh
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/15 07:39 PM

I did "Susan Kyle" as one of my 40 piece challenge pieces. The rhythm was certainly not intuitive!

I do 20 minutes of sight reading practice everyday, using the Paul Harris and ABRSM Join the Dots grade 6. I really like the "Join the Dots". I have learned to really check which clefs I am starting on, as often it will be two treble or two base clefs and then switch somewhere. My latest sight reading challenge is the Wessar iPad app that uses examples from previous exams. These are seriously challenging, but I am getting better. Like you, I like to do my sight reading early in the day when I can really focus. When rhythms are tricky, I often play both hands in my lap to get a feel for it.

On the aural test we are required to do a clap back, sing the upper part of a two part phrase, sight sing along with an accompaniment, and answer questions on a piece played by the examiner such as time signature, texture, form, tonality, and period. I still have problems with discerning 2 time from 4 time, especially in modern pieces with a lot of rubato. The sight singing is still a work in progress for me. My teacher coaches university voice students, but he is very patient with my sometimes bazaar interpretations of what is written. I sing it with gusto though!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/11/15 10:43 AM

It's start of the academic semester, so work is busy. I have a paper that needs major revisions so I need to save some brain power for that.

I've ordered the RCM technical requirements and the four star sight reading to work through. Although I doubt I'll play every etude in the Level 6 book, it makes sense to play most of them to be really solid at level 6. I didn't order the repertoire book since I have most of the repertoire in other books that I own.

The Coursera course is both basic AND advanced in the first lesson. Modes at first lesson? I've never used modes at all and my teacher she hasn't either. Maybe it's useful for composers and jazz players. The poor people who know nothing about music are lost. I haven't spent anything for it and it takes little time so the different way of teaching each concept helps my brain retain it all.

For level 5, I did the theory exam before the practical but I'm not ready for either at the moment so haven't decided which should come first.
Posted By: sinophilia

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/11/15 11:02 AM

If any of you (preferably in Europe) wants to sell their books from previous grades - aural, technique or repertoire - I'd be glad to buy some.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/11/15 07:56 PM

They introduce modes in the first lesson and their explanation gives another "angle" to look at modes compared to RCM. That's really nice and helps. Then of course, they seem to drop the whole thing just as the topic gets interesting. That's what I find problematic with these survey courses. They throw something at you to wet your appetite then and move on to something else. It's not deep enough as preparation for RCM exams, so as long as you are not using it to prepare for the exams, you're fine.

I have come to the conclusion that every etudes for each level should be learned on my own when I compared exam syllabi between 2001, 2008, and now the latest 2015. I noticed the pattern that as an exam transition to a new syllabus, almost every piece of music from the previous repertoire book is allowed in the new syllabus even though many are no longer in the new repertoire book. However, that's not the case for etudes. There is no substitution for etudes. Every etude on the current syllabus comes from the current etude book and if it's not in the current etude book it is not allowed.

The way I interpret this is that RCM is much more strict about the etudes that represents a specific level, so to be solid for a specific level and have all the skills, one should learn all the etudes just as one should learn all the scales and chords require for a specific level even though the examiner may not test you on every scale for your level.

So as far as I'm concerned, you should not pick and half of the keys to learn scales and chords for technical any more than choosing to learn some of the etudes. I have to say that I only realize this recently, and I didn't study every single etude in level 5, level 4, etc. I think that may contribute to why each new level feels much harder for me. I think not doing every etude is like saying, hmm I don't like F# minor scales and chords much, so I'll skip that one.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/13/15 11:14 AM

Interesting observation, 8Octaves. I had purchased level 6 etude book but I notice that most of them are NOT on the 2015 list. Do you know if there is a new 2015 edition that equates with the acceptable list?

The Coursera course is interesting for me as an academic to see how they are laying out their online course. So far (except for modes) it is content that I know. I only spend a few minutes a day on it and it reminds me to think about theory and refresh my circle of fifths. I'm spending more time at the piano working on my chords and scales. The blocked 7th chords require more coordination so I have to work really really slow on them at first to teach my hand to move correctly.

I've been working on the Bach for what seems like forever. Although my teacher assures me that Bach is always difficult, I'm still very slow at making it come together. The Kuhlau is coming along but I still have hesitations so I'm back to slow and correct. My time at the EPP really proved my teacher correct (AGAIN!)...I have way too many hesitations.

Looking forward to receiving my four star and theory books next week.

NOW...warm up for a piano lesson and then, off to a four day dog show.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/15 01:01 AM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
I had purchased level 6 etude book but I notice that most of them are NOT on the 2015 list. Do you know if there is a new 2015 edition that equates with the acceptable list?


If there is even one etude piece in your book not on the 2015 list, you got the wrong book. You need the new 2015 Etude and Technical books for exams starting in September. You could order them from the publisher directly or many online sources.

http://www.primamusic.com/productdetail.asp?SKU=FH2555290018

http://www.primamusic.com/productdetail.asp?SKU=FH2555300007

http://www.primamusic.com/productdetail.asp?SKU=FH2555310008

I think you already mentioned you don't need the repertoire book, but for completeness, here it is. http://www.primamusic.com/productdetail.asp?SKU=FH2555290008
Posted By: malkin

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/15 01:48 AM

sino- if you don't have any offers for books, check out the usual sources for used books including Book Depository and whatever else google suggests based on your location. If you really aren't interested in taking the current exam, it won't matter if you haven't got the latest and greatest edition and you could pick up some old ones at a considerable savings.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/21/15 11:53 AM

I'm investing a LOT of time on scales and chords to train my hands to move more fluidly. Blocked 7th chords are really challenging to me. I think I've just avoided music with too much of that work. Any suggestions for speeding up my learning process?
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/21/15 02:39 PM

I love to have this exam group as I am taking ABRSM grade 5 this coming November. The pieces are not hard. Scales I have all memorized, but need to improve on speed. The only thing in aural skill that troubles me is listening to the 2 time, 3time, or 4 time. Sight reading is the toughest for me. I am spending more time on this part. But unfortunately, this does not get improved overnight.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/21/15 03:23 PM

It sounds like we are all spending significant time with scales and other technique requirements. My teacher had me take my scales back to a speed that I could do with good evenness and shape, and then start increasing them by a tick of the metronome each week. It worked well to fix some problems. I am almost back to the required grade 6 ABRSM speed. I am still weak in the Bb minor contra, and the chromatic contra starting on A# LH& C# RH, but the rest is starting to shape up.

Pianofan1017, I have trouble distinguishing 2 time from 4 time as well. I get it right about 75% of the time, but under pressure? I don't know. I find the sight reading quite difficult as well. My teacher believes that this part of the test is actually too difficult for the level. The real test is to just keep going in rhythm, I think.

My A piece, Beethoven Minuet and Trio from Sonata in Bb, is my biggest worry right now. I am a long way from required tempo. I spent a lot of time on the trio, and it still has areas that are not secure. My marching orders for this week are ultra slow, heavy, and accurate. The left hand runs are finger twisting. The other two pieces are well in hand. I am sure my husband is hearing the Beethoven in his sleep by now. grin
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/21/15 03:38 PM

Hi SwissMS:

My teacher actually ask me to just play a little slower in the exam to be on the safe side.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/21/15 04:17 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
I'm investing a LOT of time on scales and chords to train my hands to move more fluidly. Blocked 7th chords are really challenging to me. I think I've just avoided music with too much of that work. Any suggestions for speeding up my learning process?


My advise is to resist wanting speed. Your goal is to play evenly and accurately those 7ths at the speed you can deliver on evenness and accuracy. Mistakes are ok in a repertoire but not in technical skills like scales and chords. Focus on one major key and its minor key and just do it everyday and allow yourself to gradually come up to speed. It almost happens without notice. Once you reach the tempo as marked in the book naturally, you can move on to the next set of keys. For 7th chords, you could focus just on dominant 7th for one key without worrying about diminished 7th until you could tare down the keyboard with the dominant 7th. Believe me, it actually does happen given enough time, patience, and discipline. Stay relaxed.

My teacher's comment to me was "you cannot cram technical skills." Well, unless you have an exam coming up and your skill isn't there, then what else could you do? Ideally, you should give yourself an entire year to learn the whole series for the level, but that means you have to be very disciplined and organized. I had to do a bit of cramming myself for my last exam, so I made some mistakes on the exam.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/22/15 02:40 PM

The staying relaxed is good advice 8Octaves. I'm conscious of letting my body relax because I have years of tension built into my playing. It's like I want to hang on to it with my mind (which I trust) rather than let my body just feel it and take charge. The slow playing and moving up a tick at a time seems to work for me too. I read that Mozart had to play it correctly 10 times before moving to a new phrase or scale. THAT's discipline for sure.

SwissMS...the Beethoven is there. You'll let it happen. How exciting to have it go so well at your teacher's place. I always figure if I can play it relaxed for my teacher it's easy every place else.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/23/15 03:23 PM

Everyone's talking about ABRSM or RCM here. Is anyone doing or have done AMEB?
Posted By: DorianGrey

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/15 09:08 AM

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Everyone's talking about ABRSM or RCM here. Is anyone doing or have done AMEB?

Agreed. I wouldn't mind taking one or two of my remaining ones. I'd be interested to see how the syllabus' differ.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/15 12:08 PM

What is the AMEB and how is it different? I chose RCM because exams were possible in my area.
Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/15 05:44 PM

AMEB: Australian Music Examinations Board.

Originally Posted by DorianGrey
I'd be interested to see how the syllabus' differ.

Me too, just out of curiosity, but their syllabus is not free like the others. Such a closed approach in 2015, how outdated. It's just a freaking syllabus for Pete's sake! Way to arouse people's interest in your exams by asking for money just to see the requirements.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/15 10:37 PM

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
AMEB: Australian Music Examinations Board.

Originally Posted by DorianGrey
I'd be interested to see how the syllabus' differ.

Me too, just out of curiosity, but their syllabus is not free like the others. Such a closed approach in 2015, how outdated. It's just a freaking syllabus for Pete's sake! Way to arouse people's interest in your exams by asking for money just to see the requirements.


I must say I am very disappointed with AMEB charging for the syllabus. They already have it in PDF now (finally caught up to the 21st century) and they still charge for it. It's just ridiculous!

I have taken 2 ABRSM exams long before, up to grade 5 in the early 90s. I'm now preparing grade 8 for AMEB after recommencing piano lessons several years ago. In terms of levels, they are very similar. Preliminary, Grade 1 to 8, Certificate (new), Associate, Licentiate and Fellowship.

The exam structure is also very similar. Candidates are to present pieces, technical works, aural tests and sight reading. In more details for graded levels:

PIECES:
Present 4 pieces chosen from 4 rather long list of pieces, grouped more or less into periods (baroque, classical, romantic/impressionist, contemporary). 2 extra pieces of similar grade level or higher may be asked by the examiner to be presented whole or part (exempted for grade 8 and above). For general knowledge, examiner will ask a number of questions relating to any of the 4 pieces and/or its composer/period.

TECHNICAL WORKS:
Compared to ABRSM, technical works generally has more elements in less keys required. For instance, candidates are asked to present scales in octave, minor 3rd and major 6th, and with dynamics (crescendo going up and decrescendo going down, p or f).

OTHERS:
Sight reading and aural tests I presume are more or less then same.


As for the results, they are not marked with scores like ABRSM. The examiner provides a general comments on each of the exam elements and award overall from D- (failed miserably) to A+ (high distinction). Candidates get their report within days following the exam. The certificate takes a few weeks.

To obtain the certificate, candidates also have to pass a certain level of theory exam, similar to ABRSM.

Here's a sample report of my AMEB Grade 8 violin exam in 2008:

[Linked Image]
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/26/15 10:48 AM

Looks like you did it well Tubbie. Perhaps the biggest achievement is preparing and performing such an intense program of music and technical skills. It would be so easy to slack off on the technical skills.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/26/15 11:59 AM

Great job, Tubbie!

The ABRSM marking slips are very similar, except they do give a numerical value to each item. I think I like the AMEB approach better in some ways. It is emotional hard to get a 119 or 129, one point off of a merit or distinction on ABRSM. The letter grades would be easier to take. On the other hand, having a score for each area is useful. It is not like the scoring is a precise science, though. I think on the pieces things can be highly subjective.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/27/15 12:41 AM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
Great job, Tubbie!

The ABRSM marking slips are very similar, except they do give a numerical value to each item. I think I like the AMEB approach better in some ways. It is emotional hard to get a 119 or 129, one point off of a merit or distinction on ABRSM. The letter grades would be easier to take. On the other hand, having a score for each area is useful. It is not like the scoring is a precise science, though. I think on the pieces things can be highly subjective.


I have had 2 ABRSM piano exams long time ago, grades 3 and 5. I actually prefer the points so I get to compare my performance of each piece presented during the exam. I suppose I was lucky to not get a mark like 99, 119 or 129 (I ended up with 138 for both exams). I did an AMEB theory exam and got awarded 1 mark away from distinction. So I know how it feels! Argh!

Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/27/15 12:51 AM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Looks like you did it well Tubbie. Perhaps the biggest achievement is preparing and performing such an intense program of music and technical skills. It would be so easy to slack off on the technical skills.


I was frustrated to be so close to an 'A' but not get there. I wished I performed my Etude better than I did during the exam, and I know I could. I think that would have push my grade to an 'A' from 'B+'. It was the last piece I performed and I suppose lost concentration. Overall, I'm still please to have passed grade 8 violin, which was a big achievement for me. I took 2 years to prepare for it after grade 7.

In 2 months I will be sitting for my first piano exam under AMEB at grade 8, or my first piano exam after ABRSM exam in over 20 years! I'm so nervous!
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/27/15 02:20 AM

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
In 2 months I will be sitting for my first piano exam under AMEB at grade 8, or my first piano exam after ABRSM exam in over 20 years! I'm so nervous!


Hey good luck! Get lots of sleep the night before.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/27/15 06:11 AM

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
In 2 months I will be sitting for my first piano exam under AMEB at grade 8, or my first piano exam after ABRSM exam in over 20 years! I'm so nervous!


Hey good luck! Get lots of sleep the night before.


I still haven't got my exam date and time yet, but once I do, I'm taking 1.5 weeks off and do nothing but practice, rest, practice, eat, practice, shower, practice, sleep!

As for sleeping, it's easier said than done before the exam day. But I agree, plenty of sleep is certainly extremely important!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/27/15 06:41 AM

Grade 8 AMEB will be a huge achievement, Tubbie0075! I am sure you will do great! I do know what you mean about not sleeping before the exam. I am the same. Then, after the exam I lie awake trying to figure out what my score will be- a pointless exercise. It can be a month or more before we get the results here in Switzerland. They will not release them until the examiner has left the country grin. By the way, I ended up with one point away from a distinction on the grade 5 theory also. Oh well.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/30/15 12:41 PM

The theory book and ear training books for RCM level 6 arrived and I've started them. I have no demanding time frame on this exam. I just want to be fluent in music and theory is the language. I found the level 5 exam to be very stressful...not because of the examiners but because of the uncertainty of the process and the fact that I'd never had an evaluator listen to me play on demand. I'd like to move beyond the anxiety of playing in such situations and feel a confidence about my knowledge. A distinction may not be in my future but doing well may have to be defined as something like strong preparation, musicality and knowing the chord they're asking for. I'm only doing this for me so I get to set my rules.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/30/15 06:21 PM

Regarding ear training and sight-reading, the exam is easier than the exercises at the end of the book. If you are able to nail the exercises at the end of the book first time through, you have nothing to worry about on exam day.

I would caution trying to repeat too much ear training and sight-reading exercises over and over. Doing that gives you a false sense of accomplishment. If you cannot nail the exercises on first attempt or even second, I would go back down to the ear training and sight-reading book for level 5 or back down to whatever level it takes that you could nail the exercises on first attempt than work yourself slowly back up to level 6.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/30/15 08:57 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
The theory book and ear training books for RCM level 6 arrived and I've started them. I have no demanding time frame on this exam. I just want to be fluent in music and theory is the language. I found the level 5 exam to be very stressful...not because of the examiners but because of the uncertainty of the process and the fact that I'd never had an evaluator listen to me play on demand. I'd like to move beyond the anxiety of playing in such situations and feel a confidence about my knowledge. A distinction may not be in my future but doing well may have to be defined as something like strong preparation, musicality and knowing the chord they're asking for. I'm only doing this for me so I get to set my rules.


I struggle with aural test and sight-reading as well. Though, I find a certain steps very useful in preparation:

Recognising triads and its positions: It is rather easy to distinguish whether a triad is major or minor. It is not so easy to identify its position. For this, I pick a song that I know well. For example, minor in root position, I think of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The piece starts with the dominant note of a minor key, then tonic, supertonic, median and subdominant. For major in root position, I think of Bach's minuet in G. It has the same sequence of notes but in major key. First inversion for major and minor keys are easy to identify because the tonic is at the top of the triad. For 2nd inversion minor, I think of the opening of Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto. The second note is the median and etc. I do the same to help me recognise cadences, by using pieces I know well.

For sight-reading, I start with grade 1 and work my way all to grade 8. I'm now rather ok around grade 6 and 7. I only do this once every 3 or 4 weeks because I don't want to get too familiar with the music. The first thing I do in sight-reading before attempting it is to study the piece:

1) identify they key signature
2) study the rhythm for both hands (hum it quietly or gently tap my foot if I have to)
3) study the first 2 bars and the last 2 bars (at least if I make mistakes, I'm assured that I start well and end well).
4) identify the highest and lowest notes
5) look for the tricky bits and be prepared for it (modulation, large intervals, chords etc.)
6) decide on a tempo I am comfortable with

If I do the above in 1 minute before I attempt, I usually do a better job than just play. So I make sure I practice doing the above steps every time I attempt to sight-read.


Good luck!

Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/31/15 06:27 PM

Hi SwissMS

You mentioned that you use Paul Harris and ABRSM join the dot for sight reading. I am using Paul Harris as well. But I don't have join the dot. Are the music in there the same as grade 5 sight reading test book? If the music are different, then I might also want to order join the dot to have more exercise.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/01/15 04:53 AM

ABRSM's Join the Dots is different from the Sight Reading Specimen book. Join the Dots is arranged by keys and the relative minors. The pieces are longer and increasingly more difficult. It also has a section of improvisation in each key. I really liked the books.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/01/15 02:52 PM

Thank you!
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/02/15 12:37 AM

SwissMS:

Do we have to memorize the pieces we play for the examiner? Is there extra points if memorized?
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/02/15 10:56 AM

pianofan1017 - No, for ABRSM you do not have to memorise pieces, and there is no "extra credit" if you do. That said, I generally do memorise the pieces both HS and HT, just to be sure I am secure. In the exam I do play with the sheet music.

My preparation in coming along. The entry has to be submitted before September 18, and my teacher thinks I am on track for that. All the technical work is getting pretty comfortable now. My scales are up to speed, and I am starting to do them in random order. I have a bowl filled with slips with all of the scales. I choose 12 each day to play scales and arpeggios. Sometimes the melodic minors will still take a moment of thought, but I am getting there.

My Classical era piece, Beethoven Sonata in Bb major Minuet and Trio, is starting to flow better, but it is still my biggest challenge. It will get there.

I ended up getting caught unprepared at my last lesson. Teacher asked for "Over the Rainbow" and I had not played it in over a week. As a result, I had a lot of memory lapses. I have played it without the music so long, it was hard to get back on the page. So, this week I have spent a lot of time on that. Erste Schmerz, my romantic era piece, is getting close.

I really bombed the sight singing with accompaniment at my last lesson. The rest of the Aural is fine, but this is quite difficult for me. It took three tries to get it right. I will be spending a lot of time on this in the next 2 1/2 months. Sight reading is also marginal, but it is improving. I use the Wessar iPad app, and I can easily do the grade 5, but some of the grade 6's are really challenging. So, this is gong to get a lot of focus as well.

How is everyone else coming along on their prep?
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/03/15 12:33 PM

Sounds like you're in good shape SwissMS. Tell me more about the sight singing you must do. We had to do that in the music theory class I took on campus and it was indeed challenging.

I won't be ready for some time now and have not given myself a test date. The technical skills need a lot of work since I haven't focused on them in a couple of years. Smart pianists never let them go for two years I'm sure. My scales are coming along but not up to speed yet (60 bpm with 16th notes). The 7th chords are still very slow as I try to build in the correct fingering. The chromatic scales are not too bad. Lot's of patience and consistency is needed. I'm not working intensely on my etudes or repertoire because we have a piano party at my teacher's coming up and I have a solo and a duet to have ready. Plus the rendition of Stardust for PW.

Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/06/15 08:05 PM

I'm not taking any exams but I guess this tread is a good place for my question. I'm using the RCM Level 1 materials for the "40-piece challenge" but for some of them the tempo seems way to fast for this level. For instance, Hopscotch requires eighth-notes at 160 and has some hands crossing too. Compared to some of the others at this level this looks hard. Are you really required to follow the specified tempo of these pieces?
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 01:23 AM

I know. It seems fast, right, but it's actually 80 for the quarter note, and not that fast. 120 would be too fast. RCM is pretty careful with what they specify as the tempo, and for the exam, you do have to play within the range or you will lose points. Too fast is bad too.

Don't feel you have to reach the specified tempo right away. This is an etude. That means you are expected to play it well taking quite a bit of time to work up to tempo, maybe a month or longer.

Typically RCM shows a range like "Moderato quarter = 69-76". For your 40-piece challenge, if you reach the lower tempo in the range, I think that's good enough.
Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 06:06 AM

It wouldn't be too bad at 80 but I checked it again and it says "Lively <quarter note> = 160-168". So eighth notes would be twice that, which is way too fast for me. I'm starting to think it's a mistake.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 08:06 AM

It isn't necessarily a mistake. RCM occasionally have some really fast stuff. Don't try to push beyond your limit. It's not good for you. This may not be a good choice for 40 piece project unless your actual playing ability is level 4 or more.
Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 09:17 AM

OK, thanks. I'll probably choose a different one.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 09:57 AM

It's reality now. No turning back. Face up to the challenge!

[Linked Image]
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 11:55 AM

Exciting Tubbie0075! Level 8 is way up there in competence. What repertoire pieces are you doing?
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/07/15 08:17 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Exciting Tubbie0075! Level 8 is way up there in competence. What repertoire pieces are you doing?


My exam pieces are:

[Linked Image]
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/09/15 02:31 PM

I just got email from ABRSM contact person. My grade 5 exam will be in the timeframe of December 3 to 10. I don't know the specific date and time yet. Currently, I have memorized all the scales, I am doing the same thing SwissMS does for random scale playing everyday. I have already memorized all my pieces as well. Two of the pieces I still have to work on some more to polish it. The other piece I happen to have used it for the guild exam in the summer of this year. So, not too much problem there. Aural training is coming along. The only part giving me lots of trouble is to identify times. My accuracy is very low there. Sometimes I can't even tell 3 times from others, not just the difference between 2 time and 4 time. Sight reading is difficult. Since this is my first ABRSM exam other than theory exam and I have never pay to much attention in this part before, my teacher decide for me to work my way up from grade one level sight reading. So far, I have completed grade 1 to 3 easily. Now I am working towards grade 4 and 5 at the same time. I have to say it does help. If I can do grade 5 well this December, I am planning on taking grade 6 in June.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/10/15 10:22 AM

Wow pianofan, that is ambitious to do two exams in a year. Good for you.

I just finished the Coursera music theory class and while I learned from the course, it did not move me much toward the RCM theory exam syllabus. The final exam was an analysis of a piece of music and far more difficult than the basic descriptions and definitions in the course. Maybe analyzing music is not for me.

I have 10 scales for the RCM level 6 and they are coming along. I've had to retrain my left hand and it's not solidly retrained yet but moving more fluidly. The tonic chord is coming along and the dominant 7th fingering is better. Each step is physical training that I wish I'd done 20 years ago.

I've been working so hard for my teacher's piano party that not much has been done on my Level 6 pieces. Next week I'll get back to them and hopefully be ready to test next spring.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/12/15 11:34 AM

Pianofan1017 - My exam will be about the same time as yours. I do not know the date yet, but it will be the last week of November or the 1st week of December. Everything is coming along nicely, but I still have some polishing to do on the Beethoven Trio and Minuet. I am pretty confident on the other two.

As far as the aural goes, I have problems with meter as well, especially of modern pieces. Sometimes it is really difficult to discern. The AuralBook app has really helped me. The hardest part of the Grade 6 is sight singing with accompaniment. That app has really given me more confidence.

Sight reading is getting better, but is still weaker than I would like. For ABRSM, they give you 30 seconds to look at the music, and then you must start. At grade 6 they add 5/8 and 9/8 time, switch staffs during a piece, the piece can be in any key, we have to be able to play two voiced inventions, ragtime, lots of ledger lines, EEK! Using that 30 seconds to find all of the traps is a challenge, but I am getting more confident.

I find I do not really know how well I am doing until I play the pieces back to back in a lesson. That is pressure. All the weaknesses come out. My teacher will start mock exams soon. Those are fun (not). He plays judge and makes no comments, does not smile, gives nothing away. We do technical, the pieces, then sight reading and finally the Aural. It really helps me find my weaknesses. At grade 6 the pieces are all 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes long, which in the scheme of things is not that long. Playing them back to back is really good practice I think. Switching moods between them is not always easy.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/15/15 11:34 AM

Short progress report. The dominant 7th chords are getting better and I can play all 12 required keys for Level 6 RCM. Now that my teacher's piano party is done, I can work on my repertoire and etudes too.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/24/15 10:25 AM

Do you all take breaks from preparing your pieces for exam? I've reached a low point of energy for playing some of them. Maybe I'll play other pieces for a bit.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/24/15 04:21 PM

I don't begin practicing my exam pieces until maybe 2 months before the exam, and from that point on, no breaks, practice up to the final minute. When I begin practicing my exam pieces, I don't play anything else. I also play them for my teacher exclusively every lesson (without using music of course) until exam day.

For the RCM 6, I probably will pick my exam pieces in late March. Right now, I'm just going through the books learning as many to my teacher's satisfaction as possible. My target is to learn 20-25 pieces before I start focusing the handful to represent my level ability.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/24/15 04:35 PM

I was talking to my teacher about memorization and the topic of exams came up. I said I may try using the music this time even if I have it memorized, perhaps as a safety net. She said some of her students who felt really nervous she had allowed them to use their music at the exam, and she said that examiners had often awarded them 0.5 or 1.0 point per piece depending on how much they used the music. That means points for memory is not all or nothing. You don't have to lose all 2 memory points for having the music on the piano. So glad she told me that.

Thought you guys might want to know that too. smile
Posted By: AmandaH

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/25/15 03:07 AM

I will be having my first piano exam in January and theory in December. I have until November to sign up for my exam, and my teacher and I are just trying to decide where to start out. I have the RCM level 1 books, and within a day I could mash out and play the song until the end, roughly around the bpm it needed to be. dynamics weren't great, but I could still play it. So she might be leaning towards pushing to my level 2 exam in January instead of level 1?

I'm interested to know though....


Am I going to be doing my exam around little kids or are the rooms like...secluded or other people watching? love kids and all, but It is going to go one of two ways.... I'\m going to feel beaten by the kids because they are better than me...or they might feel discouraged that I did better because I was older...and all the glaring looks from parents of course....

Needless to say I am quote excited. I can already play some of the repertoire songs and an etude.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/25/15 03:51 AM

Originally Posted by AmandaH
Am I going to be doing my exam around little kids or are the rooms like...secluded or other people watching? love kids and all, but It is going to go one of two ways.... I'\m going to feel beaten by the kids because they are better than me...or they might feel discouraged that I did better because I was older...and all the glaring looks from parents of course....


You'll be in a waiting area full of parents and kids. When you play, it should be a relatively quiet room with just you and the adjudicator. It is a private concert for him / her. The parents, significant other, and family members, or even the teacher are not allowed to attend regardless of the candidate's age. Imagine the 6-year-old child braving the adjudicator all on his or her own while mom and dad wait anxiously outside.

When you take the theory exam, you will be writing the exam among children in the same room. I am often asked where is my child when I show up for my exams.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/25/15 07:36 AM

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves


When you take the theory exam, you will be writing the exam among children in the same room. I am often asked where is my child when I show up for my exams.


I had similar experience. I went for a theory exam with a whole bunch of kids and parents waiting outside. When the time came for the candidates to go into the exam hall, one of the staff there asked if I was the parent of one of the kids.

I went in there and tried to finish the exam as quickly as I could because I felt a bit embarrassed. I should have used the remaining 1.5 hours to check my answers because I was 1 point away from getting a distinction because I made some really silly mistakes!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/25/15 09:39 AM

8Octaves. I like your strategy of learning multiple pieces. However, Bach has been tough for me so not sure how many Baroque I can get down.

Amanda, my experience too seemed to be all young children but the exam people were very professional and did not make any issue out of age. The adjudicator was kind about my nervousness. However the piano was on a raised platform and the two adjudicators were lower in the dark making it a rather intimidating scene. Suggest you play in multiple locations for different audiences as a preparation.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/25/15 05:33 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
8Octaves. I like your strategy of learning multiple pieces. However, Bach has been tough for me so not sure how many Baroque I can get down.


If you have trouble with Bach, perhaps you could keep playing the Bach and put the others away until 8 to 12 weeks before the exam given that they were completely learned to your teacher's satisfaction. This may give you back time to learn new pieces and keep your energy up. However, if you learn only one baroque piece for an entire level, there is some long term problems.

If you feel Bach from RCM 6 is hard, how would you feel about Bach from RCM 7 or 8? The only way to really solve this problem is, in fact, by learning every single Bach / baroque thing in RCM 6; there are only 7 of them. Then when you get to RCM 7, you feel a gentler slope up in difficulty instead of a massive climb. If you find the idea of learning every piece of Bach in RCM 6 horrifying, then did you not learn most if not all the Bach pieces in RCM 3, 4, and 5? It never hurts to go back and do some remedial work in a specific area. Pick a level of Bach that doesn't feel hard and move up from there learning as many pieces as possible.

For those of us elected to do the exams, these are the little things the exams exposes which other adults may not have to deal with. Ultimately, if we work really hard to address our weaknesses, it allows us to advance where others become stuck. The way I feel about exams at our age is that they are tools more than achievements. Especially when the exam is completely optional.

I do feel that if we haven't learned at least 20-25 pieces from a level, we should just hold off on the exam. The other strategy is to take the exam then continue the same level until your teacher feels you're ready for the next level, but this upside down strategy feels more something you would do in school, to achieve something for the sake of it. I think we're all beyond that now. Also, I believe we should not skip a single piece from the etude book. My experience has been that skipping etudes makes the next level much harder.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/06/15 10:11 PM

Wonder how is everyone doing? Well, my preparation goes well. Right now, I am just mainly focus on sight reading and aural training listen to the meter exercises. My scales and appeggios are good. (Hopefully I spelled right) Basically, every lesson my teacher just picks on something out of the book for me to play. My teacher thinks all my pieces are ready. Now, I kind of regret that I signed up for grade 5. My playing level is really grade 6, just because I thought the sight reading and listening are a bit hard. That's why I went for grade 5. But anyways, I am getting bored playing the exam pieces over and over again. There is still two months til the exam. I am going to take a little break and play other pieces now and will use one day out of the whole week to play these again and try to maintain it until December. In the mean time, I am actually started learning grade 6 exam pieces.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/06/15 10:50 PM

How's your memory on the pieces? Can you play from any measure to the end or almost any measure in the middle of the music to the end? If you can, then you're prepared, and yup, probably not a bad idea to just play them on the weekends or something and start learning RCM 6. Hey, good luck in two months!

I began RCM 6 last year, but made very little progress. I have lots of excuses! grin This year, I'm changing my practicing approach. I hope to make more progress and finish this year with the exam.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/07/15 05:39 AM

I am taking ABRSM, so no memorization required. But, I have already memorized it. One of the three exam pieces I used it for the guild exam in the summer. So, I have been played that one for almost a year. Really, only two pieces I have been playing since summer after the guild exam.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/07/15 05:50 AM

Ah, I could see why you would get bored. I would too for something I've play for so long. Lucky you get to use the music without losing any points!
Posted By: nicolini

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/27/15 07:10 PM

Hi, I am pleased to see such a helpful exam forum. I have been having trouble staying logged in recently, but hopefully now it seems to have gone back to staying in.
My question, is there a helpful site that can help with getting practice on time signatures, like 2 time, 3, time 4, time and even 6 time ? I don't need 6 time at the moment but I would like to see how it goes.
I shall be entering grade 1 exam in November and it is the timing that worries me, my sight reading is not too bad, but need to keep on practicing and improving with that. Scales and broken chords are ok.
Will it matter a great deal if I don't get all they dynamics right in the 1st, Grade? Or will they deduct points?


.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/27/15 07:34 PM

No one likes to count out loud, and I didn't either at first. It feels goofy. However, it is critical to be able to count out loud while you are playing. It may not seem important at the moment, but you will pay for it the longer you don't master this basic skill. Following a metronome is a separate important skill. It does not replace the importance of counting out loud by yourself.

In the future, you will encounter music that no metronome could follow, and counting out loud is the only way to play correctly.

Not sure if you're doing ABRSM or RCM, but in RCM level 1, there is a piece called 'Time Travel' and it is specifically designed for students to learn to count as the pieces goes from 4/4 to 3/4 to 2/4 to 4/4 time (I think even 1/4) on the same page. It's fun as well.

At the moment, all the 6 times you will encounter is likely 6/8 time. You should count those as if there are 2 beats per measure, playing 3 eighth notes per pulse.

You don't need a website. Simply count all your sight-reading exercises while you're a the piano. With some persistence, you'll have it. You do have sight-reading exercises for your exam right?
Posted By: nicolini

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/27/15 07:45 PM

Thank you very much, 8 Octaves.
I am doing ABRSM and have all the Grade 1 books, I practice the site reading from the book and clap the rhythm sometimes. But it is when I come to listen when my music tutor plays a piece that I can get the pulse wrong. Weird I know.
I haven't heard of 'Time Travel' it sounds very good.

I was also wondering about if I don't get all the dynamics exactly right in my exam, will I lose points?

Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/27/15 10:05 PM

Originally Posted by nicolini
I was also wondering about if I don't get all the dynamics exactly right in my exam, will I lose points?


You won't lose so much. Hint: the examiners are instructed to go easy on grade 1 & 2 candidates. At this level, the expectation is that you play the right notes with the right rhythm. Dynamics at grade 1 is a bonus at this point. Starting from grade level 3, there is an expectation on clear dynamics. By grade level 5, the beginnings of interpretive skills should be demonstrated in your playing. This is what I was told by the examination board in a seminar for parents. I benefit from being invited to attend as a parent then turn around and use the information as a student (but also as a parent).
Posted By: TheKing

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/28/15 04:48 PM

I'm glad to see this thread! I started learning piano about 7 months ago as an adult beginner and just finished my ABRSM grade 2 theory exams last September and waiting for the results! I was originally planning on taking up grade 2 exams next February / March 2016 however my teacher has moved me up a grade and now I am planning to take grade 4 theory next April 2016 followed by ABRSM grade 3 practical next July / August 2016. I just started practicing grade 3 scales from this week! I have quite a bit of time to go, but will be following this thread for motivation!
Posted By: grace_note

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/28/15 04:58 PM

Originally Posted by nicolini
Thank you very much, 8 Octaves.
I am doing ABRSM and have all the Grade 1 books, I practice the site reading from the book and clap the rhythm sometimes. But it is when I come to listen when my music tutor plays a piece that I can get the pulse wrong. Weird I know.
I haven't heard of 'Time Travel' it sounds very good.

I was also wondering about if I don't get all the dynamics exactly right in my exam, will I lose points?


I'm in RCM Level 1 now, and I do well on pretty much everything except being able to tell if a melody is in 3/4 or 4/4 time. Sometimes they play 2 measures, sometimes 3, and in that short time I can't get a sense of the pulse. If you buy Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests for Level 1, you can use the code in the back of the book to go to RCM website and use their free Aural tools. It's starting to help.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/01/15 05:26 PM

Greetings all,
My mom died two weeks ago and although I've played the piano in the mornings as a way of coping with the process and the loss, I haven't attended to preparing for my RCM level 6. Time to start anew.

Question for you. On the broken chords (I chord), should those be played as a triplet at 80 or as 1/8 notes? If it is triplets I'm worried that I can't move at that speed.

Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/01/15 07:25 PM

WiseBuff, so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you're able to find solace in your piano, and heal over time, perhaps even dedicate the RCM 6 achievement to her.

Yes, you should play the broken chord and its inversions as triplets at 80, legato without break/rest to the end where you play the perfect cadence (V-I).
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/01/15 07:44 PM

Thank you 8 Octaves. I appreciate the info.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/01/15 09:15 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff

Question for you. On the broken chords (I chord), should those be played as a triplet at 80 or as 1/8 notes? If it is triplets I'm worried that I can't move at that speed.



My condolences for the passing of your mom. May she rest in peace.

With regards to arpeggios (I assume that's what you're having issues), Edna Golansky has a really good video for it.



In the video, she demonstrated the following techniques to play arpeggios:
1. Rotation
2. In and Out
3. Shaping

What you have to remember when practising using the above techniques are:

1. Your hand shape maintains (fingers never stretched of curved). Look at Edna's hand. They almost always look in one shape! It's the forearm that gets your where you want to go. Not your fingers.

2. Your wrist never drop too low. If it does, the shape of your hand would "break".

3. a lot of the movements come from the forearm, especially when you practice slow. All the techniques (rotation, in and out, shaping comes from the forearm). Only when you start to speed it up that you make your fingers come more alive.

4. I find it very helpful that when you start to practise these techniques, forget about joining the thumb. Once you get the hang of your forearm doing all the things correctly and you can play arpeggios relatively fast, then start to gradually join the notes with the thumb. As you join more of the thumb, check that all your other techniques are in place.

When you practise without joining the thumb in the beginning, it will look like this (not at this speed of course), and it's ok! It frees your hand to do and feel all the other techniques correctly. See video of Valentina's thumb, hardly bent inward to try to join the notes.




Once you get it right, playing arpeggios fast feels incredible! Your arm, hand and fingers feel such unity and flow it's effortless (not relaxed but not tensed).

Here's another example video from Edna:




All the best with your exam preparation!



Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/15 01:12 PM

I have not reported in a while, so I thought I would bring things up to date. There have been some changes in my life that have thrown the ABRSM grade 6 out the window for me. I decided in August to make some major changes in my life, and my piano goals will have to wait. I am relocating to another Kanton (region) of Switzerland, and have been spending a couple of days each week in southern Switzerland, evaluating potential house choices and making sure I want to live there. I have given notice on our apartment, and will move to the Italian region of Switzerland in the next couple of months. My first focus once I am there will be learning yet another language! So piano will be there when I get back to it. In the meantime I am playing when I can and just enjoying my time at the piano without pressure. At this point it really is about enjoying the journey!
Posted By: sinophilia

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/15 01:55 PM

Learning Italian from the Swiss, now that will be a challenge grin

Good luck with your life changes!
Posted By: malkin

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/15 02:13 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
... the Italian region of Switzerland...


Beautiful!!
Posted By: jotur

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/15 03:01 PM

SwissMS, what an adventure! It will be great to have piano as a "celebration" activity, there to sit down and play at the end of another day of new things/places/activities conquered. Have wonderful time!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/15 04:35 PM

Big news SwissMs! I wish you the very best with your move, and I think you are 100% right to put the exam on hold until circumstances are right. Much better to have piano as a relaxing and fulfilling refuge for the moment.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/15 04:45 PM

SwissMS good luck to your move. It will definitely be a new adventure. Sounds exciting!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/06/15 12:00 PM

Best of luck to you SwissMS. Send us pictures when you have them and you will be in my mind.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/06/15 03:56 PM

Originally Posted by sinophilia
Learning Italian from the Swiss, now that will be a challenge grin

Good luck with your life changes!


That's all right. My German teacher was Italian. grin


Thanks for the good wishes everyone. Once I get settled, I will post pictures. The house we are looking at has a nice study that just screams "make me a piano studio!".
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/25/15 05:36 PM

Well, my ABRSM grade 5 exam is approaching after Thanksgiving holidays. The exam will be on December 4th. I had three mock exam with my teacher. She thinks I am well prepared. I should pass with no issue. As far as whether I can get merit or distinction, that is another story. Originally, I plan on trying grade 6 in the summer of 2016 since I am more like at grade 6 level now. But, my work will be somewhat busy after December so I will have less time practing. Thus, I plan on taking my grade 6 on December 2016, after that I plan on taking a year break from exam but continue practice and skip grade 7 and take grade 8 in 2018. Wish me luck!
Posted By: AmandaH

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/25/15 06:26 PM

I hear a lot of people skip grade seven. Do a lot of people do that. What's the reason?
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/25/15 06:51 PM

Good luck on your exams. I am jealous that you learn so quickly and could blast through one grade level a year. It seems it takes me at least two years to finish learning the materials for one grade level.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/29/15 01:57 PM

Two years is standard for me too. Wish I had more talent but I'll accept that I have a love and passion for improving my piano ability. Perseverance is a good trait too. I do wish I'd have done more of the technical exercises when I started playing many years ago. I'm finding it challenging to move the four note chords at the requisite speed. I am better than I was a month ago so I'll be ready when I'm ready...maybe end of next year for level 6.
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/29/15 08:00 PM

One year ago my teacher asked me if I was interested in taking exams (ABRSM); I said no, I play for my own enjoyment and I don't need the stressful process of preparing for exams.
One year later, I'm kind of reconsidering my position: an exam path give a structured approach not only to technique and repertoire, but also to other aspect of musicianship, like sight reading and ear training. One year ago my sight reading was awful, and my aural capacity close to non-existent.
So I reconsidered my teacher's proposal and I'm thinking of taking exams. Not immediately, because I need to work on my weaknesses for a while. ABRSM 5 could be my target: I have no problem with the technical stuff and the pieces are within my grasp, BUT I need a lot of time before I'm ready for the other parts of the exam.

I'm working on my sight-reading almost daily, and one week ago a sort of quantic leap happened: before, it was a pain trying to read new music, and I felt hopeless because no signal of improvement was visible; then, at once, I started to have fun, really fun, because I started to make music (sort of) sight reading very easy stuff. It's been exhilarating! And two days ago I started learning a new piece and I found it much easier to decipher the score smile

My ear-training ability are still zero, and I'm not able to sing a single note, but I have not started yet to work on it; practice time is scarce, and I don't want stopping learning pieces because I'm doing both sight reading and ear training, so i choose to work in series and not in parallel.

In the meantime, I just started preparing ABRSM Theory 5, as a good foundation in theory and a also a mean to approach exams in a less stressful way.
The date in in March, and I have time till the begin of January to enroll... Not really much time to decide, but at the moment I'm confident I can do it.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/29/15 10:51 PM

For sight singing, since they are going to play the chord first and give you the tonic note. Just think of each tonic note as Do. Then look at the other note whether it is Mi or Re or Fa. This way, it will be much easier to sing out with less mistake of the pitch. At least this is how I am approaching it.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/15 04:36 PM

torquenale, the sight singing at grade five is just intervals, so it is not too difficult. I am sure you will do well.

Grade 5 is really a great base I think, and well worth the effort. I found the pieces easy, but the other aspects of the test were all new to me. It took a lot of work to bring the technical, sight reading, and aural up to level. My teacher felt that the sight reading is really too difficult for the level, but it is what it is. The key to passing is correct rhythm and no hesitations. Correct notes are less important.

I am not sure what to do regarding my exam process. I was close to ready for ABRSM 6, and then life got in the way. We were very busy in September and October, and then we moved to a new townhouse. After that I received a call from my brother saying my mother had been hospitalized and was in critical condition. So I flew to the US to be with her. She recovered well, and is home now, but I will be staying in the US for a couple of weeks until she gets her strength back.

