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Posted By: thomascarding Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 02:33 PM
Hi all,

A couple of months ago I started a project to see if it's possible to get to Grade 8 piano (ABRSM) from scratch in just a year. If anyone is interested in checking out my progress, you can find my blog here: www.proficiencyproject.com

Cheers,
Tom
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 02:51 PM
Do you have prior knowledge of music from playing another instrument? Don't forget you have to have Grade 5 Theory to do the Grade 8 Practical.

Are you a child prodigy?
Posted By: thomascarding Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:06 PM
I have some experience playing guitar and used to play the drums (though stopped about 10 years ago). I wanted to learn a skill that I had no prior knowledge of though, so this is pretty much from scratch -I'm learning theory and how to read music as I go. Unfortunately Im not a child prodigy - I'm 28. I think it's such a shame when people think 'I'm too old to learn something new now, if only I'd done it as a child' - so part of me wants this project to prove that adults can learn new skills just as quickly as children can :-)
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:11 PM
How much time a week are devoting to this? I'm curious, what are the differences between the grade levels?
Posted By: f3r Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:17 PM
This is very interesting... you practice like 5/6 hours a day on average which can be quite hard. During Christmas holiday I practiced 6/7 hours a day and it was heavy, how do you organise your days and practice time?
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:18 PM
Originally Posted by thomascarding
I think it's such a shame when people think 'I'm too old to learn something new now, if only I'd done it as a child' - so part of me wants this project to prove that adults can learn new skills just as quickly as children can :-)

Do you think that children can get to Grade 8 ABRSM in one year - even talented ones - from scratch? Do you know of any who did so?

You're talking about playing Beethoven piano sonatas and the like.

Yes, adults can learn as quickly as a child - but not 10 times as quickly.

(BTW, I got my Grade 8 ABRSM after 8 years - 1 grade a year, from the age of ten. OK, I don't have your talent, but......)
Posted By: scorpio Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:25 PM
Originally Posted by thomascarding
so part of me wants this project to prove that adults can learn new skills just as quickly as children can :-)

Except children don't practice anywhere near seven hours per day.

I am all for you learning a new skill as quick as possible. But for most adults your practice regimen is just not possible. I would venture to say that many would frown on that length of practice in a day (injury, mental fatigue, diminishing return). And there are some that would say you can get to your desired goal with far less time at the keyboard (bernhard comes to mind).

Congratulations on your blog and venture. Good luck to you!

"Practice time today: 7 hours 30 mins"
Posted By: thomascarding Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:40 PM
B sharp: I practice 40 hours per week. The complete syllabus for Grades 1-8 can be found here: http://us.abrsm.org/fileadmin/user_upload/syllabuses/pianoSyllabusComplete15.pdf

Bennevis: No, I've not seen anybody, adult or child, who has done it in a year. Whether that means it's impossible or not I have no idea. I don't really believe in talent though - at least I think it's of very little importance in comparison to the sheer number of hours that you put into developing a skill. I think the reason that nobody does it in the timeframe I'm looking at is because very few people have the time or patience to try and fit 2,000+ hours of practice into a single year. I just hope that I do! Time will tell :-)

f3r: My practice varies a bit, but a good rule of thumb that I try to stick to for a day when I practice 7 hours would be roughly 2 hours on technique, 2.5 on repertoire, 1 on sight reading, 1 on theory, 30 mins on aural training. Something like that...
Posted By: sinophilia Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:43 PM
Interesting experiment! I wish I had so much time to devote to the piano. Well maybe I wouldn't play so much even then, I practice about 40 hours a month and I don't think my brain could take much more.

To be really honest, I don't think it's feasible. In 4 years maybe yes, if one is extremely motivated, has a great teacher, and learns only exam pieces. I see that after 2 months you're playing songs from the Alfred's books, that's great and I'm sure you're having a lot of fun, but playing grade 8 classical music is something else entirely. But good luck and keep it up! You will certainly get to intermediate level by the end of the year, and it's something that very few people can do.
If people can do it in a garment factory, can we do it on piano?
Head on keyboard for a nap once in a while...or wake up like that in the morning.
Posted By: thomascarding Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 03:54 PM
Thanks. I have no idea if it's possible either, but I like a challenge - and not knowing if it can be done certainly makes it more interesting for me :-)

Good spot that everything I'm doing is out of the Alfred books. That's where my pieces are coming from at the minute, though I'm doing my theory work a lot quicker than it comes up in those. I look forward to being at the standard where I can tackle more challenging pieces though!
Posted By: sonhnguyen Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 04:05 PM
Good luck. I think even if you don't pass the exam, you'll still be able to play and enjoy the piano. Have fun.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 04:32 PM
Originally Posted by thomascarding
B sharp: I practice 40 hours per week. The complete syllabus for Grades 1-8 can be found here: http://us.abrsm.org/fileadmin/user_upload/syllabuses/pianoSyllabusComplete15.pdf


Thanks. It's interesting to look at. I'd be lucky to pass Grade 1, lol ;0
Posted By: Alexander Borro Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 04:41 PM
First of all, wish you all the best with the project.