When I return to Switzerland, I probably will just start working on grade 7. It makes no sense to keep working on the the same things for another six months. My teacher felt I was in good shape for the exam in September, so I feel like I gained what I needed at this level. I want to keep advancing.

Fortunately I do have a piano here, a Kawai, a CA65 digital. I brought some music so I can keep on playing!
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/15 06:43 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
When I return to Switzerland, I probably will just start working on grade 7. It makes no sense to keep working on the the same things for another six months. My teacher felt I was in good shape for the exam in September, so I feel like I gained what I needed at this level. I want to keep advancing.


I agree with you on advancing instead of fixating on passing a certain level. The exams are really there to keep us honest, a sort of external commitment device. Those of us having sat for the exams know the difference between preparing to score well and just following the syllabus generally without the intention of taking the exam. At some point, you'll have to face the grade 8 exam. No need to spend additional months for a grade 6 cert if you actually covered it with the effort in crushing the exam. As long as all your written exams are done, you're in good shape.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/15 07:30 PM

Hi SwissMS,

I would say the same thing to move on to grade 7 after you return. I am just curious do you get a refund or voucher maybe for the grade 6 exam that you already registered?
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/15 07:33 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
torquenale, the sight singing at grade five is just intervals, so it is not too difficult. I am sure you will do well.

Thanks for your kind words, but you are overestimating my capacity here smile
I'm not able to sing intervals and when I know that somebody is hearing me is even worse. Sort of stage fright, but much much worse!

I'll take my time, first theory and then I'll start with singing. I don't have a deadline.

And, best wishes for your mother's health!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/01/15 11:14 AM

SwissMs, best wishes to your mother for a full and speedy recovery.
I think you are completely right in your plan to move on to Grade 7. You've done the work, you were ready for the exam. It's a bit annoying not to get the external validation I'm sure, but there is nothing to be gained by waiting for the next sitting.

Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/01/15 12:44 PM

SwissMS
Sending prayers for your mother and for you. I hope you have a piano for relaxation while you're here in the U.S. I agree that the exams are a roadmap for acquiring skills and attending to development in a way that builds. Moving on to LEvel 7 certainly makes sense, you were READY for Level 6 so in the adult learner model, it's the same as a pass.

Torquenale, there are some online sites that help you with ear training and some books/tapes that train your ear. They've helped me a great deal and I probably need to get back to them. I've been enjoying (some days struggling) to move four note chords up to required tempo. Yesterday felt like a breakthrough and they are feeling more comfortable.
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/01/15 07:22 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Torquenale, there are some online sites that help you with ear training and some books/tapes that train your ear. They've helped me a great deal and I probably need to get back to them.

Thanks for the suggestion. I already have an android app for that, I just need to start using it smile
I think I'll start working on aural training with my teacher after the theory exam...
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/04/15 06:03 AM

My exam will be in another nine hours. Going to sleep and hope for the best.
Posted By: Valencia

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/04/15 03:48 PM

Good luck pianofan1017!!
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/04/15 04:25 PM

Just got out of the exam. I saw a boy came out crying. I was well prepared but I was so nervous. I messed up the scales and pieces. I hope I can still pass. Now, I am more think like I am going to fail. frown
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/04/15 05:45 PM

The moment I realized when he asked me to play B flat major scale and I played B flat minor instead. Then, nerves got in the way and disaster and mistakes happened one after another. Sigh........ and now the long wait for the results. Oh well, it is what it is. I am still going to enjoy Christmas and the rest of today.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/04/15 06:36 PM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
The moment I realized when he asked me to play B flat major scale and I played B flat minor instead. Then, nerves got in the way and disaster and mistakes happened one after another. Sigh........ and now the long wait for the results. Oh well, it is what it is. I am still going to enjoy Christmas and the rest of today.


Often I think we remember the worst part of the exam, and not the good parts. Nerves always take their toll. I think the examiners can still tell if you are prepared or not and will pass you. My fingers are crossed that you did better than you think! Congratulations for sitting the exam. That, in and of itself is a huge accomplishment!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/04/15 11:25 PM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
Just got out of the exam. I saw a boy came out crying. I was well prepared but I was so nervous. I messed up the scales and pieces. I hope I can still pass. Now, I am more think like I am going to fail. frown


You have done your absolute best in an exam environment and you should be very proud! It is stressful even after the exam as I imagine your mind must be going through the entire exam experience and counting all the mistakes and slips you made.

Well, there is nothing more you can do. So treat and spoil yourself and celebrate for completing the exam. Get your mind off the exam for now. The best way is start focusing on Grade 6 preparation. When the result is out, celebrate again!

Well done and all the best!

Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/17/15 03:14 AM

I just got my grade 5 score back. I barely passed with a 107. I am ok with it worth celebrating. I thought I was going to fail. This is my very first ABRSM practical exam. Now, I know what I should work on more for the next grade. It turns out that I am actually very good at aural section. Before the exam, I was worried about identifying time signatures because I rarely got it right during practice. But I actually got that right in the exam. However, I was wrong with the period of the piece which I have never got it wrong during practice. Weird! Also, before the exam, I have totally given up on my sight reading. I am really bad at it. I thought if I do well in other section even if I fail this section I should be fine. But surprisingly I have passed this section. So I am actually very happy with it. Well, I had prepared the scale and pieces very well. But messed those up due to nerves. So, I did not pass the scale section. Also, one of the piece I did not pass because the examiner thought I played the piece too slow and also I messed up the ending. In summary, for the sections I failed, I only failed those by one point. frown But, overall score passed is what matters. Now, take a short Christmas break and on with preparation for grade 6.
Posted By: Whizbang

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/17/15 07:12 AM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
I just got my grade 5 score back. I barely passed with a 107.\


Congrats. You folks who can put yourself in front of judges and prevail impress me.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/18/15 04:57 AM

Congrats! Good news just in time to celebrate Christmas and New Year!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/18/15 12:10 PM

Well done Pianofan - onwards and upwards!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/19/15 12:15 PM

Congratulations PianoFan. The first exam (I think especially as an adult) is pretty intimidating. AND it's the work for the exam that enhances our skills and the exam is just a milestone marker. Good for you!
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/19/15 02:13 PM

Congratulations Pianofan, well done! Do you mind me asking what pieces you played? I am still looking for a piece for my List D (Australia Music Education Board - AMEB - List D is "contemporary compositions") and struggling to find anything from the syllabus that grabs me.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/19/15 02:36 PM

Hi Cathryn999:

What level of exam you are taking? I did grade 5. My piece were from the required syllabus. I just picked A, B, C from the six listed piece in each category. In my A list, I did Beethoven minute, in my B list, I did To a wild rose by American composer Edward MacDowell; for C list, I did Samba-lele by Brazilian or maybe Cuban composer Hector Villa-Lobos. We don't have D category in ABRSM exam. But i generally like Hector Villa-Lobos pieces. He is the 20th century composer. So, maybe you can watch some of his pieces on YouTube. It is usually dance like and happy festive tune. Hope it helps.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/19/15 10:31 PM

Hi Pianofan, Thanks for the Hector Villa-Lobos tip, Samba-lele is also in my syllabus and a lovely little tune! I'm also doing Grade 5 but AMEB (Australian), it must be different because I'm doing 6 pieces (List A Baroque, List B Classical, List C Romantic, List D Contemporary, plus two "free choice" pieces from the Syllabus). One of the free choice pieces I'm doing is by Bohuslav Martinu, " Columbine Dances" - he's also contemporary and I like his work but sadly it's doesn't make the List D pieces. So I'll give Samba-Lele a go. Thanks again, and happy Christmas!
cheers, Cathryn.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/20/15 09:01 AM

Congratulations on your Grade 5 pass Pianofan! ABRSM 5 is a big milestone.

I also played Samba Lele and Wild Rose when I did grade 5. They are nice pieces! My third piece was the Handel Allemend, which is beautiful, but was the most difficult of the three. For grade six my pieces were Erste Schmerz, Over the Rainbow, and the Beethoven Sonata in Bb Minuet and Trio. I will play the Beethoven for the Feb. Recital. It was a challenge. The others are pretty straight forward.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/31/15 12:29 PM

For those who are study towards exams, whatever level, would you mind sharing what pieces you've chosen? It was really helpful for me to discover Samba Lele (my teacher gave it the thumbs up today), and I think it might be useful to others to know what everyone else is doing.
For me:

GRADE 5 (AMEB Classical)
List A: Bach - Two Part Invention No 14.
List B: Clementi - Sonatina - Opus 36 No 6 First Movement
List C: Schumman - *** (Untitled) - Opus 68 No 30 (from Album for the Young)
List D: Villa-Lobos - Samba Lele (thanks Pianofan!)

Extras List:
Beethoven - Fur Elise (yes I'm afraid so)
Bohuslav - Columbine Dances (from Puppets)

Re Fur Elise, I'm quite surprised this is on the Grade 5 list, I learned it when I was about 8 years old - but as it is on the list and the exam is in May and I've only just decided to do it (having returned to playing in July this year after a 38 year hiatus... long story), Fur Elise is a strategic choice - it will give me more time to focus on the other pieces, and technical and aural work.

So - that's my pieces, what are (or were) yours?
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/31/15 08:33 PM

I generally don't choose pieces way ahead of time. I wait until about 2-3 months before the exam and revive one from each list that I already know. However, I have some ideas which ones I may choose.

List A - de Sexias: Toccata in C minor
List B - Dussek: Sonatina in G major, op. 20, no. 1, 1st mvmt
List C - Schumann: Waltz in A minor, op. 124, no. 4

Etude 1 - Kabalevsky: Toccatina, op. 27. no. 12
Etude 2 - Czerny: Etude in A-flat major, op. 139, no. 51

I believe a list D requirement doesn't show up for me until level 8 and list E requirement around levels 9-10.

Für Elise is level 7 for RCM. My son is learning it right now, so I have the pleasure of listening to it many times everyday. smile In general, I find that RCM is about 1 to 1.5 grade levels easier than ABRSM, so Grade 5 ABRSM = Level 6-7 RCM. Für Elise is one of the easier pieces in RCM 7, but still a bit harder than the Rosetti/Dussek/Kuhlau/Clementi sonatinas in RCM 6.

I used to hate Für Elise, but having heard my son play, I'm thinking it's actually pretty good, so I'll learn it too when the time comes after I finish RCM 6. My son recently crushed the RCM 6 exam with a 90, so he's ready for Für Elise. He's 12 now, so I think you were quite talented to be able to tackle it at a much younger age of 8. My son was in level 2 at 8 and couldn't manage an easy Kuhlau sonatina much less Für Elise.

Are you also taking the co-requisites written exams?
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/31/15 10:32 PM

I just listened to your choices 8 Octaves - they're all lovely, especially the Kabalevsky Toccatina (and nice left hand melody). Thanks for sharing!
I haven't done an exam in 40 odd years so I'm not sure if there's a written component - I'll have to ask my teacher (and yes I will if there is one).
And I agree re Fur Elise, it's only "hated" because it's so overplayed, and it's only overplayed because it's so lovely. Whenever my family come visit they always ask "play Fur Elise mum". :-)
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/01/16 06:54 AM

Even though my ABRSM grade 6 exam not going to be until about December 2016, but I am already start thinking about the pieces. For A list, I am going to play A5, Mozart sonata in C first movement. For B list, I am going to choose B2, Chopin Mazurka in C op 33 no 3; for C list, I am going with C3, the Chinese piece Long Deng Diao ( I am happy to see this piece listed as exam piece. After all, I should learn to play the music from my own home country. ) I have already started the scales practice. I have not start to learn the pieces yet as I think it is way too early and I might get bored later on if I play the same piece for so long.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/01/16 08:51 AM

For the grade 7 ABRSM, I am thinking of taking a different approach to timing of learning the pieces. I think I will learn them this winter and spring, and then I will have several chances to play them in recitals, piano parties, and online recitals. That should make me much more confident of them by the end of November. All the pieces at grade 7 are much more difficult. It seems like a big leap from 6.

Although I have already learned Mozart Sonata in G Major (K283), I am leaning toward the Glink Fugue in A minor, because I really like it. The Mozart is the longest piece at grade 7, which could be an endurance test! So I will prepare both, and we will see. My B piece choice I adore - MIngxin Du "Shui Cao Wu" (Water Grass). There is a great recording of Lang Lang playing this on Youtube.



The Third choice is a tough one, because I do not like any of the pieces! I think I will go with Carousel by Bodorova, but I am a bit worried about the glissando at the end.

Grade 7 introduces scales a third apart (12 of them!), and my brain is already balking at that. It also requires 12 contrary motion scales, which always take me a while to learn. Previous grades only had 4. So, the technical work this time is going to be challenging!
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/01/16 09:09 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
It seems like a big leap from 6.


According to my teacher, every grade level will be a big leap starting from around 5 in order to get you ready for concert repertoire in a few grades.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/01/16 10:32 PM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
For A list, I am going to play A5, Mozart sonata in C first movement.

Pianofan is that K545? If so, that's the only Mozart Sonata I can play in it's entirety from memory. It's sweet and fun. :-)
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/01/16 11:16 PM

Yes. It is K545
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/02/16 12:11 AM

Excellent, I hope you enjoy learning / playing it! PS the second and third movements are really lovely too and not too hard to learn (probably easier than the first). The 2nd movement is my favourite. Enjoy :-)
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/03/16 04:26 AM

Originally Posted by cathryn999
Excellent, I hope you enjoy learning / playing it! PS the second and third movements are really lovely too and not too hard to learn (probably easier than the first). The 2nd movement is my favourite. Enjoy :-)


Hi Pianofan, I was just looking at the AMEB syllabus for Grade 6 and searched for K545. I'm surprised to see it's now in the section for Certificate of Music Performance (which is one level up from Grade 8). I'm sure when I did it it was Grade 6 or maybe even 5... anyway just thought you might like to know - keep it in your repertoire and when you come to do your Certificate of Performance or whatever the equivalent is, come and do it in Australia! Cheers, Cathryn.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/03/16 06:03 AM

Cool! Thank you Cathryn!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/21/16 12:36 PM

How is everyone doing? My teacher and I had a long discussion about what to do next. She has never been a big fan of the ABRSM system because of the enormous requirements for scales and arpeggios at the expense of other technical work. She comes from the RCM system, and prefers that to ABRSM. So, during the two years or so, I am going to continue work toward ABRSM 8, but fill in the gaps with RCM 7-9. I think the additional tech work and etudes will really help solidify my technique. I have started on RCM 7, as well as the Watergrass piece from ABRSM 7. My teacher is quite happy to see me develop a wider base this way. So, we will see what happens!
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/21/16 08:49 PM

I will sit at ABRSM theory exam next 2nd March.
I'm sort of cheating, because I'm not going to study for the composition question but I'm confident I can reach the points for a pass with the other questions. smile
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/22/16 04:06 AM

This year is not going to be a piano year as my work has taken over every waking moments of my life, and there is very little time left for anything else. I hope to get a little bit of piano in once in a while but I don't think I will make much progress in 2016. Hopefully I would not forget how to play the piano come 2017. For now, I've signed up for Baroque themed recital way back when and will submit my piece when it opens. Much beyond that, I'm not sure if anything is possible, now.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/14/16 03:44 AM

AMEB Grade 5 Scales - Random Practice Cards

In case anyone else is interested, I've created these random practice cards for Grade 5 scales and arpeggios, each one with a different dynamic. Print them out, cut them up into squares, put them in a cup at one end of your piano, pull out a dozen or so random cards each day, and when you're done place them in another cup at the other end of the piano. When the first cup is empty, switch them around and start again.

AMEB Grade 5 Scales - Random Practice Cards (word document)

AMEB Grade 5 Scales - Random Practice Cards (pdf)
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/15/16 10:31 AM

Greetings all,
Doesn't look like I'm going up for RCM Level 6 in May. I'm just not feeling ready. I'm working to have at least two pieces in each component as a choice when the time comes. My four note chords are much better and that's kind of fun. I'm learning a complete Mozart Viennese Sonatina #6 for my teacher's recital and that has one section that is a level 7 so it's all good. The Bach Sarabande (French Suite 1) is one I'll record for the Baroque recital...that has taken FOREVER for me. Bach thinking is different and I've learned a lot about fingering. I do need to go back to the aural practice as well...so many things to learn.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/15/16 10:37 AM

Wisebuff - better to enjoy and stretch it out than to press yourself and stress. Good call if you're not feeling ready.
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/15/16 03:39 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
........ Bach thinking is different and I've learned a lot about fingering...
I had to chuckle at this. Eleven short words, but a lifetime of learning.

I agree with Cathryn--better to do it right than try to rush it and not be happy with the result, whether that be pass or fail.
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/02/16 05:42 PM

I just finished my theory exam (ABRSM 5). I can't believe I've completely forgotten to put tempo and dynamics indications in my composition exercise frown
I did not prepare that part of the exam, I only asked my teacher a few tricks; a complete attempt is worth 5 points, and mine is not complete.
Well, I only need to pass...

Couple of months before the results come.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/03/16 12:09 AM

Originally Posted by torquenale
Well, I only need to pass...


Totally. I did the same when I took the RCM 7 Theory. It's important for keeping the practical certs; it's important because the teacher now can confidently talk to us about theory, but bottom line, as long as we are not applying for college, passing is all we need. Right now, the experience is still fresh, but after another 6 months, you'll be proud of the fact you did it, passed it, and the score doesn't matter.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/03/16 07:09 AM

Hope the rest of the exam went well for you, torquenale. The compostion question is such a small part of the exam, that I am sure you did just fine.

I was the only adult in the room when I took my grade 5 theory exam in 2014. Were there other adults there where you took it?
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/03/16 09:23 AM

Hope it went well Torquenale!
I've been saying I don't want to do exams, but the idea is obviously in there somewhere since I got in touch with ABRSM last week to find out whether I would be exempt from the Grade 5 theory requirement or not on the basis of having done Music as a school subject.
I'm not exempt, as it turns out, I would need to have scored one grade higher than I did. This is not a surprise, but what's funny about it is that I was really overreaching to get to the minimum level for the *practical* component, so I know that in my case all my other elements (theory, aural, etc) must have been at the required level for my overall score to have been one grade below. This is not a grumble, since of course ABRSM can't possibly validate that!
So now I am interested in finding out just how much of an effort it would be for me to do the Grade 5 theory exam. I'll start a separate thread on it I think.

WiseBuff, I think you are living up to your name with your wise choice smile
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/03/16 03:44 PM

I think the rest of the exam was similar to past years exam; as a preparation I did 2013-1015 papers, and I passed all of them (without the composition exercise). laugh

Originally Posted by SwissMS
I was the only adult in the room when I took my grade 5 theory exam in 2014. Were there other adults there where you took it?

Only teens, children and me smile

Children were doing lower grades, only a 9 year old who has already passed Grade 5 in piano was on grade 5 theory.
Nobody was taking grades 6-8.
Posted By: Raindrops

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/02/16 11:51 PM

Anybody got their spring RCM exam result and want to talk about it? I'm particularly in interested in those took level 9 exam.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/03/16 09:55 AM

I haven't been around for a while so just thought I'd drop in and say hello. I had my Grade 5 exam last weekend, on the back of a major systems upgrade for my business that went a bit pear-shaped so ended up going live the same week of my exam! But I was well prepared and as confident as I could be and yet it still happened. My fingers were shaking like someone with advanced Parkinsons. At one point in my Bach I had a brain freeze, literally just stopped dead. I said to the examiner "um..... what do I do now"? He said "just keep playing". Which I clumsily did. For my list D I gave a big spiel about the piece and the composer (Samba Lele by Heitor Villa Lobos), then promptly played one of my extras list pieces (Loutky by Bohuslav Martinu). I played that one quite well, feeling a bit more relaxed to be onto the extras and the home stretch. Then I finished and the examiner said okay, let's have one of the extras - what about the Martinu piece?
OMG.
So who knows whether I passed or failed - I certainly didn't A+ it that's for sure! At least my technical and aural work was okay.

I want to beat this thing, this anxiety, these "nerves", whatever it is. I don't get it, I'm a competent and confident public speaker, I've played in bands and sung in choirs, I led my own little acapella group.... so how come playing classical piano in front of people does this to me?

I'm thinking of doing Grade 6 in October - just the Music for Leisure series (3 pieces), not the full AMEB classical series (6 pieces). Not because I particularly want to do Grade 6 but I am determined to find a way through this shaking brain freezing thing. Maybe the only way to beat it is to keep doing exams until I'm de-sensitized?

How are you all going and/or how did you do?

Posted By: Raindrops

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/03/16 07:02 PM

Level 5 was my first exam. It was nerve racking. I found doing a couple recitals before the exam helps.

I found the level 9 judge's comment is very confusing. The piece I thought I did best got the lowest % of max mark, the one that I thought didn't have much depth got the highest % of max mark. I also think the judge didn't capture the essence of my music making, and was just trying to grade me with some set elements for each piece, although I know some of these are valid points, but he seems ignore the whole picture.

But I haven't talked to my teacher yet.



Posted By: cathryn999

I got an A!!!! - 06/07/16 08:38 AM

[img:left]https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...to_comment&notif_id=1465287847290081[/img]

After a week from heck, 20 hour days, and no time to practice I nearly called my exam off. I was more nervous than I'd been in my life (this is the second time I've done this exam but the last time I was .. like... 11 years old or so).

I don't bloody believe it!

(Can't figure out how to upload a pic so it's a link to the pic)
Posted By: zillybug

Re: I got an A!!!! - 06/07/16 11:27 AM

Congratulation Cathryn . It looks like you did really well.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/16 08:46 PM

Well done! Time to celebrate!

Here, let me help you put your photo of your exam report for you:

[Linked Image]
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/09/16 11:39 AM

Wow! That looks like a great result, Cathryn. Good job. You're an inspiration as are all of you preparing to check for progress at playing and performing. When I did the level 5 theory, I was the only person taking any exam. The only adult on the practical. So I must conjure up a picture of the rest of you taking exams around the world.

One of my goals this year is to take the RCM level 6 and although I have the pieces under my fingers, I still feel unprepared for the theory and for combating the nerves. I think I have til late fall.
Posted By: cathryn999

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/12/16 07:41 AM

Oh Wow, Thank you tubbie!
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/28/16 03:10 AM

Anyone taking ABRSM or any other exam this year? I have signed up for ABRSM grade 6 this year and there are still about two months time until the exam. I feel the sight singing part in grade 6 is getting harder. The scales are coming along and I just need to memorize those better so that I can get a quicker response. For the three pieces, I am playing A5, Mozart Sonata K545 1st movement. B1, Erster Schmerz by Russian composer Sergei Bortkiewicz and C3, Long Deng Diao a Chinese piece by Jian Zhong Wang. The preparation is coming along. I think I will make it.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/28/16 09:23 AM

All the best!

Practise your pieces, practise your scales, sight reading, aural tests... but most of all, practise your mind and emotions :-)

Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/28/16 10:25 AM

Best of luck to you pianofan. Practice daily but let go of stress about it. You know it!!
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/05/16 04:38 AM

So, finally. Tomorrow morning is the day I go for my ABRSM grade 6 exam. I feel like for the three pieces, I am ready.
For the scales, I memorized all, but some times the melodic minor scale could cause some trouble. Sight reading, I think I am ok. I am not hope for very high score on sight reading. As long as I can pass that section, I am fine.
For aural skill, I don't have trouble with repeat melody, clapping rhythm, or identify perfect or imperfect cadence, or period of the music. But I have some trouble with sight singing and identify the 2 time, 3time or 4 time. Anyway, I don't think that is something can get improved overnight. So, that will just depends on my luck tomorrow.
Wish me luck!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/05/16 05:30 AM

Good luck!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/05/16 10:21 AM

best of luck pianofan, let us know how you go
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/05/16 06:04 PM

Ok. I just got back from the exam.
For the scale, most of them went well. Bb Minor harmonic scale I got totally wrong and even though I have tried to restart couple of times, but still couldn't seem to get it right. Had to restart Eb Major staccato scale one time and A minor contrary scale once.
For the three pieces, the Mozart sonata and the Russian piece went well I think. It had minor mistakes here and there, but I think overall. It should be fine. But for the Chinese piece, the second half, I was totally blank out from memory. Even though, I don't have to memorize it and have the score in front of me, but it was so hard to refocus and play it correctly again. After several retry, I just continued and the ending was fine. So, I think the Chinese piece is a total disaster for me.
Sight reading and aural part was actually fine I think. The only thing I am not too certain is whether the piece is in 2 times, 3 times or 4 times.
Now it just the waiting game. I am not even aiming for high score. I would just hope I can pass.
There is nothing I can do to change anything anyways. So, time to relax a bit.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/05/16 08:50 PM

This is the excruciating part of the process: blaming yourself for everything that went wrong, especially those you swear you could play them blindfolded. Then you go through the entire exam in your head over and over again.

But like you said, what's done is done and there's nothing you can do about it. You have done your best under the circumstances. It is an achievement itself for having the guts to take the exam and actually show up! You should celebrate it. Then when the exam result is out and you pass, celebrate again!

Well done and good luck with the results! I hope you don't have to wait long.





Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/05/16 10:05 PM

well done and thankyou for sharing this
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/06/16 09:00 AM

pianofan1017 - Congratulations for sitting your Grade 6! I am sure you did better than you think you did. We always remember the mistakes, not the good parts. I think the examiners are used to adult candidates being quite nervous, and can hear the quality of the playing behind the nerves. Good luck with the results!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/06/16 12:15 PM

Congratulations pianofan1017 for perseverence and all the practice you did to sit for the exam. THAT is the real score. Good for you.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/06/16 12:20 PM

Torquenale and Cathryn, I just went back through the thread and see that you took and did very well on your exams. You are my role models. Great accomplishments. Maybe my life will settle down and I'll do another exam. I just don't feel ready for some of the components. I know you rarely feel totally ready.
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/06/16 08:15 PM

WiseBuff, so far I only passed the theory exam... easier than a practical one, because there isn't any performance anxiety! laugh
I would like to sit ABRSM 5 next year, probably in winter session (November or December, I think). I need one year to work on my weak points, sight reading and (especially) aural test!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/07/16 09:55 AM

Torquenale, I did RCM level 5 both theory and repertoire/practice and I think I actually did better on the practice. I made stupid mistakes on the written work that I really do know. LOL. BUT I have had the goal of level 6 for the last year or so and haven't set a date. I think that I am (unrealistically) hoping to find perfection before I test. Probably should just set a date and do it.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/10/16 08:24 PM

I just got my score back. I thought it is going to take about a month. But It was only couple of days. I passed it, but barely.
My Mozart sonata, I got 20, which is a minimum of passing score. The Russian piece, I got 20. I thought this should be somewhat higher though. The Chinese piece, the disaster one, I got 18 which is kind of expected. Scales, I got 14 which is also expected since I messed up Bb minor and a few others have to be replayed. I got 15 in sight reading and 15 in aural test.
So, overall I got 102. Just barely over the 100 mark for passing. Woo, I would wish for a better score, but I will settle for this one. I thought I might fail. Now, I can have a great Christmas and learn new pieces.
I am planning on taking a break from the exams. I will learn as much technical skills and prepare myself to get to the further levels as possible. And once I am ready, I am going to take the grade 8 exam next. I plan to just skip grade 7.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/10/16 09:18 PM

Congratulations for passing! Now you can relax, celebrate, and move forward :-)

Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/11/16 08:38 AM

Congratulations on your pass! That is a wonderful accomplishment!
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/11/16 09:33 AM

Forget the score and enjoy your success!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/11/16 12:59 PM

Congratulations on the achievement. There is SO much that goes into preparing and performing for the exam. Way to go!!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/19/16 11:46 AM

Finals are done and I only have final papers to grade. Tonight is our Christmas Piano Party at my house and I'm looking forward to that. I pulled out all my study materials for the Intermediate Rudiments Theory Exam. Good grief. It looks like a foreign language to me today. Each questions requires thinking through multiple steps. I do have the practice exams and found a youtube video that walks me though it...good thing...I was way off on what they want. I know it will come back to me but when??? LOL.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/24/16 05:47 PM

I'm studying the workbooks and practice exams for the Intermediate RCM theory exam. Question 10 is an analysis of a short piece of music. It asks to name the root and the quality/type of a couple of chords. What do they mean by quality/type??? Tonic, subtonic etc? Inversion type??

Heeeellllppp Please.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/24/16 09:49 PM

Chord quality means whether it is major chord, minor chord, diminished chord, augmented chord, dominant chord etc. I believe there are about 9 different chord quality or type.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/25/16 03:18 PM

Thank you pianofan1017. That helps. Merry Christmas whereever you are on this beautiful day.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/12/17 08:04 PM

My teacher and I decided to enter for the Spring session for my ABRSM grade 7 exam. I am a little scared and a lot excited! My pieces are in the polishing stage, all the scales and arps are learned, and the sight reading is close. The aural is terrifying, but we are going to work on that. I have a lot of fine tuning that needs to be done in the next few months, but I am glad to have a definite deadline!

Is anyone else planning on taking an exam this year?
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/12/17 08:42 PM

SwissMS, I'm sure you will do well!
I'm considering ABRSM 5 for the Winter session; I'm learning the three pieces with the teacher, and scales and arpeggios are not a problem because I've already learned all of them, including melodic minors and contrary motion in all keys.
My big concerns are sight reading and aural test; I'm working on the first one and I hope to see the results at a certain point, but I hate the aural part. The teacher makes me sing, but it's so painful. I can't even imaging doing an aural test al level 7!!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/12/17 09:26 PM

Thanks for the encouragement, torquenale! It sounds like you are in pretty good shape for grade 5. What pieces are you playing?

I use e-musicmaestro.com for aural and find it helpful. It is a subscription service, but it is very inexpensive. I have also used AuralBook, but the recordings are horrible. However, if you can get a good score on AuralBook, you should do really well. I hate the singing part too!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 12:53 AM

congratulations SwissMS on making such a big commitment, and finding a great new teacher.

I am sitting AMEB grade 5 in November and AMEB Grade 3 theory exam, (which can be done anytime online), at some point before the practical exam. I was only able to embark on this process once I found a great teacher capable of helping me meet the challenges. Ear training has been harder than expected and in particular I have a way to go with melodic dictation which is a feature of the theory exam. But with the holidays over it is down to some serious work and I know I will get there.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 01:43 AM

I my past experience, 2-3 months of preparation for aural tests and sight reading before the exam is more than sufficient. Unless you constantly keep at it, it will be lost. So starting too early takes away valuable practise time for pieces and scales. My strategy has been getting my exam pieces and scales ready 3 months before the exam, then focus on the other exam elements in the last 3 months, then in the last month focus on everything. But that's just me and I'm sure it's different for everyone.

I almost sat for AMEB grade 5 theory last month but chickened out. I didn't feel ready (especially the harmony section) but I'm definitely going to do it sometimes this year.

I'm still half-hearted about taking AMusA exam this year, but the exam pieces are slowly getting nearer and nearer to being ready. There are no aural tests, sight reading or scales in AMusA exam. So I only need to concentrate on 4 pieces and know them inside out for the General Knowledge section. If not late this year, then perhaps mid next year. This will be my final exam. Once it's done, I'm free!

All the best to everyone. Even though you don't have to, those that decided to challenge themselves with exams are very brave people!

Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 08:13 AM

earlomar - good luck on your grade 5 AMEB. I think that you have to play more pieces for that than for ABRSM. Is that correct. We do three pieces, plus the support tests.

Tubbie0075 - you are so right that the prima vista sight reading skill deteriorates if you do not do it daily. I let it slip over the summer and fall due to our moving from Switzerland to Spain. I picked it back up again in October, and had lost considerable ground. It is starting to feel more confident though.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 08:38 AM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
earlomar - good luck on your grade 5 AMEB. I think that you have to play more pieces for that than for ABRSM. Is that correct. We do three pieces, plus the support tests.


That is correct, for my grade 5 exam I need four main pieces and two additional pieces. These additional pieces I believe need not be as polished as the main four. However, I think AMEB is easier when it comes to scales and arpeggios as I will only need half as many to be ready than an ABRSM student would.
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 07:39 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
Thanks for the encouragement, torquenale! It sounds like you are in pretty good shape for grade 5. What pieces are you playing?

I'm playing:
Purcell - Prelude from Suite n. 5
Chopin - Sostenuto in Eflat
Tan Dun - Staccato beans
The last one is a very nice Chinese piece.

Originally Posted by SwissMS
I use e-musicmaestro.com for aural and find it helpful. It is a subscription service, but it is very inexpensive. I have also used AuralBook, but the recordings are horrible. However, if you can get a good score on AuralBook, you should do really well. I hate the singing part too!

I've looked at e-musicmaestro and it looks well done; I've also the support ABRSM books Aural training in practice.
The problem is that I prefer to spend my precious time at the keyboard smile
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 07:40 PM

earlofmar, at AMEB do you also have support tests (aural, sight reading...)?
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 09:10 PM

Originally Posted by torquenale
earlofmar, at AMEB do you also have support tests (aural, sight reading...)?


Yes we do. The sight reading aspect is very similar if not identical to ABRSM. Aural looks like this:
Grade 5
RHYTHM: The examiner will play twice a passage in duple or
triple time. The candidate will then tap or clap the passage and
state whether it is in duple or triple time.

PITCH: The examiner, having sounded on the piano a note to be
regarded as a keynote of the scale, the candidate will hum or sing
and afterwards name any interval of the major scale as played by
the examiner immediately in succession to the keynote.

PITCH: To hum or sing from memory the higher or lower part of a
two-part progression of three successive intervals within the limits
of an octave from middle C as played slowly by the examiner.

HARMONY: The examiner having sounded any major or minor
triad either in root position or an inversion played within the
limits of an octave, the candidate will hum or sing all three notes,
ascending or descending as required.

There is also a section on general knowledge my memory not being as good as it once was I can see myself up all night just before the exam.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 09:18 PM

Originally Posted by earlofmar
I think AMEB is easier when it comes to scales and arpeggios as I will only need half as many to be ready than an ABRSM student would.


I did a comparison for the technical work requirements between ABRSM and AMEB at grade 8 level in a different post if you are interested:

ABRSM vs AMEB



Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/13/17 09:48 PM

good comparison Tubbie0075, and I got the same impression there was little overall difference between the two at grade 5. But in reading any of the requirements it seems you have to be quite mad to attempt such exams smirk
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/14/17 04:51 AM

Hi SwissMS:

So glad to hear that you are going for grade 7 exam. I am sure you will do well. Generally for most people the aural part will turn out score way better than they thought to be. I saw your video and you play way better than I do. I love your interpretation of the Chinese piece.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/14/17 01:02 PM

Thanks for the well wishes pianofan1017! I am thinking of taking two lessons a week between now and the exam, just to have to time to practice the oral, sight reading, and technique under pressure. The pieces will be OK, but I want to ace the other sections for once!
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/14/17 08:12 PM

earlofmar, I'm sure you will do well at your exam!
If you are sitting in November, you have still plenty of time to prepare it. Also ABRSM second session is on November - December, so it looks like we will suffer in the same period laugh
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/15/17 12:23 AM

Originally Posted by torquenale
earlofmar, Also ABRSM second session is on November - December, so it looks like we will suffer in the same period laugh


I started preparing for the exam six months ago and still feel I have a long way to go, so suffering might be an apt description.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 06:56 PM

So I am thinking about doing RCM Exam 3. This is something I spoke with my new teacher about at our first lesson and she changed my approach to follow RCM, at least that's what I partially wanted to do. I really didn't want to follow Alfred's anymore. I've already done 2 repertoire pieces at level 3 and she assigned me a third from section C. This past Saturday she assigned Arabesque from the Technical/Etudes section and I'll eventually have to chose a second one.

Anyway, I'm not so concerned about the Repertoire or Technical parts. It's the ear tests I can't get right or just suck at. I'll hear one interval one day and say happy, the next day it's sad, the third day it's nothing. It may be that I just need to keep practicing using the online tool provided in the RCM Sight Reading/EAR Tests book. I was wondering if there is anything else that might help with this. I'm finding that I can actually start to recognize the root node (between C4 and C5), or come close to it. I then try to find it on the piano and see if what I heard was a Major or Minor 3rd. However, I don't think I'll be allowed to do that.

I don't want to be overly concerned about it or spend a huge amount of time doing ear tests, it seems to be only a small part of the overall score. However, I do want to learn how to do it right. It may be that I just can't, or just need to practice it more.

Hoping some of you might be able to provide some guidance (in addition to what my teacher has shared). Thanks!
Posted By: Tone Deaf

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 07:17 PM


I'm in a similiar postion re the ear tests as bSharp[C]yclist, except I'm just doing the RCM level 2 exam.

I have much difficulty recognizing what I hear. I really messed up doing the RCM level 1 ear test,
and though I practice using the RCM on-line it isn't getting any easier.

I too, would like some help/suggestions.


Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 09:26 PM

I do not do RCM, I do ABRSM, but I really like e-musicmaestro.com. It is a subscription service, but it is well worth it. I also use AuralBook on my Ipad, and I find it helpful as well. Auralbook records your responses and corrects them.

Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 09:44 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Anyway, I'm not so concerned about the Repertoire or Technical parts. It's the ear tests I can't get right or just suck at. I'll hear one interval one day and say happy, the next day it's sad, the third day it's nothing. It may be that I just need to keep practicing using the online tool provided in the RCM Sight Reading/EAR Tests book. I was wondering if there is anything else that might help with this. I'm finding that I can actually start to recognize the root node (between C4 and C5), or come close to it. I then try to find it on the piano and see if what I heard was a Major or Minor 3rd. However, I don't think I'll be allowed to do that.


I think it took me until RCM 4 or 5 before I could play a song I hear by ear in the right key without too much fumbling. It just takes time. If you're otherwise good with the clapback and chords, the trouble with intervals is at worst 2 points of the RCM 3 Exam if you get a 0 there. Just do the best you can and consider it work-in-progress. No need to delay going for the exam over just the hearing portion since you are strong in the other areas.

Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 10:20 PM

Originally Posted by Tone Deaf

I'm in a similiar postion re the ear tests as bSharp[C]yclist, except I'm just doing the RCM level 2 exam.

I have much difficulty recognizing what I hear. I really messed up doing the RCM level 1 ear test, and though I practice using the RCM on-line it isn't getting any easier.

I too, would like some help/suggestions.


I would say the same for you as bSharpCyclist. It's just 2 points out of 100.

Interval identification is difficult. The best way I've found is to always sing out loud the intervals with the piano while listening carefully regardless of how embarrassing that may be if you don't live alone. Learn to sing in pitch. Once you can sing the required interval reliably, you can identify (or sing) at the exam.

Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 10:39 PM

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
Interval identification is difficult. The best way I've found is to always sing out loud the intervals with the piano while listening carefully regardless of how embarrassing that may be if you don't live alone. Learn to sing in pitch. Once you can sing the required interval reliably, you can identify (or sing) at the exam.


thumb
Singing aloud with playing is the best way to develop aural skills, second only to actually singing in a choir (for which you need a modicum of aural skills first).

For the first few months when starting lessons, my teacher was getting me to count the beats aloud while singing in pitch to the notes I was playing. Not only did I develop a secure sense of rhythm, I was also developing my ears at the same time.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/17 11:58 PM

I only started ear training (from zero) six or so months ago and like others found it quite difficult. Daily practice is the key and no more than five to ten minutes a day is needed to show improvement. My teacher had me singing scales and this was most beneficial. I also used "Functional Ear Trainer" app which again was very useful. Each exercise you can set it to play a cadence of the scale and at the end of each exercise a resolution to tonic which seems to really ingrain the thinking process. Best thing I think was learning to associate intervals with songs (eg perfect 5th - Twinkle Twinkle or Star Wars).
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 01:30 AM

Originally Posted by earlofmar
Best thing I think was learning to associate intervals with songs (eg perfect 5th - Twinkle Twinkle or Star Wars).


I can relate to that. When I was practising to identify triads and its positions (next step from identifying intervals), I used a tune was familiar with and associate to each triad and position. It was "full proofed" for the purpose of my exam. It made the practise so easy and I nailed this part of the exam :-)

Before anything, like everyone said, one must be able to hear and sing correctly the 2 notes of the interval.

Next you need to be able to sing 1-octave major and harmonic minor scale by heart. To practise this, play a random note and use that as the tonic and sing up to an octave.

Next, play an interval, place the bottom of the 2 note as the tonic of the scale, sing it up until you reach the top note of the interval. If it doesn't fit in the major scale, then try the minor scale.

The all you have to do is name it. If you stop on the 3rd note and it fits a major scale, then it's a major 3rd. If it fits a minor scale, then it's a minor 3rd. For now, 2nd is always major, 4th and 5th is always perfect, 6th is major 6th if it fits in the major scale and minor 6th if it fits in a harmonic minor scale, 7th is always major, and 8ve is always a perfect octave.

By the way, does the exam include augmented, diminished, or chromatic intervals, or just perfect, major and minor intervals? If it does include augmented, diminished and chromatic intervals, then it's a bit more tricky to practise.

Good luck!


Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 01:43 AM

For RCM 3, I would need to identify a minor 3rd, major 3rd, perfect 4th and 5th. You can choose to do 1 of the following:

Quote
Students will be asked to identify any of the following intervals. The examiner will play each interval in melodic form (ascending and descending) once.


OR

Quote
Students may choose to sing or hum any of the following intervals (ascending and descending). The examiner will play the first note once.


I can't sing, so that won't work. Whatever I sing and hear in my head is wrong anyway because if I were to record it and listen back, it's a completely different sound smile
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 02:38 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp[C
yclist]
I can't sing, so that won't work. Whatever I sing and hear in my head is wrong anyway because if I were to record it and listen back, it's a completely different sound smile

Can you sing "Happy Birthday"?

Almost everyone can (if pitched in the right tessitura for them), yet it's one of the hardest to sing. There's a major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th and an octave interval in that song. Most pop songs don't even go that far. (The commonest mistake when singing it - especially for men - is not making that octave interval, because you can't sing that high up.)

And you don't have to sing an octave interval for your exam.......
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 03:49 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp[C
yclist]

I can't sing, so that won't work. Whatever I sing and hear in my head is wrong anyway because if I were to record it and listen back, it's a completely different sound smile


I had to learn how to sing again now in my late fifties, just for this ear training. The last time I had done any singing was in primary school. Thankfully you do not need to sing well but I do believe you need to make a link between the mental and physical to achieve results.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 03:54 AM

Can I sing Happy Birthday? Well, I've certainly sang it many times, but I really don't know if I'm singing it correctly and in tune smile
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 05:58 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp[C
yclist]
I can't sing, so that won't work. Whatever I sing and hear in my head is wrong anyway because if I were to record it and listen back, it's a completely different sound smile


It has to be tough to be tone deaf. I use to know a girl practising her ABRSM 4th grade aural test with my then teacher decades ago. The teacher would play a random note and ask her to sing just that one note, and she just couldn't. Could you play a random note (between middle C and an the C an octave above) and sing that note?

I've never struggled with this so I don't know how it's like. But if I imagine I cannot sing a note I hear, I'd perhaps try to play a random note anywhere on the entire keyboard, hold it, even use the sustaining pedal, and just listen to it. I wouldn't worry about singing it or trying to do anything with it in my head. Just listen to it intensely, enjoying it until the sound dies. I'd imagine listening to it so intensely I can hear the sound wave. I can imagine I start to identify characteristics the sound, sharp and piercing, broad and even roaring, soft like a pillow etc. I'd play one note using different dynamics (pp, p, mf, f, ff). I'd find a dynamic easier for me to hear and start practise listening in that dynamic. It's almost like meditation, clearing the mind of everything else except listening to that sound.