I was listening to a young pianist last week, who is very talented and won the keyboard category in the BBC keyboard category some years ago, It took him 2 years to get grade 8 according to the booklet that was handed out before the concert, he started at age 6.

For myself, I wouldn't even dream of attempting something like this at my age, nor enjoy it, even if I did have the time, but for those that do, all the best to them I say. smile

May be its an age thing as well but there is no way I could practice 5 hours a day and feel I am productive doing it at this point.

The longest session I did was in fact last week, about 3 hours or so, that is after 22 months or so since starting, but that is not going to be regular thing for the foreseeable future, I just happened to have the time last week.

Of course you are relatively young by 20 years compared to me, but I'd be weary of injury too, especially without a teacher. I always stop playing as soon as I feel I am playing something with tension, and try to figure out where it is coming from, that is hard to do without a teacher, that is not to say I come up with the right solutions all the time, but at least it is something and all I can do. Just to mention it, to be careful in that area too.

I had previous music lessons moons ago and experience in other instruments too, but never piano. All that said, If I had the time for argument sake, and a teacher with a project like that, my gut feeling, l'd perhaps set myself the target of grade 4 perhaps at the very very best, Likely I wouldn't get that far even I feel. That is not to say one couldn't play some grade 5 pieces by then at some level perhaps, but there is a lot more like being able to sight read as well, all these are part of passing such a a grade, not just playing pieces.

Many teachers will say, at least I heard it said in piano discussions on youtube and places too, the really hard works starts at grade 5 or so. Those with much talent can sort of slip through to grades up to 4 without big long efforts in practice, but after that the grind and hard work really starts.

What will be interesting to see for yourself or if I were in that situation, I would ask, how far can I go rather than having a mind set on grade 8. I personally think that is an overly optimistic target, but to each their own of course.

The main thing is to have fun and enjoy what you are doing. I am not a very target driven person myself, as such I never think I would like to be at x level and be able to play y at time z. Whatever level I will be I will be at that stage, that is not to say I don't keep working or I am not motivated. We all work in our own ways, it works for some, not others.

In any case, all the best of luck with it and keep us posted. smile

btw. You may find the self assessment tests on the ABRSM site a handy tool along the way too. I used them a few times now and then compare that to what the teacher came up with in terms of giving a mark to any given performance, to judge how close you think you are to assess progress. They give detailed breakdown IIRC why the grade was given in videos, it's already quite a while ago I did that last time.

Of course it will never be as good as a teacher doing it for you, though surprisingly I did it for up grade 5 performances of other players. In the end I gave the overall same grade as the teacher every time in those in 12 total categories. Only in two categories did I award a little bit lower for scales, but the overall grade was still the same, so it gave me some sort of sense of scope at least, am I away off etc. being too easy on myself or way too hard ... and so on.
Posted By: Coyotewoods Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 05:36 PM
I love this concept. I'm not hopeful for you (sorry to say), but it's exciting and will be really fun to follow.

Thank you for sharing this here. I'm always on the lookout for a good blog like yours.

:o))
Posted By: DrewBone Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 05:40 PM
Please keep in mind that simply desiring to do so, no matter at what age an individual starts, is in any way a guarantee of success when attempting to learn the piano well, even with the very best of instruction, instrument, and even unlimited time to commit to learning. Only if a person possesses a good sense of eye and hand coordination and recieves and continues with proper instruction and practicing will a person have any possible chance at success.

It's just the unfortunate reality of it, hardly spoken, and a bit stick-in-the-muddish, but needing to be mentioned nonetheless.

Regards,
Andy
Posted By: INBoston Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 05:44 PM
That's exciting! It seems like an ambitious goal but hey, why not try your very best and see how far you get? Even if it takes you longer than a year, you are only 28 and have another 60 years to get there smile

I have no plans to pass exams necessarily, but I do hope to play some grade 8 pieces by next year, seeing that I am already starting to attempt grade 7. My mother in law who is a musician and a piano teacher says I am progressing faster than a typical adult in her experience, but I am not sure if she is just trying to get on my good side, lol. I do practice a lot though, every day after work for at least 2 hours, and longer on weekends.