After a while, perhaps a few days or a week learning how to truly listen and do nothing else, when I feel that I've got the note, then I'd try to mimic that note with my voice. I won't sing it if I don't feel I've got it. If I'm not sure, I haven't got it yet. I will know when I do. So I'll just keep on listening to it until I do.

Do you think something like that will work for you? Sound meditation? There's no such thing because I just came up with it :-P


Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 12:10 PM

The written exam prep for the RCM intermediate theory...now called level 6 theory is tough. It gives me a headache. The first practice exam I allowed myself "open book" or use the internet as needed. But my teacher checked it and I got it right. However, she tells me "I haven't done this in 50 years so it's a brain challenge for me too". The second practice exam I'm trying to do more just from memory and it is taxing me. If I created exams like this, my students would report me to the dean. There are questions within questions so they are tricky and easy to make mistakes without careful attention. I have never seen a piece with the complicated rests that are tested...I know it's theory not composition. LOL.

Tubbie and all...I've liked the "tune" approach too. My teacher has perfect pitch and can just know them but hearing a song helps me a lot. I still confuse the 2nds and thirds occasionally. Just started on descending.

I'm still working on multiple pieces but getting closer to finalizing my exam repertoire.

The next exam dates are in May and I believe I'll be ready...maybe not perfect but....
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 01:54 PM

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Originally Posted by bSharp[C
yclist]
I can't sing, so that won't work. Whatever I sing and hear in my head is wrong anyway because if I were to record it and listen back, it's a completely different sound smile


It has to be tough to be tone deaf. ....
Could you play a random note (between middle C and an the C an octave above) and sing that note? ...
So I'll just keep on listening to it until I do.

Do you think something like that will work for you? Sound meditation? There's no such thing because I just came up with it :-P




Tone deaf? I don't think so, at least not if I understand the definition correctly. I can hear the difference in notes, I just can't always get minor/major thirds right. 5ths are easier.

Can I play a random note above middle C? No, I can't sing that high, at least not without screeching. I was playing around with the Perfect Ear app on my Android tablet last night. It has an interval singing section that allows you to sing and it will detect the note. How accurate is it? Very accurate. It would detect the correct notes I played on the piano. I tried singing what I felt was a comfortable do-re-mi solfege scale. I remember having to do that all the time in music class in primary school. Anyway, my range is consistently F2 to F3. So I went to the piano and played an F major scale starting at F2 and singing at the same time. Did it sound the same? I guess it kind of did, so maybe I just need to listen better.

Sound meditation? Maybe - I though about recording intervals and saying the word Major or Minor Third afterwards. Perhaps if I loop that and listen to it while sleeping it will become part of my subconscious smile
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 05:34 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
The written exam prep for the RCM intermediate theory...now called level 6 theory is tough. It gives me a headache. The first practice exam I allowed myself "open book" or use the internet as needed. But my teacher checked it and I got it right. However, she tells me "I haven't done this in 50 years so it's a brain challenge for me too". The second practice exam I'm trying to do more just from memory and it is taxing me. If I created exams like this, my students would report me to the dean. There are questions within questions so they are tricky and easy to make mistakes without careful attention. I have never seen a piece with the complicated rests that are tested...I know it's theory not composition. LOL.


Good going. Intermediate theory isn't so bad. RCM 7 (advanced theory) will hurt your head! Every question is like 5 or 6 questions in one. I know what you mean about the rests! Who does that? Apparently, 21st century composers, but we don't see it often. What about the "plet" higher than triplets? 7-plets? LOL. How much did your reading skill jump as a result of learning theory? Mine jumped up a lot after writing so much music. I am also surprised that teachers don't teach intermediate or advance theory to the kiddies for piano lessons. Even teachers are rusty. A lot of people claim oh, I passed RCM 6 or 7 when I was a kid, well, they didn't. Most of them never bother with the theory. My teacher called them jocks. No open book for your practice exams, sorry.... LOL!
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 08:05 PM

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Originally Posted by bSharp[C
yclist]
I can't sing, so that won't work. Whatever I sing and hear in my head is wrong anyway because if I were to record it and listen back, it's a completely different sound smile


It has to be tough to be tone deaf. I use to know a girl practising her ABRSM 4th grade aural test with my then teacher decades ago. The teacher would play a random note and ask her to sing just that one note, and she just couldn't. Could you play a random note (between middle C and an the C an octave above) and sing that note?

I've never struggled with this so I don't know how it's like. But if I imagine I cannot sing a note I hear, I'd perhaps try to play a random note anywhere on the entire keyboard, hold it, even use the sustaining pedal, and just listen to it. I wouldn't worry about singing it or trying to do anything with it in my head. Just listen to it intensely, enjoying it until the sound dies.........
I don't think that qualifies as tone deaf. It's more like not having a sufficiently trained physical instrument (voice box) to hit the notes correctly. Now if one couldn't hear the difference between a C and an F, that would be tone deaf.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 09:09 PM

It sounds like RCM aural and theory are quite different from ABRSM. The grade 5 ABRSM theory is quite challenging, but a lot of it is just memorization. The questions are also multipart, and there is a composition questions that is quite challenging.

On the aural,RCM and ABRSM sound similar through grade 5. You have to sing intervals, sing back a phrase, do a clap back, describe a piece and recognize time signatures. The upper levels get a bit more challenging. Prabably the same is true for RCM.

I have been struggling with the grade 7 aural, so I scheduled some extra lessons to work on it. My teacher had me play both the upper and lower voice of a phrase, then sing the upper and play the lower, and then sing the lower voice and play the upper. In four tries, I could not consistently get it right. Concentrating on two voices with different rhythms and singing at the same time was way beyond my capacity. So, that is my practice assignment for the week. If I can do this, I at least have a start on the "A" part of the aural. Then, only parts B, C, and D to go!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 10:02 PM

According to ToneDeafTest.com, I'm not tone deaf smile
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/24/17 10:27 PM

Originally Posted by bSharpCyclist
According to ToneDeafTest.com, I'm not tone deaf smile


I don't think being tone deaf is a real human condition. In Asian languages like Chinese, it has been shown that hearing and speaking distinct tones is integral to the meaning of words. (I heard it on NPR.) Obviously, if some people are born tone deaf, then you would find some people not able to speak or hear Chinese properly, but you just never find that. Everyone born in a Chinese speaking country could speak Chinese just fine, including the Europeans. Everyone can hear tone. It just gets harder and out of practice if you don't use it, like you only spoke English. It can be trained to come back and sharpen with work, like everything else in your brain.

Since I do RCM exams, I score 100% on Tone Deaf Test really easily. It's like crazy obvious. No talent involved. I started learning RCM 1 in 2010. Aural learning doesn't happen overnight. It just takes time and practice. Just do it everyday and within a year, you'll be amazed the progress you make.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/24/17 09:49 PM

My teacher has suggested that I do my grade 3 exam either in June or August. Of course it is up to me whether I want to take the exam at all. What value have you guys found in preparing for the exam? I'm worried about getting bored of playing the same piece forever. I'm also worried about preparing for a million years and then messing up at the exam (I get very nervous) and feeling like crap because I know I could have done better. And since I don't *need* to take the exam, why would I put myself through that agony?

Can you guys tell me a bit about your experiences? I'm totally on the fence here.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/24/17 11:31 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
My teacher has suggested that I do my grade 3 exam either in June or August. Of course it is up to me whether I want to take the exam at all. What value have you guys found in preparing for the exam? I'm worried about getting bored of playing the same piece forever. I'm also worried about preparing for a million years and then messing up at the exam (I get very nervous) and feeling like crap because I know I could have done better. And since I don't *need* to take the exam, why would I put myself through that agony?

Can you guys tell me a bit about your experiences? I'm totally on the fence here.


I'm sort of in the same boat as you, sara. There is no need for me to take the level 3 exam at the end of May. I won't be changing careers here anytime soon smile I too worry about screwing up during the exam and the thought of it makes me nervous. But maybe it's good I try to go through that once.

I guess one thing I like about the process so far is the curriculum approach, having a set of pieces to work from including technical pieces, scales, etc. I find that to be more interesting than Alfred's or Faber. There is also the musicianship part (ear training, playback, etc). I wanted to learn more about that. The school I'm at has a weekly lesson on it and it starts tonight. 1 hour for the next twelve weeks focusing on the musicianship part, in a group setting with other students. That might be fun, I'll know more after tonight smile

The time spent with my teacher will be on the repertoire (and sight reading), but I feel like I have a solid set of pieces to choose from now. I'll certainly practice them over the next 3 months, but I don't want that to be the only thing I work on. I'll make sure to express that to my teacher tomorrow.

Anyway, I figure I'll go through this process once and see what happens come June. I can always change things up then if need be.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/25/17 02:31 AM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
My teacher has suggested that I do my grade 3 exam either in June or August. Of course it is up to me whether I want to take the exam at all. What value have you guys found in preparing for the exam? I'm worried about getting bored of playing the same piece forever. I'm also worried about preparing for a million years and then messing up at the exam (I get very nervous) and feeling like crap because I know I could have done better. And since I don't *need* to take the exam, why would I put myself through that agony?

Can you guys tell me a bit about your experiences? I'm totally on the fence here.


When I started piano four years ago I was adamant I would never take exams but now I am preparing for my first exams, AMEB Grade 5 practical and Grade 3 Music Craft, (a theory exam). What changed in my thinking was that even although I have always had a teacher, I felt I was not on the right track to learn this beautiful instrument properly. I had also reached a level of playing where I knew it would not be a big stretch to take an exam, (I may have been a little too cocky there smile). I knew that in order to take exams I would have to overcome my more laissez-faire attitude by working harder and smarter particularly at small details in the hope of improving my overall skill. In the seven months since deciding to take an exam it has been really interesting to see the changes, all for the good, in my playing and the way I practice. I believe now I am back on track, perhaps because of the tight focus required on a small selection of pieces and exercises.

For me it would not work if I did not enjoy the pieces, and for that I am grateful the AMEB syllabus has so much variety it is difficult not to find wonderful pieces. My scales and arpeggios seemed adequate at the start, but on taking a more critical and detailed view it turned out they were woefully inadequate. I am happy about this in a way for I had been blissfully unaware how poor my left hand was, and I am now working to solve this problem. Taking exams also requires overcoming several fears, which I am sure is different for everyone. One of my irrational fears at the time was melodic scales, and without the need to learn them for my exam I might still have found a reason not to do them to this day. Thankfully the fear was greater than actually learning the scales.

Perhaps one of the bigger reasons to take an exam would be to know how we are going on our own piano journey. I must admit that the awarding of a grade seemed a little too arbitrary or even worthless at first. Now I view exams as a way of defining targets I will need to reach to get to my ultimate goal.

One of the bigger reasons not to take an exam would be the idea of being judged, and the idea of failing at the exam through nervousness. Having my teacher stand behind me as I play my exam pieces is my most frightening experience to date, (and I have done live recitals laugh). I think the only way round this one is to be over prepared so mistakes are less likely. For this reason I have given myself eighteen months preparation time.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/25/17 04:15 AM

Practising for an exam makes you more critical of your playing. If you take that criticism positively, you practise longer, practise for higher precision, practise for better musicality and etc. It elevates your overall skills and abilities in a shorter time.

There will be self doubts and there will be fear of failure. But exams make you want to do your absolute best within a given time period. It makes your next goal very clear. How many pieces or scales have you practise to the point you could play your absolute best?

Once you've passed the exam, regardless of the results, you get a new found confidence that opens up possibility to advance further. You won't second guess yourself anymore.

Some people that are highly disciplined don't need exams to achieve this. For the rest like me, exams are like carrots that make me want to constantly raise my game. Hopefully one day when there are no more carrots to chase, I won't be needing them anymore.

Good luck!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/25/17 04:36 AM

I am sort of leaning toward taking the exam. I think it will force me to really polish a piece better than I have been doing so far. I think after my recital on Sunday I will have a better idea about whether my nerves can handle the pressure.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/25/17 10:34 AM

I agree with Tubbie. The first exam can be nerve wracking, but once you pass it, you have a major boost to your confidence level. I think they are well worth doing!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/13/17 03:38 PM

I found someone's doctoral thesis online, it was all about the process of becoming an RCM examiner. It was very enlightening. They are under a huge time pressure and the job is quite stressful. There is also a big push for them to make the exam experience as positive as possible so that people keep coming back to participate in the exam process. They are all very highly qualified with lots of teaching experience. It was a very interesting thesis.

If you are interested, google "Approaching the examiner's chair RCM thesis".
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/17 07:32 AM

I signed up today for the AMEB grade 5 exam, to be held in my area 28th Oct - 4th November. No pressure then smirk
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/17 10:50 AM

I've been preparing pieces for well over a year...hoping to have the nerves not an issue. On Tuesday I played my five RCM exam pieces (2 etudes and 3 repertoire)and they were pretty ok. Not perfect but I'd have felt fine with them in an exam. My level 6 is set for May both the theory exam and the performance. My arpeggios are still rough...I'm thinking they should be much smoother at this level but my thumb lacks control and often hits harder than ideal. Any success stories at a better performance from thumb??
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/17 08:33 PM

Hi Wisebuff! My arpeggios were truly horrible, but my new teacher seems to have really helped me improve them. I do not know if it will work for you, but this is what I did. The key was to play all notes at an imaginary red line down the keyboard, aligning all of the fingers along this line. This means my thumb needed to play in more, and my other fingers needed to be more rounded. The hand extends and contracts as you play. She had me set the metronome at 100 and play one note per click to even things out.

The other exercise that I did was to play five notes and stop, which passes the thumb cross by one. Eventually my arpeggios moved to two notes per click. Hope this helps!

I am about two months away from my exam now. I am feeling confident of my technical work except the pesky contra scales from F# and C! My sight reading has improved, but still feels borderline, the aural (according to e-musicmaestro) is at about 75%, and my pieces are feeling pretty good. So the next two months will be pretty intensive! I have a rental keyboard for the next two weeks, and then I will get my new piano!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/24/17 10:07 AM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
Hi Wisebuff! My arpeggios were truly horrible, but my new teacher seems to have really helped me improve them. I do not know if it will work for you, but this is what I did. The key was to play all notes at an imaginary red line down the keyboard, aligning all of the fingers along this line. This means my thumb needed to play in more, and my other fingers needed to be more rounded. The hand extends and contracts as you play.


I'm confused, so probably I have the wrong end of the stick. I can see how to apply this idea for arpeggios that are all white keys, but not for those with black keys. Do you still apply the imaginary straight line to those, and play the white keys right up in between the black keys?

Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/24/17 06:33 PM

The line is at the front of of the black keys, or just inside of them. If I am playing a scale that contains black keys, I play the #'s b's close to the front of the black keys. in a key such as Bb harmonic minor, the line is over the black keys and the white keys are played between the blacks. The "lining up" is not absolute in principle. There is some flexibility due to finger length. The idea is to play maintaining a good bridge and not play with straight, flat fingers. For me, it allowed my arpeggios and scales to flow more relaxed and smoothly, and eventually much faster.
Posted By: Tone Deaf

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/24/17 07:28 PM


Thank you sara elizabeth for your post. I looked up the afore mentioned thesis and
it makes for interesting reading. In June I am sitting for my RCM Level 2 exam, the
thougth of which puts a knot into my stomach even though my teacher feels I am
well prepared.

Reading Diana Dumlavwalla's thesis "Approaching the Examiner's Chair: Chronicling
the Experiences of Piano Examiner Apprentices for the Royal Consevatory of Music"
has made understanding whole the examination process and the role of the examiner,
for myself at least, clearer.

I found chapters 4 & 5 of particulair interest.

Periodically someone will post asking how long does an exam at level/grade xxx last.

For RCM exams it is:

Prepartory Levels - 11 minutes ___ Grade 1 - 11 minutes
Grade 2 - 14 minutes ___ Grade 3 - 14 minutes
Grade 4 - 14 minutes ___ Grade 5 - 16 minutes
Grade 6 - 16 minutes ___ Grade 7 - 16 minutes
Grade 8 - 22 minutes ___ Grade 9 - 25 minutes

To examine grade 10 and Diploma levels an examiner must have at least
5 years examining experience.




Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/24/17 08:13 PM

SwissMS.. thank you, I'll try using that image.

ToneDeaf: The realization that the exam lasts only 16 minutes certainly puts it in perspective. NOT something to worry excessively about. Good practice and then let it be.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/27/17 11:43 AM

Thanks SWissMs, that's very helpful. I can be guilty of being over-literal sometimes smile
After reading your description I went and tried it out, thinking about a "straightish" line and trying to focus on "maintaining a good bridge" - that really makes sense
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/13/17 10:18 AM

It is one month until exam time. I'm doing the written practice exams for the theory component but I'm still too slow in thinking some of it through. AND I don't trust what I know.

On the performance side I am asking friends to come and sit for 20 minutes to hear my pieces. My first one was last night and although there were note errors, I sailed through the set pretty well. I need another level of confidence and relaxation to bring out more music from each one. For that I'm believing that it will come by knowing I can play it. My friend Judith shares that our teacher "just can't understand why you'd want to put yourself through this". I laugh because of course I know she feels that way. But, it is cause for a moment of reflection and I respond. The preparation for the exams builds my identity as a musician and what I am accomplishing. In all my endeavors I've earned degrees or levels and there is something about the process that affirms me. It is a milestone marker to take the exam on this journey. To pass means I am solid at this level of piano performance and that all my hours of practice are coming together. Playing for others has always been my weakness and I want to enhance my ability there and perhaps break the barrier and make it a strength.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/13/17 04:41 PM

Sounds like a great plan, playing for your friends. I need to do this more. The other day I was playing my piece soooo well, almost no mistakes, dynamics and phrasing were perfect, I was in the flow. My husband came home and I was like "listen to this!". Yeah so it was a mess. That is so disappointing.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/13/17 05:51 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Sounds like a great plan, playing for your friends. I need to do this more. The other day I was playing my piece soooo well, almost no mistakes, dynamics and phrasing were perfect, I was in the flow. My husband came home and I was like "listen to this!". Yeah so it was a mess. That is so disappointing.


Yeah, it is really disappointing when the audience doesn't hear your best---- just keep doing it and it really, really, does get better. One thing I found helps me is to take a minute before I play for others and think about the music- (not ME and the music). I have a little mantra I internally repeat 'You know this; you love this, so share it'. I also have started putting little post-it notes on the score with a couple of thoughts about what I want to say with the music or how it makes me feel.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/14/17 10:51 AM

Love the notes to self idea. Perhaps I haven't given enough attention to what I want to say with the music. My husband feels his greatest compliment is to fall back asleep when I play. LOL.

It's 4 AM and I'm doing practice exams and the section on "rests" just gives me fits. I did find a great set of youtube videos by Ida Campanela who goes through each exam section with detail.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/17 10:52 AM

Still struggling to make the brain work the way I need it to. I had round two of my practice exam sessions. This friend imitated the judging situation quite well and asked for technique (scales, chords, arpeggios) random choices from each page of the RCM technique book. The challenge is adjusting the brain to a new key and different dimensions of the key moving quickly between them. G major scale, Db chromatic, E minor scale pattern, dominant chord of the B minor melodic etc etc.
It's a workout. ON a positive note, my etudes and repertoire pieces were more musical...perhaps a few more missed notes but... musical is good. My three repertoire pieces are:
Schumann Mignon
Haydn Minuet & trio XVI: 3
Bach French Suite #1 Sarabande

Any suggestions on which order to play them in for the exam??
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/17 11:31 AM

Funny, my initial reaction was that "obviously" you'd play Bach, Haydn, Schumann
Then I wondered why I thought this was "obvious"? It's because my exam pieces back in the day were chosen from Lists (A, B, C), and List A was always Baroque, List B Classical, List C Romantic or later. I don't remember whether I had to play the pieces in that order, but I'm pretty sure I always did.

But while I feel there is a certain logic to playing in that order, I'm by no means suggesting it's the only or best way!

Do you feel equally comfortable with all three pieces? If one was weaker, I might give consideration to where that would be best placed (first, to get it over with? last, so if something goes wrong there won't be any emotional carryover to subsequent pieces? in the middle so I can start and finish more strongly?).

There's no right answer, except what you think will flow best for you
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/20/17 12:00 PM

I was wondering I guess if the tempo or the mood of the each piece in different orders might be more rhetorically and musically pleasing. Right now none of them sound exciting to me. Kind of like when I've done a play on stage and at a certain point in the practice...it hasn't taken on it's final life yet. Just working on lines and positioning to get those right and then at performance time they come together and entertain.
Does that make any sense?
Posted By: sinophilia

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/20/17 01:59 PM

An experienced pianist once told me to play Bach first. To get it over with, first of all; but also because it will probably sound good even on an unknown piano, as there are not so many tone/expression/pedalling issues as with other pieces. I don't know if it applies to examinations, but it may be a consideration.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/20/17 03:02 PM

When it comes to exams, I would play my best, most confident piece first for two reasons. First, if you are nervous, and your brain checks out, you do not want to be in the middle of something that your not 110% with. Second, you want to make a good impression on the examiner from the first note you play.

I just received my exam date: June 12th! eek That gives me a couple of weeks more than I expected, but with all of the disruption lately, I am thrilled. My pieces are doing pretty well, and my technical work is pretty secure. I started randomizing the scales and arpeggios today. I have a bowl of poker chips with the various required exercises on them, and I pull them one by one. Any that do not go well the first time go back in the bowl.

I am worried about the aural and sight reading though. The sight reading example pieces are really difficult - 2 against threes, lots of jumps, odd rhythms, eek! I just have to remember to go slow enough and COUNT! I have an online aural workshop today, so it should show where I am on that.

It is getting real now!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/22/17 10:50 AM

Tell us about the aural workshop SwissMS. I need to do some work on the aural before my exam on May 15. I really like the poker chip idea...makes it a fun surprise.

I'm thinking I need to give myself just a few extra seconds for each technique request to make sure I've got the right key and chords. The repertoire should be okay if my mind doesn't drift off into thinking about something else in the middle. I don't know why it does that.

My husband and most of my friends keep asking "WHY do you do this to yourself?" As in "why would a sane person sign up for a piano exam".
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/23/17 04:41 AM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff


My husband and most of my friends keep asking "WHY do you do this to yourself?" As in "why would a sane person sign up for a piano exam".


it's cheaper than doing Everest
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/23/17 07:25 AM

Ha ha. Are you sure it is easier than Everest?? There are days I wonder why I am doing this!

The aural workshop was a Skype group call. The memory singing (the lower part of a two part phrase), the identification of cadences and modulations, and the analysis questions all worked well. The sight singing with accompaniment did not work due to the Skype delay. Overall it was very helpful. The participants were grade 7 and 8. She would give us each individual turns, or on the analysis section she threw it out to the group to get as much info as possible. I did pretty well overall, and it was really a confidence builder to have to answer in front of others. Boy grade 8 is tough! For the cadences at grade 7 I need to identify type of cadence (perfect, imperfect, plagal, interrupted) and the last two chords. At grade 8 they ID the last three chords, including the inversions!

Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/23/17 12:22 PM

Ahhhh...hearing the cadences and id-ing them? that DOES sound difficult. Level 6 RCM has cadence in the written but not in the performance. Everest might be a proper metaphor...at least it feels like it now.

I played one of my performance pieces for my teacher and totally botched the rhythm. But I CAN do it correctly. Hoping exam day is one of those experiences.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/24/17 09:53 AM

I think it is a good thing to botch a seemingly learned piece in front of your teacher. It points out where the hidden weaknesses are. I played all three of my exam pieces for my teacher in my last lesson, and totally botched the one I thought was most secure. I played a wrong note, and then totally blanked out and did not know how to continue. She said she was glad that happened in a lesson, so I would recognize that I was doing too much autopilot playing, and not enough sectional work. So now I am starting from different starting places throughout the piece, and working parts that I slide through without thinking. Polishing for exams is like nothing I have ever done before. Instead of learning it until its right, I think you have to learn it until you cannot get it wrong!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/24/17 11:55 AM

Oh...yes...you are so right on learning it until you can't get it wrong. Now I wish I had a couple of more weeks.

I am also doing the theory exam and taking practice exams. If I scan and post, is there anyone willing to "grade" them for me? Maybe just one?

Have a great day!
Posted By: PianoStudent88

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/24/17 12:54 PM

Hi Wisebuff, what level theory? I'd be willing to grade practice exams for you.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/25/17 10:17 AM

PS88, This is RCM LEvel 6 theory or intermediate.

Posted By: Theory Grl

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/26/17 03:46 AM

Scan and post. I will grade it.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/26/17 12:14 PM

Thank you Theroy Grl. I'll do that today.

Another question? Do any of you have the Haydn Hob.XVI:3 Minuet and Trio with a metronome marking?
Mine has 32 and I'm sure that's a misprint. Thank you in advance.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/04/17 11:03 AM

I have sort of chosen my pieces for the exam, but it is in August. Do you think I can maintain them for that long? How often should I be working on them to keep them fresh? I'm only grade 3 so they are short.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/04/17 11:05 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
I have sort of chosen my pieces for the exam, but it is in August. Do you think I can maintain them for that long? How often should I be working on them to keep them fresh? I'm only grade 3 so they are short.


Hi Sara,

I go through my pieces and technical stuff several times during the week, but not everyday. I take the exam on May 28th. After that, I'll probably never play them again ;0
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/05/17 01:53 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
I have sort of chosen my pieces for the exam, but it is in August. Do you think I can maintain them for that long? How often should I be working on them to keep them fresh? I'm only grade 3 so they are short.


Hi Sara,

I go through my pieces and technical stuff several times during the week, but not everyday. I take the exam on May 28th. After that, I'll probably never play them again ;0


The technical stuff. Yeah. Gotta work on that more.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/05/17 02:56 AM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
I have sort of chosen my pieces for the exam, but it is in August. Do you think I can maintain them for that long? How often should I be working on them to keep them fresh? I'm only grade 3 so they are short.


If you are playing the pieces really well then you can rest them and return prior to the exam to bring them back up to performance.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/05/17 12:55 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth


The technical stuff. Yeah. Gotta work on that more.


For me, it's ear training. I'm hoping for 50% there.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/05/17 04:58 PM

Do you have to sing in the RCM exams? I really dread the two singing tests - repeat the lower part of a two part phrase from memory and sing the upper part of a two part phrase from the score. I belt it out confidently eek but not necessarily correctly. The analysis part is not too bad. I am hoping for a "skin of the teeth" pass.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/05/17 05:25 PM

Nope, no singing .. thankfully. Well, maybe at higher levels, not sure. For intervals, Level 3, you can either identify them or sing them as I understand it. I just plan to call out a "Perfect Confusion" ;0
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/08/17 09:15 AM

Last week of prep!! Theory exam is on Saturday and with the expertise and patient help of PianoStudent88 I might squeak by with a pass. I miss little details mostly...a dot here or there or my brain gets mixed up on a key. AND they've changed the terminology this year. I have such respect and admiration for true piano students. Although I love music it is not my major and I'm trying to catch up on theory that I've never seemed to need.

The performance exam is just one week from today. The technical skills are daunting. Hoping that at least half of it comes out accurately. The listen and playback is just not going well for me and the sight reading is getting worse (working from the level 6 sight reading book). Oh my...

The process of preparation for this exam has taught me a lot about the pieces I'm playing, theory, and maybe most of all challenges me to accept myself as adequate. My hope is always to excel but my nerves and my tendency to lose focus may undermine that hope.

Thank you to each of you for your encouragement and suggestions. Wish we could have champagne after Monday's exam together.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/08/17 10:14 AM

wishing you all the very best Wisebuff.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/08/17 11:01 AM

Good luck WiseBuff! Soon all of your hard work will pay off!!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/09/17 09:24 AM

All the best WiseBuff! Trust yourself and the many hours you have put into preparing for the exam. If slips or errors happen, forgive yourself and keep on playing. Do the best you can on that day and have no regrets. Then go treat yourself!

Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/09/17 10:43 AM

Good luck! I'm sure you will do well with all of your preparation. smile
Posted By: kahtwoloo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/10/17 03:00 AM

First time taker here. I just passed ABRSM grade 5 with a 105 pretty much as a self learner (I took lessons for a little more than a year a loooong time ago). I basically just did this as a benchmark. I'm definately going to continue but I'm a a little worried about how I'm playing my pieces, the part that actually matters. I got 22,23,23 and I was absolutely sure I was playing on at least a level that deserves a merit for two of them. Some of the criticism the examiner wrote was wrong too, saying I was playing wrong notes which 100% untrue. Anyways. What are some tips for getting that grade 6 merit?
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/10/17 04:40 AM

Originally Posted by kahtwoloo
Anyways. What are some tips for getting that grade 6 merit?


Here are the specific metrics used by ABRSM for the differences between pass and merit:

Pass
•Generally correct notes
•Sufficiently reliable intonation to maintain tonality
•Suitable tempo
•Generally stable pulse
•Overall rhythmic accuracy
•Generally reliable
•Adequate tonal awareness
•Some realisation of musical shape and/or detail
•Generally secure, prompt recovery from slips
•Some musical involvement

Merit
•Largely accurate notes and intonation
•Sustained, effective tempo
•Good sense of rhythm
•Mainly controlled and consistent
•Good tonal awareness
•Clear musical shaping, well-realised detail
•Positive
•Carrying musical conviction
•Character and style communicated

As a benchmark, you know where you stand. The ABRSM and RCM are designed to be easy to pass but not as easy to do well and hard to achieve distinction. They also get more demanding as grades move up. The quality of playing you gave may have earned you a merit in grade 4 and even a distinction in grade 2-3. Which means if the quality of your playing does not improve you may not pass the higher grades or even the next one.

In another post you said you hate Baroque and Classical. I'd think right there that would doom you from doing well on several important metric in the merit column such as positive, musical conviction, and communicating character and style of the music.

Tip for next time, well, obvious one would be get a teacher who prepares students for ABRSM, even if it's for the 3-6 months before your next exam. If that's not possible, listen to lots and lots of good baroque and classical music. Let the music sink in. It needs to be part of you. If you can't feel it, you can't play it. If you still hate classical music despite trying your best then by all means play something else.

You could try to mark an ABRSM 5 Exam yourself. I just did it and mark it exactly as ABRSM would have. The point is not whether you think you played better than the person in the video, but whether you understand and agree with how ABRSM measures. http://us.abrsm.org/en/exam-support...s/grade-5-piano-2015/?examelement=Pieces
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/10/17 07:20 PM

For ABRSM exams, IMHO, your technical work (scales, arpeggios etc.) must be very good. They are generally the first thing the examiners hear. The exams are not just about pieces.

As you go up the levels, the expectations increase dramatically. The examiners are going to want a more polished sound, plus evidence that you have mastered sight reading to the appropriate level, and have the prerequisite technical and aural skills. I think it would be unusual to gain a merit or distinction without the guidance of a teacher who can give you feedback about your presentation of the pieces as well as the other skill sets.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/11/17 08:49 AM

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves

You could try to mark an ABRSM 5 Exam yourself. I just did it and mark it exactly as ABRSM would have. The point is not whether you think you played better than the person in the video, but whether you understand and agree with how ABRSM measures. http://us.abrsm.org/en/exam-support...s/grade-5-piano-2015/?examelement=Pieces


This is great 8 Octaves, thanks for sharing.
That poor boy's sight reading illustrates perhaps why I am not going the exam route :-)
I watched the Grade 8 piano also. It was very impressive and well worth a look.
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/11/17 05:22 PM

Originally Posted by barbaram
I watched the Grade 8 piano also. It was very impressive and well worth a look.


The grade 8 sight-reading was most impressive. The person obviously had done a lot of theory in addition to whatever other skills he had to pull that off. He played wrong notes, but not wrong sounding notes if you know what I mean.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/12/17 11:46 AM

Kudos to the ABRSM for having such thing on their website. It gives the candidates very good idea of what the examiner is expecting and what elements they listen to for scoring. Candidates can then compare where they are at and decide if they are ready for exam. I wish I had something like this when I took my AMEB grade 8 piano and violin.

The aural tests seem very difficult compared to AMEB. AMEB, take out your pen and paper and take some serious notes. ABRSM syllabi are freely published on their website in PDF!
Posted By: Ralph L.

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/12/17 01:23 PM

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
Originally Posted by kahtwoloo
Anyways. What are some tips for getting that grade 6 merit?


Here are the specific metrics used by ABRSM for the differences between pass and merit:

Pass
•Generally correct notes
•Sufficiently reliable intonation to maintain tonality
•Suitable tempo
•Generally stable pulse
•Overall rhythmic accuracy
•Generally reliable
•Adequate tonal awareness
•Some realisation of musical shape and/or detail
•Generally secure, prompt recovery from slips
•Some musical involvement

Merit
•Largely accurate notes and intonation
•Sustained, effective tempo
•Good sense of rhythm
•Mainly controlled and consistent
•Good tonal awareness
•Clear musical shaping, well-realised detail
•Positive
•Carrying musical conviction
•Character and style communicated

As a benchmark, you know where you stand. The ABRSM and RCM are designed to be easy to pass but not as easy to do well and hard to achieve distinction. They also get more demanding as grades move up. The quality of playing you gave may have earned you a merit in grade 4 and even a distinction in grade 2-3. Which means if the quality of your playing does not improve you may not pass the higher grades or even the next one.

In another post you said you hate Baroque and Classical. I'd think right there that would doom you from doing well on several important metric in the merit column such as positive, musical conviction, and communicating character and style of the music.

Tip for next time, well, obvious one would be get a teacher who prepares students for ABRSM, even if it's for the 3-6 months before your next exam. If that's not possible, listen to lots and lots of good baroque and classical music. Let the music sink in. It needs to be part of you. If you can't feel it, you can't play it. If you still hate classical music despite trying your best then by all means play something else.

You could try to mark an ABRSM 5 Exam yourself. I just did it and mark it exactly as ABRSM would have. The point is not whether you think you played better than the person in the video, but whether you understand and agree with how ABRSM measures. http://us.abrsm.org/en/exam-support...s/grade-5-piano-2015/?examelement=Pieces

Very helpful info!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 12:54 AM

WHOOOHOOOOO! I finished both the level 6 theory exam and the level 6 performance exam. I feel exhilarated that I accomplished the study, perseverance, and courage to complete this accomplishment. On the other hand I am not delusional about my performance and know that with my shaky hands, I missed a LOT of notes. I didn't do the playback well at all AND I didn't count the final note in my final piece adequately. So there were MANY blunders but I didn't fall into total embarrassment so....a pass would be a pat on the back. Thank you all for your ongoing support. I come out of this with new appreciation for the C student who tries really hard but never makes it to an A. That must be me on piano. BUT I still love to play and appreciate all I have learned from my intense study of technique and theory. I just ordered level 7 technical requirements book. Once a driven competitor always going for the gold. At this point I'm really happy with finishing the race.

Now for a glass of wine...
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 01:23 AM

Fantastic work! Well done! You already got the pat in the back from all of us. All the best with your results. When will you find out? Go spoil yourself now and you can do much better than a glass of wine :-)
Posted By: PianoStudent88

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 01:30 AM

Congratulations, Wisebuff! You well deserve that glass of wine!
Posted By: 8 Octaves

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 01:49 AM

Big congratulations WiseBuff! What you doing to celebrate the awesome milestone?
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 01:58 AM

Wisebuff, CONGRATS!!!!! Hope you are now happily celebrating with a big glass of wine (or two or three!) Onward to Level 7, but take a little time to bask in the accommplishment.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 03:04 AM

congratulations WiseBuff. Still months away from my practical exam but have just upped my practice in a way I never really knew existed so almost know what you went through. So happy to hear someone from this like minded group of enthusiasts has done well. Onward and upward.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 07:00 AM

Congratulations Wisebuff! Now kick back and relax a while. Then on to grade 7!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 09:14 AM

Thank you all!!! Your support and suggestions really help. I won't have a score for at least 4 weeks I think but they post them online so I'll check in a couple of weeks. Yes, I did have a couple of glasses of wine...anymore than 3 and I can't sleep. LOL! I realize that my biggest hurdle is to play play play for others so that I rid myself of exam anxiety (or at least minimize it). I don't feel that anxiety on the written exams...just the performance. Either that or beta blockers.

And as I walked out of the exam yesterday I thought "ahhhh that's the last of those exams for me" but then by the time I got home last night I ordered the next set up level 7 technical requirements. At the very least it makes me push my fingers to new movements and speeds. Maybe I enjoy the learning process more than the exams. Next time I'll record my pieces and have you all give me feedback as part of my process.

Play on!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 09:23 AM

Congratulations WiseBuff!
Posted By: casinitaly

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 10:27 AM

I haven't really been following this thread because I'm not really into the exam scene, but when I noticed posts sending out congratulations to Wisebuff I had to drop in!

Well done Wisebuff - you seem to have handled it all very well - I look forward to hearing the final results!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 11:22 AM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff


And as I walked out of the exam yesterday I thought "ahhhh that's the last of those exams for me" but then by the time I got home last night I ordered the next set up level 7 technical requirements. At the very least it makes me push my fingers to new movements and speeds. Maybe I enjoy the learning process more than the exams. Next time I'll record my pieces and have you all give me feedback as part of my process.

Play on!


I was exactly like you. As soon as I finished my last exam, I said, that's it. I'm done. Then the results came and that followed by the itch for the next exam! Here I am preparing for the next one :-)
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 12:05 PM

Tubbie0075, We just can't quit pushing ourselves to whatever is the next success can we? My piano teacher needs me to work on the quartet and duet (not to mention the solo) I'm supposed to play for the piano party on May 24. Oh my...that is next week. I've been so wrapped up in the exam prep.
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/16/17 01:50 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
............And as I walked out of the exam yesterday I thought "ahhhh that's the last of those exams for me" but then by the time I got home last night I ordered the next set up level 7 technical requirements............
laugh laugh laugh
I don't do exams, but I do know the "No, I'm not going to do any more of this" immediately followed by "Well, okay, maybe one more" feeling.

Congratulations on completing your grade 6 exam, WiseBuff! Cheers!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/20/17 12:50 AM

I had my last year training class today, exam is a week from Sunday. I'm glad I took these classes with the school. It was a fun experience going through it with other students. Makes it a little less isolating. I think I'm certainly more prepared for this part of the exam, compared to if I had done ear training on my own.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/20/17 01:26 AM

I'm excited and nervous for you Dan!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/20/17 01:42 AM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
I'm excited and nervous for you Dan!

Thanks, Sara. I'll let you know all the details so that it might help you in August smile
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/27/17 02:13 PM

Good luck tomorrow! What pieces are you playing for the exam? I got my date - Aug 24th at 12:04. They were very specific. Not 12:00 and not 12:05.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/27/17 03:33 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Good luck tomorrow! What pieces are you playing for the exam? I got my date - Aug 24th at 12:04. They were very specific. Not 12:00 and not 12:05.


Thanks! Haha, same here. Tomorrow at 9:44. Why not 9:45?

Repertoire
List A - Polonaise In G Minor (BWV Anh. 119) - Attr. Bach
List B - Sonatina in C Major (Op. 36, No. 1, Second Movement - Andante) - Clementi
List C - Interlude - Martha Mier

Etudes:
Arabesque (Op. 100, No. 2) - Burgmüller
Etude in F Major (Op. 777, No. 22) - Czerny
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/27/17 06:19 PM

Good luck bSharp(C)yclist! I am sure you will do great!
Posted By: Albunea

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/27/17 07:14 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist


Thanks! Haha, same here. Tomorrow at 9:44. Why not 9:45?

Repertoire
List A - Polonaise In G Minor (BWV Anh. 119) - Attr. Bach
List B - Sonatina in C Major (Op. 36, No. 1, Second Movement - Andante) - Clementi
List C - Interlude - Martha Mier

Etudes:
Arabesque (Op. 100, No. 2) - Burgmüller
Etude in F Major (Op. 777, No. 22) - Czerny


Looks difficult! Good luck! smile

The question about the strange minute must be one of those Musical Mysteries...
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 12:40 AM

Thanks, everyone. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. Regardless of how it goes though, I'm pretty happy where I'm at. 18 months ago I would have never imagined I would be here.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 01:13 AM

best of luck, keep those nerves in check
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 02:48 AM

Good luck bSharp(C)yclist! Believe in yourself. You can do it!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 03:28 AM

Is it OK to bring a rag with me to wipe off the keys? I forgot to ask my teacher this today. I'd rather not have oil on the keys causing my fingers to slip or something, although that's a good excuse if I screw up smile
Posted By: Ralphiano

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 04:24 AM

I thought that's what shirt tails were for! confused

Take a wad of pine tar and smear it on the keys. The examiner will admire your creativity! laugh

Good luck, you are going to be fine! thumb
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 10:59 AM

Best of luck. Great idea to wipe off the keys...maybe like a sanitize wipe. My time was also quite specific at 12:01 BUT the whole morning was running late so I didn't get in until after 1 PM. Don't know if it hurt or helped to have the time to chill.

The examiners are supposed to be fair and pleasant so you'll have fun.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 06:22 PM

It's over! Yeah! I received an email reminder last night and it mentioned you could arrive early and warm up in a separate room. So I got there 20 minutes early. We started exactly on time and it was over in about 15-20 minutes. I know I flubbed a few things, but I played through those errors. In the sonatina I guess I "ghosted" some notes because I was trying to play softly, and so I didn't hear anything. I guess that's the difference between an acoustic and digital. But I didn't stop, kept playing through it and I thought I ended the piece very well. The examiner was taking a lot of notes on the laptop - I could hear a lot of laptop keyboard clicking while I was playing laugh

Sight reading/ear training - it's exactly how the book and online exercises prepare you. If you do that, you'll be fine. I think I did better with the ear training than I thought I would, but I won't know for sure until the results come back.

The examiner was very friendly and made me feel comfortable, although we didn't chit chat much in the beginning. At the end though I did say this was my first exam and he said congratulations, well done. You were obviously very well prepared. He said most adults come in shaking and sweating, which thankfully didn't happen so much. I think having that 20 minutes prior to the examine to warm up a bit really helped. However, the keys on the practice piano they allowed me to use felt very heavy, much heavier than my digital obviously and heavier than the keys on the piano in the exam room. It's interesting how variables like this can affect your playing. I should really invest in an acoustic.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I passed, but I doubt with any sort of honors or merits, or whatever they are called. I think I made too many mistakes. But now I can officially retire these books and move on, although my teacher had mentioned not to start level 4 right away. We are going to work on and continue with some fun pieces first, River Flows in You for recital, Waltz in A minor, and a piece from Senneville.
Posted By: Albunea

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 06:35 PM

Woohoo!!! yippie It sounds fantastic. smile
Posted By: Ralphiano

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 07:41 PM

That sounds great, bSharp! You have high standards, so your satisfaction tells me that you did very well. Congratulations! smile
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 10:14 PM

Yippee horray !! ,Congrats, bSharp 😊
It's nice to read about all these piano world members who are passing exams 👏
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 10:21 PM

congratulations, you should reward yourself with a new acoustic now you are a bona fide pianist smirk
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 10:42 PM

Wow sounds like you did great! It's good that you got some feedback, even if it was minimal. I've read that note mistakes are not as important as musicality problems, so it sounds like you will get a fantastic mark. Do you know how long it takes?
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/17 11:08 PM

Well, I haven't officially passed, so I shouldn't say that. But I feel pretty good about it. I can say I'm a bit bummed that I didn't play as well as I do at home or during lessons, but I guess that's generally the case with everyone.

Sara - The back of the form I had to turn in this morning said it takes between 4 and 8 weeks to get the results electronically, but my teacher said it usually doesn't take that long. Maybe 2 to 3.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 03:45 AM

Congratulations for getting through the exam! You will receive more congratulations when you get your official results no doubt.

May I ask which exam are you taking? While there is plenty I want to complain about AMEB (Australia), I commend then for their efficiency of exam results and report. I got my results online (without examiner's comments) in less than 24 hours. I got my exam report and certificate in less than a week.