Best of luck to you, it's really fun!
Posted By: thomascarding Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 06:08 PM
Thanks for all the replies guys, there's a lot of really good advice in there :-) To be honest, a lot of the time I find myself agreeing with the majority that I'm probably being overly optimistic - but that's part of the fun of it. If I don't get there in a year I've still got a whole lifetime of piano-playing to enjoy (and that's actually far more important than any qualification). At the same time, it keeps me motivated to have the goal. I always think of the Leonard Bernstein quote 'to achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time'. I've probably ended up with nowhere near enough time but nevermind...
Posted By: 8 Octaves Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 06:38 PM
At first I thought you were doing this for the sake of passing an exam. Having read some of your blogs, seems you are simply learning as much as possible and practicing as much as possible, so 40 hours a week is about the upper limit for most people.

Since you mentioned that you would have about 2000 hours of practice in a year's time, and somewhere you also mentioned that your goal is to master the piano as your project, I will break the bad news to you that 2000 hours does not even begin to be enough for mastering the piano, and certainly not enough for the exams at ABRSM 8 (RCM 9). I easily have more than 2000 hours and I'm preparing for RCM 6. I would estimate for RCM 7, 8, would require as many hours as all the hours I've put in from RCM 1-6, and that much again for RCM 9 if not more. Also, building new pathways in an adult brain takes time. It's not just about how much you practice. Learning piano is not a math problem. If you were 20 years younger and willing to practice 40 hours a week, you probably could reach ABRSM 8 in a year studying under an extremely good teacher.

It's admirable goal to be doing this for a project, and also not everyone is able to save enough money and live within their means to not work for an entire year to devote to a project like you are doing, so it's great. While I do not believe at your current progress will reach ABRSM 8 materials with less than 300 days left, you will make good progress spending this much time and effort into it. Be careful not to get burned out. The most difficult thing about something as hard as piano is persistence when the music is no longer easy around grade 4-5. After that classical piano standards ramp up very sharply, and quality expectation is much higher than in the early grades. Often it takes years simply to learn to listen properly.

At some point, you should seriously consider practicing mostly on an acoustic piano especially for preparing for exams at the higher grades. Most students who practice exclusively on digitals do not do well on exams. Also, whether you end up in your project this year, you should seriously consider signing up for an exam 3 months ahead of your deadline at whichever grade you happened to be at. It is good to take an easier exam in preparation for the harder one.

If your project had the only goal of passing the ABRSM 8 exam in a year, I would say, drop whatever you're doing and start the ABRSM 8 exam repertoire and etudes immediately. I can see you imply you simply wish to learn as much as possible in a year while setting a high goal, so do consider taking the lower exams near the end of the year to get the experience of what it takes to prepare for one and pass. Also, the feedback of a lower exam would help you prepare for the eventual grade 8 exam.

I hope when you go back to work next year, you don't have to give up ABRSM, and continue to strive for your goal of ABRSM 8 in the future. It would be best if possible to immediately schedule and pass as many of the written exams as possible all the way to ABRSM 8 requirements all within this year since you would have relatively more time this year, and the written exams are not easy, so you could focus on playing next year when you have less time because of work. With this much dedication and determination, it is possible for you to complete ABRSM 8 in a few years.
Posted By: fizikisto Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 06:56 PM
Thomascarding,
Have you thought about what you'll do if you fall short of your goal? Let's say hypothetically at the end of the year you reach grade 6, will you continue pushing through to see the shortest possible time to reach grade 8? Or will you settle into more normal practice routine and not care if it takes you a few more years to reach it?

In any case, I read through your blog and it's a very interesting project to be sure! I wish you much luck in your endeavors.
Posted By: Moonsh1ne Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 08:04 PM
Wow, so the Chopin waltz I submitted for last recital is grade 8? Hah. No wonder I can't play it right smile

This is certainly an interesting project, and I do wish you the best of luck and not to burn out. Only wish I had that kind of time (or even 1/10th of the time!) to devote to piano practice.
Posted By: Kenan Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 08:45 PM
Originally Posted by thomascarding
Thanks for all the replies guys, there's a lot of really good advice in there :-) To be honest, a lot of the time I find myself agreeing with the majority that I'm probably being overly optimistic - but that's part of the fun of it. If I don't get there in a year I've still got a whole lifetime of piano-playing to enjoy (and that's actually far more important than any qualification). At the same time, it keeps me motivated to have the goal. I always think of the Leonard Bernstein quote 'to achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time'. I've probably ended up with nowhere near enough time but nevermind...