I hope you get your results soon. The suspense of waiting for the results can be excruciating.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 04:12 AM

Hi Tubbie,

I took the RCM Level 3 exam. The results will come electronically and not mailed. Because it's electronic, I would think it come sooner, but it appears it doesn't. I guess I'll just have to wait smile
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 06:12 AM

Congratulations bSharp(c)yclist! It sounds like your exam went really well. It is nice that you had an examiner who was very friendly. For him to say "congratulations, well done" sounds like a definite pass!
Posted By: sinophilia

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 07:24 AM

Congratulations bSharp, you're doing great. Time to get a real piano! wink
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 09:02 AM

Congratulations bSharp, sounds like you did great!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 11:11 AM

FANtastic! You did it Bsharp and you have every reason to feel exhilarated, happy, and proud. Way to go.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/17 09:42 PM

Congratulations bSharp! Now you can relax. I took ABRSM grade 6 last year and I remember the feeling. Waiting for the results is a pain. I am taking a break this year and possibly next year from preparing for exams. I am just practicing and learning the pieces for the level. Once I am ready, I am going to take the grade 8 exam and skip the grade 7.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/17 03:37 PM

Looks like I officially passed. 87. I'm a bit bummed it's not 100, but that's the perfectionist in me, haha ;0 The comments were very kind overall. One common piece of feedback is for me not to have the LH overshadow the RH. But there are some comments I don't quite understand. I'll have to work through them with my teacher and try not to repeat them the next time.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/17 04:35 PM

Congratulations bSharp(C)yclist! That is a very good score, especially for the first time in an exam! With an unfamiliar piano it is not uncommon to find the balance between the right hand and left hand more problematic. Even with that, it sounds like you did great overall. Now relax and enjoy the summer!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/17 04:38 PM

Wow that is an amazing mark! Way to go!
Posted By: Ralphiano

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/17 08:45 PM

Well done, bSharp! Your hard work has paid off. Congratulations! thumb
Posted By: Tone Deaf

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/17 09:57 PM


Congratulations, bSharp, we all want a perfect mark, but 87 isn't chopped liver. My exam (only RCM level 2) is next Monday. As I have
absolutely no talent for music, should I manage an 87 I will be over the moon. Once again Congratulations!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/07/17 10:47 PM

congratulations, 87 shows how much hard work you put in, it's a pretty good score in my opinion.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/08/17 01:46 AM

Thanks, everyone. I am happy with the score. I am excited to talk to my teacher about it, hopefully she'll be proud. I think a lot of credit has to go to her too. No matter how many times I run through a piece, she'll point out something that could be better. She wasn't quick to pass me. If I had done this on my own I probably would have been satisfied at the point of just learning the notes. This experience has shown me there is a lot more to it than that.

The stuff I missed isn't anything she hasn't told me. It just points out things I need to pay more attention to next time. For the most part, the reviewer's recommendations centered around dynamics, keeping it balanced or bringing out the melody more. Maybe that will help you Sara and Tone Deaf for your exam. There was no mention of missed notes or wrong notes, which did happen in the list B piece. There was a part that was supposed to be pp, but it was sounding loud so I tried to go softer, but went too soft and produced no sound. That threw me off and I flubbed a few things, but I didn't stop or repeat, I just keep going.

I do run scenarios through my head about if I had done this or that, maybe I would have squeezed out 3 more points. For example, the playback I got 3 out 4. I know I got the very last note wrong, but I didn't try to fix it. I could have, but then you would have heard that I was fixing it. So I probably wouldn't have gotten 4 points for it anyway, it would have just sounded worse.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/08/17 02:08 AM

Congratulations! 87 is a really good score! Hard work do pay off.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/08/17 07:09 AM

bSharp: Congrats! Well done to score an 87. What I think is really great is that you have thought about the experience and the comments and seemed to have really learned by the process. Like a piano lesson on steroids, right?

Tone Deaf: Good luck next week.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/08/17 08:59 AM

Congratulations for passing with first class honour (80-89)! At 87, you have achieved well above the national average for 2016 for piano level 3, which was 79. You should be very proud!

To inspire you for your next exam, 3 more marks and you will be placed at the national top 2%!

I wish AMEB publish these kinds of statistics.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/08/17 11:23 AM

Great result bSharp, congratulations!
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 05:01 AM

Hi all I'm new to the forums and have started relearning piano as kids are interested in learning. I have always considered going back and finish my grades. I was studying grade 5 ameb years ago as a teenager. I have had a look at the syllabus and think I will work through from grade 1. I do feel grade 2-3 would be more of a challenge for me but I would struggle with the technical work but I guess I could just take longer and get the technical work solid. I will be self teaching at least to start with.

Gemma
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 06:13 AM

Originally Posted by Gemma121
I do feel grade 2-3 would be more of a challenge for me but I would struggle with the technical work but I guess I could just take longer and get the technical work solid. I will be self teaching at least to start with.

Gemma


just my two cents worth but you might find grade 1 too easy and therefore not very satisfying.
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 07:11 AM

That's true I was considering just jumping up to grade 3 but am worried that would be too big a jump but I guess I could just take longer I was a bit of a lazy piano student when I was having lessons. I might go middle ground and do grade 2. My sight reading is terrible I always hated that part.
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 07:27 AM

Well done bSharp.

As an aside I'll tell you all a little of my exam history and experiences. As I have mentioned in other posts I'm not primarily a 'classical' Pianist, but when I was in my late 20s (back in the late 80s) for reasons that are lost in the mists of time I decided to take up classical Guitar. I'd already been playing the Piano since I was about 8 and fancied trying something different.

So I found a Guitar teacher, who has become a longtime friend of mine, and took the ABRSM grade 2 and 4 guitar exams. These were the first I'd ever taken. It was a scary experience but I passed. I started working on Guitar grade 5, but my interest faded and so as my Teacher was an all-round musician who could play some Piano I asked him if he would enter me for some piano exams. He agreed and I took grade 5 theory and we decided that ABRSM grade 6 is where I should start. Looking back now this seems incredibly ambitious! Anyway I passed grade 6, which surprised me. I have no memory of the exam at all. Inbetween doing this I decided that as it was most unlikely that I would ever get a practical grade 8, I took and passed ABRSM grade 7 and grade 8 theory.

Then I/we decided I should attempt ABRSM grade 7. The exam was at a local school (as they nearly always were in my experience) and about 20 mins before I was due to go in I went into another room and warmed up, not by practicing my scales and arpeggios, but by playing my cross fertilisation of Jimmy Yancy and Prof Longhair on a blues in F. Stupid Boy. When I then walked back into the waiting area a young lad said to me something along the lines of "wow you won't have any trouble passing, playing like that". Little did he know or understand.....

Anyway I then took the exam and I have one memory, which sums up the entire exam. The examiner said play me the scale of Ab minor melodic, and I did, except what came out was a new version of the scale that I made up on the spot, blessed with a few mis-fingerings. Under pressure I couldn't remember the scale, if I actually knew it all. I failed grade 7! But, and this is a lesson to everyone, I would have passed if I had learnt my scales and arpeggios properly. I did well enough on the pieces and most of the other bits, and was only about 6 marks short of a pass. Then (this exam was 1992), and maybe still now ABRSM grades were/are marked out of 150 and to pass you need 100. I got ninety something, and failed through laziness.

If I ever get to retire its my intention to try grade 7 again, as I play far more now than I did in those days. Perhaps I'll even attempt grade 8. Or maybe I'll just stick to playing blues. The joy of music!!

Cheers
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 09:12 AM

Originally Posted by Gemma121
I might go middle ground and do grade 2. My sight reading is terrible I always hated that part.


If you have an ipad I would recommend SightRead4Piano app as it has AMEB, (and others), graded exercises. My sight reading is also really bad but I would not let that hold you back. You are probably not able (or interested) in sitting an AMEB exam in the June/July 2017 cycle, with the next being Oct/Nov. If you gave yourself a year to get up to speed you might be surprised what you could achieve with your previous experience, which I am sure just needs to be awoken smile

The difference between grades 2 & 3 technical requirements doesn't look huge. Both have about the same amount of scales with grade three introducing some staccato scales and arpeggios (broken chord arpeggios required in grade 2).

If your kids are into exams then you probably already have it, if not the AMEB book of Aural Tests is essential. A bit pricey but it has the tests and CD's for preliminary to grade 8.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 11:51 AM

Originally Posted by Gemma121
That's true I was considering just jumping up to grade 3 but am worried that would be too big a jump but I guess I could just take longer I was a bit of a lazy piano student when I was having lessons. I might go middle ground and do grade 2. My sight reading is terrible I always hated that part.


Welcome to the forums! I got to level 3 as a kid. I restarted in grade 1 and only ended up spending a month or two on it. Level 2 I spent about 3 months. When I hit level 3 my progress slowed. So for me at least, it was pretty quick getting back to where I left off.
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 12:56 PM

Thanks all I just grabbed the syllabus and had a look at the scale requirements.. I wrote them all down and found a page with all the scales online and started playing them. I was able to quickly get them to both hands to octaves so I think I'll definitely start on grade 3 and will give myself a year to be ready. I think you are right earlofmar and I just need to reawaken the old knowledge. I'm actually quite surprised at how much I remember given a couple of weeks ago I had to look up the rhyme for reading the bass clef.

Simon_b I had the experience of completely forgetting a scale in an exam as a kid I tried so hard to remember it and attempted it about 3 tines before having to admit that I couldn't remember it. It was a super easy scale too my teacher was like how did you forget that (obviously she didn't say that but I'm sure that's what she was thinking). I still passed though but would have done much better if I hadn't forgotten it.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 01:49 PM

My grade 2 exam as a kid I forgot an entire piece. My teacher always referred to them as "inventions" and the examiner kept asking me if I had another "piece". I kept saying I didn't. After leaving the exam I remembered I did, in fact, have another piece. Oops. Well I still passed with a decent mark. The inventions weren't worth many marks thank goodness.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 01:51 PM

It's easy for me to get lazy with scales, ear training and sight reading. Not counting the Etudes, this made up 32% of the RCM exam I took. I think they are relatively easy points to be earned. Although I practiced this during the months leading up to the exam, it wasn't until the last 3 weeks that I really buckled down and said I'm going to do this everyday.
Posted By: cefinow

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/11/17 09:37 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
My grade 2 exam as a kid I forgot an entire piece. My teacher always referred to them as "inventions" and the examiner kept asking me if I had another "piece". I kept saying I didn't. After leaving the exam I remembered I did, in fact, have another piece. Oops. Well I still passed with a decent mark. The inventions weren't worth many marks thank goodness.


That's an adorable story!-- I love the classic kid logic-- It's not a *piece*, it's an *invention*! cool
And the obviously bewildered examiner... lol
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/12/17 04:05 PM

I sat my grade 7 ABRSM today. It was quite an adventure. There was no warm up piano in the waiting area, which meant starting out cold. I did scales first, to get the hands going. He asked for a D major scale first, and I promptly played a d major arpeggios. He said, "that was a lovely arpeggio, but I asked for the scale". I tried to make a joke of it, but he was not having it. After that he asked for one of each type of scale - major, minor harmonic, minor melodic; a third apart major and minor; a scale in thirds; contra scales major & minor; plus two of each type of arpeggios in root and first inversion and dominant and diminished 7th. He asked for well over half of the scales played staccato, including contra chromatic starting on F#. Boy am I glad I spent a lot of time practicing staccato scales! I had to repeat a couple of them, as well as a couple arpeggios, so I do not know how I did.

I made silly mistakes in each piece, but nothing showstopping. The worst was the boogy, where I had two places that I had to ad lib to get back on track. I carried on after each mistakes, which is something they grade on. The Chopin when the best (C# minor nocturne). It went beautifully, but I fluffed the big run!

He asked for the aural next, which kind of threw me off.

Unfortunately I do not think I did well in the Aural. I sang the lower part of a two part phrase, and he said that was not perfect, let's try again"". That surprised me, because I thought I did it well the first time. I am petty sure I missed the first chord in the cadence, and I am not sure that I was correct on my reasoning on the answers on the piece analysis.

Then after the aural he said "that concludes the exam, thank you" and I started to leave. As I was walking out the door he remembered that he had not asked for sight reading and called me back! The sight reading was a gift. It was really easy, and I think I did well. Always before after the exam, the examiner has chatted with me a bit. Not this examiner. It was like he was rushing me out the door!

So, now the long wait. It is usually two weeks before we get results. I am fairly sure I passed, but the examiner sure did not give anything away.
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/12/17 07:10 PM

Well done SwissMS, I'm sure you will have passed.

That said, it does sound a lot more difficult than when I took and failed my grade 7.
But that was 25 years ago and my memory is not what it was!

Funnily enough the examiner I had for my grade 7 was a quiet chap, who didn't say very much. Yet on the analysis of my performance he wrote some very encouraging words telling me not to give up etc...

Next up for you the big one!!

Cheers
Posted By: cefinow

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/12/17 08:19 PM

Congratulations SwissMS on making the best of what sounds like a difficult exam! Your last FOYD entry mentioned the upcoming exam, so I was wondering what it would be like. Thanks for the detailed report. Now, in another few weeks...
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/12/17 09:55 PM

Great job SwissMS sounds like you did a good job with a difficult exam. Enjoy the break and the wait for results. Hopefully he gives helpful feedback even though he was rushing you out.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/12/17 10:46 PM

I'm proud of you for doing this level of exam😊Looks daunting !!!!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 01:14 AM

congratulations SwissMS, I hoped you passed because I know how hard you would have worked to get there.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 01:51 AM

Great job SwissMS. It sounds like you had a pretty cold fish for an examiner. frown boo. It's too bad they can't all be full of personality.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 02:35 AM

Congratulations SwissMS! I know that is not an easy exam. Now you can relax.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 02:51 AM

Congrats SwissMS. That level of an exam seems tough. I think you've accomplished something that maybe 1% of the world has done. Actually, I don't know what the percentage is, it can't be high. Be proud of yourself!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 08:28 AM

Congratulations SwissMS, that sounds tough! Fingers crossed now for the results
Posted By: casinitaly

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 02:52 PM

SwissMs - that sounds brutal!!!! Good for you for not going into a spin over it!

I look forward to hearing your results!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 03:29 PM

Thanks for the well wishes everyone. I had a "post exam" lesson with my teacher today and we talked about the next steps. She feels, and I agree, that I need to do more grade 7 material, some pischna exercises, and a lot of work on the scales a third and a sixth apart before we move on. She wants to see how long it takes me to learn three more grade 7 pieces. When I can learn them in three weeks or less, she will be ready to start me on grade 8. So, assuming I passed grade 7, I am not going to sit grade eight for at least a year, and probably a year and 1/2. This exam was humbling. They expect a pretty high standard at the upper grades!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 11:11 PM

Good job SwissMS! The experience is unique each time for sure. I bet you did well!

And my results are in for my RCM Level 6!! I PASSED!!!! Nothing superb or laudatory but I passed and that feels good. I missed points on many things including not memorizing, flubbed the playback, and sight reading was not flawless. However, my pieces were well received. All of the technical exercises are new to me in the last four years so I feel I'm working to catch up. Perhaps I should have started at level 1. LOL!
Don't know if I'll sit another exam but I will work the exercises and learn pieces in each genre. I think having a exam savvy teacher would help and perhaps I'll look to find that.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 11:40 PM

Congratulations WiseBuff, your hard work has also paid off. Second the idea of finding an exam savvy teacher. My own teacher (now semi-retired) has spent a lifetime taking students through all levels up to grade 8, and even just recently attended a masterclass given by AMEB on what they look for in students. You just can't beat that sort of experience and dedication.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/13/17 11:43 PM

Congrats, WiseBuff! Out of curiosity, what pieces did you play?
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/17 12:29 AM

Congratulations on your pass! All that hard work paid off. smile
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/17 12:56 AM

Thank you all for your support. I wanted to share first (well after my husband) with this group.

bSharp I played
Etudes:
Czerny Study in Aflat major
Toccatina Op 27 no 12 Kabalevsky

Repertoire:
Mignon Op 6 no 35 Schumann
Minuet & Trio in C HOb XVI:3 Haydn
French Suite #1 Sarabande Bach




3hearts
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/17 06:30 AM

Congratulations on passing Wisebuff! Job well done! These exams are so stressful, but it feels so good when it comes out well!
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/17 11:29 AM

Well done wisebuff on your results.

I've settled on third grade to do to start. I just ordered my third grade book and recordings can't wait to get to work on them when they arrive. I am currently working on relearning the scales required and doing well with them. Took me a while to figure out the broken chords pattern but I've got it worked out now.
Posted By: torquenale

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/17 12:57 PM

Congratulations bSharp, SwissMS and WiseBuff for sitting/ passing your exams!
You should be so proud!!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/17 12:47 PM

I am started to have some anxiety over my exam in August. My teacher said something in my lesson and it freaked me out. It wasn't even something bad. I just wanted to change one of my songs and she said I should maintain the old one while I learn the new one. But it was enough to freak me right out. Like if *she* is worried, then it must be bad. ugh. So now I'm thinking I should never have signed up for the exam, since I have such a huge problem with nervousness and performance. And I don't play well on new pianos. The keys on my upright are super loose and everyone else's piano seems to have the stiffer keys, which throws me off in playing and also changes the dynamics. Someone please calm me down!!! I can't remain in this state for 2.5 more months. I'll go crazy!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/17 02:14 PM

Don't worry sara elizabeth! I decided to change one of my pieces back in grade 5, because I was tired of one of them. My teacher told me the same thing- maintain the old piece. I went in the exam with two options to play, and I was very confident of the original piece.

Every candidate will be facing an unfamiliar piano, and the examiners know that. So I believe they expect that you will not play as well as you do at home. That said, it would be a good idea to play on unfamiliar pianos as much as you can. Visit hotels early in the day, and look for pianos in the bar or waiting lounge, go to piano stores and try out pianos- anything you can do. It all helps!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/17 03:19 PM

That is a good idea. I work at the university and was thinking I could see if the practice rooms are open in the summer. Lots of different pianos there!
Posted By: Albunea

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/17 04:15 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Someone please calm me down!!! I can't remain in this state for 2.5 more months. I'll go crazy!


At times like this we have to think that the worst that can happen is that we fail. So what? laugh
Posted By: FoldedFaces

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/17 04:31 PM

Very new here - what are ABRSM and RCM?
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/17 04:56 PM

ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Society of Music) and RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music) are organizations that adminiister graded music exams. ABRSM originated in Britain and is common in Europe and Asia as well as former Bristish commonwealth countries. RCM originated in Canada and is common in Canada and the US. There are other Boards as well, such as Australia's AMEB. There are eight basic grade levels to ABRSM and ten to RCM. The practical exams consist of playing selected pieces, demonstrated scales and arpeggios required at each level, prima-vista sight reading, and doing aural tests, such as singing or play back, identifying intervals and cadences, and analyzing a piece of music. Each board also administers theory tests.

As adults, some of us do the exams to give structure to our journey to learn the piano. It helps to build a solid foundation for advancing.

ABRSM: http://es.abrsm.org/en/home

RCM: https://examinations.rcmusic.ca/
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 04:38 AM

I received my grade 3 books today and have been listening to the recordings and deciding what I want to play. I think I have picked my 3 main pieces but I like a few others as well so may shift later on. I've started playing them and am doing alright at them I just need to remember that they won't sound right straight away and to be patient and focus on getting timing and notes correct rather than speed. I always want to race ahead and then I get stuck when I get to a tricky section. I've also been seeking out a teacher and will meet with one in a couple of weeks to discuss where I'm at and how we can structure the lessons to suit both of us. I ideally would prefer once a fortnight but would consider once a week if I feel it will be beneficial. Would rather do a longer lesson once a fortnight then a shorter one each week. I haven't decided on when I want to do the exam but in my region it's only offered in june/july and novemberish. So probably june/july next year but maybe november depending on if I feel ready or not.
Posted By: ID5894

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 07:48 AM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
ABRSM originated in Britain and is common in Europe and Asia as well as former Bristish commonwealth countries.


Most European nations have regulated access to the music professions through their conservatoires only and there's no official recognition for things like ABRSM.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 09:22 AM

Originally Posted by Gemma121
I think I have picked my 3 main pieces but I like a few others as well so may shift later on...............I haven't decided on when I want to do the exam but in my region it's only offered in june/july and novemberish. So probably june/july next year but maybe november depending on if I feel ready or not.


So what pieces have caught your attention?

to do the October/November exams in NSW you need to decide by early August. If you live in another state then that might be different. I guess I faced the same challenge when deciding on my exam timetable. I know I made the right decision to take my time but I am ready now and still have another five months to wait. However, I have taken the time to start the next grade pieces and so glad I did as the jump is quite big and a year just won't cut it.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 10:10 AM

Originally Posted by ID5894
Originally Posted by SwissMS
ABRSM originated in Britain and is common in Europe and Asia as well as former Bristish commonwealth countries.


Most European nations have regulated access to the music professions through their conservatoires only and there's no official recognition for things like ABRSM.

Actually, there is, in the countries that use it. It's about the closest thing there is to an international music syllabus and grade exam system.

Where I came from, a tiny country far, far away, all piano students are taught to the ABRSM syllabus, and all do ABRSM exams (Trinity etc is not available there), and no teacher would be hired who didn't have a teaching diploma from ABRSM. Just like in the UK, almost the first question I'd be asked when I admitted to learning piano was "What grade are you?" grin It was a pretty seamless & painless transition when I moved to the UK in my teens and continued my lessons (apart from the fact that the language I was taught in switched completely to English).
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 12:05 PM

I have taken ABRSM exams both in Switzerland and in Spain. The exams are perhaps not as commonly used as in the UK, but it is still quite common in musical education in these countries. I don't have personal experience with other European countries.
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 09:31 PM

Originally Posted by earlofmar

So what pieces have caught your attention?

to do the October/November exams in NSW you need to decide by early August. If you live in another state then that might be different. I guess I faced the same challenge when deciding on my exam timetable. I know I made the right decision to take my time but I am ready now and still have another five months to wait. However, I have taken the time to start the next grade pieces and so glad I did as the jump is quite big and a year just won't cut it.


Hi earlofmar. I am thinking of using Burgmuller's Ballade (I need to practice shifting between chords fast and getting a nice crisp staccato so thought this would be good for that). List B is the section that I usually find the most challenging I'm going with Vandal's Alla tedesca. List C Seiber's Foxtrot.

I forgot you need to apply so early for the exams. It would be good if I had the March session. Will probably go with june/july. Will see what my teacher thinks when I meet with her. It's probably better to take longer and perfect it. If I feel ready earlier I might do more theory in between. I have up to grade 2 and possibly 3 (can't remember if I did the exam or just the book) with distinction so could probably track down my certificates and use those for the higher grades but think I will start back at 1 to make sure I have the content whether I do the exams for those grades or get my previous certificates and just do the higher grades.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/20/17 10:50 PM

Gemma121, depending on how long ago your study was AMEB now offer three different theory courses. Music Craft, Theory of Music & Musicianship.

My teacher recommended the Music Craft course as the more well rounded of the three and I sit my grade 3 (online exam) on Saturday. From what I can gather the other two are much more information based while Music Craft is roughly 50% various ear and general listening exercises.
Posted By: ID5894

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/21/17 04:52 AM

Originally Posted by bennevis

Actually, there is, in the countries that use it. It's about the closest thing there is to an international music syllabus and grade exam system.

Where I came from, a tiny country far, far away, all piano students are taught to the ABRSM syllabus, and all do ABRSM exams (Trinity etc is not available there), and no teacher would be hired who didn't have a teaching diploma from ABRSM. Just like in the UK, almost the first question I'd be asked when I admitted to learning piano was "What grade are you?" grin It was a pretty seamless & painless transition when I moved to the UK in my teens and continued my lessons (apart from the fact that the language I was taught in switched completely to English).


I don't know what "tiny country" you're talking about, but I'm talking about continental Europe. British educational institutions have an influence in ex-colonies and the Commonwealth that they don't have in Europe, where there's always been a strong "our way is better" kind of attitude, and often rightly so. Try getting a music related job in schools, or anywhere else where you need to provide valid qualifications on paper, in France, Spain, etc. You can't with ABRSM qualifications, they DO NOT have official recognition there, they just don't. I'm talking about OFFICIAL recognitition by educational institutions.

Bear in mind, that some of these countries have strongly regulated access to more professions than the UK, where apart from healthcare everything else is a lot more flexible. I know someone with an engineering degree from Imperial that wanted to get a teaching job in the Canary Islands and couldn't even get her degree officially recognised by Spanish authorities. In fact she even had a PhD, but because she couldn't get her first degree recognised, the PhD didn't count, even though there is a European Directive covering mutual recognition of PhDs. There was a lengthy and vaguely defined homologation process that could have got her recognition, possibly even involving exams etc, as Spanish engineering degrees are longer and apparently tougher... etc. It's an example, but you get the idea of what official recognition means. You either get it or you don't. There's nothing in between.
Posted By: ID5894

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/21/17 05:06 AM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
I have taken ABRSM exams both in Switzerland and in Spain. The exams are perhaps not as commonly used as in the UK, but it is still quite common in musical education in these countries. I don't have personal experience with other European countries.


Spanish educational institutions do not use ABRSM at all, it's not even in the picture. Any music teacher in those countries, and by that I mean someone employed by a public official educational institution (not a private teacher), would be horrified to even think of any education systems that teach an instrument before you've spent years properly singing the notes from scores etc. ABRSM is still an option for adult beginners and such, who won't get a place in a conservatoire, to "formalise" what you've learned, but it won't get you a job in the public sector there because it has no official validity.
Posted By: ID5894

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/21/17 05:20 AM

My wife just told me that it is in theory partially possible to gain official recognition in some places, but only once you've got at least LRSM, so LRSM or FRSM, but it involves further study at a conservatoire. I don't know for how long. Any less than LRSM and it's like you haven't done anything basically.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/21/17 10:57 AM

What are LRSM or FRSM? In Colorado (USA) we have no active ABRSM centers, only some activity in RCM. The testing idea hasn't caught on for most private teachers and faculty in my university school of music were not familiar with any of the exam systems. I won't be getting university degrees in music so the RCM pushes me to focus more on technique and theory than I would in my usual private lessons.
Posted By: ID5894

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/21/17 12:22 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
What are LRSM or FRSM?


Those are ABRSM's advanced qualifications (Diploma, Licenciate and Fellow of the RSM), usually only done by professionals, that you can study after you've done intermediate performance level (grade 8).
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/24/17 05:07 AM

I sat an online AMEB Music Craft grade 3 theory exam yesterday afternoon (Friday) and shortly afterwards wrote I whinging rant here but stopped shy of posting at the last minute. This morning (Saturday) I got the result, a 70/100 pass, despite the site saying it would take up to four working days to mark. Good on you AMEB, suddenly I don't feel quite so bad. Why was I annoyed? I had 1hr 40min to complete the 38 questions but even at that it wasn't enough time and I had to rush high value harmony questions and never made it to two high value ear exercises. No point moaning though, I got the pass and had a year of theory lessons which has broadened my musical knowledge no end.

In a few days I am heading off to the UK to once again cycle top to bottom of the motherland. For some light reading on the plane I will have....you guessed it, grade 4 Music Craft for company.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/24/17 06:41 AM

Congratulations on passing your theory test, earlomar! That is really fast results. ABRSM theory exams take about six weeks to get a result back. The waiting is terrible.

I know what you mean about starting on the next level as soon as you know you have passed! I am already looking at the requirements of the next grade too.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/24/17 08:25 AM

Originally Posted by earlofmar
I sat an online AMEB Music Craft grade 3 theory exam yesterday afternoon (Friday) and shortly afterwards wrote I whinging rant here but stopped shy of posting at the last minute. This morning (Saturday) I got the result, a 70/100 pass, despite the site saying it would take up to four working days to mark. Good on you AMEB, suddenly I don't feel quite so bad. Why was I annoyed? I had 1hr 40min to complete the 38 questions but even at that it wasn't enough time and I had to rush high value harmony questions and never made it to two high value ear exercises. No point moaning though, I got the pass and had a year of theory lessons which has broadened my musical knowledge no end.

In a few days I am heading off to the UK to once again cycle top to bottom of the motherland. For some light reading on the plane I will have....you guessed it, grade 4 Music Craft for company.



Congrats!

I had 3 hours for AMEB grade 5 theory and also didn't have enough time. The cadences and 4 part-harmony took me so much time! I did terrible at them but managed to pass overall with 74 :-P

Watch out for 4-part harmony when you get to it :-)
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/24/17 09:28 AM

Whooohoooo!!! Great news! Congratulations Earlofmar. The little details of writing the exam are SOOOO time intensive. I can totally understand your exam situation. Glad you got the pass.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 11:35 AM

I just received my ABRSM Grade 7 practical results. I passed with merit - 121! I am absolutely thrilled. It has been a long three weeks waiting for the results, and I managed to convince myself that I had failed. Every night before going to sleep I would add up my probably score, and hope for a 101! I was shocked when my teacher emailed me my result. There will be dinner out and Cava (Champagne) tonight!!!
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 01:02 PM

Congratulations to the recent exam takers, WiseBuff, earlofmar, and SwissMS! Hats off to those of you who put in the long, hard hours of practice and show up on the appointed day to show your stuff! thumb
Posted By: zillybug

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 01:02 PM

Congratulations Swiss Miss. That is wonderful and so inspiring.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 01:43 PM

Congratulations SwissMS! That's a really great score and shows all the hard work pays off.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 03:20 PM

Congratulations! Great work!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 03:41 PM

This is great news SwissMS, hearty congratulations. Gives me the sudden urge to get up and practice.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 04:18 PM

Congrats, SwissMS!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 07:41 PM

Thanks for the congrats everyone! I am excited about moving on to some really exciting music at grade 8!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/04/17 08:41 PM

Excellent job SwissMS! 121 at grade 7 is quite an achievement! All the best with grade 8 :-)
Posted By: cefinow

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/05/17 12:20 PM

Great news SwissMS! Guess you proved yourself wrong when you were convinced you wouldn't even pass... lol... Congratulations on the Merit!!
Posted By: PianoStudent88

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/05/17 09:23 PM

I've decided to start studying for the RCM advanced theory and history exams: Harmony, counterpoint, analysis and history at levels 9, 10, and ARCT.

This is well beyond my playing level. But it fills an urge I've had for a long time, to understand more about basic compositional principles in the common practice period. I'm starting with the similar materials for ABRSM 6, 7, and 8 at mymusictheory.com, and I've ordered the recently published harmony and history books from RCM Publishing.
Posted By: Gemma121

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/08/17 05:52 AM

So I decided to get myself a teacher so that I have someone who can listen to my playing and notice the little things. I have recordings to listen to and record myself but it still seems to sound the same so figured it would be good to have someone who know what they are talking about to help me perfect pieces and also some of the technical stuff I am not as confident on so will be good to have someone to help with that too. I'm only going to go fortnightly for now. I have my first proper lesson monday week so looking forward to that and will be doing a lot of sight reading work as that's where I struggle the most. We are just going to take our time getting ready for the exam and see how I go with it for awhile before setting a time frame.

Congrats to all who got their exam results back it looks like there have been some great results. Well done.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/08/17 07:51 AM

I just received my marking sheet, and I am quite pleased. I passed all sections. Aural was my lowest mark - 14/18, so I need to find a way to improve that. Grade 8 aural is wicked. I am already starting to work on that! The restarts in my scales also cost me - 16/21. I worked so hard on scales,. Yet on the day, nervous fingers let me down. Everything else received good marks. The examiner made some nice comments on my pieces as well as some helpful criticisms. I am sure my teacher and I will be discussing those on Tuesday!
Posted By: Albunea

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/08/17 08:48 AM

It's great to see you can go on advancing with your passion, SwissMS, and with good marks! smile
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/15/17 06:10 PM

I have been working away at my exam pieces. Some of them are really coming along. For Minuet in G Maj (114) my teacher thinks I should drop the ornaments. The thing is, on my piano at home they sound good, but at her house she has stiffer keys, and it is not coming out the same way. So I tried playing the song without the ornaments and it sounds really good. I'm a bit bummed because I wanted to go that extra mile for the exam. However, I think having a better overall performance is going to be a better strategy. I guess this is why ornaments are optional at this level.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/15/17 06:27 PM

sarah elizabeth - Leaving the ornament out sounds like a sound strategy. The judges hear all levels, and if the ornaments "stick out" they will comment on it. It is probably better to leave them out and have a pleasing overall performance. May be you should practice the piece with and without ornaments, and then decide which way to play it before the exam.

Is there a chance that you can try the exam piano before the day? That would be very helpful for planning. If you know where your exam center is, it might be possible.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/15/17 06:32 PM

The exam is at a local church. I think what I really need to do is go around and practice on several different pianos. Someone suggested going to the piano store and trying some out, but our local store burned down. Now there is a store with digitals only. Better than nothing I guess. They keys on my piano are super loose compared to all other pianos I have tried.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/15/17 11:25 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
I just received my marking sheet, and I am quite pleased. I passed all sections. Aural was my lowest mark - 14/18, so I need to find a way to improve that. Grade 8 aural is wicked. I am already starting to work on that! The restarts in my scales also cost me - 16/21. I worked so hard on scales,. Yet on the day, nervous fingers let me down. Everything else received good marks. The examiner made some nice comments on my pieces as well as some helpful criticisms. I am sure my teacher and I will be discussing those on Tuesday!



BIG CONGRATULATIONS!!! It sounds like you did fabulous. I'm totally jealous but very impressed with your achievement.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/16/17 06:38 AM

Thanks WiseBuff!
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/23/17 06:35 PM

For all you exam folks;
Sheet music plus.com has announced 20% off sale of ABRSM exam materials 😊
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/29/17 01:38 PM

My teacher gave the OK to start in on my ABRSM grade 8 pieces, after learning several other grade 7's in the last month and a half. I am really excited to get started. I am playing Bach French Suite 5 - Gigue, which is pretty much a three voice fugue; Beethoven Sonata in F minor - Allegro (op.2 n1); and either Astor - Adriana or Brahms Intermezzo in A minor. I have decided to learn them both. I have already begun the technical requirements as well. The scales a 6th apart actually seem easier that the ones a third apart. Chromatic thirds are giving me fits though! I hope to sit the grade 8 next spring, but time will tell!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/29/17 10:55 PM

Grade 8 in less than a year? I solute you. It took me 2 years to prepare mine (AMEB).

Scales in 6th are easier because the hands aren't in each other's way like in 3rd.

I read through the aural test requirements for ABRSM grade 8 few months ago and they are quite tough. I'd suggest you start familiarise yourself with them sooner than later.

All the best! How exciting!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/30/17 12:01 AM

I'm thinking of taking RCM 4 this December/January, and then the theory exam in the spring. Although I wonder if it's better to ask my teacher to pass my on level 4 when the time comes, and instead take the grade 5 exam when I'm ready, maybe end of 2018. It will help to eliminate cost ;0
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/30/17 01:46 AM

SwissMS. So envy you! How are you able to learn several grade 7 pieces in just over a month time? I will take me several months to do that. Of course I work full time and almost over 60 hours a week so I don't have too much time for practice. Do you work as well? I am starting to learn grade 8 scales as well. To the contrary, I feel 6th apart is actually harder. It is driving me nuts. I am not sure when I will be taking the actual grade 8 exam though. I need to start the aural part practice as well. Are you really good at the sight reading part? First, I thought the sight reading is very tough and I almost gave up that part at the exam, but the score shows I am ok. I believe play a new piece every day does help improve that. Anyway, good luck on your preparation journey for grade 8.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/30/17 07:19 AM

We will see if I make it by next Spring! I have to commit by the end of January. If I do not feel ready, it will be fall next year.

You are right about the grade 8 aural. I have started working on them already. I have two helpful Apps on my Ipad - AuralBook, and Ear Master. Both of them record and grade you answers which is really helpful. AuralBook is kind of funny. It has a bored sounding British lady moderating the tests who says things like "Hummmm, I have heard some problems with your singing", or Don't give up and try again". So far I get a lot of those comments!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/30/17 08:08 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I'm thinking of taking RCM 4 this December/January, and then the theory exam in the spring. Although I wonder if it's better to ask my teacher to pass my on level 4 when the time comes, and instead take the grade 5 exam when I'm ready, maybe end of 2018. It will help to eliminate cost ;0


One thing to consider is to experience both the intense preparation and how to cope with the pressure of being tested (something that hasn't happened to me in over 30 years). So if you find the grade 4 exam material to be easy perhaps treat it as a practice run.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/19/17 01:37 PM

Originally Posted by earlofmar
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I'm thinking of taking RCM 4 this December/January, and then the theory exam in the spring. Although I wonder if it's better to ask my teacher to pass my on level 4 when the time comes, and instead take the grade 5 exam when I'm ready, maybe end of 2018. It will help to eliminate cost ;0


One thing to consider is to experience both the intense preparation and how to cope with the pressure of being tested (something that hasn't happened to me in over 30 years). So if you find the grade 4 exam material to be easy perhaps treat it as a practice run.


I wouldn't say it's easy. It's definitely challenging. My plan is to take exam 4 this winter, theory exam in the spring and then RCM 5 at the end of 2018. I think those are reasonable goals. My teacher told me there isn't much difference between 3 and 4, but there is a significant difference between 4 and 5. Don't' know yet. I haven't' really looked at the pieces in 5 yet.

PS - Got my exam certificate in the mail yesterday. That was nice ;0
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/17 02:37 PM

Hi Team,

I have been pretty MIA from the forums lately. I've been training for a triathlon. Between training and work and piano I haven't had much time for anything else!! Good news is that the tri is done and I didn't come in last. Phew!

Piano exam is TODAY. I feel quite well prepared and my nerves don't seem too bad as yet.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/17 04:38 PM

Good luck sara elizabeth! You have done the hard work. Now just enjoy the rewards!

By the way, I cannot imagine training for a triathlon and doing an exam! Congratulations on your triathlon finish. That is a major accomplishment!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/17 05:07 PM

Wow I just found just finished the exam and I feel really good about it. A few nervous mistakes at the beginning but it got better as I progressed. I ended super strong. My technique and ear stuff was great. I'm going to throw a lot of the credit to the beta blocker my mom gave me. My hands were finally under control. I'm going to look forward to the marks. The examiner told me it was "beautiful music", which was promising. Maybe he tells everyone that lol. Or maybe he was referring to the girl before me haha. She must have been doing a very high grade because she played forever.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/17 05:15 PM

Congrats, Sara. Sounds like you did great!
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/17 06:29 PM

Congrats Sara! I had wondered why you hadn't been around for a while, and was hoping you were still pursuing the piano 😊 Not only were you still playing, but preparing for the exam. You should feel proud of yourself for this
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/24/17 11:00 PM

congratulations on the triathlon and exam. You certainly aren't trying to make life easy for yourself (keep it up lol).
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/27/17 11:28 AM

That sounds great Sara! Congratulations on your hard work, perseverance, and making beautiful music.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/29/17 05:09 PM

For those who did RCM exams - did they email you when the marks were posted, or did you just keep logging in to check?
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/30/17 10:58 AM

Mine were online in less than two weeks. They didn't email...I just checked.
:-)
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/31/17 01:22 AM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
For those who did RCM exams - did they email you when the marks were posted, or did you just keep logging in to check?

I got no email. I believe they notify the teacher you registered with. My teacher told me to check online. I got my score back in just under two weeks.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/31/17 09:06 PM

I got my mark back. I am over the moon! I got 90. The PDF comments haven't been loaded yet. Yay yay yay!!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/31/17 09:46 PM

Fantastic! Congratulations!!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/31/17 10:06 PM

hearty congratulations, you sounded confident afterwards and the mark back that up.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/01/17 04:32 PM

FANtastic! I'm so happy for you.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/09/17 04:39 AM

Congratulations Sara! That is a great score!
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/09/17 06:44 AM

Fantastic Sara! Congratulations! Job well done!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 09/11/17 06:55 PM

I started looking at "When the Planets are Aligned" piece (very last selection in RCM 4) and next to it is the acknowledgment section, which I guess appears at the end of all the 2015 books. I had to do a double take because one of the persons mentioned there was the examiner for my exam. Perhaps that explains the detail of the comments.
Posted By: B.Augmented

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/22/17 10:33 PM

Hi everyone. I'm going to be taking my first ABRSM exam (grade 3) in December. I want to ask those of you who have taken ABRSM exams before a question about interpretation. I've chosen a Handel sonatina as one of my pieces, and I came across a recording of it that has trills and I really like them. However the ABRSM sheet music does not have trills. I'd like to include them in my performance. Is there any kind of penalty for deviating from the written score?

There's a similar situation in another of my pieces, Dwarfs of the Mist by Carroll. It has pedal markings but I prefer it without the pedal.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/23/17 07:00 PM

It seems ABRSM is allowing some room for ornament differentiation or omission at lower grades, but didn't specifically say you can add. So it is up to you to decide keeping in mind that adding ornaments wouldn't upset the pulse.

See page 20 of this guide: A guide to ABRSM exams


Good luck!
Posted By: sharkeyboard

Re: Piano Exam Group - 10/31/17 05:17 PM

I'm also about to take my first Piano exam (in less than 2 weeks), although it will be ABRSM Grade 3 Jazz. At least I don't have to worry about whether I'm allowed to embellish from the score. wink

I have always been a bit sceptical about doing exams but I'm quite pleased I went for the jazz exam. The syllabus seems fun.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/01/17 09:56 AM

Best of luck on your exam. I'm learning that the exam is not about the final score but about the learning journey that goes with the preparation and performance.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/01/17 01:52 PM

Best of luck with the exam sharkeyboard! I will be interested to hear about what a jazz exam is like.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/02/17 11:08 AM

Today was my big day, my first ever practical exam. At 4pm I sat AMEB grade 5 at my local music conservatory, and I can tell you it was one very long day from the wee hours when I first woke, to the time I sat down to take the exam. More than once throughout the day I asked myself why on earth I was doing this, but somehow managed to keep nerves under control and not allow negative thoughts to get in the way. I took a mock exam the weekend before last, and I did so badly at preparing, that from the outset of the mock exam I became overrun with nervousness and performed really badly. That bad experience gave me the impetus that I wasn't going to let nerves get in the way of today's exam.

A highlight of the day was a mini concert for my wife who has shown zero interest in hearing me play, (she would rather have me playing Billy Joel and not the great works of dead people). So it was she was hearing my exam pieces for the very first time, and I think was pleasantly surprised. I was quite surprised as well, I was still quite calm at this point.

I had a lesson with my teacher at 1 - 2pm, and played everything quite well. Still relatively calm at this point, and if I could only stay in this state for another 2 hours I would be ok. So for two hours I did nothing music related, I had lunch, drove round the town, bought pencils to pass time (like I need more pencils smirk), and then took my place in the queue of kids waiting for their turn with the various examiners. That was the most stressful part, dentist's waiting rooms have a merrier atmosphere, but when my name was called and I sat down at the piano remarkably I was still calm and I knew everything was going to be alright. But of course it wasn't (this ain't no fairy tale) but I think I came out of it ok. There were mistakes, several restarts and answers to questions I know I got wrong. But some of what I played wasn't complete crap so that's got to count for something. But let us never ever discuss the sight reading exercise, I don't know how the examiner kept a straight face when I did that exercise.

I think it's about a two week wait for results so I will update you all when the news comes in.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/02/17 11:28 AM

It sounds like you did well earlofmar! Congratulations for getting through your first exam. Grade 5 is a major milestone, and a big accomplishment. I know what you mean about the long day of anticipation. Now treat yourself to a celebratory dinner!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/03/17 06:58 AM

Great story and self reflection, Earlofmar. Good question...why do we do these exams? You prepared and you learned and I'll bet your scores will credit that admirably. Good for you. Now on to something new! And maybe some Billy Joel for your wife.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/03/17 02:30 PM

Congrats Earlofmar! I often ask myself the same thing ... why?
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/17 01:39 AM

Sounds like you did well. I think taking these exams pushes us to be better pianists. That's what I found with my exam this year.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/05/17 11:47 PM

Originally Posted by earlofmar


I think it's about a two week wait for results so I will update you all when the news comes in.



I got my AMEB Grade 8 piano results online the very next day, and the report and certificate were mailed to me 2-3 days after. It may be different in different states. I'm in Victoria.

Did you self enrol or did you enrol through your teacher? Either way, your result may be waiting for you online. If you're eager, go to AMEB Connect website or call your teacher.

All the best!
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/06/17 11:14 AM

Good luck earlofmar, and whatever the result, congratulations for putting in all the hard work to get to this point. Bet you did great!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/09/17 08:52 AM

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075

I got my AMEB Grade 8 piano results online the very next day, and the report and certificate were mailed to me 2-3 days after.



Just got the results (and report) online this afternoon, it is a B Credit grin and I will be grinning from ear to ear for a few days I think. The examiners remarks while most positive, made mention that I lost marks due to some technical errors I made. This wasn't unexpected, because try as I might I was nervous enough to make some silly slips. That is life, glad it is over and very pleased to have made it through.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/09/17 09:19 AM

Congratulations earlofmar! That is a great result, especially for your first exam. I know you worked hard for this and it paid off!

I wish ABRSM would get with the times and have results available online. Waiting two to three weeks is terrible.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/09/17 10:25 AM

Well done earlofmar, and well deserved!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/09/17 10:34 AM

That is wonderful news earlofmar!! Congratulations on a well earned accomplishment. Way to go! Celebrate and then on to the next level?
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/10/17 05:58 AM

Originally Posted by earlofmar

Just got the results (and report) online this afternoon, it is a B Credit grin and I will be grinning from ear to ear for a few days I think. The examiners remarks while most positive, made mention that I lost marks due to some technical errors I made. This wasn't unexpected, because try as I might I was nervous enough to make some silly slips. That is life, glad it is over and very pleased to have made it through.



AMEB Grade 5 is no joke. It's the first intermediate grade and the expectations are high. Well done and congratulations!
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/10/17 01:56 PM

Yay! That is a great result. Well done! Nerves can be the worst. I have major hand shaking problems when I'm nervous.
Posted By: sharkeyboard

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/10/17 02:46 PM

Thanks for the well wishes guys. Did it this morning. I don't think it went particularly well but there some good bits too. It's my first exam and very hard to judge as I have no idea what kind of standard they expect. We'll done earlofmar, enjoyed the report too. I'll post my own mini report later today!
Posted By: sharkeyboard

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/14/17 02:44 PM

The Jazz exam is largely the same overall structure but they make some changes to make it more jazzy. For example each piece has a head that you are expected to play accurately, an improv section where you play the given chord groove in the LH and improvise some suitable melody for a fixed number of measures and then some repetition of the head and/or a coda which you are expected to embellish in any number of ways. The sight-reading part is replaced by a 'quick study' which can either be sight-read or heard play by the examiner 3 times with small breaks to work it out. Then you play the piece at tempo and play an improvised response of the same number of bars. I was surprised when the examiner actually counted me in so no playing it a bit slower for safety! Then there are scales (fewer required for each grade but more types/modes than classical) and aural test which is largely the same.

I felt very very unprepared for the exam. I think I had a total of 3 lessons where we spent any meaningful time on exam stuff. The night before the exam, I discovered that I was playing the completely wrong left hand groove for the improv section of one of my songs. So I basically had to relearn a new left hand part the night before. In fact everything I practiced the night before went badly so I decided to give up and get some sleep instead.

My exam was first thing in the morning and I was first on the roster for the day. Someone else was in the practice room and he was doing the same jazz 3 grade (I recognised other pieces from the syllabus.) At first he sounded really good and that made me worry more. But as I listened more, he kept stopping at parts or making little mistakes and in a strange way, this made me feel better. I guess because it made me feel that mistakes are just natural part of everyone's exam.

For the exam itself, my nerves held together pretty well, mainly because I didn't expect to do well anyway. All problems were entirely due to lack of preparation which is good because that's something I can control. The scales were fine I think. The first piece went fairly well but I messed up the coda a bit. The second piece I started playing too quickly and couldn't seem to slow myself down. Something about the bouncy keys on the nice upright piano made my fingers keep going at full speed. This was the piece with the wrong left hand part learned. It went pretty badly as expected but I largely kept going so maybe that'll count for something. The third piece, usually my strongest, went ok but I don't think I was good enough with dynamics and overall control. The quick-study was terrible because I'm pretty bad at pure sight-reading. 30 seconds is never enough. But again I kept going at tempo so maybe I'll scrape something. And the aural stuff I found fairly easy, it's definitely my strength. Results will be in a few weeks. I don't really know what to expect results wise. When I type it out it seems like I did ok actually, but I have no idea what standards are expected.

Overall I'm glad I did it. And the result doesn't matter too much because I know I wasn't well prepared and all the time I spent doing non-exam stuff has made me much better at piano overall than if I had focused on the exam non-stop for the past few months.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/14/17 09:02 PM

congratulations sharkeyboard, it doesn't sound like your exam was a complete train wreck which I assume must happen to some people, so that is a positive. I assume most exam systems are similar in that an imperfect performance on the day will lose marks but not write you off. I found that a hard concept to grasp, and had to see it myself before I really believed it. I am sure you have done well, now the interminable wait for the results.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/16/17 10:07 AM

Congratulations on your first jazz exam, sharkeyboard! Thanks for the detailed description of the process. It sounds pretty challenging! I am sure you did just fine. It seems all of us adult candidates have problems with nerves!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/17/17 04:46 AM

Swiss MS, Didn't you share that your teacher had you solidify the repertoire in the grade you had just successfully passed before moving on to the next level? How did that work? I know I'm planning to broaden my coverage of repertoire in both levels 6& 7 before attempting another exam. I also need to do a LOT of test/performance before going forward. Technique is not getting easier that's for sure. The 16note speed requirements may make the next exam level not realistic. Maybe I should go back and do level 4 instead. Hahaha
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/17/17 07:29 AM

HI Wisebuff! Yes, my teacher had me play several more grade 7 pieces before beginning grade 8. We only took a couple of them to performance level. Her goal was to have me learn them and play them fluently in three weeks. Most of these pieces were 4-5 pages, so that took a lot of work! The other thing that she did was start me on Hannon as well as Czerny School of Velocity. It all helped really solidify my technique before tackling the grade 8 pieces. The jump from ABRSM 7-8 seems huge. I plan on learning several of the grade 8 pieces before the exam, and then choosing those I do best with.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/17/17 02:08 PM

The velocity from 6 to 7 in RCM is also a big jump. Speed has never been a friend to me in piano but I've increased substantially...just not close yet. The level 7 etudes are all about speed. Also memorization is a must. I'm thinking at least 2 years of intense work.
Posted By: sharkeyboard

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/27/17 12:40 PM

I got a merit in my exam! I'm really pleased. I scored 127/150 (100=pass, 120=merit, 130=distinction)

Got really nice feedback as well. It seems, based on the feedback and scores, that the big emphasis is on keeping the groove going no matter what and playing with confidence and conviction rather than accuracy. I thought I butchered the sight-reading part so I laughed when the comment said "mostly accurate".
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/28/17 06:04 AM

great score, so heartiest congratulations on passing.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/29/17 11:04 AM

Keep the groove! Congratulations on your excellent results sharkeyboard! Well done. Just saw a youtube video the other day about keeping the rhythm and how classical pianists are worse at that than jazz and other genres. So glad you have that beat in you.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/29/17 11:06 AM

Congratulations sharkeyboard! That is an excellent result, especially for your first exam!
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/29/17 11:18 PM

Originally Posted by sharkeyboard
I got a merit in my exam! I'm really pleased. I scored 127/150 (100=pass, 120=merit, 130=distinction)

Got really nice feedback as well. It seems, based on the feedback and scores, that the big emphasis is on keeping the groove going no matter what and playing with confidence and conviction rather than accuracy. I thought I butchered the sight-reading part so I laughed when the comment said "mostly accurate".



Congratulations! 127 is a high achievement score, especially for your first ever exam. Well done :-)
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/17 02:29 AM

Hi
Could I join this group? I've been struggling to regain my enthusiasm for an exam which I previously tried and didn't pass a few years ago. I regrouped but then had a pretty bad hand injury and am now regrouping again. I'm aiming for April for an RCM exam.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/17 03:01 AM

Originally Posted by cagal
Hi
Could I join this group?


anyone can join in, so welcome. I do hope you get your mojo back.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/17 10:26 AM

Welcome Cagal!! We are cheerleaders and support group as we work through the learning process of doing exams. I'm not sure any of us are "required" to do exams but we find value in the process of preparation and enjoy the affirmation of passing one. We all are at different levels and different exam systems. I'm working the RCM system and I expect it will take me two years to prepare this level...others are MUCH faster. I'm working towards 7 at the moment.

Looking forward to hearing about your progresss.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 11/30/17 12:56 PM

Originally Posted by sharkeyboard
I got a merit in my exam! I'm really pleased. I scored 127/150 (100=pass, 120=merit, 130=distinction)

Got really nice feedback as well. It seems, based on the feedback and scores, that the big emphasis is on keeping the groove going no matter what and playing with confidence and conviction rather than accuracy. I thought I butchered the sight-reading part so I laughed when the comment said "mostly accurate".

Well done, great result!!
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/01/17 12:24 AM

Thanks for the welcome! I came back to piano after about 30 years away with a goal to complete RCM grade 10. I decided to go all in and try to do well enough to qualify for ARCT. It's been challenging but after reading about the successes here I'm ready to refocus and get it done. One of my biggest issues is memorization. I can barely remember what I had for lunch much less memorize almost an hour of music lol
Posted By: Raindrops

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/11/18 12:53 AM

I'm looking for a pen pal, partner in crime for RCM level 10 exam. We can talk about anything, theory, history, repertoire etc. Any problem, progress we had. I haven't done much of the written exam yet, but don't mind discuss about it. If anyone is interested, please PM me.

Good luck everyone!
Posted By: kahtwoloo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/18/18 01:09 AM

I'm checking in a bit late but I passed ABRSM Theory Grade 5 with a 77 after taking it early Nov. I decided not to bother memorizing the vocab cause if I ever see a word I don't know I'm just going to look it up really quick. Too much effort to memorize hundreds of words shortly just for maybe 5 points. I also goofed a bar in the composition problem because I was getting frustrated and wanted to get the exam over with. Between those (about 10 points) losing a few points here and there on the other topics like describing intervals and chords/cadences, I fell just short of a merit. Ooh well. On to Grade 7 practical this spring hopefully. I crunched for time and have a lot of stuff going on these next few months so we'll see.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/18/18 07:54 AM

Kahtwoloo - congratulations of passing you theory test! I know what you mean about all the terms! I carried flashcards and practiced on the train everyday. It is a lot to remember.

Which grade 7 pieces are you doing? I did 7 last spring and will be doing Grade 8 in the fall this year. It seems like a big jump from 7 to 8!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/18/18 08:42 AM

congratulations kahtwoloo.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/18/18 10:53 AM

Congratulations kahtwoloo! Sounds like you made good choices on how to spend your time and effort.

And Sharkeyboard...good for you too! That is a great score.

This group supports and challenges. I'm studying towards an RCM level 7 but I'm not expecting it to be this year. I want more depth of the content before I go up for the exam (if I go up for the exam I might add). Oh...and memorization. Yipes! Cagal, I'm with you on this issue. At this point, I can do a level 3 piece memorized. LOL! I'm reading a lot about memorization and watching youtube tutorials but so far, no major breakthrough. I hear the music in my head but there seems to be disconnect without the music.
Posted By: kahtwoloo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/18/18 06:37 PM

Thanks Wisebluff, Earlofmar, and SwissMS!

Originally Posted by SwissM
Which grade 7 pieces are you doing? I did 7 last spring and will be doing Grade 8 in the fall this year. It seems like a big jump from 7 to 8!


Congrats on pass grade 7! What were your pieces?

I'm doing John Loeillet: Giga, Norman Dello Joio: Bright (2nd movement), and Wanghua Chu: Love Song. I try to stay away from classical/baroque as much as possible. Pretty luck to legitimately love the Joio and Chu piece (I'm even learning the other movements from Joio's piano suite). But Giga is realllly trick for me, like if you make one little mistake everything just falls apart.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/19/18 09:16 AM

For grade 7 I played the Scarlatti in B minor, Chopin Nocturne in C# minor and Willy Wagglesticks Walk About. I have also played the Wanghua Chu Love Song. I love that piece! It sounds like you have a fun program put together!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/19/18 11:59 AM

Congrats kahtwoloo! Good luck on your practical exam.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/21/18 03:31 AM

Congrats kahtwoloo! I've been MIA as we were renovating my whole main floor but now we are done and my piano is back after 3 months in storage. YAY! I was playing on an electric with a chair at wrong height and in a fairly cold room so not at all conducive to inspiring me to practice. I'm buckling down to try for April exams which is a bit scary as I am an accountant. I've got 4 pieces 60% or more memorized. I'm only not memorizing the list E. I decided it's not worth sweating the loss of a point. I seem to be stuck on memorizing the last three lines of every piece. Wisebuff we need to figure this out!
Posted By: ChirpyPenguin

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/21/18 09:50 AM

Hi everyone. I’ve just signed up for ABRSM grade 2 piano in March.

I’ve taken lots of exams in my time but never with any performance element. Really looking forward to the challenge smile
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/21/18 10:46 AM

Welcome to the group ChirpyPinguin! March is coming very soon. Have fun!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/21/18 12:08 PM

Best of practice for that ChirpyPEnguin. It is certainly a challenge and a learning process to prepare for an exam. We're cheering for you.
Posted By: ChirpyPenguin

Re: Piano Exam Group - 01/23/18 07:14 AM

Thanks all!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/06/18 02:16 PM

Just realizing today what a big jump it is between RCM levels 6 and 7. I'm working on the etude book and just finding it way more difficult than my skills. Maybe I'm going backwards. The speed and the technical difficulty are more than I can do today but we'll see tomorrow.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/06/18 04:45 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Just realizing today what a big jump it is between RCM levels 6 and 7. I'm working on the etude book and just finding it way more difficult than my skills. Maybe I'm going backwards. The speed and the technical difficulty are more than I can do today but we'll see tomorrow.


I completely agree! Once you get past grade 6 RCM/ grade 5 ABRSM, the difference between grades seems huge. Over time it does start to feel possible though. I am sure tomorrow will feel better!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/06/18 11:22 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Maybe I'm going backwards.


I certainly can relate to that feeling. Since starting AMEB grade 6 my pieces have become much more difficult. Although I can see progress over a long time there are days when I don't know if I will ever play them properly. On the bright side I could actually start some of my aspirational pieces now, if only I had the time.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/06/18 11:36 PM

I feel there is a big difference between 5 and 4, but there was little difference between 3 and 4. (RCM)
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/08/18 11:54 AM

Thank you all for your experience...it's not just my lack of skill then. I'll be back to enjoying the work on it and if I master it, great. After all it is the journey not the destination.
Posted By: Curious42

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/10/18 03:30 AM

Hi,

I thought I would join this exam thread. My name is Stu.

I work in technology (Silicon Valley) and have a family. My two boys (15 and 11) and I all take piano lessons.

Our piano teacher asked me if I was interested in taking piano exams and I said sure, let's try it. I am planning to take the ABRSM level 3 exam late 2018. I have never taken any piano exams before so I am racing through level 1 and 2 books with her.

After reading 90% of the posts in this thread and reading how life unfolds and interrupts practicing for exams, I thought I would join in the "fun".

-stu
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/10/18 08:51 AM

Welcome Curious42! Are you starting as a beginner or as a restarter? It is great that you are taking lessons along with your sons. Enjoy the journey!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/10/18 12:41 PM

Welcome, stu. I had no idea you could take ABRSM in the US. I thought they just did RCM around here ;0
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/10/18 01:54 PM

Welcome Stu! Hope you enjoy your exam track. It's a grueling effort sometimes and each finish line is the start of a new one.
Posted By: Curious42

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/12/18 02:38 AM

I began "replaying" off and on when the boys started learning in 2010, but my 80% work travel schedule obviously limited my practice. Starting 2016 I didn't have to extensively travel, and this allowed me to practice more. I really learned that my brain felt incredibly good after practicing and playing and that my creativity and concentration level materially increased.

During this time, I realized that the music that I aspirationally want to play (both classical and jazz) were well beyond my capabilities. A new piano teacher entered the scene, coincidently, and asked me if I had considered taking piano exams.

I researched and thought about these exams over the next few weeks. This thought work eventually led me to think about what these exams would mean to me personally. I decided to take the exams with the intent that the exams create the "bridge" to help me play the music I aspirationally want to play.

Thank you for your encouragement, and I look forward to sharing and walking the path all of you are taking...life journey and all!
Posted By: AngusOg

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/15/18 02:13 AM

Hi all. I was really happy to see the exam thread because I just set myself a goal of doing the RCM level 5 exam.

I finished level 3 when I was a kid, maybe 1975ish, and didn’t touch a keyboard again until I acquired an old piano and started taking lessons a year ago. Surprisingly enough, it’s gone amazingly well until now. My teacher thought I should go for level 5 so that’s what I’m doing but I sure have my work cut out for me; catching up on all the scales, sight reading, etc that I haven’t done for eons. I am really hoping the workload will become more manageable once I master all the technical requirements that take me forever right now.

It’s really heartening to hear your success stories.

Carol
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/15/18 12:32 PM

Welcome AngusOg! We will certainly cheer you on in your exam journey and remind you the exam is not the goal...it's just a guide for our work and a milestone to achievement. I have to remind myself often as I struggle with each level and the new demands. For me the technical expectations are most demanding. Cheers! (virtual glass of wine raised to you)
Posted By: AngusOg

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/16/18 02:31 AM

Thank you WiseBuff

You are so right. I am doing this in the hope that my practice will give me a well rounded skill base.

But I was hoping the technical part would get easier once I got caught up to level 5. 😊
Posted By: Curious42

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/17/18 06:51 AM

Welcome AngusOg! Glad to know other people "revisiting" exams.


Last week during piano lessons we learned that our piano teacher needs to leave the country and return home to help her grandmother, who was diagnosed with late stage cancer. Family first, as we say. We are very grateful for the 2 years she has helped the boys and I. She was the instructor that encouraged me to take exams and push myself. We very much liked her enthusiasm and "can do" energy; this drive will be sorely missed.

She has been actively helping us identify piano instructors and reviewing the instructor bios for the boys and I. We are very grateful for this effort; she wanted to make sure that each of her students, especially those studying for exams this year, found a good home. A stand up act.

After talking with 7 instructors, we found 2 possible instructors. We are meeting 1 of 2 instructors this coming week. Wish us luck.

The tough part for us has been trying to find an instructor for 3 of us in the same time block ( 2+ hrs together) is not easy and that also has current/recent ABRSM teaching experience.

Side notes I learned during my 7 discussions with potential instructors this past week:

* Not many adults with kids come back to play with teachers long term (2 plus years); family, work, and life get in the way. Of these few parents and later life adults taking lessons, only a few from this small population, I am told, rarely perform at the piano school recitals. I found this personally true; when I began practicing with a teacher starting in 2010, I have been the only adult in the recital each year....standing in line next to the next oldest student...maybe 14 or 15 years...is nerve racking; especially when they play well! They all applauded that I am willing to stick with lessons and take exams. I think this particular exam thread is why I gravitated toward it; it has been lonely not being able to commiserate with other adult exam takers and or adults who play in recitals. We are a very rare bird indeed.

* Many were surprised that I was interested in taking ABRSM exams; most are teaching CM and RSM yet 3 grew up taking ABRSM exams themselves. I found that quite curious.

Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 02/17/18 07:16 AM

I am sorry to hear that you are losing your piano teacher Cousious42. It is hard to find the right fit in the first place and harder to make a change! Hopefully one of the two you are trialing will work out.

The feedback that you had from potential teachers seems to be the norm. Few of us want the rigor of exams, and in the US they seem less oriented toward the structured exam course. ABRSM seems to be relatively rare in the US, possibly because of the dominance of RCM and state programs like CM.

Good luck in your search!
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/05/18 01:06 PM

Greetings, everybody. I hope nobody minds me posting in here. I just took my first ABRSM exam this past weekend: Grade 5 Music Theory. It felt really odd, being the only adult taking the test. I was the oldest person there by a good 20 years!

I'm in a somewhat odd position: I'm a music teacher, but I'm also an adult "returner." I took piano lessons from age three up until sometime in my mid-teens. At that point I was seduced by traditional music, and took up the banjo (which I used to play competitively), fiddle, and even the Scottish bagpipes (there's good money in the bagpipes). My piano skills slipped considerably, but my music theory didn't, and my overall sense of musicality actually improved over those years. I've done a lot of teaching over the years, but most of my piano students were absolute beginners. Whenever I would get an advanced beginner or intermediate student, I would brush up on my piano playing, enough to make sure I was doing right by my students, but nothing too serious, and the students weren't all that advanced.

Then, about two years ago, I was suddenly hit with inflammatory arthritis in both hands. Almost overnight, I lost my acuity on the banjo and fiddle. Guitar is now a lost cause. The prescription from my doctor: piano! He said it's better for my fingers than any other physical therapy he could prescribe. So off to the piano I went, with a laser focus. I have managed to claw my way back up to where I was when I fell off back in my teens, and have even surpassed it. I'm probably playing at diploma level, despite that blasted arthritis. (A thousand curses on old Arthur!)

When I stopped taking lessons as a teenager, I was playing at or above the Grade 8 level (gauging by the ABRSM syllabus). I wish these exams had been available here in the States back in the 1980s - I would have been all over them! Heck, I probably would have sat for a diploma exam back then. But I had never even heard of ABRSM or the other exam boards, and the pull of trad was oh so strong.

I recently took on two amazing students who really inspire me to do better. One of them wants to do the ABRSM exams, so I've decided to do them as well. Thus the Grade 5 Music Theory. I'm pretty confident that I passed it, since I've lived, breathed, and slept music theory for so many years. The practical exams are another thing, however...

I registered for the Grade 5 Practical exam at the same time as the theory. The practical exam will be in May. (I would probably have started with Grade 6 except for the music theory exam requirement.) If all goes well, I hope to do Grade 7 Practical in November, and then Grade 8 Practical next May. After that, on to the diploma! (I hope to do DipABRSM and then eventually LRSM - I don't think I my arthritic hands could ever handle FRSM.) More letters after my name, yay!

For my Grade 5, I have chosen the following pieces:

J. S. Bach - Prelude in E minor, BWV 938 (a tricky little bugger, but I absolutely ADORE J. S. Bach)
Chopin - Sostenuto in E flat, KK IVb No. 10 (easy peasy and a lovely piece to boot)
Shostakovich - Gavotte (No. 2 from Dances of the Dolls) (AARGH! I HATE this piece! I'm so sick of it! I may switch to Cool by Stephen J Wood if I think I can give a more convincing performance.)

I have provisionally selected my Grade 7 and Grade 8 pieces (and even my DipABRSM program), and I work on those here and there as I have time. The pieces aren't my problem at all - it's the scales and arpeggios. My fingers just don't want to cooperate! Especially when the weather is cold (thankfully not too often here in Central Texas), my hands just don't move. Some days this past winter I just had to go do something else - piano wasn't working. So frustrating!

Anyway, if anyone read my ramblings, many thanks. I hope to be getting moral support here on this forum. And anyone who is doing the exams, especially adults taking them, has my moral support all the way!

Regards,

Austin Rogers, PhD
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/05/18 08:01 PM

Hi Austin,

Thanks for sharing your story. I've never read a story like yours, being a music teacher while at the same time returning to take piano exams but unlike others, not really requiring as much preparation and getting to Grade 8 at lightning pace!

I'm interested to read more about your progress. Keep us posted :-)
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/18 11:47 PM

For anyone preparing for ABRSM grade 8 out there, wondering if anyone has any tips on aural skills especially modulation. I find that to be so difficult. Scales there were a lot, but as long as I am memorizing it and randomly pick a few to play everyday, I don’t see a problem. Sight reading I am Ok too. The pieces, I am waiting on the new syllabus to come out in June and then pick. The only think I am worried is the aural part. It just seems very difficult.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/20/18 01:17 AM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
For anyone preparing for ABRSM grade 8 out there, wondering if anyone has any tips on aural skills especially modulation. I find that to be so difficult. .

I assume you do a little sight-singing every day? That does wonders for your aural skills - pick a hymn in four-part harmony and sight-sing each part in turn (you don't have to sing in the correct key, BTW, as long as the relative intervals are all there). Like this one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWr0DrDewGM

You can find almost any hymn on YT with the score in 4-part harmony to sing along to.

As for modulations, I'd think the main difficulty is identifying the difference between a modulation to the dominant or subdominant, rather than to the relative major/minor. For that, there's no substitute for lots and lots of listening. If you can hear the bass notes, you've got the answer. Or if you can hear the leading note to the new key - in major keys, a modulation to the dominant has a sharpened leading note (as in the hymn above), but not to the subdominant. And the subdominant has the tonic note in it, whereas the dominant doesn't, so if you cannot hear the tonic note in the last chord, the modulation is to the dominant.

I don't know about you, but I hear the subdominant as sounding 'religious' (after all, IV-I is the 'Amen' plagal cadence). I found the aurals easy as a student because I sang in the school choir, and also, every school day during morning assembly, we all sang two or three hymns, and I got used to picking out the alto, tenor and bass parts (as played on the pipe organ) and sang them instead of the actual (soprano) melody.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/20/18 07:25 AM

I do have a trick for the the aural modulations that works pretty well for me. Hum the tonic in your head after the examiner plays it. If the ending chord contains that note, it is the subdominant. If it does not, it is the dominant. For example if the tonic is C, the IV is FAC, if The V it is GBD, The dominate will clash with the tone in your head.

I am taking the Grade 8 ABRSM in November. The aural is pretty challenging. I can do the sing the lowest part of a three part melody, name the cadence, modulations, and describe a piece. I Am still struggling will naming the first of the three ending chords. The last two are pretty well defined by the cadence. The sight singing is still challenging for me.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/13/18 02:39 AM

Hi!

I just briefly wanted to share with you that I've just done my first exam (with a local system that is similar to RCM).

I've done a level 7 with the "école préparatoire Anna Marie Globensky" (which I would compare to a level 6.5 with RCM).

I played
- Study : Burgmuller, the storm
- Baroque : Bach, invention no 4
- Classical : Mozart, K545 2nd movement
- Romantic : Chopin, mazurka op. 68 no. 3
- Modern : Debussy, the little shepherd

It went well, all things considered. Well enought that I'm planning to do my level 8 next year (with the Golliwog cake walk and Chopin's nocturne in C# minor! And 3 other pieces yet to be chosen).

My goals with those exams was to bring my pieces to performance level and to train all aspect of musical education, including ear training and sight singing. And these objectives are clearly met, so all certainly do it again!

I'll keep you updated next year. I'll only start practicing my next exam in fall. For the summer, I have other pieces I want to learn! smile

I'm very curious to read how people prepare and live the experience of exams as adults. I think we really are a minority to take those.
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/13/18 07:06 AM

Congratulations Jouishy! Welcome to the exam thread. That is a great accomplishment. From you signature it looks like you achieved grade 7 in two years, which is really quickly. You must work very hard. Does the system you use also include technical (scales, arpeg. etc), sight reading, and aural? Is it similar to RCM?

Yes, ! agree we adult exam students are a minority among the adult players. I like to have goals and milestones, and the exam system works well for that. I will be sitting my grade 8 ABRSM in November. I have enjoyed the exam route, and have taken grades 4-7. I am actually looking forward to grade 8 (equivalent to grade 10 RCM). Then on to ARSM!
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/13/18 10:06 AM

well done Jouishy, very impressive considering your short time at the piano.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/13/18 10:40 AM

I posted a 2-week preparation journal before my exam in 2015. If you haven't read it and are interested:

My 2-week diary before AMEB grade 8 exam

I find that if you record yourself (video preferred over audio only), you get to see and hear where you need to improve.

Good luck!
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/13/18 06:21 PM

Thanks for the warm welcome. smile

Yes, very similar to RCM!

Instead of 2 studies, baroque, classical, romantic, it is one study, one baroque, one classical, one romantic, one modern (that could be swap for a pop-piece if wanted).

They ask for specific technical exercices (in the "a dozen a day" books of exercices), scales and arpeggios (I had 6 scales, 6 3-notes arpeggios and 1 4-note arpeggio - including inversions - to do). Scales directly in 16th notes (I'm not 100 percent sure of the name of the value of notes in English. "Double croche" in French), at 88 bpm; 3-notes arpeggios in 8th and 16th notes at 60 bpm; 4-note arpeggio in triplets at 66 bpm.

And there is the option to do a theoric exam, which I did too, that includes a written exam, musical dictation (harmonic and melodic), rythmical and melodic sight singing.

So very similar to RCM. smile

Yes, I'm very happy I was able to do that with 27 months of piano playing! And the examiner had really good comments for me. Honestly, I did expect to succeed, but I didn't expect that I would get that much good comments and grades.
(Grades are not official, but the examiner told me that, in general, my pieces were 9,2/10, some being better than others. She was very generous to give me a 2,5/5 in sight reading, ahahah! And gave me a 13,8/15 for technical aspects - exerices, scales and arpeggios).
Her only bad comments were about me being to stressed and sometimes not taking the time to breathe and about my sight reading.

That really exceed my expectations!
So I'll continue this project for a level 8 next year. smile
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/14/18 01:11 AM

I'm registered to take RCM 5 in August. I have 2 pieces learned from each list along with 2 etudes. I was asked to choose another etude this week, so I'm looking at In Church, Op. 39, No. 24 by Tchaikovsky
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/14/18 01:29 AM

its a beautiful piece bSharp
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/14/18 05:51 AM

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
I posted a 2-week preparation journal before my exam in 2015. If you haven't read it and are interested:

My 2-week diary before AMEB grade 8 exam

I find that if you record yourself (video preferred over audio only), you get to see and hear where you need to improve.

Good luck!



Thanks for posting this! It is very helpful. I agree with recording the exam pieces regularly. I am trying to do that once a week from now to the exam. It really does help.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/14/18 08:57 PM

Originally Posted by SwissMS
Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
I posted a 2-week preparation journal before my exam in 2015. If you haven't read it and are interested:

My 2-week diary before AMEB grade 8 exam

I find that if you record yourself (video preferred over audio only), you get to see and hear where you need to improve.

Good luck!



Thanks for posting this! It is very helpful. I agree with recording the exam pieces regularly. I am trying to do that once a week from now to the exam. It really does help.


It was a delight to be able to share my journey. It took some of the pressure off and people who actually plays the piano get to celebrate with me :-)
Posted By: kahtwoloo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/14/18 11:29 PM

Oh boy I think I just blew ABRSM Grade 7. I got really flustered but I felt pretty unprepared. I did okay on the pieces I made a couple very slight mistakes on my first two pieces but on the third piece at the very end I had to pause a go a couple measures back and restarted from there. Then things went downhill. Last year I had a bad problem with playing scales for Grade 5 because I got flustered. Well if you read my thread a while ago I LOTS of scales to learn. In a short amount of time. I do most of these great at home but I just spaced during the exam. I messed up three of the them and literally told the examiner to just skip it. And he had to back his order and me and a couple times with solicited a responses from me to the effect of "sorry I'm f word ing out it right now" (hope bad manners doesn't hurt my score!) To be fair I had to completely rearrange my sleeping schedule to accommodate for this and my brain is a bit cloudy.

The aurals were what had me terribly nervous going in. I studied with e music maestro for a month but it's impossible to tell how the singing is going without a teacher so I had to rely on the other questions and hope they carried. I'm positive I got the cadence, texture, and period questions correct but missed the modulation and I feel like I got the rhythm clap back correct and the time signature correct. For the singing I chose to play back the bottom part of the selection (I had NO idea this was an option) so I chose that. I feel like a did a decent job find the right notes. For the singing the upper part I feel like I got the rhythms/pitches about 75% correct.

I feel like the sight reading went really bad. The gap from Grade 5 to 7 is pretty big. I know I messed up the rhythms despite trying to prioritize it (I didn't do this at all for grade 5).

I feel like when I glanced at him a couple times I saw an LOL. wtF are you even doing? look on his face, though he seemed to approve of my aural performance). All and all I'm just surprised by how fast it all went. It was scheduled for 25 min but it literally felt like it compressed into 5 min.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/15/18 08:52 AM

commiserations kahtwoloo but you never know. I have read a few bad reports people have written and they still passed. Sounds encouraging you thought you did well on the pieces, so fingers crossed.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/15/18 11:04 AM

Kahtwoloo, I share your pain. Exams can be very intimidating and the brain can get way off track. I hope your level 7 had enough to compensate and that you relax and see it as just one musical experience. I know you learned from your preparation. You never know how the examiner will score it.
Posted By: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/15/18 12:08 PM

I generally assess my own exam performance worse than the examiner. I suppose when you've made some slips and errors you tend to be more harsh on yourself.

What's done is done. Many people haven't the dedication, energy, discipline nor courage, let alone opening yourself up for formal judgement and criticism. So congratulate yourself for having that dedication, energy, discipline and courage to go through the exam.

Until you get your report, nothing is final. Fingers crossed!

Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/20/18 12:46 AM

After posting on the Piano Teachers forum, I was recommended to post in this thread, which I had not noticed before.

I am a new learner, but a fellow lover of exams and am seeking an RCM or ABRSM piano teacher who can give lessons by Skype so I can go take some exams. Or alternatively, I'm learning an approach to finding a RCM or ABRSM piano teacher in my area (in USA) who can give in-person lessons. I've searched the RCM "find a teacher" listings and it seems most of the teachers listed there that are close by are inactive or have moved. I looked on the ABRSM site and not only can I not find a list of teachers, but there seems to be a no "help wanted" policy for their forums. Appreciate any suggestions in this regard.

I'd prefer RCM over ABRSM only because I am, after all in North America, and also because I already bought a complete set of RCM level preparatory, 1, 2, & 3 books (oops).
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/22/18 11:49 PM

If I entirely put aside consideration the RCM books I already have, is there any reason to prefer RCM over ABRSM, or vice versa, assuming it will be just as easy for me to register for either of the respective exams in my location (in US)? Is one system considered more thorough? Another more pedantic? One focused more on theory or solfeggi or something like that? Has anyone done a comparison?

The only thing that gives me pause on ABRSM is I saw somewhere about singing with regard to ABRSM. I must have misunderstood that. Singing isn't a requirement for ABRSM piano is it?
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 12:10 AM

I really couldn't comment whether ABRSM is better or worse than RCM as I do AMEB (Australia), however both are well respected.

As to singing:

I would expect your choice of syllabus to be similar but as part of my aural test requirements I have to sing (or hum) and name intervals, and as the grades progress, sing the higher or lower line of a succession of intervals. In the earlier exams it is expected to sing (or hum) a small melodic phrase. The singing wasn't that much but what was important was the hearing of note(s) and then being able to repeat them. I took ten singing lessons last year just to get a better handle on this aspect and thought it was money well spent.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 02:05 AM

Originally Posted by earlofmar
As to singing:

I would expect your choice of syllabus to be similar but as part of my aural test requirements I have to sing (or hum) and name intervals, and as the grades progress, sing the higher or lower line of a succession of intervals. In the earlier exams it is expected to sing (or hum) a small melodic phrase. The singing wasn't that much but what was important was the hearing of note(s) and then being able to repeat them. I took ten singing lessons last year just to get a better handle on this aspect and thought it was money well spent.

I just scanned the entire RCM syllabus and didn't see any mention of singing, although admittedly, it's long and I might have missed it. I also watched a youtube video on the RCM Level 10 aural exam, and I didn't see any singing in there either, although there was some suggestion that one should sing intervals in one's head in order to identify them, in order to write them down.

Anyways, can you tell I am terrified about singing? Perhaps I should just bite the bullet myself and take 10 singing lessons and send this fear bye bye. laugh But with my present singing phobia, this might lean me in the direction of RCM, rather than ABRSM if ABRSM is anything like AMEB in this regard!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 02:20 AM

With RCM, you can choose to either identify the interval (they play, you identify it) or they tell you what it is and they play the first note, you then have to sing the interval.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 02:24 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
With RCM, you can choose to either identify the interval (they play, you identify it) or they tell you what it is and they play the first note, you then have to sing the interval.

Great! RCM has accommodated those with singing phobias then! ++

So just to confirm my understanding- the exam taker picks either one or the other option, and the exam givers don't pick for the exam taker, right? So a singing-phobe could just always choose to identify the interval heard, yes?
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 02:35 AM

It would be your choice wink It's mentioned in the syllabus.

Quote
Ear Tests
Intervals

Students will be asked to identify any of the following intervals.
The examiner will play each interval in melodic form (ascending
or descending) followed by harmonic form once.

OR

Students may choose to sing or hum any of the following intervals
(ascending or descending). The examiner will play the first note
once.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 02:37 AM

Singing an interval will be the least of your worries, playing a piece in front of an examiner is the most daunting things I have ever done.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 02:50 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
It would be your choice wink It's mentioned in the syllabus.

Quote
Ear Tests
Intervals

Students will be asked to identify any of the following intervals.
The examiner will play each interval in melodic form (ascending
or descending) followed by harmonic form once.

OR

Students may choose to sing or hum any of the following intervals
(ascending or descending). The examiner will play the first note
once.

Oh thank you! I did miss that in the syllabus. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/18 03:35 AM

I'm very shy when it comes to singing, but when you keep in mind that the only thing that is evaluated is the pitch, not how good you sing, it removes a part of the pressure.

For the other part, I forced myself to sight sing in front of my teachers and a pianist friend. With a little bit of exposure, I was able to be ok at singing in front of the examiner.

I'm doing some other exams and sight singing was required.
I've never done that before last summer and managed a 9/10 for a level 7 exam,for which I was very happy! (this is the least I can say!).
So, clearly, with motivation and dedication, you can learn and overcome your fears!
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/24/18 04:47 PM

Greetings, all. I am taking my first ABRSM practical exam this Saturday. I am starting with Grade 5. (I wanted to start with Grade 6, but ran afoul of ABRSM's well-known music theory prerequisite.) I passed the music theory exam with no problems back in March (I'm a music teacher as well as an adult returner, so Grade 5 theory was almost like shooting fish in a barrel), so I'm hoping to take Grade 7 in November and Grade 8 the following May. (We only have two practical exam periods each year here in Austin, Texas: May and November).

I have settled on the following pieces for Saturday:

  • Bach - Prelude in E minor, BWV 938 (nice two-voice piece with contrasting articulations, the first Little Prelude I have seriously worked on in 25 years)
  • Chopin - Sostenuto in E flat, KK IVb No. 10 (beautiful easy piece that allows the performer to demonstrate mastery of subtle rubato and dynamics)
  • Shostakovich - Gavotte from Dances of the Dolls (ugh die die DIE you bloody dolls I hate you oh god I can't stand this trite gavotte anymore someone save me from the dolls they're coming for me again)


I'll be happy to move on from these pieces: for someone who is used to playing Bach fugues and Beethoven Sonatas, these pieces are quite boring. I'm pretty confident with the pieces, scales, and arpeggios. The only problem is my blasted arthritis. I'm afraid my hands will betray me and cause stupid mistakes. If it weren't for the arthritis, I would be confident of a Distinction. But as my lovely wife has pointed out, given all the pain and loss of coordination, I should be happy with a pass.

As I said, I am a music teacher, and also an adult returner. I will be entering students for exams for the first time this November, so it will be good for me to have one under my belt before any of my students take them. Ultimately, I want to get a DipABRSM, or even an LRSM. I would love to shoot for the FRSM, but I don't know if my arthritic hands will let me.
Posted By: kahtwoloo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/24/18 10:28 PM

@Earlofmar, Wisebuff, and Tubbie
Thanks for the consolations but I blew it! For the wrong reasons unfortunately

I got a 92 overall. My sight-reading and aural tests were about exactly were I thought they would be and I ended up doing better on the scales then I thought. It's the pieces I'm worried about. I didn't even pass those (any off them) despite thinking I did okay. My scores were 19, 19, and 18. Basically my issue is inconsistent rhythms across board. The examiner said all the pieces had positive qualities though.

Not terribly upset about it considering there was almost a full month where I couldnt prepare at all in Feb. and the fact that I only spent a couple months preparing for the scales and just one for the aurals. But I'm a bit worried about how my pieces are so low.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/24/18 11:02 PM

kahtwoloo, Hmmmm! I'm confused as to why you would say you "blew it" with a score of 92. Please explain your perspective. That seems like a celebration score to me.
Posted By: kahtwoloo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/24/18 11:07 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
kahtwoloo, Hmmmm! I'm confused as to why you would say you "blew it" with a score of 92. Please explain your perspective. That seems like a celebration score to me.


Heh. Well it's out of 150 points with a 100 for a pass. The pieces are worth up to 30 each with 20 needed for a pass.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/24/18 11:17 PM

OH!! I was reading it as 92%. So sorry that you did not perform as well as you'd hoped. My support and empathy are yours. You will ace it next time for sure.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/18 12:30 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Greetings, all. I am taking my first ABRSM practical exam this Saturday. ... Ultimately, I want to get a DipABRSM, or even an LRSM. I would love to shoot for the FRSM, but I don't know if my arthritic hands will let me.

You are from Texas. Can I ask you how you decided to go with ABRSM instead of the North American system from RCM? I had assumed that if I was interested in an structured exam system, I should do RCM, but recently I discovered that there are just as many ABRSM resources in my location in the US, and so now I am reconsidering the RCM vs ABRSM issue. I would just be interested in the take of someone in the US who is opting for ABRSM, such as yourself. I did find a comparison table of the major piano exam systems and ABRSM and RCM seemed to all cover the major points, and in similar ways.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/18 01:41 PM

Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone

You are from Texas. Can I ask you how you decided to go with ABRSM instead of the North American system from RCM? I had assumed that if I was interested in an structured exam system, I should do RCM, but recently I discovered that there are just as many ABRSM resources in my location in the US, and so now I am reconsidering the RCM vs ABRSM issue. I would just be interested in the take of someone in the US who is opting for ABRSM, such as yourself. I did find a comparison table of the major piano exam systems and ABRSM and RCM seemed to all cover the major points, and in similar ways.


There are a few reasons: ABRSM apparently has wider international recognition, and the syllabus is a better match for what I'm looking for.

ABRSM apparently has better marketing than RCM. I also get the feeling that ABRSM is more widely-recognized internationally. ABRSM was the first, and for a long time, the only exam board that I knew about. And if I recall correctly, the first I heard of ABRSM was in Taiwan about five years ago.

What exactly are you hoping to get out of an exam board? My recommendation would be to take stock of your goals, peruse the syllabi of the various exam boards available in your area, and choose the one that fits you the best, regardless of where the exam board originated.

After seeing your posts here, I investigated RCM a little further. Upon looking at their syllabus, my first thought was: "this is nuts." It appears far more difficult than ABRSM, and I would say unnecessarily and possibly illogically so. Although RCM exams are offered in a suburb of Austin, I would not encourage any of my students to do RCM. If I had an overachieving student that wanted a challenge, I would suggest that she work towards DipABRSM rather than knocking herself out trying to do Trinity Grade 10. (I do not intend this statement as a criticism or disrespect of anyone, merely my impression after reading the syllabus.)