You're doing great so far!
Even though I don't play Jazz, I like it.

You will have a bit of a hard time learning Classical music, less repetitive, etc.
I started with Fur Elise then I moved onto Chopin's Prelude no 4 Suffocation.

I then learned Czardas by Vittorio Monti, and Alla Turca by Mozart.


Then I finally learned one of my favorite pieces Nocturne in C# Minor, and Moonlight sonata.
Currently I'm working on Op 3 no 2 Rachmaninoff and Op 23 no 5 Rachmaninoff.

I can recite all of those now.
And going to learn after those Tzvi Erez's version of Czardas smile

My teacher has rated me Grades 5-6, you probably won't be able to get Grade 8 in your first year, but I only practiced 1 hour only until a few months ago, so anything's possible smile
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 10:01 PM
I find it strange (peculiar? confusing? ridiculous?) that you haven't mentioned getting a teacher.

. . . What's your feedback loop?

Who's going to tell you:

. . . "You need to play more legato through that passage" ?

. . . "Your tempo is a bit ragged -- practice the transitions until you have them
. . . smoothed out"

. . . "You need to bring out the left hand more"

. . . "Slow down the crescendo, you want "ff" in measure 51, not before!"

. . . "You're lifting your left elbow. Keep it down, and relax
. . . your shoulder muscles, they're tense."

I assume you're going to use a recorder, and your own critical listening, to keep you on track. And that makes me ask the question:


. . . Do you think your ears are good enough for critical listening (at the 8th-grade level)
. . . to your own playing?

I don't know if anyone, without exceptional talent, has self-taught to Grade 8. I mean playing Grade 8 material _well_, so it sounds like what it's supposed to sound like.

I wish you well with the project. I suspect that somewhere along the way, you'll get stuck. And if you're smart, you'll say:

. . . "i need help!"

and find a teacher who will provide it.

Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 11:20 PM
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
I find it strange (peculiar? confusing? ridiculous?) that you haven't mentioned getting a teacher.



I'd assumed the OP has a teacher.

If he hasn't, unless he already possesses a rare innate & highly developed musical ear (i.e. of Wolfie proportions - though even little Wolfie had to develop his), he won't pass Grade 8 ABRSM - and I don't just mean in 1 year either. Examiners are looking for a lot of musical stuff at Grade 8 that far transcends mere fluency in playing.
Posted By: 8 Octaves Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/14/16 11:34 PM
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
I find it strange (peculiar? confusing? ridiculous?) that you haven't mentioned getting a teacher.


In his blog he does mention "lessons". I would assume these lessons are given by a teacher.

Originally Posted by OP's blog
I had a really positive lesson on Thursday where we started looking at pieces and the different technical aspects to making them more musical. A big problem for students starting out is that the focus is almost entirely on playing the correct notes, rather than the overall musicality of what you are playing. I know this has been a problem for me as well, so it was great to get some advice about how to approach my practice sessions – hopefully I’ll notice an improvement in my playing over the next couple of weeks as a result.

Posted By: Coyotewoods Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 01:55 AM
I've been thinking about this project of yours all day.

What matters is whether you complete it and the body of journalistic work you create along the way.

The word 'blog' can distract from a project like this. There is something very sweet and humbling about what you've already accomplished and everything you share.

You are being very honest about your feelings and doubts. This keeps it grounded and real, instead of lofty and unrelatable.

Be sure to talk some in your posts about what Level 8 means, the kinds of pieces it covers, the testing organization and why it's valued. Or maybe you already have and I just haven't seen it yet.

These goals we have, testing and levels and measured progress, versus progress for the sake of enjoying the process. This is all part of this year-long project.

It's very interesting.
Posted By: 8 Octaves Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 02:48 AM
I think this is a very interesting experiment that I would like to follow. First of all, I am already seeing some interesting results from viewing the OP's videos. They are enlightening. I certainly would encourage the OP to continue to post videos and blogs as long as he could for the balance of the year.

My initial hypothesis so far after reading the blogs and viewing the videos is that the number of hours of practice per week is not the most important contributor to progress. It would seem the results from viewing the OP's video would suggest to me if he had practiced 2 hours a day vs 6 hours a day at this level makes no difference. The important variable here possibly is the number of hours of instruction he receives for every 10-14 hours of practice. On day 1 of his blog he commented that his hands were sore. While I don't practice 6 hours everyday, I have done 6-hour days, and my hands would not be sore. If anything, it's just my head that's sore. I think this is telling.