I also recently discovered that Trinity exams are available in Austin, and one of my neighbors is the local representative! But, looking at the Trinity syllabus (especially the diplomas), my thought was "this is too easy." I would not want to do Trinity myself, but I could see it being an option for students who want to do exams but find the ABRSM syllabus a touch intimidating. An autistic student, perhaps, might find Trinity more suitable than ABRSM, especially at the diploma level. (Again, I mean no disrespect or criticism of anyone who has done Trinity. These are my personal impressions only, and only important to the students in my studio in the long run.)

So for me, and for at least one of my students, ABRSM fits the bill because of its level of difficulty and international recognition. Your mileage may vary.
Posted By: Moo :)

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/18 02:22 PM

Autistic to do Trinity dipolma, wtf? I found that post very offensive! I have done both board exams. In the UK there is no distinction between the boards. There is also no such thing as 'Trinity Grade 10' so you seem very poorly informed ! There is also large gap between Grades for amaeteur pianist and Diploma exams which are professional exams with high standards whatever board. There is a very large gap between grade 8 and diplomas.

Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/18 02:27 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
There are a few reasons: ABRSM apparently has wider international recognition, and the syllabus is a better match for what I'm looking for.

ABRSM apparently has better marketing than RCM. I also get the feeling that ABRSM is more widely-recognized internationally. ABRSM was the first, and for a long time, the only exam board that I knew about. And if I recall correctly, the first I heard of ABRSM was in Taiwan about five years ago.

What exactly are you hoping to get out of an exam board? My recommendation would be to take stock of your goals, peruse the syllabi of the various exam boards available in your area, and choose the one that fits you the best, regardless of where the exam board originated.

Thanks for this very detailed response. I am simply looking for a progress metric for something that is very much a new hobby. I also just really have liked to take exams back from the time I was in school. All different sorts of tests and exams and challenges. I'm one of those people who regularly click on the Internet links like "How many of these historical people do you know?" laugh (Well you knew someone had to be clicking on those links, right? LOL) Lastly, music is a new area for me that I don't know a lot about as a performer (although I'm a music appreciator). I don't really know what I should be learning or know, and so an established exam system gives me clear benchmarks. I see this a little like academic degrees. While each academic degree, school, specific program, and person's path is different, to say that one person has a master's degree in sociology, for example, at least suggest what they might know about that field. So that's my three reasons. Obviously #1 and 3 are related.

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
After seeing your posts here, I investigated RCM a little further. Upon looking at their syllabus, my first thought was: "this is nuts." It appears far more difficult than ABRSM, and I would say unnecessarily and possibly illogically so. Although RCM exams are offered in a suburb of Austin, I would not encourage any of my students to do RCM. If I had an overachieving student that wanted a challenge, I would suggest that she work towards DipABRSM rather than knocking herself out trying to do Trinity Grade 10. (I do not intend this statement as a criticism or disrespect of anyone, merely my impression after reading the syllabus.)

I've found and just downloaded the current ABRSM piano syllabus here. I already have a printed copy of this RCM piano syllabus. But as only a wannabe musician, I don't know what I should be looking for in comparing these. Can you give some examples of the craziness that you had found when you looked?

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
I also recently discovered that Trinity exams are available in Austin, and one of my neighbors is the local representative! But, looking at the Trinity syllabus (especially the diplomas), my thought was "this is too easy." I would not want to do Trinity myself, but I could see it being an option for students who want to do exams but find the ABRSM syllabus a touch intimidating. An autistic student, perhaps, might find Trinity more suitable than ABRSM, especially at the diploma level. (Again, I mean no disrespect or criticism of anyone who has done Trinity. These are my personal impressions only, and only important to the students in my studio in the long run.)

So for me, and for at least one of my students, ABRSM fits the bill because of its level of difficulty and international recognition. Your mileage may vary.

I just learned something definitely. I had assumed when I encountered Trinity in looking for exam info a few weeks ago, that it was just a UK-only system. But based on your comment about Austin, I just searched and found there is a regional representative not 50 mins from me. So I guess Trinity is an option for me too. To your knowledge, are ABRSM, RCM, and Trinity our only piano exam system options here in the US? And could you, as a music teacher, point out some of the aspects of Trinity that made you feel it was dumbed down compared to ABRSM?
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/18 03:12 PM

Originally Posted by Moo :)
Autistic to do Trinity dipolma, wtf? I found that post very offensive! I have done both board exams. In the UK there is no distinction between the boards. There is also no such thing as 'Trinity Grade 10' so you seem very poorly informed ! There is also large gap between Grades for amaeteur pianist and Diploma exams which are professional exams with high standards whatever board. There is a very large gap between grade 8 and diplomas.


I apologize for the offense given; I certainly intended none. Please allow me to correct and explain. I typed "Trinity Grade 10" but meant "RCM Grade 10." I do think that a Trinity diploma might be easier for an autistic student than an ABRSM diploma. This is due to the ABRSM's "Viva Voce" requirement, which might discourage some students, most especially those with autism. I do not mean this as a dismissal of Trinity, nor of people who take Trinity exams.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/18 03:49 PM

Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone

Thanks for this very detailed response. I am simply looking for a progress metric for something that is very much a new hobby. I also just really have liked to take exams back from the time I was in school.


I think those are very good reasons, and any of the major exam boards should help you there. As you can probably tell, I find metrics and certificates and degrees to be highly motivating. If exam boards had been available when I was a teenager, I probably would have gone for them instead of focusing on other instruments for so many years.

I would like to make one small point: please do learn lots of music other than the exam pieces! Don't just study for the exams. They are a means to an end, not an end in an of themselves. I hope that makes sense. crazy

Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone

I've found and just downloaded the current ABRSM piano syllabus here. I already have a printed copy of this RCM piano syllabus. But as only a wannabe musician, I don't know what I should be looking for in comparing these. Can you give some examples of the craziness that you had found when you looked?


I was referring to the Grade 10 requirements in particular, which I thought were excessive and a little odd. RCM requires five pieces, plus two etudes, plus scales and apeggios and whatnot. Compare to ABRSM Grade 8's three pieces plus scales and arpeggios. If I had a student wanting to take something at that level, I would certainly advise them to do the ABRSM Grade 8 and then work towards a diploma, rather than stress themselves out with the additional RCM requirements.

And now I'm going to ding both RCM and ABRSM: I don't like how either of them handle Beethoven at that level. For ABRSM, you can play a single Beethoven sonata movement as one of your pieces. For RCM, you play TWO movements, and that only counts as ONE piece! I don't like this subdivision of the sonatas. They are intended to be taken as a thematic whole, and I strongly feel that much is lost when you isolate one or two movements from a three or four moment sonata. mad Just one of my pet peeves, and I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this. (And of course this criticism could be extended to Mozart, Haydn, etc.) If I were crafting a piano syllabus, I would offer an option to play a full Beethoven sonata (any from Op. 2, Op. 7, Op. 10, Op. 13, or Op. 14) and have that count for ALL of the pieces at the highest amateur grade. But that's just me.

Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone

To your knowledge, are ABRSM, RCM, and Trinity our only piano exam system options here in the US?


I'm pretty sure there are some other options, but I can't speak to them. These are the three I have investigated for myself and my students.

Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone

And could you, as a music teacher, point out some of the aspects of Trinity that made you feel it was dumbed down compared to ABRSM?


My concerns with Trinity are really at the diploma level. ABRSM includes a Viva Voce requirement (where the examiners grill you) whereas Trinity does not. I personally feel that the grilling (and the preparation for it) is pretty important, but some students might find that intimidating or downright impossible. For students that are scared senseless of the grilling, Trinity might be an option. But for me, I say bring it on! It can't be much worse than when I defended my masters' thesis or doctoral dissertation.

It all comes down to what is appropriate for the individual student.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/27/18 07:22 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone

You are from Texas. Can I ask you how you decided to go with ABRSM instead of the North American system from RCM? I had assumed that if I was interested in an structured exam system, I should do RCM, but recently I discovered that there are just as many ABRSM resources in my location in the US, and so now I am reconsidering the RCM vs ABRSM issue. I would just be interested in the take of someone in the US who is opting for ABRSM, such as yourself. I did find a comparison table of the major piano exam systems and ABRSM and RCM seemed to all cover the major points, and in similar ways.


There are a few reasons: ABRSM apparently has wider international recognition, and the syllabus is a better match for what I'm looking for.

ABRSM apparently has better marketing than RCM. I also get the feeling that ABRSM is more widely-recognized internationally. ABRSM was the first, and for a long time, the only exam board that I knew about. And if I recall correctly, the first I heard of ABRSM was in Taiwan about five years ago.

What exactly are you hoping to get out of an exam board? My recommendation would be to take stock of your goals, peruse the syllabi of the various exam boards available in your area, and choose the one that fits you the best, regardless of where the exam board originated.

After seeing your posts here, I investigated RCM a little further. Upon looking at their syllabus, my first thought was: "this is nuts." It appears far more difficult than ABRSM, and I would say unnecessarily and possibly illogically so.

I don't think the RCM is 'far more difficult' than the ABRSM in terms of its requirements (for grading, RCM = ABRSM x 1.25 approximately) except in one crucial respect that doesn't seem to have been mentioned - the RCM's requirement to play the pieces from memory. That's a huge difference, in my book, especially for those prone to nerves. Much more so than the etudes.

OK, you can play from the music, but only at the expense of having marks deducted......

And you're right about the ABRSM's international recognition, which helped greatly when I moved to the UK from an obscure little country that most here wouldn't have heard of - the ABRSM is equally big and ubiquitous in that minuscule country, which meant that I was able to continue my piano lessons in the UK seamlessly from where I left off in my home country.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/18 01:28 AM

Originally Posted by kahtwoloo

Not terribly upset about it considering there was almost a full month where I couldnt prepare at all in Feb. and the fact that I only spent a couple months preparing for the scales and just one for the aurals. But I'm a bit worried about how my pieces are so low.


expectations are high. I have noticed a big jump in difficulty between grades 5 & 6 so can only imagine how large is the gap between 5 & 7.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/18 05:34 AM

I had understood the contrary (that ABRSM were harder than RCM) when I've read here. smirk

I've just looked back at the RCM repertoire and I'm surprised. I had recalled that "my" exams (from the école préparatoire Anna Marie Globensky) were a little bit easier, but it seems to hold true only for advanced levels. There are some differences at lower levels, but it is not always one syllabus that class them higher or lower.

For instance, RCM puts Debussy's Jimbo's lullaby and Little shepherd at level 8. The école préparatoire puts Jimbo's lullaby at level 9 and Little shepherd at level 7! I saw the same with Chopin. Prelude no 4 is level 7 with the RCM but level 6 with the école préparatoire; as the waltz in B minor is level 8 for RCM and 9 for the école préparatoire.

But a lot of level 10 pieces for the RCM are level 11 for the école préparatoire, which made me think my exams were easier. I guess it is very similar in fact and seems to only holds true at level 10-11 / 10-ARCT.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/18 10:46 AM

RCM offers such a wide selection on repertoire and I like that. I've done levels 5 and 6 and I'm finding level 7 to be VERY difficult. Not in the repertoire so much because I have played pieces in that realm before but the etude selection, the speed requirements, and the technical requirements are very much a challenge for me. I may just go back and do level 4 and see if I can master both speed and memorization. I don't think there is a prohibition on going back but I don't know of anyone who has done it. I use the exams as a roadmap for pushing my technical and musical skills. Of course, I'd love to score perfectly at every level too but that's not likely.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/18 04:10 PM

At first, I thought RCM repertoire was great. Then I saw AMG school (let's call it that way; école = school; Anna Marie Globensky : AMG) repertoire and was like woah! There are so much obscure composers in there!

There is obviously some mistake, since I transcribe it myself from photos to a MS Word-file, but you can have a look if you are interested (and don't mind the French. Composer and pieces titles are in the language of the edition anyway) : https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzhV9gazVIzcZVBud3pIeWpWRzA
I find it useful too to simply pick pieces of my level to practice for fun!

The technical part is where RCM is the most different from AMG. RCM asks for more scales and arpeggios (at a very slightly slower tempo if I recall correctly) and asks for blocked chords and so on, which AMG doesn't (but asks for particular "A dozen a day" exercices, so maybe it is equivalent).

I didn't compare the ear training part. I know there are some differences thought, because RCM asks for interval recognition and chord progressions where AMG asks for musical, rythmical and harmonic dictations instead, and some sight singing too. Imo, dictations are more relevant (in "real music", intervals will be in a musical context). But anyway, this is not as if we choose what they ask of us! If I choose AMG over RCM, it is mainly for two reasons : convenience (I can pass those exams in my city; I don't have to go to Montreal, which would be feasible, but a 2h30 trip) and price (AMG exams are way cheaper! It costs me 65$ for both theory and practice, for a level 7. Theory is always 20$. Practice vary depending of the level).
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/18 11:50 AM

I had my ABRSM Grade 5 practical exam on Saturday. It wound up being quite an experience.

I was hit by an attack of nerves Friday afternoon. Even though I have performed a lot over the years on multiple instruments (church, recitals, and even on the radio as a kid, competitions in grad school, and most recently at weddings, funerals, and parties), this was different. I'd much rather perform for a thousand anonymous strangers than for one pleasantly-mannered Englishman if that Englishman is going to take notes and give me a grade!

The exam venue was a local private college. This was the first session of exams offered at this venue. I understand it to be an improvement over the previous venue (a church), but I cannot speak to that since I only took the theory exam at the previous place. My thoughts on the venue were that it's a mixed bag. The practice rooms were pretty bad, but better than nothing. There were two practice rooms. One had several digital pianos (not bad for what they are, of course, but I wouldn't want to practice on one and then go immediately to a grand), and the other had a shiny new Steinway upright. I played a Bach prelude, then turned to my wife and proclaimed that piano ready for the dumpster. (I've never played such a horrid Steinway. And it was new! It seemed to have not been prepped AT ALL! I can understand an institutional piano in a practice room being out of tune, but come on - that action was shameful! I've known bargain basement "stencil" Chinese uprights that played better.)

The exam room was actually a somewhat large classroom, with a grand piano in the front and maybe six tiers of desks (so not quite an auditorium). The room had HORRIBLE acoustics - it echoed all over the place, and wreaked havoc with all the interpretative nuances I had prepared. Ugh. I hope the examiner took that into account for all the candidates.

The exam piano itself was very nice! It was a fairly new Steinway Model B. The Bs are my favourite Steinway model. I was expecting a very light action (like most recent Steinways I've played), but to my surprise the action was a little on the heavy side. It felt very much like the grand piano in my studio (Baldwin SD-10 concert grand with Renner action), so I was right at home on the piano.

The examiner was very friendly in a detached sort of way. I've seen the same sort of mannerisms on ABRSMs mock exam videos, so I'm guessing examiners are trained to exhibit such mannerisms. Regardless, his cheerful and polite demeanor was very welcome.

By the time I sat down at the piano, I was shaking. The nerves were about to get the better of me. But I asked the examiner "shall I start with the Bach?" and he replied "please do," and we were off the races.

Bach and I went out with all guns blazing! We were kicking butt and taking names, and no nanny goat bassoonist could have stood in our way! After that, I managed to relax a little. The Chopin came off without a hitch. I flubbed one left-hand chord in the Shostakovich, but played it well otherwise. (I refuse to ever touch that bloody Gavotte again unless it shows back up on syllabus and a student insists on learning it!) Scales and arpeggios likewise went very well, with only a very slight bauble on the chromatic scale, but everything other than that was perfect or nearly so.

Aural went pretty well. The examiner played a jazzy piece and asked for its stylistic period and character. Regarding character, I listed several features that "give it a dreamy feel." He laughed at that, and said that the performance direction on the piece was "Dreamily." I guess I got that question correct!

Overall, it was a positive experience. I'm confident that I passed, and maybe even got Merit. In the depths of my nerves on Friday evening and Saturday morning, I wasn't sure that I wanted to do more exams in the future. But the good experience has strengthened my resolve. So it's onward to Grade 7! I can already play the pieces to a reasonable standard, so I have six months to polish them up, work on the scales and arpeggios, and also brush up a bit on the aural requirements.

Oh, how I wish I had not blown off scales and arpeggios as a child! My teacher had to pull teeth to get me to work on them. I only wanted to play pieces. (That must be why she snuck in Czerny.) Now I have to learn them with arthritic fingers and a befuddled brain.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/18 01:01 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
I had my ABRSM Grade 5 practical exam on Saturday. ... Overall, it was a positive experience. I'm confident that I passed, and maybe even got Merit.

Congratulations on having a more successful day than you feared on Friday!
Posted By: MomOfBeginners

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/29/18 07:54 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers


  • Shostakovich - Gavotte from Dances of the Dolls (ugh die die DIE you bloody dolls I hate you oh god I can't stand this trite gavotte anymore someone save me from the dolls they're coming for me again)




I'm sorry you hated Shostakovich Gavotte so much. From your posting later on, it sounds like you played it well in the exam anyway.

My daughter played this piece and thoroughly enjoyed it. She also enjoyed the other pieces in Dances for Dolls.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/30/18 09:35 AM

Congratulations Dr. Rogers for performing and accomplishing the Level 5 trial by fire. Your detailed narrative of the experience made me feel the emotion and conjured up the scene of the experience. I'm so happy for you that you can breathe deeply and never play any of them again if you don't want to. We learn a lot about ourselves through the experiences don't we?
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/30/18 11:44 AM

MomOfBeginners: I'm glad your daughter enjoyed the Gavotte. It's great when students actually enjoy the pieces they put so much effort into learning. Thankfully ABRSM seems to do a pretty good job in selecting a variety of pieces for each list at each level. I actually worked on both the Gavotte and the Jazz piece Cool, but as Jazz isn't may preferred idiom, I feared I couldn't give a convincing performance of the Cool. So I stuck with Shostakovich. (Maybe one day I'll even learn how to pronounce Shostakovich without stuttering. Some words do that do me. I was never able to pronounce "arpeggio" until last year, at least not without sounding like a bloody sea lion begging for fish.)

WiseBuff: I may occasionally revisit the Bach prelude or the little Chopin piece. It was indeed a very educational experience, in many ways. I suspect there will be fewer nerves come November, now that I know better what to expect.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/16/18 03:33 AM

The new 2019-2020 ABRSM piano syllabus is out. I am preparing for my grade 8 hopefully in the summer of 2019. Sadly except for the one Chopin nocturne op 37 no 1 in C list, I don’t like any other pieces. Most likely I will choose Beethoven sonata op79 1st movement for my B list. My teacher has no clue what piece I should choose for A list. Those pieces are equally difficult and not attractive. So, I may end up just randomly pick one for A list. Probably Bach’s prelude and fugue.
Posted By: marimorimo

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/16/18 05:58 AM

I'm going to take the Grade 2 Rock School Piano exam this November. It will be my first time to take a music exam and I've been stressing about it. The pieces, not so much as I'm nearly done with all 3 I need to learn. I'm more concerned with the technical exercises, specifically the sight-reading or improvisation and the aural parts. I have very poor aural skills. I'm aiming to do the improvisation instead of sight-reading, although sight-reading would probably be easier for me, as I actually want to learn how to improvise! Unfortunately my teacher hasn't started teaching me that yet.

As to why I'm taking the Rock School exam instead of the more popular ones, it's what's offered at my music school. I was doing classical almost exclusively before this so doing some pop was a nice change of pace.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/18/18 12:06 PM

pianofan, I am also working on my ABRSM Grade 8. I agree with your assessment of the Grade 8 pieces on the new syllabus. (I really like some of the new pieces at the lower levels, however, especially the Grade 2, some of which are pieces I teach anyway.)

In what part of the world do you reside? Outside of the UK, there is a one year overlap period. From ABRSM's website:

Quote

For candidates wishing to present pieces drawn from the 2017 & 2018 syllabus, the following date limitations apply:

  • 31 May 2019: UK and Ireland only
  • 31 December 2019: All other countries



I did my Grade 5 in May (passed, thankfully) and had originally intended to do my Grade 7 in November. But after about a week of practice, I realized that I was ready for the exam and had six months of boredom ahead of me. So I decided to be ambitious and set my sights on Grade 8. The pieces aren't so bad, but those scales a sixth apart... $!@#

The pieces I have chosen are:

  • Bach - Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 875
  • Beethoven - Rondo (3rd movt from Sonata in E, Op. 14 No. 1)
  • Brahms - Intermezzo in A minor (No. 7 from Clavierstücke, Op. 76)


My lovely wife, who is supporting me through this exam madness, bought me clothbound Henle editions of the Bach and Beethoven!
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/19/18 03:47 AM

Hi Dr. Rogers:

I live in the USA. Texas to be exact. I do feel 2017 syllabus have better pieces. But I will see what my teacher decides. Also, my work schedule is so unpredictable nowadays. I may postpone exam some times. So don’t want to learn a piece and find out that the syllabus got expired. But to be honest the part I worry the most of the exam is the aural skills. I can’t tell minor from major. So far the cadence exercises and modulation exercise, I have not gotten a single one right. I kind of feel like maybe I am tone deaf. frown
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/19/18 02:07 PM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
I live in the USA. Texas to be exact. I do feel 2017 syllabus have better pieces. But I will see what my teacher decides. Also, my work schedule is so unpredictable nowadays. I may postpone exam some times. So don’t want to learn a piece and find out that the syllabus got expired. But to be honest the part I worry the most of the exam is the aural skills. I can’t tell minor from major. So far the cadence exercises and modulation exercise, I have not gotten a single one right. I kind of feel like maybe I am tone deaf. frown


Well, greetings from another Texan! I'm in Austin. Since you're in Texas, you can play the 2017 pieces until the end of next year. That's three exam sessions (Nov. 2018, May 2019, and Nov. 2019). But do indeed follow your teacher's suggestions.

I do like the first movement from Beethoven Op 79, "Presto alla tedesca". It's a pretty fun movement, with the left hand playing a "cuckoo, cuckoo" motif in the development section. It's an easy movement to play slowly - getting it up to speed can be a challenge. I actually love that whole sonata. The second movement is really nice, and I would encourage you to learn it as well (if not the whole sonata, it's short) even though it's not on the exam syllabus.

A few suggestions on the aural: play the different cadences yourself on the piano, in different keys. Just play the chords. Get the sound of the cadences in your head. If you play an instrument like guitar or banjo, then play the cadences on that instrument. Ditto the modulations. Research the various techniques that are used in modulating, and play around with them. Experience and repetition are your friends. Keep at it!

Whatever you do, don't write yourself off as tone deaf. I'm not sure such a thing exists. My father dismissed himself as tone deaf all his life, but he was able to take up the banjo in the months before he passed away. The aural aspects may come more easily for some people than for others, but I'm convinced that persistent hard work trumps "talent."

Good luck to you, and keep us informed of your progress!
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/07/18 10:47 PM

Finally got my final grades for my level 7 exam (that I've passed on May 12).

There are no surprises (except maybe that my etude is my best grade, while it was the piece I considered the least mastered) but I'm very happy.
I can now be officially proud of my achievement, made with 27 months of piano experience.
Not only did I succeed, but I succeed with good marks. I'm very happy about this.

This sheet is only the final grades. I did get the comments right after the exam (a carbon copy of written notes of the examiner, taken during the exam).

Passing mark is 60% for each part (theory and instrument).

(Dictée = dictation
Solfège = sight singing
Lecture à vue = sight reading)
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/07/18 11:05 PM

Originally Posted by Jouishy
Finally got my final grades for my level 7 exam (that I've passed on May 12).

There are no surprises (except maybe that my etude is my best grade, while it was the piece I considered the least mastered) but I'm very happy.
I can now be officially proud of my achievement, made with 27 months of piano experience.
Not only did I succeed, but I succeed with good marks. I'm very happy about this.

This sheet is only the final grades. I did get the comments right after the exam (a carbon copy of written notes of the examiner, taken during the exam).

Passing mark is 60% for each part (theory and instrument).

(Dictée = dictation
Solfège = sight singing
Lecture à vue = sight reading)


Congratulations on your accomplishment! thumb That really is outstanding for such a short time frame.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/08/18 01:28 AM

great work you should be proud of yourself for such an achievement
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/08/18 07:03 AM

Congratulations! That is an outstanding result, especially for so short of a time frame.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/08/18 08:12 PM

Thanks!

I'm very proud of it. smile

Let's hope next year' level 8 will go as well!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/09/18 12:13 AM

That is an amazing accomplishment. Great big smiles and applause for you, Jouishy.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: Piano Exam Group - 07/09/18 01:05 PM

Well done Jouishy, that's a fantastic achievement!
Posted By: Lvlady

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/07/18 10:26 PM

I am new to this forum, I start to learn playing piano with a teacher almost 4 years ago. I took ABRSM level 3 last year, and pass. Me and my teacher consider that I may be able to take the ABRSM level 5 by end of 2019.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/18 11:14 AM

Congratulations, Lvlady. How are your scales and arpeggios? That was the hardest aspect of Grade 5 for me as an adult. I did my ABRSM Grade 5 in May of this year, and I am shooting for Grade 8 in May 2019. I noticed you're in Texas - which city are you doing your exams in? I'm doing mine in Austin.
Posted By: Lvlady

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/08/18 02:38 PM

Hi Dr. Rogers. I am in Houston. The Houston location is at a Church next to the Rice University, the piano i played for the grade 3 exam it is a decent Bosendorfer grand. I heard another ABRSM Texas exam location is in Dallas as well.

Good luck on your grade 8 exam, I haven't start my grade 5 scales and arpeggios yet, I understand there are a lot to practice and memorize for me as an adult learner, so i plan to take my exam by end of 2019, so I can have enough time to prepare for the exam, and learn some other pieces outside of the 3 exam pieces.






Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Congratulations, Lvlady. How are your scales and arpeggios? That was the hardest aspect of Grade 5 for me as an adult. I did my ABRSM Grade 5 in May of this year, and I am shooting for Grade 8 in May 2019. I noticed you're in Texas - which city are you doing your exams in? I'm doing mine in Austin.

Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/09/18 12:17 PM

Hi Lvlady:

I am in Houston as well. I have taken grade 5 and 6 before and working on my grade 8 now. Are you also adult student? I will PM you. It is so nice to finally find a person in Houston.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/09/18 12:19 PM

Hi Dr. Roger:

Grade 5 to grade 8 is a huge jump. There are lots to cover and catch up.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/09/18 02:15 PM

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
Hi Dr. Roger:

Grade 5 to grade 8 is a huge jump. There are lots to cover and catch up.


Well, I'm a bit of a ringer when it comes to these exams. I'm actually a piano teacher. My ultimate goal is a the diplomas, at minimum the DipABRSM. After doing the DipABRSM, I will consider whether or not I want to do LRSM (and then FRSM).

The only thing that is really challenging me in Grade 8 is the speed of the arpeggios. My arthritic fingers just don't want to cooperate.
Posted By: Lvlady

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/09/18 03:27 PM

Hi Pianofan1017, it is nice to meet you too. When are you going to take the grade 8?

Originally Posted by pianofan1017
Hi Lvlady:

I am in Houston as well. I have taken grade 5 and 6 before and working on my grade 8 now. Are you also adult student? I will PM you. It is so nice to finally find a person in Houston.
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/09/18 06:36 PM

I don’t know when I will sit for the grade 8 exam yet. I am thinking maybe December 2019
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 11:11 AM

I was excited to find out this morning that I passed the RCM 5 Exam with a score of 88. Had some memory slips which may have hurt, but was able to fix them on the spot and not start over. I did much better on ear training then I thought I would! I guess the online exercises paid off smile
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 11:49 AM

Congratulations bSharp(C)yclist! That is a great score!
Posted By: Smurfette

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 12:18 PM

Congratulations !
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 12:22 PM

Congrats bSharp (c)yclist
Awesome score attests to your hard work!
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 12:28 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I was excited to find out this morning that I passed the RCM 5 Exam with a score of 88. Had some memory slips which may have hurt, but was able to fix them on the spot and not start over. I did much better on ear training then I thought I would! I guess the online exercises paid off smile


Great Job!!
Posted By: Lvlady

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 03:28 PM

Congratulation smile

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I was excited to find out this morning that I passed the RCM 5 Exam with a score of 88. Had some memory slips which may have hurt, but was able to fix them on the spot and not start over. I did much better on ear training then I thought I would! I guess the online exercises paid off smile
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 08:26 PM

great job bSharp(C)yclist, going through exams is tough so you should be very pleased with yourself.
Posted By: TomLC

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 08:33 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I was excited to find out this morning that I passed the RCM 5 Exam with a score of 88. Had some memory slips which may have hurt, but was able to fix them on the spot and not start over. I did much better on ear training then I thought I would! I guess the online exercises paid off smile


Wow, you are moving fast young man. Congratulations!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/14/18 09:42 PM

Thanks! It certainly tested my patience towards the end there. I was getting a bit tired of practicing the same things over and over. Now I can move onto something new smile
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/15/18 11:32 AM

Congratulations bSharp!! That is a great accomplishment and we're all applauding you. What pieces did you end up playing?
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/15/18 11:34 AM

Question for the group: Which online ear training did you find most valuable in preparing for your exam? I'm working towards Level 7 RCM.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/15/18 12:14 PM

Thanks WiseBuff and everyone else smile

I played the following. For ear training, I found the online exercises available with RCM Sightreading/EarTraining book to be helpful.

Etudes:
Sweet Sorrow, op. 100, no. 16 - Burgmüller, Johann Friedrich
In Church, op. 39, no. 24 - Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il’yich

List A
Sonata in D Minor, K 34 - Scarlatti, Domenico

List B
Sonatina in F Major, Anh. 5, no. 2: II - Beethoven, Ludwig van

List C
A Slow Waltz, op. 39, no. 23 - Kabalevsky, Dmitri
Posted By: SwissMS

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/15/18 12:53 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Question for the group: Which online ear training did you find most valuable in preparing for your exam? I'm working towards Level 7 RCM.


I am using e-musicmaestro.com and the AuralBook app. These are both for ABRSM and Trinity, but I am not sure are about RCM. I really like AuralBook, because is quite exacting. It actually grades your performance. I have used it for grades 4-8.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 08/16/18 02:07 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I was excited to find out this morning that I passed the RCM 5 Exam with a score of 88. Had some memory slips which may have hurt, but was able to fix them on the spot and not start over. I did much better on ear training then I thought I would! I guess the online exercises paid off smile



Wow way to go Dan!!
Posted By: Curious42

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/25/18 06:49 AM

Hi All,

It has been awhile since I last posted.

I just squeaked by receiving a merit on my Level 3 ABRSM piano exam this past Fall. Family, work and piano practice has kept me away. Picked up the Level 4 ABRSM 2019/2020 book and the Level 3 ABRSM theory book.

Glad to hear all the work is paying for folks!

Happy Holidays all!

Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/25/18 07:35 AM

congratulations Curious42 and wishing you the best for level 4
Posted By: Curious42

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/26/18 12:49 AM

Thanks earlofar. I like your tag line, btw.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/26/18 12:23 PM

Congratulations Curious 42! That is a great accomplishment and when you consider our busy adult lives, an even bigger one.

I'm still working toward my next level but I'm learning more of the repertoire this time at RCM 7. RCM gives LOTS of choices in each category and I want to feel like I'm really competent at this level. Getting the speed required at this level is still perhaps a deal breaker but I'm loving the music even played somewhat more slowly. Since I've tortured myself with exams at level 5 and 6, maybe I don't need the exam this time.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/26/18 02:29 PM

Originally Posted by Curious42

I just squeaked by receiving a merit on my Level 3 ABRSM piano exam this past Fall. Family, work and piano practice has kept me away. Picked up the Level 4 ABRSM 2019/2020 book and the Level 3 ABRSM theory book.


Congratulations on your Merit!

Let us know which Grade 4 pieces you choose. I sight-read through 16 of the 18 Level 4 pieces that I was able to find (couldn't find the C-5 or C-6), and many of them are quite lovely. (I was practicing sight-reading for my upcoming Grade 8.) I love the Beethoven and Benda from the A list, the Carroll, Grieg, Elgar, and Kullak from the B list, and the Gillock and Crossland from the C list.

I'm working hard on Grade 8 for May. I hope I can get at least a Merit, but Grade 8 is pretty hard...
Posted By: Curious42

Re: Piano Exam Group - 12/27/18 07:06 AM

Thank you WiseBuff and Doc Rogers. Our adult lives "some how get in the way with life" smile

I am going to listen to the level 4 repertoire CD this weekend to help me decide which ABRSM pieces to select.

Curiously, my instructor didn't like most of the pieces for level 3. I showed her the level 4 repertoire last week and she really liked most of these. I, on other hand, quite liked the level 3 pieces! smile

I can't get my head wrapped around what a level 8 must be like! Sounds like your on a mission, a great one at that, and most importantly know why you are on "your" mission.

---------

My instructor mentioned, several times, the limited number of ABRSM pieces to choose relative to CM and RCM. I personally don't have a problem with this because I specifically ask for other pieces to practice on an ongoing basis. We both noticed, for example, the big jump in technical playing capability between level 3 and 4. I suggested ...lets find "bridge" music pieces ...select our own level "3.5" enjoyable pieces that can help me bridge from level 3 to 4. She liked the idea; we pulled out several of her music books and stumbled upon pieces my prior piano instructor liked for certain skill building practice ...Stephen Heller. Lots of scales, big chords, and drama! Needless to say, I chose one of Heller's pieces; like an old familiar friend helping me get from point a to b while musically interesting to me. This is typically how I expand beyond ABRSM...the educational and diverse journey helps me play the limited ABRSM selections.

While she is classically trained and most of her students choose her for classical training, she has remarkable jazz piano teaching experience, which is why my sons and I selected her. In between ABRSM repertoire, echo back singing, arpeggios, I also selected some standards like Ain't Misbehavin' and Angel Eyes to practice. What a brain crash switching between these! Going from LH light dynamics/staccato with RH heavier dynamics / smooth arpeggios in classical music to Long Short Long Short jazz playing and notations as "suggestions"...what a mental riot! I love it!

Hoping that all of you have a positive "mental riot" 2019 playing piano!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/21/19 11:45 AM

With exam time coming up this spring, who is going for a new level? I had hoped to be ready for RCM level 7 but I'm not quite there yet especially with the technique and aural requirements. One impediment has been the onset of tendonitis in both arms...I think related to lifting and not caused by piano but still interferes some for me. The music at this level is very satisfying and I'm enjoying learning multiple pieces in each category. At the moment I'm working on the Bach Allemande from French suite 4, Mozart's Viennese Sonatina #1 and a piece by Dennis Alexander called Longing.
All very different and demanding new skills. The allemande seems the most difficult of the set I'm learning at the moment. There are some easier choices in the baroque section but I'd love to know this one. Memorization is still not easy.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/21/19 01:20 PM

Hi Wisebuff,

I'll be taking RCM 6 in May and plan to play the following. The pieces feel solid enough. I'll spend a bit more time between now and then on sight reading and ear training.

Etudes:
Toccatina, Op. 27, No. 12 – Dmitri Kabalevsky
Fluttering Leaves, Op. 46, No. 11 – Stephen Heller

Repertoire:
Aria In G Major – Georg Philipp Telemann
Sonatina In F Major, Op. 168, No. 1_ Third Movement – Anton Diabelli
Song Of The Cavalry, Op. 27, No. 29 – Dmitri Kabalevsky
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/21/19 01:46 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
With exam time coming up this spring, who is going for a new level? I had hoped to be ready for RCM level 7 but I'm not quite there yet especially with the technique and aural requirements. One impediment has been the onset of tendonitis in both arms...I think related to lifting and not caused by piano but still interferes some for me. The music at this level is very satisfying and I'm enjoying learning multiple pieces in each category. At the moment I'm working on the Bach Allemande from French suite 4, Mozart's Viennese Sonatina #1 and a piece by Dennis Alexander called Longing.
All very different and demanding new skills. The allemande seems the most difficult of the set I'm learning at the moment. There are some easier choices in the baroque section but I'd love to know this one. Memorization is still not easy.


Be careful of that tendonitis. Perhaps my greatest fear in life right now is some sort of RSI sidelining me from piano.

That Bach Allemande is a great choice! That's one of my favorite movements from the French Suites. I don't think I've ever played any of Mozart's Vienenese Sonatinas (I've never played much Mozart in general) but I looked it up on Youtube and I really like it. So elegant - almost of textbook example of Style Gallant. I also looked up the Longing - that's a really lovely piece.

I will be sitting the ABRSM Grade 8 exam some time in May. I had originally intended to do it last November, but I decided to give myself six more months to make sure I'm good and ready.

My three Grade 8 pieces are:

  • J. S. Bach - Prelude and Fugue in D minor from WTC Book II, BWV 875.
  • Beethoven - Rondo - Allegro comodo from Piano Sonata in E, Op. 14 No. 1
  • Brahms - Intermezzo in A minor, Op. 76 No. 7

The Bach is basically ready. I have the polyphonic voicing and articulation how I want it, and am just trying to smooth out some issues with the rhythm. I tend to speed in certain places in the prelude, and in lots of places in the fugue. (It goes back and forth between passages of triplets over sixteenth notes and straight sixteenths or eighth notes.) You should hear me sit there and count it like some sort of sadistic drill sergeant! But that approach is working.

The Beethoven - eh, I'm resigned to getting my lowest score on it. I honestly wish I would have chosen a different B-list piece, but by the time I realized that it was far too late. I'm polishing it up, section by section. I will not be able to play it fast, so I'm focusing on musicality over speed. The problem is that this movement really irritates my arthritis. It was a bad choice, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

The Brahms is pretty much ready, and I would perform it tomorrow without hesitation. I'm trying to take advantage of the remaining time to polish it up and bring out its subtleties and nuances. I hated this piece for many months, and only chose it because it didn't present many technical challenges (so I could focus on the more challenging Bach and Beethoven). I had absolutely zero emotional connection to this piece, and frankly it showed in my playing. (That hurt me with one of my Grade 5 pieces, a nasty Gavotte by Shostakovich.) But about a month ago I watched an anime called Violet Evergarden, and that combined with an offhand comment from a colleague suddenly gave me insight into the Intermezzo. It's still not my favourite piece by far, but at least I have some connection to it now and can bring out the emotion.

Scales and chords are in decent shape. Not perfect, but decent. I'm not going to stress over the tempo - again, focusing on musicality rather than speed. They won't be perfect, but they will be Good Enough. I'm still working on them for about an hour a day (which I do NOT recommend, and which is why I'm worried about RSIs), so any failures here will not be from lack of effort on my part!

I'm not worried about sight reading. I've always been a good reader. Again, I'm shooting for Good Enough rather than Perfect.

Aural - I expect this to be my weakest area over all. I am practicing for it, but quite frankly my performance in practice is nothing short of pathetic. But I still have about two months. Maybe I'll pull out a miracle, or will get lucky.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/22/19 11:21 AM

Thank you BSharp and Dr. Rogers for sharing your progress.
B Sharp, I remember the Fluttering Leaves and really enjoyed playing that one. I admit that I avoid Kabalevsky when possible...although I did play that same toccatina in my level 6 exam. I often think I should go back and re-do level 6 and maybe play with more tempo and more beauty. I hadn't focused on memorization so I played with the score and that was the only comment as I left the exam.

Dr. Rogers, I've worked on (actually played for a student recital albeit slowly) the 1st movement of the Beethoven 14 no 1. I brought it out again a couple of weeks ago but my brain does not remember it as well as I'd hoped. I was hoping to move another notch towards correct tempo. You brought up something that I hadn't thought of. Are the examiners more interested in speed or musicality of the scales and chords?? I've really been pushing to achieve the speed...maybe that contributes to the tendonitis (which I think is also related to some lifting I do in my other hobby--showing German Shepherd dogs). I'm setting up some time with an expert in Alexander technique to see what I can do to eliminate problems in how I play.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/22/19 04:23 PM

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Dr. Rogers, I've worked on (actually played for a student recital albeit slowly) the 1st movement of the Beethoven 14 no 1. I brought it out again a couple of weeks ago but my brain does not remember it as well as I'd hoped.


That opening movement is a lot of fun. I've read through it several times but haven't yet tried to work it up. I intend to work on the whole sonata after Grade 8. One thing I like about that sonata is how Beethoven introduces some very, very simple thematic material and then does so much with it. The almost trivial theme from the first four measures is developed in all three movements.

Quote
I was hoping to move another notch towards correct tempo.


Please don't take this as a criticism, but may I suggest that isn't a good way to think about it. Forget all about tempo. Focus on playing the movement correctly, consistently, and musically at a manageable tempo. Practice it until it just flows from your fingers, and your fingers feel as light as a feather (indicating that you are relaxed when playing it). I can safely say that, for pieces, examiners will respect a fluent, correct, and highly musical performance even if the tempo isn't quite what is marked. An unmusical performance at a high tempo will not impress an examiner.

Stressing over tempo may also increase the risk of RSI.

Quote
Are the examiners more interested in speed or musicality of the scales and chords??


One of my neighbors is the local Trinity representative (and a retired conservatory professor - she has helped me immensely). She previously worked with ABRSM. She says that the examiners are more interested in accuracy and musicality than raw speed. According to her, you would get more points for a scale played beautifully and accurately at a lower tempo than for a sloppy, unmusical scale at a fast tempo.

Quote
I've really been pushing to achieve the speed...


Again, as with the pieces, I would suggest forgetting about tempo. Practice your scales at a comfortable tempo until you can play them accurately, evenly, musically, and effortlessly. Once you find yourself playing then without tension, you will probably be able to pick your tempo. Your scale technique "will blossom like a flower" (I quote the aforementioned professor).

Tension is the enemy. A fixation on tempo is, at minimum, counterproductive, and at worse, dangerous.

Quote
I'm setting up some time with an expert in Alexander technique to see what I can do to eliminate problems in how I play.


That's probably a good idea.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/19 12:05 AM

Hi everyone. I was here up while ago intending to do exams in April. Life got in the way but I’ve now paid for a June exam so have no more excuses lol. I’m trying my grade 10 RCM with following repertoire:
Bach prelude and fugue in g minor bwv 861 (fully memorized)
Beethoven sonata opus 2 no 1 first and 2nd movement (90% memorized)
Schubert moment musicaux op 94 no 2 (fully memorized)
Oscar Peterson land of the misty giants (will start memorizing but already about 70% just through playing)
Debussy suite Pour la piano sarabande my Achilles heel frown
Study - Rachmaninoff etude tableaux op 33 no 8
Study - haberier serenade

My teacher is trying to line up other examiners he knows to do mock exams. I’m happy to do them but getting a bit stressed as I’m not totally prepared yet and not confident.

I’m struggling with ear tests although I’m getting better. Most concerned about chord progressions. I have no clue there! I’m also worried about the playback with chord accompaniment
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/19 09:51 AM

Dr. Rogers thank you for the careful and wise advice. I appreciate other piano enthusiasts and their experience. I know I don't NEED exams but they serve as a target for me and a measure of my progress. I especially plan to make my warm ups musical and joyous. Perhaps the tendinitis is related to pushing too hard too fast. It's funny I've stopped "testing" my own students but rely on their written and oral expressions of learning to issue a final grade. Musicality is really our expression of learning and understanding.

Cagal, your choices are challenging. I'll have to listen to a couple that I haven't heard yet. I wonder why we struggle with ear tests. I always thought for me that it was not something I focused on at a younger version of myself making it more difficult to acquire now. Tell me about your struggle with chord progressions.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/19 01:43 PM



Cagal, your choices are challenging. I'll have to listen to a couple that I haven't heard yet. I wonder why we struggle with ear tests. I always thought for me that it was not something I focused on at a younger version of myself making it more difficult to acquire now. Tell me about your struggle with chord progressions.[/quote]
I never had to do them before. I think it’s lack of the progression over exams. The last full RCM exam I took was about 35 years ago so I’m picking up testing I don’t have a base I’ve built on. Ear tests were always hard for me. Im working with a really terrific app but I’m still not confident. At least I’m hitting about 85% now on intervals. When I started I was around 40%. My teacher will record the progression choices for me so I can listen and get familiar. You need to identify a series of 5 - ugh!
I did try a repertoire split exam a few years back but no technical. Now I’m going for full thing - I’m really sick of my pieces and want to move on but the exam was a personal goal I didn’t want to abandon
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/23/19 01:51 PM

I should note between trying the grade 10 repertoire exam a number of years ago and now I had a pretty bad injury to my wrist due to a fall and missed almost a year of playing. I then tried some other pieces before settling on current repertoire. I only resurrected the Schubert and Peterson otherwise all completely new pieces. I had an ARCT level piece last time but decided not to resurrect it although I think I will go back to it later
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/25/19 12:29 PM

Originally Posted by cagal

Bach prelude and fugue in g minor bwv 861 (fully memorized)
Beethoven sonata opus 2 no 1 first and 2nd movement (90% memorized)
Schubert moment musicaux op 94 no 2 (fully memorized)
Oscar Peterson land of the misty giants (will start memorizing but already about 70% just through playing)
Debussy suite Pour la piano sarabande my Achilles heel frown
Study - Rachmaninoff etude tableaux op 33 no 8
Study - haberier serenade


That's a really nice programme! The especially love your Bach and Beethoven selections. (I have a recurring gripe about exam boards not programming whole sonatas, but I will grudgingly admit that the first two movements of Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1 are more attractive than the subsequent minuet and presto.)

I think I played the Schubert piece about 25 years ago, but I didn't do it justice back then. I lacked the emotional maturity for that kind of music back then, so I didn't connect with it. I would probably do better now... but so much great music and so little time!

Out of curiosity, what are your troubles with the Debussy? I'm personally not a big fan of that Sarabande. It's on both the DipABRSM and ATCL syllabi, but I decided not to take it on.

I had never heard that Peterson piece before - that's the kind of jazz I like! Much of the jazz I hear (or find on syllabi) might as well be atonal gibberish to my ears, but that's Peterson selection is really nice. When I was young, a relative of mine had a TV show that featured jazz like that.

Those two etudes are great. Such emotion in the Rach, and the Haberbier reminds me of the first of Chopin's [i]Trois Nouvelles Etudes[/i[.

Quote
I’m struggling with ear tests although I’m getting better. Most concerned about chord progressions. I have no clue there! I’m also worried about the playback with chord accompaniment


I worked on chord progressions by picking them out in music I listen to. I remember driving my wife nuts by putting on an album of disco music and calling out the various cadences while driving down the highway.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/25/19 11:04 PM

Thanks Dr Rogers. We tried to pick a balanced program. I want to do more jazz. My son is a huge fan so am hearing tons of great music although I picked the Peterson awhile ago. the Sarabande last page chord jumps are killing me from about bar 54 to 62 (I’m having to count as there are no measure notations on my music so I hope I got it right). The rest isn’t too bad. I’m plugging away on chords/intervals! No choice - the exam is set and that’s it
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 03/26/19 10:36 PM

Looking forward to hearing about your exam experience! Happy practicing. I am slowing down and actually taking a four day break this weekend to let the tendons heal. However I'll be managing dog crates at a dog show in Nebraska so hope that doesn't pull something else. By the end of dog show season I'm always in much better shape.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 04:04 AM

(TL DR: exams coming! I'm a bit stressed and hope I will manage. You'll find some links to recordings of the pieces I have to perform in 7 weeks! I can ditch the exams for this year, but I'd prefer not, so I'll try to polish those pieces enough to be able to do the exam.)


With my lack of motivation last Fall, I'm really not sure I'll be up to the task of the exams to come by the end of May. I can change my mind last minute (and simply do a formative evaluation), but I'd prefer not.

The plan is to do my level 8 this year, then take a break next year, because things are starting to go to fast. I expected that to happen, sooner or later, because when you work on a level 7 exam at 2 years of piano playing, level 8 at 3 years, it is only normal to expect that, at one point, one exam a year will be a bit too much, that some knowledge will be lacking to go further that quickly.
I went the exam route this year with the blessing of my teacher (I was really open to not take exams. I ask my teacher's opinion about it and he said exams were a good idea because it gives a clear objective and that he saw no problem with it - I'm saying because I know some teachers are around here and some are not confortable with adults absolutely wanting to go the exam route). I'd like to do my exam 8 this year because otherwise, I'd be postponing it to next year, which would pose the question of what to do with my repertoire: start 5 new pieces; keep some of my repertoire but change some pieces; keep all the pieces? And I don't like any of those options. I've choose some of the pieces I'm working on because I love them and I'd really like to play them for an exam. And I don't see myself playing the same 5-piece repertoire for 2 years (I don't mind passing a lot of time on pieces... but to a certain extend!).

Anyway, so back to the goal: exams this year.
The exam will be either May 25 or 26. That's 7 weeks! It's coming very rapidly!

So up to now, things are looking like this:
My Etude: Pozzoli E.R. 427 no. 6
I've only started to learn it 6 weeks ago. I still haven't got the last part. It is not the piece that stress me the most, but there is clearly work to be done in order to learn the text, then speed up the thing while having an okay interpretation (it is an etude, but there are still phrases).

My Baroque piece: Rameau, Les Sauvages
I'm ashamed to say I had to take several takes to get that... result. There is no much progression since my last recording in November... that piece was the most advanced one in regard to the degree of mastery, so I've neglected it... I really have to go back to it.

My Classical piece: Mozart, K545 1st movement
I haven't got back to it yet. I've practiced it first in my first year of piano (yeah... my first teacher was a bit crazy regarding difficulty) then worked on it again last Summer. I was supposed to learn a Beethoven for Classical era, but time is missing, so I'll refresh that movement so I can - hopefully - be ready for the end of May. I've tried to play it in front of my friend Monday and got mixed up in development, but exposition and reexposition are okay (with a bit of little things to work on here and there, but I remember the text well enough, without the sheet). This recording is from last November and for the whole sonata, but I'll only play the 1st movement.

My Romantic piece: Chopin, Nocturne in C# minor, posthumous
That one improved quite a bit, I think, since my last recording. Still have to greatly improve the beginning (recordings are a blessing in a way. Watching and listening to myself helps me understand some of the advice of my teacher I couldn't quite grasp at lessons) and, of course, the final scales... god, those scales... And the text in the last page is less mastered and it shouldn't be hard to focus a bit on it.

My Modern piece: Debussy, Golliwogg's cakewalk
That piece is so fun! Still have some issue with gluing parts together. The middle part need some more attention, and the finale, mostly. I have some other notes on things to work on here and there, but I feel I'm going in the right direction.
And yeah, my upright piano lack bases and it's pretty apparent in that particular piece! (One day, I'll have my 5'4"-6' grand! When I'll get the savings for that!).


That's a lot of stuff for 7 weeks. I don't expect a result as good as my level 7 exam (which I pass with an average of 9/10 on all my pieces - ranging from 8,9 to 9,3 if I recall correctly), but considering the circumstances, an average of 7,5/10 would be fine with me. I'll ask my teacher's opinion 1-2 weeks before the exam.

I might do some more recordings, but I try to balance recordings with practice (when I record myself, I'm not playing the same way as when I'm practicing and I feel like I'm losing some needed practice time!). You might hear me on Pinano (now that I've figured I can connect on 2 Discord channels at once!).
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 04:58 PM

CadenzaVvi, thank you for posting those videos. Your technique and interpretation look pretty good overall, and I have every confidence that you will get these pieces up to snuff in seven weeks! It sounds as if our exams will be pretty close together. Mine's on Mary 24th (ABRSM Grade 8). Good luck and keep at it! We can celebrate (or cry into our beer) together virtually at the end of May!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 05:34 PM

Good luck on your exam, CadenzaVvi! I haven't connected to Discord in awhile. Perhaps I will as practice for my exam.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 07:11 PM

Would like to attempt RCM exams but is there any point in starting with Prep A or B, or should I just begin at Grade 1? Or just do what my teacher tells me?
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 07:41 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Would like to attempt RCM exams but is there any point in starting with Prep A or B, or should I just begin at Grade 1? Or just do what my teacher tells me?

Check the syllabus and discuss with your teacher to see what level is appropriate. Then order the books from RCM. If your teacher doesn't have the RCM books already, you might need to get a set for your teacher too.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 08:49 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Would like to attempt RCM exams but is there any point in starting with Prep A or B, or should I just begin at Grade 1? Or just do what my teacher tells me?


Is your teacher familiar with RCM? I am guessing so. You don't need to start from the beginning. Your teacher should have a good feel for where you are at and what exam to start with.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/04/19 10:44 PM

Thanks for your support!

For RCM, afaik, you must do level 5 before higher levels, but you can otherwise skip as many as you want. I don't think it is useful to take too easy exams. You should let your teacher evaluate what deggree you should attempt.
I wish you the best!
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:00 AM

This is a really nice thread that I have been largely ignoring. However, I would love to get in on it. I just don’t have the direction now and don’t even know where exams are given. Furthermore, my sight reading is not up to snuff and I’ve never done any aural work at all. Maybe I’ll investigate.

Good luck to those on this path! It really seems worthwhile.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:37 AM

Yes, my teacher is familiar with RCM, and I will discuss with her what level I should attempt. I was also thinking there’s no point doing exams that are too easy.
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:40 AM

My hat is off to all that are taking Piano Exams!
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:53 AM

Originally Posted by cmb13
This is a really nice thread that I have been largely ignoring.

That might be a function of being in the USA, since international-level piano exams aren't so popular here. That said, the last survey Sam S did show one of seven of us here on ABF are doing exams.

Originally Posted by cmb13
However, I would love to get in on it. I just don’t have the direction now and don’t even know where exams are given.

Well that's easy peasy lemon squeezy, for RCM since I've done all the research already as I am planning on taking those.
For me, I think the mid-year exams are coming up too fast. Still finishing up my method book and didn't even begin preparing for exams. The Jan 2019 exams seem more realistic for me to shoot for.

Originally Posted by cmb13
Furthermore, my sight reading is not up to snuff and I’ve never done any aural work at all. Maybe I’ll investigate.

Yeah, but that all falls under "the joy of learning" in my case. RCM books cover sight-reading and aural work. There are even apps for that stuff. And to be fair, if you look at the syllabus, the grades from sight-reading and aural work are a smaller part of the grade than your big area of present focus - playing the repertoire well!

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Yes, my teacher is familiar with RCM, and I will discuss with her what level I should attempt. I was also thinking there’s no point doing exams that are too easy.

LOL. Of course she is... I should have noticed you are in Toronto - home of RCM! wink
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:54 AM

(edit : I was responding to cmb13)

In fact, one of the reason I'm taking exams is to force me to do some aural training. It is so easy to dismiss and so important at the same time!

From my experience, it is not to hard to meet the requirements regarding ear training relatively fast. I hadn't done any ear training before Summer 2016 and I'm doing fine in my dictations and sight singing (except in harmonic dictations) for level 7 and 8 with only 2-3 years of practice. I don't do 10/10, but I've got 9/10 at sight singing last year, and 8/10 overall on dictations. And I consider myself as being quite on the weak side when speaking of aural skills (I can't easily find a melody from hearing it - though I'm becoming better now).

There are surely some places nearby that gives exams. You should definitely look into it if you're somewhat interested or intrigued. smile
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:06 AM

Thanks for the responses! Tyrone sure is good with the links!! Does your teacher teach for the exams?

Jouishy I’m really way to mortified to consider singing, let alone sight singing! Will give it more thought though. Would have to practice when absolutely nobody is home!
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:18 AM

I'm very shy to sing in front of my teacher, but doing it is a good practice, ahah!
As an adult paying for my lessons, and asking my teacher to help me learn to sight sing, it helps to "unshy". I don't want to lose worthy lesson-time with being too shy to sing. My voice is still unsure at times and I don't sing as "well" as home, but still.

And at home, I'm really having fun going through my sight singing book!
Luckily, there is never someone to hear me, so I can practice it as much as I like without problem. laugh
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:19 AM

Originally Posted by cmb13
Thanks for the responses! Tyrone sure is good with the links!!

Well, I've permanently "favorited" these particular links - as I said, I am planning on taking RCM myself. I wouldn't able to produce the same for ABRSM and Trinity although I found both of those exams are given in my area too. Just haven't bothered to research those.

Originally Posted by cmb13
Does your teacher teach for the exams?

That's one of the reasons I picked my teacher in the first place - to prepare me for the exams. smile However, unlike you, I'm coming from a completely zero point just 13 months earlier, so my teacher is having me work my way through a method book to kick-start my piano learning and ground me, and I'm in the final units of that book now. That said, I definitely won't be done with this method book and able to start some earnest exam preparations until it is too late for the mid-2019 RCM exam dates.

Originally Posted by cmb13
Jouishy I’m really way to mortified to consider singing, let alone sight singing! Will give it more thought though. Would have to practice when absolutely nobody is home!

One of the reasons I am opting for RCM instead of ABRSM or Trinity is that unlike for the latter two programs, in RCM for aural, sight-singing is optional. Instead, they give you the option of non-singing methods. wink You better believe I will be using these non-singing methods on the exam! I don't even dare sing to myself in the shower! laugh
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:29 AM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop


Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Yes, my teacher is familiar with RCM, and I will discuss with her what level I should attempt. I was also thinking there’s no point doing exams that are too easy.

LOL. Of course she is... I should have noticed you are in Toronto - home of RCM! wink



Haha, yes. I live in the RCM capital of the world. Just out of curiosity, I went to the RCM website and did a teacher search. The result: 77 registered RCM teachers within 5km of my house. And that’s just the numbers registered! I’m going to assume that there are many, many others that aren’t registered! That’s crazy, if you ask me.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:38 AM

Tyrone, since you came from zero just 13 months ago, what level exam will you be attempting?
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:39 AM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Haha, yes. I live in the RCM capital of the world. Just out of curiosity, I went to the RCM website and did a teacher search. The result: 77 registered RCM teachers within 5km of my house. And that’s just the numbers registered! I’m going to assume that there are many, many others that aren’t registered! That’s crazy, if you ask me.

As adults, taking exams are only for our own gratification - no one else will even care. No pieces of paper to show anyone except one's spouse - might be too embarrassing to even show anyone else smile For this reason, I am also planning only only taking a few of the exams. I'm probably just going to shoot for one exam a year, and whatever level that should be to fit me, that'll be the level of the exam I take grin

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Tyrone, since you came from zero just 13 months ago, what level exam will you be attempting?

I have no idea. I plan to discuss that after my method book is finished in some number of weeks. My sense is my method book finishes around RCM 3 or 4 level. That's a wild guess though. I'm sure my teacher will know better. As I said, that will be the topic of discussion with my teacher when I embark on the RCM exam voyage and I don't plan to spend any time thinking about that until after I can look at method books in the rear view mirror.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:43 AM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Haha, yes. I live in the RCM capital of the world. Just out of curiosity, I went to the RCM website and did a teacher search. The result: 77 registered RCM teachers within 5km of my house. And that’s just the numbers registered! I’m going to assume that there are many, many others that aren’t registered! That’s crazy, if you ask me.

As adults, taking exams are only for our own gratification - no one else will even care. No pieces of paper to show anyone except one's spouse - might be too embarrassing to even show anyone else smile For this reason, I am also planning only only taking a few of the exams. I'm probably just going to shoot for one exam a year, and whatever level that should be to fit me, that'll be the level of the exam I take grin



Well, I understand about the embarrassing bit. Can you imagine waiting for the exam in the waiting room and all the other exam takers can be your son or daughter or grandchild? Hahaha. Anyway, I was thinking maybe I will go to a further examination centre so I don’t bump into anyone I know. LOL.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:45 AM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Anyway, I was thinking maybe I will go to a further examination centre so I don’t bump into anyone I know. LOL.

Haha... in Toronto, the further exam center is probably 5km instead of 4km? laugh
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:49 AM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Anyway, I was thinking maybe I will go to a further examination centre so I don’t bump into anyone I know. LOL.

Haha... in Toronto, the further exam center is probably 5km instead of 4km? laugh


You might be right. In that case, I may need to go out of town!
Posted By: RosemaryGirl

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 10:37 AM

Hello all,

I thought I would introduce myself on this thread as I'm planning on taking exams some time in future (although not for a while yet!).

I started learning the piano in October last year and with a proper teacher from January/February (I knew music notation from learning the classical guitar as a youth). I'm intending to learn all the basics and have all foundations in place properly before stretching myself too much. As a result, I've recently refocused all my efforts on Grade 1 pieces only (and scales and exercises too, of course) with the agreement of my teacher. I'm not sure when I'd be able to take exams, as I move country every few months, but my teacher agrees that it's good to practise and learn with the discipline and intent exams would require, even though I might not be able to take one this year or even next year. As you can skip grades, I could always jump in and do Grade 2 or 3 when I'm ready in future years.

I think I would be doing the ABRSM syllabus, as I'm loosely based in the UK, and I'm just unsure yet whether I would do the classic (and classical) exam or the jazz exam, perhaps.

I'm hoping to soon take the time to download a few aural training kind of apps that might help and be useful at times I'm away from the piano. Would any of you know which ones are best? I'm looking at the functional ear trainer, which is well rated.

Best of luck to all of you in your exam studies! I'm in awe of those of you who have been on this thread for years and still progressing steadily towards the highest levels.

RosemaryGirl
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:01 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Well, I understand about the embarrassing bit. Can you imagine waiting for the exam in the waiting room and all the other exam takers can be your son or daughter or grandchild? Hahaha. Anyway, I was thinking maybe I will go to a further examination centre so I don’t bump into anyone I know. LOL.


Something like that happened to me when I took the ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory exam. I was the oldest person in the room by a good 20 years, and I was the only "westerner" in the group. There was not a single "white" person taking the exam - there were a bunch of Asian kids (one of whom was Indian, as in from India), and one adult American Indian (as in Native American) - yours truly. (Nothing judgemental or racist intended here.)

So I'm on the ABRSM track. I'll give a brief introduction to the ABRSM for those who don't know. ABRSM stands for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. It is a partnership between the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Royal College of Music (London), the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow), and the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester). ABRSM offers "amateur" grades 1-8, then four levels of professional diplomas: ARSM and DipABRSM at the Associate level, LRSM at the Licentiate (roughly Bachelors) level, and FRSM at the Fellowship (roughly Masters) level.

The syllabus for the graded levels is here.

One feature of the ABRSM is a requirement that one must pass a Music Theory exam at the Grade 5 level before one is allowed to register for Grade 6 or higher in practical.

ABRSM's main competitors in the UK are Trinity College London, who offer a very similar syllabus but without the onerous (to some) music theory requirement and also without a viva voce requirement at the diploma levels, and also the LCM (London College of Music), whom I have not researched since they are not active in my area.

In Austin, TX, the main exam boards seem to be ABRSM and Trinity. The mother of the local Trinity representative is actually my neighbor; according to the Trinity rep, LCM had a presence here once but is now moribund. There is an RCM-affiliated music school in an Austin suburb, but I have not had dealings with them.

With ABRSM, one's music teacher generally handles registration, but one can also register oneself. I register myself and my students in the name of the music school that my wife and I run, so the certificates come back with the name of the music school in addition to the candidate's name.

I took my ABRSM Grade 5 theory exam in March of 2018, and then my ABRSM Grade 5 practical exam in May of 2018. I am taking my ABRSM Grade 8 exam on May 24th. On that same day, one of my students will be taking ABRSM Grade 2. We may switch that student to Trinity when she gets to the higher grades - the scale and arpeggio requirements are less onerous with Trinity, though there is an additional etude requirement IIRC.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:06 PM

Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl

I'm hoping to soon take the time to download a few aural training kind of apps that might help and be useful at times I'm away from the piano. Would any of you know which ones are best? I'm looking at the functional ear trainer, which is well rated.


I'm using e-music maestro, which was recommended by some kind posters here and also by fellow teachers at the ABRSM forums. My Grade 2 student is also using it, and she really likes it. It doesn't really teach so much as provide hundreds of examples for you to practice on. I have found it incredibly helpful. In fact, I'm going to go do a practice test right after I hit Post. I don't have a fancy telephone, so I cannot speak to any aural training applications specifically.

Good luck!
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:27 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl

I'm hoping to soon take the time to download a few aural training kind of apps that might help and be useful at times I'm away from the piano. Would any of you know which ones are best? I'm looking at the functional ear trainer, which is well rated.

I don't have a fancy telephone, so I cannot speak to any aural training applications specifically.

There are a bunch of ABRSM-published smartphone piano apps, including an aural trainers for grades 1-8.
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 12:46 PM

Good information from both Dr Rogers and Tyrone.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:09 PM

Although it doesn't help for ABRSM, the sight reading / ear training books for each RCM level come with online exercises that one can use for ear training. It test things like interval recognition, chords (minor vs major, dom 7th, dim 7th, etc), chord progressions, melody clapback and playback, etc. I think they are quite good!
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:43 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers


So I'm on the ABRSM track. I'll give a brief introduction to the ABRSM for those who don't know. ABRSM stands for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. It is a partnership between the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Royal College of Music (London), the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow), and the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester). ABRSM offers "amateur" grades 1-8, then four levels of professional diplomas: ARSM and DipABRSM at the Associate level, LRSM at the Licentiate (roughly Bachelors) level, and FRSM at the Fellowship (roughly Masters) level.

ABRSM (and to a smaller extent, Trinity) is truly international, unlike RCM and AMEB, which are mostly restricted to their home countries, so is an advantage for those moving around countries. I grew up thinking that it was the only music syllabus and exam board, because everyone around me who learnt any musical instrument was doing it, both in my home country and in the UK where I moved to......and my piano learning was the only part of my education as a teenager where the transition to a strange country with a strange language and its own strange alphabet wink was completely seamless (apart from the fact that my new piano teacher taught completely in English, whereas my previous teachers used half-English and half-'another language'). All the skills she expected me to have at my grade were present and correct, and all she had to do was continue teaching me from where I left off 20,000 miles away.

So, the only thing that was familiar in my new country was music and the piano (and also chess). Music is truly an international language. Whereas I couldn't do History (because I knew nothing about British history, including Henry's wives) or RE or French or.......even eat some of the food, because I discovered I was lactose intolerant cry (though I didn't know that was the cause then - I just realized after a few weeks that eating/drinking white stuff caused me big problems). Small wonder that I immersed myself completely in it in my new environment, and most of my new friends were musical too.

As for aural skills in the ABRSM:

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams.
The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is being assessed. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).


If you start lessons with a teacher and the ABRSM/Trinity exams are on the cards, you'll find that almost certainly, aural skills training start from day one, with strong emphasis on rhythm and pitch teaching. The embarrassment factor gets rapidly forgotten, when your teacher gets you to sing along with her, count beats aloud along with her (often in pitch with the melody, like my teacher did), clapping along with her etc. Even a shy monosyllabic boy like I was then wink soon got into the swing of singing along (almost like karaoke) and it became an integral part of learning piano. Joining the school choir - along with almost all the other kids who learnt musical instruments - was just an extension of making use of the (sight-singing) skills I'd acquired from learning to play piano, except that this particular activity was purely for personal pleasure and camaraderie.

In recent years, from joining ad-hoc choirs to sing everything from Beethoven's Ode to Joy to Schoenberg's Gurrelieder in concert, I discovered that almost without exception (like me), none of my fellow singers have ever had singing lessons but instead had learnt to play musical instruments (most commonly, piano) in childhood, and used their aural skills obtained from it to sing in amateur choirs, often long after they'd given up playing their instruments. I suspect that's why the amateur choral scene in the UK is flourishing even more than ever before - those baby boomers from the decadent age, now with their own kids grown up, discovered that they still had their musical skills from going through grade exams in cornet (or whatever) when they were kids, and making use of them to sing everything from Bach to barbershop to Barber.......
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:47 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Even a shy monosyllabic boy like I was then wink soon got into the swing of singing along (almost like karaoke) and it became an integral part of learning piano.


Fortunately, you only need one syllable for sight singing in ABRSM: "la" (or any other such syllable).
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:52 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Well, I understand about the embarrassing bit. Can you imagine waiting for the exam in the waiting room and all the other exam takers can be your son or daughter or grandchild? Hahaha. Anyway, I was thinking maybe I will go to a further examination centre so I don’t bump into anyone I know. LOL.


Something like that happened to me when I took the ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory exam. I was the oldest person in the room by a good 20 years, and I was the only "westerner" in the group. There was not a single "white" person taking the exam - there were a bunch of Asian kids (one of whom was Indian, as in from India), and one adult American Indian (as in Native American) - yours truly. (Nothing judgemental or racist intended here.)

So I'm on the ABRSM track. I'll give a brief introduction to the ABRSM for those who don't know. ABRSM stands for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. It is a partnership between the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Royal College of Music (London), the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow), and the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester). ABRSM offers "amateur" grades 1-8, then four levels of professional diplomas: ARSM and DipABRSM at the Associate level, LRSM at the Licentiate (roughly Bachelors) level, and FRSM at the Fellowship (roughly Masters) level.

The syllabus for the graded levels is here.

One feature of the ABRSM is a requirement that one must pass a Music Theory exam at the Grade 5 level before one is allowed to register for Grade 6 or higher in practical.

ABRSM's main competitors in the UK are Trinity College London, who offer a very similar syllabus but without the onerous (to some) music theory requirement and also without a viva voce requirement at the diploma levels, and also the LCM (London College of Music), whom I have not researched since they are not active in my area.

In Austin, TX, the main exam boards seem to be ABRSM and Trinity. The mother of the local Trinity representative is actually my neighbor; according to the Trinity rep, LCM had a presence here once but is now moribund. There is an RCM-affiliated music school in an Austin suburb, but I have not had dealings with them.

With ABRSM, one's music teacher generally handles registration, but one can also register oneself. I register myself and my students in the name of the music school that my wife and I run, so the certificates come back with the name of the music school in addition to the candidate's name.

I took my ABRSM Grade 5 theory exam in March of 2018, and then my ABRSM Grade 5 practical exam in May of 2018. I am taking my ABRSM Grade 8 exam on May 24th. On that same day, one of my students will be taking ABRSM Grade 2. We may switch that student to Trinity when she gets to the higher grades - the scale and arpeggio requirements are less onerous with Trinity, though there is an additional etude requirement IIRC.


Dr. Rogers, thanks for your information. I knew nothing about ABRSM and now I know much more! I think it is very, very brave for you to be doing the ABRSM exams. Not only are you an adult, but also a teacher. I think it takes some (no, a lot of) guts to do what you are doing and I applaud you.

For East Asian children in the West (Canada, UK, Australia, US to a lesser degree), RCM, ABRSM or their equivalent exams are a right of passage. Most East Asian kids grow up doing them. It's a cultural thing for sure.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 01:55 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by bennevis
Even a shy monosyllabic boy like I was then wink soon got into the swing of singing along (almost like karaoke) and it became an integral part of learning piano.


Fortunately, you only need one syllable for sight singing in ABRSM: "la" (or any other such syllable).

"La" was what I used as a student, as recommended to me by my first teacher.

It was also the easiest syllable to sing with when your voice starts breaking, and your pitch vacillates wildly between two octaves on the same note, from a screech to a growl...... smirk .........though my examiner took it all in his stride.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:03 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Fortunately, you only need one syllable for sight singing in ABRSM: "la" (or any other such syllable).

No syllables are needed for RCM at all. One can be mute smile
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:03 PM

About aural/ear training tests...

So, in ABRSM, you have to sing a pattern back? In RCM, you play it back, is that correct? I've never had an exam yet, so really don't know. (I see that Tyrone has already answered my question above, thanks!)

I remember back in the day, when I was in a group organ class, we didn't start ear training until at least level 3 (organ levels not RCM), which now thinking back was of course not good. I remember the teacher would stand at the front of the class and play a short tune, and one by one, the students would play it back. At the time I thought it was the most stupid exercise ever. I remember ever only doing 2 or 3 of these playbacks per lesson and failed to realize the point of it all. Unlike now, I do realize the point of it and am very grateful that there are software and apps that make ear training so easy to practice on my own. How would people "back in the day" practice ear training without the apps? CD, tapes? I can't imagine a teacher would play tunes for you for a whole hour and you'd play them back as a form of practice.

I suppose software and apps for sight reading must be great as well, as compared to "back in the day".
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:17 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
How would people "back in the day" practice ear training without the apps? CD, tapes? I can't imagine a teacher would play tunes for you for a whole hour and you'd play them back as a form of practice.

There are many CD programs such as this one.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:18 PM

For RCM, you can either sing or identify and interval. For clapback/playback, you have to clap back the rhythm and then play the melody on the piano. It's outlined in the syllabus what exactly is expected.

Example, let's say you are doing level 3. Here are the guidelines.

Clapback
Students will choose to clap, tap, or sing the rhythm of a short melody after the examiner has played it twice. The examiner will identify the time signature and count one measure before beginning.

Intervals
Students will be asked to identify any of the following intervals. The examiner will play each interval in melodic form (ascending and descending) once.

Or
Students may choose to sing or hum any of the following intervals (ascending and descending). The examiner will play the first note once.

Intervals (ascending and descending)
minor 3rd
major 3rd
perfect 4th
perfect 5th

Chords
Students will be asked to identify the quality (major or minor) of a triad after the examiner has played it in solid/blocked form once.
AND
Students will be asked to identify a single note as the root, third, or fifth of a major or minor triad after the examiner has played the triad in broken form once.

Chords Position
major and minor triads root position

Playback
Students will be asked to play back a melody based on the major or minor pentascale. The examiner will identify the key, play the tonic triad once, and play the melody twice.
Beginning Note Keys Approximate Length
tonic, mediant, dominant
D, F major
D, G minor
five to six notes
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:25 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
How would people "back in the day" practice ear training without the apps? CD, tapes? .

How did mankind once survived without the internet - or cell phones? whistle

We made do, with metal and wood and ears and vocal cords. Every time I heard a hymn or pop tune (they were around, even 'back in the day'), I'd pick out the intervals, the harmonies (when I'd learnt harmony), sing it, then play it on the piano. And even write it down on manuscript paper, if I really liked it.

Practising without practising. Or the art of, as a kung fu expert (I think it was Bruce Lee) once said.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:27 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
How would people "back in the day" practice ear training without the apps? CD, tapes? I can't imagine a teacher would play tunes for you for a whole hour and you'd play them back as a form of practice.

There are many CD programs such as this one.


Certainly not as easy as today, and no immediate feedback. But it obviously worked!

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
For RCM, you can either sing or identify and interval. For clapback/playback, you have to clap back the rhythm and then play the melody on the piano. It's outlined in the syllabus what exactly is expected.

Example, let's say you are doing level 3. Here are the guidelines.

Clapback
Students will choose to clap, tap, or sing the rhythm of a short melody after the examiner has played it twice. The examiner will identify the time signature and count one measure before beginning.

Intervals
Students will be asked to identify any of the following intervals. The examiner will play each interval in melodic form (ascending and descending) once.

Or
Students may choose to sing or hum any of the following intervals (ascending and descending). The examiner will play the first note once.

Intervals (ascending and descending)
minor 3rd
major 3rd
perfect 4th
perfect 5th

Chords
Students will be asked to identify the quality (major or minor) of a triad after the examiner has played it in solid/blocked form once.
AND
Students will be asked to identify a single note as the root, third, or fifth of a major or minor triad after the examiner has played the triad in broken form once.

Chords Position
major and minor triads root position

Playback
Students will be asked to play back a melody based on the major or minor pentascale. The examiner will identify the key, play the tonic triad once, and play the melody twice.
Beginning Note Keys Approximate Length
tonic, mediant, dominant
D, F major
D, G minor
five to six notes


Thanks for this! This all sounds pretty scary to me but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 02:32 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
How would people "back in the day" practice ear training without the apps? CD, tapes? .

How did mankind once survived without the internet - or cell phones? whistle

We made do, with metal and wood and ears and vocal cords. Every time I heard a hymn or pop tune (they were around, even 'back in the day'), I'd pick out the intervals, the harmonies (when I'd learnt harmony), sing it, then play it on the piano. And even write it down on manuscript paper, if I really liked it.

Practising without practising. Or the art of, as a kung fu expert (I think it was Bruce Lee) once said.


Obviously, you're right. It was done very well, even back in the day. But you gotta admit, the software and apps of today provide an immediate feedback that is very satisfying, even to this adult learner. I had to peel myself away from the piano yesterday after doing 2 hours on Piano Marvel. I can't believe I'm having so much fun with that. But I digress.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 05:27 PM

Regarding apps, I use that website when I'm home. There is a related app on Ios (but I'm on Android) : https://www.musictheory.net/exercises
The ear training is at the bottom of the page. What I like is the possibility to try to identify notes in a tonal context with the "note ear training". I customize the exercice to put scale degrees instead of notes, then I can change the reference note to be in any tonality, choosing the degrees that can be asked (so do I want to practice major scales? harmonic minor? natural minor?).
It is more rarely found on most apps.

But I also have a bunch of app on my phone, including Complete ear trainer, which is nice for interval and chord recognition (melodic and harmonic). It is progressive and you build up from what you've learnt. It is the only app I've paid for (5$, 2 years ago). Many other apps do similar jobs, so I don't specifically recommend that one.
I have another app which is simply call MyEarTraining. I use that one mostly for the "sing interval" option. There is also an option to recognize one note or more notes in a row in a tonal context. I though that would help for dictation, but it is harder then dictations, because the notes have no link between each other and are completely random, whereas there is more direction in a dictation. There are also a lot of fancier stuff. Chord progression identification, melody identification (oh, never noticed that one! Maybe it's new!), rhythms, ... It is free, until you want to create your own custom exercices (there is only of bunch of them by default).

Then I have another one which is simply call Ear Training, so I'm not sure that would be easy to find on the google play store... the different there is in that one is cadence identification!

Anyway, most apps have free access, so you can go try them out for yourself. smile
I've probably tried around 20 of them before keeping the 4 ones I have on my phone right now

-

It's true that we have tools today that are a blessing compare to what we had to do in the past. No need for a teacher to play the dictations for you! But I think it is still useful to do it with a teacher once in a while so he can give you some feedback. I bought some dictation books and I'm planning on taking some lesson time to go through them, slowly but surely.
If we don't do it, I'll use them for sight singing. So it won't have been a waste. laugh

But I thank modern times! Being able to train my ear during commute was a great help! I wouldn't have been able to progress as quickly without apps!
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/05/19 05:44 PM

Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
Regarding apps, I use that website when I'm home. There is a related app on Ios (but I'm on Android) : https://www.musictheory.net/exercises
The ear training is at the bottom of the page. What I like is the possibility to try to identify notes in a tonal context with the "note ear training". I customize the exercice to put scale degrees instead of notes, then I can change the reference note to be in any tonality, choosing the degrees that can be asked (so do I want to practice major scales? harmonic minor? natural minor?).
It is more rarely found on most apps.

But I also have a bunch of app on my phone, including Complete ear trainer, which is nice for interval and chord recognition (melodic and harmonic). It is progressive and you build up from what you've learnt. It is the only app I've paid for (5$, 2 years ago). Many other apps do similar jobs, so I don't specifically recommend that one.
I have another app which is simply call MyEarTraining. I use that one mostly for the "sing interval" option. There is also an option to recognize one note or more notes in a row in a tonal context. I though that would help for dictation, but it is harder then dictations, because the notes have no link between each other and are completely random, whereas there is more direction in a dictation. There are also a lot of fancier stuff. Chord progression identification, melody identification (oh, never noticed that one! Maybe it's new!), rhythms, ... It is free, until you want to create your own custom exercices (there is only of bunch of them by default).

Then I have another one which is simply call Ear Training, so I'm not sure that would be easy to find on the google play store... the different there is in that one is cadence identification!

Anyway, most apps have free access, so you can go try them out for yourself. smile
I've probably tried around 20 of them before keeping the 4 ones I have on my phone right now

-

It's true that we have tools today that are a blessing compare to what we had to do in the past. No need for a teacher to play the dictations for you! But I think it is still useful to do it with a teacher once in a while so he can give you some feedback. I bought some dictation books and I'm planning on taking some lesson time to go through them, slowly but surely.
If we don't do it, I'll use them for sight singing. So it won't have been a waste. laugh

But I thank modern times! Being able to train my ear during commute was a great help! I wouldn't have been able to progress as quickly without apps!


Great help, thank you! I also have a long commute - 40 minutes on a train. I usually just listen to music, but now I will start to ear train and train for quick note reading (virtual flashcards) on apps. What a great idea!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/06/19 12:07 PM

Welcome RosemaryGirl! We're glad to have you join our group of milestone seekers. IMHO the exams themselves are not a necessity to enjoy the piano but following a curriculum has merits for becoming a well-rounded musician. I work with the RCM exam although ABRSM is available in the area, I believe. I have completed levels 5 and 6 and am enjoying learning a larger portion of the level 7 pieces. Rather than just pass the exam, I want to be deeply competent in this level before I move on to another. In the meantime I am developing a nice repertoire of pieces. I encourage you to learn to memorize at the earlier levels. It's difficult for one to pick up that skill at a more advanced stage. There are online resources for learning music theory including free online courses. I just started one in Coursera titled "How to write like Mozart".
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 01:56 AM

I had looked at taking the RCM theory test just for self-improvement, something to work toward. I would never need it for anything. I had taken theory lessons and feel it would be a challenge and a goal. As for piano I break out in a sweat if I have to play in front of people, so I could not see myself taking those exams. You can take RCM theory online to prepare for the exam. However, it is pricey, but I think this includes the online test. The benefit you do not have to go anywhere to take the final test, it is online. I had thought the price was for all 5-8, but it is for each one. Does anyone have experience with this and would you suggest it. I am 58, this is just a hobby.

https://www.rcmusic.com/learning/digital-learning/music-theory-levels-5-8.aspx
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 02:41 AM

Originally Posted by DFSRN
I had looked at taking the RCM theory test just for self-improvement, something to work toward. I would never need it for anything. I had taken theory lessons and feel it would be a challenge and a goal. As for piano I break out in a sweat if I have to play in front of people, so I could not see myself taking those exams. You can take RCM theory online to prepare for the exam. However, it is pricey, but I think this includes the online test. The benefit you do not have to go anywhere to take the final test, it is online. I had thought the price was for all 5-8, but it is for each one. Does anyone have experience with this and would you suggest it. I am 58, this is just a hobby.

https://www.rcmusic.com/learning/digital-learning/music-theory-levels-5-8.aspx



I am also interested in doing the online course & exam, but would also like to know if anyone has had any experiences. I will be asking my teacher about it in the coming weeks.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 02:57 AM

I took the written (not online) RCM Theory 5 Exam in December and passed with 96. I should have got a 100. I lost 3 points because I didn't write the accidental next to the note. I just wrote the note. I'm like, look at the key signature .. it's there. And then 1 question I didn't answer at all. I completely missed it.

Anyway, I don't think it's worth the cost for the test. I didn't use the online course though. The music school I go to has theory books for each of the levels, and so I just borrowed them and worked through them. My teacher had a sample grade 5 exam, and I went through that prior to the real exam. If you're interested in seeing that, PM me your email and I'll send you the PDF. I'm guessing it would be the same as the online exam.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 03:06 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I lost 3 points because I didn't write the accidental next to the note. I just wrote the note. I'm like, look at the key signature .. it's there.

This was an accidental that was already in the key signature? They expect you to write in accidentals for every note even if the respective sharp/flat is already in the key signature? I would have thought that on the contrary, such redundancy would have resulted in points being deducted! shocked
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 03:45 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I took the written (not online) RCM Theory 5 Exam in December and passed with 96. I should have got a 100. I lost 3 points because I didn't write the accidental next to the note. I just wrote the note. I'm like, look at the key signature .. it's there. And then 1 question I didn't answer at all. I completely missed it.

Anyway, I don't think it's worth the cost for the test. I didn't use the online course though. The music school I go to has theory books for each of the levels, and so I just borrowed them and worked through them. My teacher had a sample grade 5 exam, and I went through that prior to the real exam. If you're interested in seeing that, PM me your email and I'll send you the PDF. I'm guessing it would be the same as the online exam.


Thanks for your input. What was the name of the theory book you used? Did you attend any classes? The main reason I want to do the online course and exam is so I don’t have to feel self-conscious about sitting in a room full of children and pre-teens for the course and exam. And the main concern re an online course and exam is how well the technology works (or not). I’d be really pissed if I paid CAD$379 for a course that wasn’t well done from a content and technology perspective.

Btw, 96 is still great! Could you have petitioned a reconsideration for those lost marks? Or was that some quirky RCM convention that required you to write in the accidentals?
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 11:18 AM

It's correct that they docked me points. The key signature was in E flat major (3 flats). 4 bars of music. Under certain notes I was to write in the name of note. I just wrote the letter name, and didn't include the flat sign. I get it I guess, it was a lazy mistake.

Oh, the missed question was only a .5 deduction. I also missed a point because I didn't draw the sharp sign precisely over the line, it was a bit too high. So the score on the PDF copy of my results was 95.5, but on the RCM site it shows a 96, so they rounded up.

I'm quite content with the score, but I'm not sure if I would do a theory exam for each level. Maybe level 8 down the road sometime.

The theory books I've been looking through are called Celebrate Theory (I didn't attend any classes). See link below. I'm fortunate that the school has them and I can just borrow them. When I took my theory exam, there was only 1 other person in the room, a high school student.

https://bookstore.rcmusic.com/us_store/celebrate-theory-elementary-intermediate-set.html

But I also used this book as well (recommended by my teacher). The RCM set above includes a section in each book called Music History (which you won't find below). They discuss 3 pieces of music in the section, and on the exam you would have to answer questions about them. But they are pretty basic questions.

The Complete Elementary Music Rudiments
https://bookstore.rcmusic.com/us_store/catalog/product/view/id/5562/

I think the book above is sufficient by itself, and not worry about exams. You can also get the answer book for another $12.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 11:31 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
It's correct that they docked me points. The key signature was in E flat major (3 flats). 4 bars of music. Under certain notes I was to write in the name of note. I just wrote the letter name, and didn't include the flat sign. I get it I guess, it was a lazy mistake.

Oh, the missed question was only a .5 deduction. I also missed a point because I didn't draw the sharp sign precisely over the line, it was a bit too high. So the score on the PDF copy of my results was 95.5, but on the RCM site it shows a 96, so they rounded up.

I'm quite content with the score, but I'm not sure if I would do a theory exam for each level. Maybe level 8 down the road sometime.

The theory books I've been looking through are called Celebrate Theory (I didn't attend any classes). See link below. I'm fortunate that the school has them and I can just borrow them. When I took my theory exam, there was only 1 other person in the room, a high school student.

https://bookstore.rcmusic.com/us_store/celebrate-theory-elementary-intermediate-set.html

But I also used this book as well (recommended by my teacher). The RCM set above includes a section in each book called Music History (which you won't find below). They discuss 3 pieces of music in the section, and on the exam you would have to answer questions about them. But they are pretty basic questions.

The Complete Elementary Music Rudiments
https://bookstore.rcmusic.com/us_store/catalog/product/view/id/5562/

I think the book above is sufficient by itself, and not worry about exams. You can also get the answer book for another $12.



Thanks for all the information! It’s very detailed and helpful!
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 12:46 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
It's correct that they docked me points. The key signature was in E flat major (3 flats). 4 bars of music. Under certain notes I was to write in the name of note. I just wrote the letter name, and didn't include the flat sign. I get it I guess, it was a lazy mistake.

Oh, the missed question was only a .5 deduction.

Thanks for that clarification. I completely understand now and see why they were marking it wrong. You were writing the pitch of the note as an answer, and not drawing the note on a staff.

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I also missed a point because I didn't draw the sharp sign precisely over the line, it was a bit too high. So the score on the PDF copy of my results was 95.5, but on the RCM site it shows a 96, so they rounded up.

So let me ask you to clarify this one too. Are you again talking about writing the pitch of the note as an answer, or are you now talking about drawing the note on a staff? I'm wondering if you mean by "over the line" that you drew a sharp in a space instead of covering the line on a staff, and in this case, I assume the corresponding notehead was also a line note and not a space note? Or was this a flat separate from notes - for a key signature, for example?

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I'm quite content with the score, but I'm not sure if I would do a theory exam for each level. Maybe level 8 down the road sometime.

I quite like tests. I've been getting a little lazy myself on theory, possibly because I'm not scheduled for a test yet on theory. Do you know if the RCM theory tests can be taken completely separately from the piano tests? For example, could I just go take the RCM theory level 10 exam right now if I wanted, as my very first exam ever? Or are there piano pre-reqs?
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 01:26 PM

Best to show with a picture smile As you can see, I didn't write the sharp over the A line, but above, although I drew the circle correctly. It would be a lot nicer if I was allowed to use Noteflight or MuseScore.

As for taking a theory exam, my understanding is you can take it whenever you like, and it's independent of the practical exam. I took the Grade 5 practical in August, and then the Grade 5 theory in December. I should receive a comprehensive certificate, but haven't got it yet.

[Linked Image]
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 01:32 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Best to show with a picture smile As you can see, I didn't write the sharp over the A line, but above, although I drew the circle correctly. It would be a lot nicer if I was allowed to use Noteflight or MuseScore.

As for taking a theory exam, my understanding is you can take it whenever you like, and it's independent of the practical exam. I took the Grade 5 practical in August, and then the Grade 5 theory in December. I should receive a comprehensive certificate, but haven't got it yet.

[Linked Image]

Thanks! Completely clear now! I'm asking as I intend to take this test too and it seems they are rather fastidious. I'm also not very careful with drawing in the sharps and flats carefully aligned to the correct space or line, so your example is really helpful. Going to have to be a bit more accurate with where I draw the sharps and flats!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 01:42 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Thanks! Completely clear now! I'm asking as I intend to take this test too and it seems they are rather fastidious. I'm also not very careful with drawing in the sharps and flats carefully aligned to the correct space or line, so your example is really helpful. Going to have to be a bit more accurate with where I draw the sharps and flats!


Yes, you'll need to pay attention to that detail. They did let me pass on my horrible spelling though, e.g., I wrote legerrio, it should have been leggiero. Hallaleuja, instead of Hallelujah, haha
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 01:52 PM

bSharp(C)yclist, ouch! ABRSM is also supposedly very particular about neatness on music theory exams. That's one thing I struggled while preparing for my Grade 5 theory. I was very fortunate not to loose any points for neatness - but then again I went very slowly and triple-checked everything, including for neatness. I was the last of the Grade 5 candidates to turn in their test! There was only one candidate still working when I left, and he was doing Grade 6.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 02:13 PM

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
bSharp(C)yclist, ouch! ABRSM is also supposedly very particular about neatness on music theory exams. That's one thing I struggled while preparing for my Grade 5 theory. I was very fortunate not to loose any points for neatness - but then again I went very slowly and triple-checked everything, including for neatness. I was the last of the Grade 5 candidates to turn in their test! There was only one candidate still working when I left, and he was doing Grade 6.


I'll have to do that next time, go back and check everything, now that I know what they are looking for smile
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 09:23 PM

Bsharp, I wish like some online products do is have like a trial sample. What appealed to me is it was interactive compared to books. I did see theory books were available. However, when I emailed RCM to see if the online course would work on a tablet, I was informed it would but not everything would work and there were apps in the Apple-store that support the course.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 09:28 PM

So am I understanding correctly that if I pay for the RCM theory course, I will be tested online and then I don't need to go in person to be tested? Or is the online test only a sample test and I still need to register and show up for the real in-person theory test?
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 09:30 PM

WeakLeftHand, me too, I feel the same way. I already wait for my piano lesson with a bunch of kids. Most of them are Asian, very few Americans that I notice. The school owner said if she gets an adult they don't typically last more than a year. Right now she has one other adult a retired man about 70 year old that takes lessons. I also want to know the online class it is worth the money. If it was like $100, I would think try it and if its not worth it, don't buy another, but close to $400 is another story.
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 09:35 PM

My understanding is you have to complete the modules and practice test. The online test is timed and you do not have access to modules. If you want credit (for school which is not my interest) the person should have it proctored. From my reading you will get your grade in a few weeks. Its appealing that it is online, I live where these test are not offered anywhere close. Basically, just want to see how far I can get. Never thought about it before. In July I will be in my 6th year of lessons, stuff that did not appeal to me before does now. I think I would do decent in theory, but playing in front of people I look at the music and think what is this??
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 09:53 PM

Originally Posted by DFSRN
My understanding is you have to complete the modules and practice test. The online test is timed and you do not have access to modules. If you want credit (for school which is not my interest) the person should have it proctored. From my reading you will get your grade in a few weeks. Its appealing that it is online, I live where these test are not offered anywhere close. Basically, just want to see how far I can get. Never thought about it before. In July I will be in my 6th year of lessons, stuff that did not appeal to me before does now. I think I would do decent in theory, but playing in front of people I look at the music and think what is this??

Well, that makes it a lot less interesting for me if I still would have to take the proctored test to have it count. There is a cost for convenience and taking a test at home is convenient. So if I could take it online and have it count, then I might consider it. If not, and all I get for that price is a sample test, and I still would have to show up in-person for a proctored test to have it count, then I'll just use the RCM books to prepare, like everyone else, as they are a lot cheaper.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 11:01 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by DFSRN
My understanding is you have to complete the modules and practice test. The online test is timed and you do not have access to modules. If you want credit (for school which is not my interest) the person should have it proctored. From my reading you will get your grade in a few weeks. Its appealing that it is online, I live where these test are not offered anywhere close. Basically, just want to see how far I can get. Never thought about it before. In July I will be in my 6th year of lessons, stuff that did not appeal to me before does now. I think I would do decent in theory, but playing in front of people I look at the music and think what is this??

Well, that makes it a lot less interesting for me if I still would have to take the proctored test to have it count. There is a cost for convenience and taking a test at home is convenient. So if I could take it online and have it count, then I might consider it. If not, and all I get for that price is a sample test, and I still would have to show up in-person for a proctored test to have it count, then I'll just use the RCM books to prepare, like everyone else, as they are a lot cheaper.


My understanding is that it will count for RCM purposes. It is only if you want to have it count for high school credit that you need it proctored. Thank goodness I passed high school already LOL!
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 11:05 PM

Originally Posted by DFSRN
WeakLeftHand, me too, I feel the same way. I already wait for my piano lesson with a bunch of kids. Most of them are Asian, very few Americans that I notice. The school owner said if she gets an adult they don't typically last more than a year. Right now she has one other adult a retired man about 70 year old that takes lessons. I also want to know the online class it is worth the money. If it was like $100, I would think try it and if its not worth it, don't buy another, but close to $400 is another story.


I agree it’s a lot of money to be taking a risk, and there doesn’t seem to be any reviews on it. I’ll see if my teacher knows anything about it. When I find out, I’ll report back.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 11:19 PM

The $400 includes all levels, 5 through 8, correct? Each written theory exam is $100+ dollars.

Below is a link to the theory syllabus. I'm guessing the online test would follow this?

https://files.rcmusic.com//sites/default/files/files/S44_TheorySyl_2016_ONLINE_RCM_V2_F.PDF
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/18/19 11:25 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
My understanding is that it will count for RCM purposes. It is only if you want to have it count for high school credit that you need it proctored. Thank goodness I passed high school already LOL!

Oh that would be perfect if it counts for RCM purposes. That's all I care about.

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I agree it’s a lot of money to be taking a risk, and there doesn’t seem to be any reviews on it. I’ll see if my teacher knows anything about it. When I find out, I’ll report back.

Thanks!
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 12:26 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
The $400 includes all levels, 5 through 8, correct? Each written theory exam is $100+ dollars.

Below is a link to the theory syllabus. I'm guessing the online test would follow this?

https://files.rcmusic.com//sites/default/files/files/S44_TheorySyl_2016_ONLINE_RCM_V2_F.PDF


I think it’s CAD$379 per level, online exam included. It would make sense that the online exam would be the same or very similar to the written one.

Here’s a link:
https://www.rcmusic.com/learning/digital-learning/music-theory-levels-5-8
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 12:42 AM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand


I think it’s CAD$379 per level, online exam included. It would make sense that the online exam would be the same or very similar to the written one.

Here’s a link:
https://www.rcmusic.com/learning/digital-learning/music-theory-levels-5-8


Oh wow, I just logged and try to buy. It is 380 per level. That's a bit too much.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 01:46 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand


I think it’s CAD$379 per level, online exam included. It would make sense that the online exam would be the same or very similar to the written one.

Here’s a link:
https://www.rcmusic.com/learning/digital-learning/music-theory-levels-5-8


Oh wow, I just logged and try to buy. It is 380 per level. That's a bit too much.


Yeah, with 4 levels, that’s a whopping $1,516! Maybe I should consider self study and just take the exams. I believe that’s Canadian dollars though so Americans get a 35% “discount”.
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 01:49 AM

Yes, it appears that is was $380 for 5-8, but when you look further into it, the charge is for each level. I did read you get access for a year.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 02:19 AM

Originally Posted by DFSRN
Yes, it appears that is was $380 for 5-8, but when you look further into it, the charge is for each level. I did read you get access for a year.



Yes, access for a year but I wonder if there is something downloadable, like an ebook, or PDF document with all the knowledge? What if I’m done level 5 and want to refresh my memory before level 6? I wish they were clearer about that.

I suppose the old fashioned pen and paper is still the better way.
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 02:28 AM

You may buy the theory book for a review. It does not appear that you can take the test online if you don't do the online class.
Theory book link
https://bookstore.rcmusic.com/books2-59/theory.html


From the RCM site
Examination Information for Intermediate Theory, Levels 5–8: Digital Courses with Exam
The Level 5-8 Theory requirements are now available for study as a digital course with online exam, providing a complete digital learning experience. Students working in the digital environment are offered unlimited practice opportunities which provides them with an opportunity to become familiar with both the content and question types before attempting either the unit tests or final examination.

The course includes eight graded unit tests worth a total of 40% of the overall mark and one final exam worth 60% of the overall mark. All unit tests and the final exam are available on demand. They can be attempted by students at any time, and in any place that has a reliable internet connection but unit tests must be completed in sequence prior to the final exam. For the final exam, it is strongly recommended:

That the online final exam be proctored in case the exam is ever submitted for secondary school credit and due to shifting guidelines;
That students confirm with their school that a proctored online exam will be accepted for secondary school credit.
Note that to ensure the academic integrity of the exam, the Proctor SHOULD NOT be a relative (e.g. mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc) NOR should the Proctor be the personal music teacher of the exam candidate.

U.S. exam theory fees
Level 5 Theory: $125
Level 6 Theory: $135
Level 7 Theory: $145
Level 8 Theory: $155
Level 9 Harmony & Counterpoint: $175
Level 9 History: $175
Level 10 Harmony & Counterpoint: $195
Level 10 History: $195
ARCT Harmony & Counterpoint: $240
ARCT Analysis: $240
ARCT History: $240
ARCT Teachers Written: $240
Elementary Piano Pedagogy Written: $165
Intermediate Piano Pedagogy Written: $185
Advanced Piano Pedagogy Written: $240
Academic Qualifying Exam: $850
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 10:16 AM

The online option sounds like one I'd like to try. I wish it were less pricey but then when I look at college tuition, it's a bargain. I've done self study on the two theory exams I've done so far and passed both. I've also supplemented self-study by auditing the music theory course at my university and taking free online theory courses through Coursera. The Coursera courses are not equivalent to the depth required for the RCM exams but do get the brain familiar with the content. You can also buy theory books and practice exams. Each one is about $18.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 03:48 PM

I’m asking very nicely: would someone be nice enough and brave enough to try it and report back? wink
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 03:50 PM

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I’m asking very nicely: would someone be nice enough and brave enough to try it and report back? wink

I will definitely be trying the online RCM theory test, but not soon. I'm not ready for the level 5 theory exam yet. The convenience wins over cost. Later this year though.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 03:54 PM

Why not just get the level 5 celebrate theory book and take the written exam?
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 04:11 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Why not just get the level 5 celebrate theory book and take the written exam?

That's not as convenient for me. I'd actually have to go somewhere. wink I already have to do that to take the performance test. So getting to take the theory exam at home is a nice perk.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 04:56 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Why not just get the level 5 celebrate theory book and take the written exam?

That's not as convenient for me. I'd actually have to go somewhere. wink I already have to do that to take the performance test. So getting to take the theory exam at home is a nice perk.


I see. Was suggesting that to save money. I think it would be 1/3 the cost.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 05:39 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Why not just get the level 5 celebrate theory book and take the written exam?


For me, it’s because I don’t want to be the only adult in a sea of children and pre-teens taking the exam.
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 08:56 PM

I live in a rural area, I would probably have to go and spend the night, which is travel and food costs. Unless the exam areas are close by it really not bad given like someone mentioned the cost of tuition. However, I also have to purchase an IPAD, I have a Samsung table. Have not used Apple Products, just have stuck with Windows and Samsung tablets. I don't need to take it and will never do anything with it except for my own self-satisfaction and music progression.

Don't know if someone else posted this link or I found it (sign of old age).

RCM Theory Syllabus
https://files.rcmusic.com//sites/default/files/files/S44_TheorySyl_2016_ONLINE_RCM_V2_F.PDF
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/19/19 09:00 PM

Tyrone that is about worth the cost. I wish I could preview and try out a unit of one of the theory courses, I like to try hands on before I purchase.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/28/19 01:53 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Why not just get the level 5 celebrate theory book and take the written exam?

That's not as convenient for me. I'd actually have to go somewhere. wink I already have to do that to take the performance test. So getting to take the theory exam at home is a nice perk.


I see. Was suggesting that to save money. I think it would be 1/3 the cost.

So I was thinking that if I didn't do the RCM theory exam(s) online, then I should register for it to take in-person. Clearly, I'm too late for the May/June exams for Theory Grade 5, and neither do I think I would be ready for it anyways, even if I paid the $45 late fee, as I'm only just finishing up a grade 2 level theory workbook now. So after May/June is August, and if I miss August, then the RCM exams won't come around again until 2020.

However, I won't be ready for any of the piano practical exams by either May/June or August 2019. I haven't yet started preparing for any with my teacher. Is it possible to sit for the RCM theory exams even if you have never sat for the piano practical exams yet? Has anyone done this?
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/28/19 02:30 PM

There should be a winter session (Nov/Dec) after August in which you could take the exam. I took the theory exam this past December. The practicals will probably be towards the end of November.
Posted By: RosemaryGirl

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/29/19 11:28 AM

Thanks to all for your app recommendations!

I'm finally back to proper piano learning, resuming lessons today after a month break during which I sometimes played, sometimes not… I need to just download the free versions of several apps and then decide which one(s) will work for me.

Originally Posted by WiseBuff
Welcome RosemaryGirl! We're glad to have you join our group of milestone seekers. IMHO the exams themselves are not a necessity to enjoy the piano but following a curriculum has merits for becoming a well-rounded musician. I work with the RCM exam although ABRSM is available in the area, I believe. I have completed levels 5 and 6 and am enjoying learning a larger portion of the level 7 pieces. Rather than just pass the exam, I want to be deeply competent in this level before I move on to another. In the meantime I am developing a nice repertoire of pieces. I encourage you to learn to memorize at the earlier levels. It's difficult for one to pick up that skill at a more advanced stage. There are online resources for learning music theory including free online courses. I just started one in Coursera titled "How to write like Mozart".


That's exactly the way I'm looking at the exam syllabus; thanks, WiseBuff! With all the travelling I do, I'm not sure at all when I'll take exams, but it's helping build a solid foundation and it's nice to feel like there's some direction to it all. I found out early on that memorising pieces just happens almost straight away for me, so the repertoire of easy pieces is growing nicely… but still feels very short, because the pieces aren't very long at all! I'm sure my body of recital-ready pieces it will get longer in time.

Happy practising and exam taking to those sitting a spring session!
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/29/19 02:09 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
There should be a winter session (Nov/Dec) after August in which you could take the exam. I took the theory exam this past December. The practicals will probably be towards the end of November.

I could see being ready for practical exams toward the end of November. So there are 3 sessions a year then for RCM in the US: May/June, August, and November/December? The RCM website only lists the first two of these for 2018-19, so I assumed that was all there was.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/29/19 03:49 PM

Not sure why the website doesn't show it. I'm looking at my archived email and here were the previous dates. Based on this I would assume there would be another winter session this year. Maybe they will post it after the May/June exams. I got the emails about registration being open at the beginning of September for each of the years below.

2017

Practical Examinations:
November 25–December 7, 2017

Theory Examinations:
December 8 & 9, 2017

2018

Practical Examinations:
November 24 – December 6, 2018

Theory Examinations:
December 14 & 15, 2018
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/29/19 04:44 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Not sure why the website doesn't show it. I'm looking at my archived email and here were the previous dates. Based on this I would assume there would be another winter session this year. Maybe they will post it after the May/June exams. I got the emails about registration being open at the beginning of September for each of the years below.

2017

Practical Examinations:
November 25–December 7, 2017

Theory Examinations:
December 8 & 9, 2017

2018

Practical Examinations:
November 24 – December 6, 2018

Theory Examinations:
December 14 & 15, 2018

Did they have an August session in past years also? I'm wondering if they might have replaced November/December with August. But if in past years, they also had an August session, then I think they will be having the November/December session even if it's not posted to the website yet.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/29/19 04:56 PM

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

Re: Piano Exam Group - 04/30/19 02:48 AM

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.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 03:53 AM

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.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 06:52 AM

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?
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 10:39 AM

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.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 12:14 PM

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.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 03:29 PM

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.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 03:50 PM

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!)
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/02/19 06:43 PM

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!).
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/03/19 01:22 AM

Good luck on your exams CadenzaVvi and Dr. Rogers. I take my exam in 3 weeks here as well.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/03/19 01:27 AM

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.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/03/19 12:24 PM

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

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/03/19 11:24 PM


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
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/04/19 11:21 AM

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.
Posted By: RosemaryGirl

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/05/19 01:44 PM

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.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/07/19 12:22 AM

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
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/18/19 04:25 PM

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
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/18/19 04:49 PM

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
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/18/19 05:55 PM

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:
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/18/19 08:53 PM

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.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/19/19 12:29 AM

Thanks for all your support everyone - I really appreciate it. This is so nerve wracking. Earlofmar I’ve had one mock exam with a different teacher and that was very helpful. I’m going back to her again for follow up run through to see how I’ve made out on implementing her suggestions. One good takeaway I think I need to keep repeating to myself is she emphasized the examiners are there to help us move forward and be better musicians.

bsharp(C)yclist - good luck with your exam

Tyrone Slothrop - I’ll check those out

I just want to be play how I know I can. Fortunately it’s first thing in the morning and 5 minutes from my house and I know the location well. Last exam I had trouble finding the location. Talk about stress lol.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/20/19 02:42 PM

cagal and bsharp(C)yclist, good luck to both of you!

cagal, is your Bach selection BWV 861? I really love the prelude - reminds me of my wife's favorite Invention: #14, "My Hippopotamus Is Not Dancing."

My ABRSM Grade 8 exam is on Friday, just five days away. I have my scales and arpeggios where I want them. My three pieces are coming together - I routinely play them on different pianos, since I don't know what piano I'll be playing on exam day. (I know it's a decent grand in a church sanctuary.) My aural practice accuracy is about 80% on e-music maestro, an I'm practicing sight reading every day. I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.

ABRSM doesn't require memorization for the graded exams. I didn't memorize my Bach Prelude and Fugue (in D minor from WTC II, BWV 875) or my Brahms Intermezzo (Op. 76 No. 7), but I did memorize my Beethoven sonata movement (Op. 14 No. 1, third movement, Allegro comodo in sonata rondo form) because I didn't want to deal with page turns in the exam.

Of my three pieces, the Beethoven is easily the weakest. I'm liking what I'm hearing in practice, but I need to make sure I take it at a manageable tempo in the exam!
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/22/19 12:44 AM

Dr. Rogers - yes it is! I’d played no Bach up until starting to work on Gr 10. I’m now hooked. Once my exam is over I think I’d like to try Italian concerto.

I also need to control tempo for my Beethoven. I played another mock exam for some other adult students and went way too fast. The lack of requirement to memorize would have been awesome. That’s my biggest stumbling block. It just takes so long especially when I have trouble remembering what i had for lunch lol.

I’m really looking forward to hearing about your exam experience. It sounds like you are well prepared and ready. Best of luck Friday and I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/22/19 12:51 AM

Originally Posted by cagal


I’m really looking forward to hearing about your exam experience. It sounds like you are well prepared and ready. Best of luck Friday and I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors.



Yes, best of luck and hopefully you will give us your post match thoughts
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/23/19 02:36 PM

Best of luck to both of you. It's just a different kind of performance. Have fun at it.
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 05:31 AM

So it has been decided with my teacher that I wouldn't do my level 8 this year.
In the past weeks, I was too much into the thinking "I'll never make it, I'll never make it, there is no way I can be ready on time, ..." which discouraged me of even trying. I've barely practiced in a month, which is silly.

Already, when I paid for my exam, I made sure it was possible to change my mind. And it is possible in one way: I can decide to do an evaluative evaluation instead. So I'll play my pieces in front of a judge, but without pretending it is ready for a level exam, but still getting constructive criticism so I can continue working on my pieces (or not, if my teacher thinks it is better to move on, but the advice can apply in other pieces, so it will never be lost).

Tonight, I've tried for the first time to go through all my pieces back to back, in the order I intend to play them... tomorrow (yep, about time...).
So I should be presenting something that... imperfect tomorrow. (this is a link to the video)

Level 8 will be for... somewhere in the future. Probably not next year.


After that recording, I've decided to play somewhat in front of a public, going live on my twitch. It went a bit better. But there is a bit of chatting between pieces, so it is probably less interesting to listen to. smile
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 10:38 AM

Cadenza, good for you making a decision to hold back until you're more ready. That's great that you can do an evaluative exam; I'll be interested to hear how that goes. The exam process teaches us if we let it. Maybe different lessons for each of us. Keep playing.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 01:59 PM

I just posted the following on the ABRSM forum. Rather than re-write it, I will copy and paste it here. (Hopefully I can be forgiven for not wanting to re-write this...)

Greetings, all. I had my Grade 8 exam yesterday afternoon. It was a fairly strange experience.

First let me say that the examiner was great. No complaints about him at all. I think he found it as strange as I did.

I was the last exam of the day. Fine, somebody has to go last. They were running early, so I pretty much went straight into the exam when I arrived at the center (which was a church). Again fine, 20 minutes of practice on the cheap electric in the practice room wouldn't make that big a difference.

The piano was terrible. It was an old (very old) and unresponsive Kimball grand. Between the horrid old piano and the bad acoustics of the church sanctuary, it sounded like a !@#$ harpsichord. Furthermore, the piano was elevated on cast-iron risers, so the pedals where high (the pedals didn't bother me) and the bench was low. The bench was not adjustable, but thankfully they had some rubber floor mats that I put on top of the bench to raise me up a bit. (I like to sit high.) But all that I could live with and just laugh about.

I started with scales and chords, which were pretty much perfect. I wasn't very nervous, and my hands were fairly steady. (My hands always shake, as did my father's, but usually it doesn't interfere with my playing. I should have been a brain surgeon!)

Then as I was preparing for the Bach, a workman came in the side door and started fiddling with some equipment! The main entrance to the hall was guarded, but the side door was not. (And probably has to remain unlocked while the hall is occupied due to fire code.)

The examiner was very polite, explaining that we were having exams and needed privacy. But the workman didn't speak English! This went on for a few minutes, then finally I broke down and explained it to the workman in Spanish. When he finally understood, he left, but took his time about it. The examiner was unhappy about the disruption, but thanked me for assisting.

But get this - by the time the workman left the room, my nerves had really kicked in. My hands were shaking disastrously.

I made a stupid mistake in the first line of the Bach prelude, but the rest of it was pretty good. The fugue was nearly perfect - probably my strongest playing of the day. (BWV 875, Prelude and Fugue in D minor, WTC Book 1)

The Beethoven sonata movement (Rondo from Op. 14 No. 1) was okay - a few stupid mistakes due to nerves. Not my best performance.

The Brahms (Intermezzo in A minor, Op.76 No. 7) was pretty good - almost as good as the Bach fugue.

Sightreading was... well, it was sightreading. I think I did okay.

Aural was a mixed bag. Mostly good, but some stupid mistakes in sight singing and I don't think I did so well on describing musical features.

At least it's done now. After the exam, my wife and I went for tacos to our favorite Mexican taqueria (one of the advantages of living in Texas) and then went on a six mile evening hike.

Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for a good score. I know I passed, and most likely got merit. Hopefully the examiner kept the disruption in mind when scoring my playing!
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 03:20 PM

Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
So I'll play my pieces in front of a judge, but without pretending it is ready for a level exam, but still getting constructive criticism so I can continue working on my pieces (or not, if my teacher thinks it is better to move on, but the advice can apply in other pieces, so it will never be lost).

The pressure had been shocking you even into not practicing! This sounds like a very wise move. With the pressure off, you hopefully will find yourself practicing more and enjoying it, which is the entire point.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 08:36 PM

I'd give you a distinction just for putting up with so much crap. Any of that happened to me I don't know if I would handle it so well

all the best
Posted By: CadenzaVvi

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 08:44 PM

Wow, Dr. Rogers. That sounds awful! I hope they will take that into account in the final result.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 10:01 PM

Dr Rogers my hat goes off to you for being able to continue and perform with what went on! I love that you went for tacos and a hike after. Life goes on! I’m sure you did great and I’m sure the examiner is totally sympathetic and factored everything in. Looking forward to hearing about. your final result.
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/25/19 10:17 PM

If you have to pay a fee for the exam, then the organizers need to hold up their end of the contract and provide a decent piano. At least decent. Dr. Rogers, good on you for making the best of the situation. When do you get your results?
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 10:46 AM

Oh my, Dr. Rogers, that is not the imagined exam moment in any sense of the word. It sounds like you carried it off as a true pianist and focused on making music and creating your best ambiance. Just shaking my head at the obstacles though...surely the judge will account for them.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 05:07 PM

I had my exam this morning. The second time in a row that I was the first to go at 9:00 am. I think it went well. I think I performed about the same as I have in other exams. I guess I'll know more after I get the score. If I had to guess, it will probably be in the 80s. Would love to get 90 or above, but that's hard. The ear training tests I never know. I mean, I think my answers were right, but they could very well be wrong! Play back was hard. It's a lot easier to look at the dots. Sight reading was what I expected, although I won't get a perfect score in that as I messed some bars up.

I had a bit of a panic this morning while practicing at home. I completely forgot how to play the beginning of my sonatina, so I had to walk away. Thankfully it didn't happen during the exam smile It tells me though that some parts are pure muscle memory, whereas other parts I know the notes, chords, etc.

Now it's time for piano fasting. I'm off to Costa Rica tomorrow with a lovely woman and I'm not going to think about piano too much ;0
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 06:03 PM

Congrats, b#, sounds like quite an achievement. What grade was this again? Such discipline - and it’s paying off.
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 06:09 PM

Great story, Doc, sounds like you were well prepared and able to handle the adversity well. ¡Estoy seguro de que pasaste con honores!
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 07:22 PM

Congratulations b#! enjoy your trip to Coats Rica
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 07:23 PM

Originally Posted by cmb13
Congrats, b#, sounds like quite an achievement. What grade was this again? Such discipline - and it’s paying off.


RCM 6. I'll move on to RCM 7 stuff after my trip. I'm wondering though if I should continue to take exams. I'll think about it later smile
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/26/19 08:09 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
]

RCM 6. I'll move on to RCM 7 stuff after my trip. I'm wondering though if I should continue to take exams. I'll think about it later smile

Yes!!!

You’ve come this far. I’ll bet your ‘base’ is so strong right now. 2 years to 8? You’ll be able to play anything short of very advanced repertoire. I sometimes wish I had gone this route but none of the teachers I’ve encountered seemed to push me in this direction. I’m playing tough stuff but feel I’m lacking in some areas; there are holes which wouldn’t exist had I gone through the system year by year.

Soldier on!!
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/27/19 10:24 AM

Congrats BSharp#. It sounds like you did a fine job on your Level 6 and Costa Rica is a well earned reward. I wish I'd started the exam process much earlier. I love the breadth of learning that it encourages. I know I've become more capable because of my work in all the areas.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 05/28/19 01:54 PM

Congratulations, bSharp(C)yclist. It sounds like you did well, and I hope you enjoy Costa Rica. (Hmm... maybe my wife and I should go there... I already know the language, at least!) Please let us know when you get your results.

Many thanks to all who congratulated me. Assuming the results aren't held back for QA purposes, I should get them towards the end of this week, or perhaps next week at the latest. I haven't been very anxious about the results, or at least I didn't think I was. But last night I had a nightmare about piano exams - this time I was the one disrupting an exam, and the examiner was furious at me! Thankfully just a nightmare!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 11:54 AM

Costa Rica was beautiful! We had a wonderful time. I might be spending less time at the piano now, and more time with her wink

Got my exam score back, 86. It's about what I expected. I don't think it will get easier. Playback sucks, it's a lot easier to look at dots ...

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 11:57 AM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Costa Rica was beautiful! We had a wonderful time. I might be spending less time at the piano now, and more time with her wink

thumb

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Got my exam score back, 86. It's about what I expected. I don't think it will get easier. Playback sucks, it's a lot easier to look at dots ...

Congrats! On to the next smile
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 11:58 AM

Wow! That looks fantastic bSharp. The official mark I mean. I think you're right...they just get harder and a point on every line adds up quickly.
Hats off to you and the work you put in on it. Which pieces did you end up playing?

Costa Rica I'm sure was great too.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 12:03 PM

I played the following. Although I just noticed now in the PDF, it says I played Sonatina in F Major, op. 36, no. 4: I - Clementi, Muzio, which is not correct. The comments seem appropriate for the Diabelli piece I played. I'm guessing they just entered the name of the piece incorrectly.

Etudes:
Toccatina, Op. 27, No. 12 – Dmitri Kabalevsky
Fluttering Leaves, Op. 46, No. 11 – Stephen Heller

Repertoire:
Aria In G Major – Georg Philipp Telemann
Sonatina In F Major, Op. 168, No. 1_ Third Movement – Anton Diabelli
Song Of The Cavalry, Op. 27, No. 29 – Dmitri Kabalevsky
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 01:16 PM

Congratulations, bSharp! Excellent score. Costa Rica looks great, too. My wife wishes I would spend more time with her and less time at the piano (~2 hrs a day)... but I'm such an introvert that if I don't have my "alone time" I will go crazy.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 02:02 PM

Thanks Dr. Rogers. Yes, alone time is important. It's a new relationship for us, about 2 1/2 months now. It was only after a couple of weeks she invited me to go to Costa Rica with her. Very unplanned, but turned out to be very good laugh
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/05/19 08:19 PM

that's a pretty good score, you should be pleased with yourself bSharp
Posted By: pianofan1017

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/06/19 03:09 PM

Wow, Dr. Roger that was some uncomfortable experience. Glad that you pulled through. I am sure you will do well. My preparation for the grade 8 still continues. I haven’t décidé my date for the exam yet because I am so uncomfortable about the aural part. But most likely will be next year. My three pieces are Beethoven sonata op79 1st movement. The sight reading is easy for this one. But to play it well not so easy. I am polishing this piece currently with all the details I can get and try to speed it up. Chopin nocturne op37 no 1, this piece to me to play the grace notes on time and the chord section in the middle are my two biggest challenges. Bach prelude and fugue BWV 889,I am still at sight reading stage with this piece. Have not yet tried both hands together. It is a long process. Sometimes I keep asking myself why am I doing this I am already over 40 and it’s not like I am going to be Concert pianist or piano teacher, but then I have to tell myself, yeah because I really like it and like to make music and that keeps me stay motivated.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/06/19 05:09 PM

Originally Posted by earlofmar
that's a pretty good score, you should be pleased with yourself bSharp


I am. I shared the PDF with my teacher yesterday. She was happy and thought it was a good score for Level 6. It gets harder she says. She thinks 7 is similar to 6, but 8 and the rest are more difficult. The bar is obviously higher.

I can't say if I want to continue with exams though, although I'd like to stick with the syllabus. I'll talk about it with my teacher on Saturday. They get more expensive as you move up. I certainly won't get paid to play piano and I don't plan on teaching.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/06/19 09:13 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist

I am. I shared the PDF with my teacher yesterday. She was happy and thought it was a good score for Level 6. It gets harder she says. She thinks 7 is similar to 6, but 8 and the rest are more difficult. The bar is obviously higher.

I can't say if I want to continue with exams though, although I'd like to stick with the syllabus. I'll talk about it with my teacher on Saturday. They get more expensive as you move up. I certainly won't get paid to play piano and I don't plan on teaching.


The bar does get higher, at least I am finding that. The biggest problem seems to me to be the practice time required as the pieces increase in difficulty rather than the expense.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/08/19 01:43 PM

Congratulations bSharp! That’s a fabulous score. You certainly have a great base to take grade 7 exam. But even if you decide not to pursue exams you have a good foundation to move onto more challenging pieces just for your own satisfaction. Also glad you enjoyed Costa Rica.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/19 10:52 PM

So after a complete disaster of an exam, I’ve decided I’m just going to play for myself. I blanked on every single piece and couldn’t even play a scale I was so nervous. The worst part is I think I did decently on ear tests which was what I was worried about lol. Oh well, I guess exams just aren’t for me at this stage of my life. I’m thinking of new pieces - suggestions welcome! I’m thinking I’d do maybe 1 hard (ARCT) level and maybe 2 mid and one easier.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/14/19 11:11 PM

sorry to hear this cagal......but I guess there must come a point for all of us where the work and stress just become no longer worth it.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/15/19 12:24 AM

You should be proud for taking the exam, cagal. If I remember correctly, RCM 10?? I can't imagine that is easy. Was this the first time taking an exam?
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/15/19 12:32 AM

Yeah. It’s too bad as I really was prepared but I guess not mentally. It was a total personal goal so I’m kind of sorry it didn’t work out. But on the other hand I don’t want my failure today to colour my piano playing going forward. The whole process really did improve my playing and understanding of the pieces and of musicality in general. I know intellectually I can play but I’m so hard on myself. It’s truly idiotic as I my whole career is based on dealing with people and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it. I just did a couple of presentations for complete strangers plus I volunteer for my professional body with no issues. Just crazy how our minds mess us up.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/15/19 12:33 PM

b# it was grade 10. I did a split exam a few years ago with just repertoire but otherwise I haven’t sat an RCM exam in over 30 years. That was grade 9 so this was my way of closing off the piano loop. My teacher was very nice. We chatted a bit yesterday and he emphasized that the lead up to the exam was the important part I.e. learning to be a better musician. I feel going forward I’ll approach new pieces much differently than I did when I started all this. My technique is certainly miles better and I can’t believe how much better I got at aural work. My husband actually commented a few weeks ago I sing better!
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/15/19 02:45 PM

Sounds like there was some positives there, cagal. That's the important part! The result of the exam isn't important. As you said, what you learned leading up to the exam is more important.

You can always take the exam again laugh sick
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/17/19 04:00 PM

Cagal, sounds like a true learning experience. I know you were nervous about the exam but you believe some parts were good. Yea!! I admire you for putting in the prep work, signing up and taking the exam. Now you know what you have to work on and as bSharp says, you can repeat them.

No one makes us do exams but they do help us organize our goals and check our readiness. After RCM level 6 where I felt awful about my performance, I said I'd never do another exam but I'm finding myself using the level 7 materials and enjoying myself in the process. Who knows, maybe sometime, I'll take that next exam or repeat level 6 for a better score.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/23/19 04:29 AM

Something new with RCM. Previously, if you purchased the Sight/Ear Training books, you got access to the online ear training tools indefinitely. This has now changed. The code is only good for 6 months, after which, you'll need to pay monthly for access. So if you are planning to use the online ear training tools for a particular exam, wait until 6 months prior to the exam before using the code.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/23/19 02:44 PM

Hi friends! Just finished my grade 5 RCM practical on Monday. I did not do as well as I would have liked. I’ve found this level challenging. I unfortunately picked all super quick pieces and that is my weakness. My fingers just don’t want to go fast. I am sure I passed, but uncertain of how much I passed by. Probably pretty close to the wire. I’m thinking of doing grade six theory in December.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/23/19 05:54 PM

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Something new with RCM. Previously, if you purchased the Sight/Ear Training books, you got access to the online ear training tools indefinitely. This has now changed. The code is only good for 6 months, after which, you'll need to pay monthly for access. So if you are planning to use the online ear training tools for a particular exam, wait until 6 months prior to the exam before using the code.


I was still planning on using the online access to keep skills sharp. I saw the email about the new tool but I couldn’t get it to work for the “free trial”. I didn’t read it carefully - now I see the code is only good for 6 months with book as you’ve pointed out. That’s quite disappointing!
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/23/19 06:02 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Hi friends! Just finished my grade 5 RCM practical on Monday. I did not do as well as I would have liked. I’ve found this level challenging. I unfortunately picked all super quick pieces and that is my weakness. My fingers just don’t want to go fast. I am sure I passed, but uncertain of how much I passed by. Probably pretty close to the wire. I’m thinking of doing grade six theory in December.

Wishing you the best of luck! I’m thinking of also continuing on with theory requirements for grade 10 even though I know I didn’t pass practical. There is so much to be said to understanding the theory behind what we are playing. It can only help with musicianship. I may suck at memorizing music and calming performance anxiety but I’m pretty confident I’ll do well on the theory/history exams. It may also spur me on to trying again in a few years as I believe you have three years to pass all components of grade 10 to get the certificate.
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/23/19 10:22 PM

Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Hi friends! Just finished my grade 5 RCM practical on Monday. I did not do as well as I would have liked. I’ve found this level challenging. I unfortunately picked all super quick pieces and that is my weakness. My fingers just don’t want to go fast. I am sure I passed, but uncertain of how much I passed by. Probably pretty close to the wire. I’m thinking of doing grade six theory in December.


My hat is off to you for taking the exam. I hope you score higher than you fear.
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/24/19 06:04 AM

Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Hi friends! Just finished my grade 5 RCM practical on Monday. I did not do as well as I would have liked. I’ve found this level challenging. I unfortunately picked all super quick pieces and that is my weakness. My fingers just don’t want to go fast. I am sure I passed, but uncertain of how much I passed by. Probably pretty close to the wire. I’m thinking of doing grade six theory in December.


My hat is off to you for taking the exam. I hope you score higher than you fear.


+1
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/26/19 12:53 PM

Originally Posted by cagal
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Something new with RCM. Previously, if you purchased the Sight/Ear Training books, you got access to the online ear training tools indefinitely. This has now changed. The code is only good for 6 months, after which, you'll need to pay monthly for access. So if you are planning to use the online ear training tools for a particular exam, wait until 6 months prior to the exam before using the code.


I was still planning on using the online access to keep skills sharp. I saw the email about the new tool but I couldn’t get it to work for the “free trial”. I didn’t read it carefully - now I see the code is only good for 6 months with book as you’ve pointed out. That’s quite disappointing!


The weird thing about it is that right now, if I access the dashboard and then the new online tools option, I have access to all levels. Maybe that's the free trial? Level 10 ear training looks difficult!
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/27/19 12:13 PM

Hi friends! Got my results and although I didn’t pass as I knew would be the result I was very close somehow! The really crazy part is I got honours grade in ear and sight which was the part I thought I’d fail. Go figure. B# - I did grade 10 ear training every day and it seems it’s not that bad lol.I even got 100% on the chord progression which I thought would be impossible given I’d never done them before about a month before the exam. Comments were generally encouraging. If I hadn’t totally blown the sonata I think I would have passed. I only played about 2 of 5 pages due to a complete memory melt down.
Posted By: sara elizabeth

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/27/19 12:19 PM

Originally Posted by cagal
Originally Posted by sara elizabeth
Hi friends! Just finished my grade 5 RCM practical on Monday. I did not do as well as I would have liked. I’ve found this level challenging. I unfortunately picked all super quick pieces and that is my weakness. My fingers just don’t want to go fast. I am sure I passed, but uncertain of how much I passed by. Probably pretty close to the wire. I’m thinking of doing grade six theory in December.

Wishing you the best of luck! I’m thinking of also continuing on with theory requirements for grade 10 even though I know I didn’t pass practical. There is so much to be said to understanding the theory behind what we are playing. It can only help with musicianship. I may suck at memorizing music and calming performance anxiety but I’m pretty confident I’ll do well on the theory/history exams. It may also spur me on to trying again in a few years as I believe you have three years to pass all components of grade 10 to get the certificate.

Yes I feel like the theory exam could be a major confidence booster. I know I can ace that. smile
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/27/19 11:33 PM

Originally Posted by cagal
Hi friends! Got my results and although I didn’t pass as I knew would be the result I was very close somehow! The really crazy part is I got honours grade in ear and sight which was the part I thought I’d fail. Go figure. B# - I did grade 10 ear training every day and it seems it’s not that bad lol.I even got 100% on the chord progression which I thought would be impossible given I’d never done them before about a month before the exam. Comments were generally encouraging. If I hadn’t totally blown the sonata I think I would have passed. I only played about 2 of 5 pages due to a complete memory melt down.



commiserations, so close.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/28/19 12:09 AM

Personally, I don't believe that it's right that grade exams require candidates to perform from memory. After all, they aren't professional exams, nor are they preparations for solo concert careers (unlike what happens in conservatories, or some diplomas). Most people doing them will never be required to perform from memory in their lives - even if they do go on to a career in music.

When you have an exam that deducts marks for playing from the score, and you know you're prone to nerves, it becomes a gamble as to whether you play from the music and take the hit on marks but know that you don't have to rely on memory (thus removing a huge cause of performance anxiety), or whether you play from memory and keep the marks but risk a catastrophic memory lapse from nerves.

As one very prone to performance anxiety, I'm pretty sure I'd have failed a few of the eight grade exams (ABRSM) I did as a student if I'd been required to play my pieces from memory.
Posted By: WiseBuff

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/28/19 11:42 AM

So sorry that your fear turned out to be true Cagal but I'm glad you've had the time to think it through and recover psychologically. Test anxiety is real and deadly. I'm working to memorize some level 7 material and struggling. I can memorize words in a day give speeches without problem but my music to brain connection doesn't work the same way. Well, back in the saddle as they say, and enjoy your next challenge. I know you'll do great.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/28/19 01:59 PM

I agree, bennevis. Not everyone is a strong memorizer, and that's why I'm not too keen on RCM. (I'm not even sure RCM exams are available near Austin - there's an affiliated music school in a suburb but they seem to be pretty quiet.) I've always been lucky in that I can memorize well - I performed one of my three ABRSM G8 pieces (the Beethoven sonata movement) from memory because I didn't want to deal with page turns. (That, and the teacher who is helping me is banned from being a page turner! Funny story, that...) But I don't like the idea of penalizing students for playing from sheet music at anything below diploma level.
Posted By: cagal

Re: Piano Exam Group - 06/28/19 06:40 PM

Thanks everyone for your kind words of support. I am going to focus on playing for the sake of playing and improving without worrying about exams for a while. Maybe in a few years if I can cut back my work load in the office I may revisit trying again. The examiner made some nice comments and encouraged me to “keep going” so I don’t think I’m a lost cause musically. I may look into ABRSM - that may just be easier for me if there’s no required memorization. I’m picking away at Scriabin prelude op 11 no 11 now and it’s so nice to be playing something new!
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