I would think if the OP does not receive at least 1 hour of instructions per every 10-14 hours of practice, then his progress would be no better than other very motivated adults receiving similar hours of instructions. It maybe too soon to tell, but I'm seeing some trends already. It would be really interesting to see what the next 60 days bring.

I really appreciate the OP's sharing of his interesting experience in such a public manner.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 03:41 AM
I noticed that Volume 1 of Alfred's Basic Piano for Adults is being used. Is your goal to finish all 3 by the end of 27 weeks?

I'm currently on Volume 2 and the goal my teacher set for me was to finish it in the next 6 months, meaning I would have been looking at it for almost 9 months. I think that is reasonable goal smile Additionally, we are learning major/minor triads, scales, arpeggios, etc. and other technical stuff. I recently also added pieces from the Alfred's Masterworks Classics series, Level 3. I find these to be a bit more rewarding and harder, only because some of them don't have what I call an easy left hand, chord or repetitive pattern. Menuet in G major was a challenge for me because I felt the left hand doing all sorts of crazy, unpredictable stuff. Nevertheless, it was a good learning piece.

"I will watch your progress with great interest", as I wish I had your time smile
Posted By: Saurav Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 04:20 AM
One request - could you set up a page that has all the videos? I'm sure I'm not the only person who would like to quickly skim through the videos to see how you're progressing, without having to go through all the individual posts to find them.
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 05:06 AM
Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
...

In his blog he does mention "lessons". I would assume these lessons are given by a teacher.



OOPS! I didn't read the blog.

Apologies to all.
Posted By: pianofan1017 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 05:31 AM
Check out the youtube video for Leo-Bailey Yang.
He learned piano at age 6. At age 7 and 4 month, he passed ABRSM grade 8 with distinction.
Currently he is the youngest pianist with ACTL performance diploma in UK. He was also on British got talent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59k_VIngG4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmeDLW9TR6g
Posted By: AZ_Astro Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 06:54 AM
Originally Posted by thomascarding
Thanks for all the replies guys, there's a lot of really good advice in there :-) To be honest, a lot of the time I find myself agreeing with the majority that I'm probably being overly optimistic - but that's part of the fun of it. If I don't get there in a year I've still got a whole lifetime of piano-playing to enjoy (and that's actually far more important than any qualification). At the same time, it keeps me motivated to have the goal. I always think of the Leonard Bernstein quote 'to achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time'. I've probably ended up with nowhere near enough time but nevermind...


I think grade 8 is optimistic but I wouldn't want to dissuade you from trying!

I have been playing just over 4 years now, starting at age 57, and I estimate that I have just crossed the 2000 hour mark of practice. If you practice 40 hours a week x 52 weeks, that is 2080 hours of practice to reach grade 8.

If I had to guess, I would call myself an intermediate player at this point, possibly advanced intermediate - I'm going to guess that would be me at grade 5 or so. At age 27 (with a bit of talent) I would think you could do quite a lot better than that.

Anyhoo, good luck with your endeavor. If you become disenchanted, slow down and enjoy the journey and plan for piano as a lifetime effort!
Posted By: cefinow Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 10:35 AM
As an experiment it makes for a fascinating blog… as a practical approach, even a challenge, I don't think it's a good idea. The longer you can spend getting the basics really solid and ingrained, the better. Save the challenge part for the more advanced stages, when you have to learn a difficult piece of music in a very short time; and you have the foundation to do it.

But, that's just me… You might be a front runner from the start line. If so, more power to you!
Posted By: kevinb Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 01:16 PM
This all seems eminently achievable to me, for a young-ish person with essentially unlimited practice time (by unlimited I mean "as much as you can reasonably cope with.")

People who are very exam-focused can make amazingly rapid progress towards passing exams -- I've seen it frequently in adults and children. I do sort-of wonder what they get out of it besides passing the exams, but I'm not an exam person myself.

I would think that instruction is pretty essential, if only for the purposes of knowing the exam standards. ABRSM piano examiners are looking for rather specific approaches to interpretation, phrasing, dynamics, etc. I don't necessarily thing they're right, from an aesthetic point of view but, as I said, I'm not an exam person so I don't have to.
Posted By: pianoMom2006 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 01:59 PM
I haven't looked at your videos- but the premise of why you want to learn to play piano is really interesting to me and I wish you all the luck in the world. It will be interesting to hear how your "experiment" turns out. I will be curious to hear how teachers here will perceive the quality of your playing after one year. I'm also wondering if you will be able to achieve this goal without taking shortcuts that will fundamentally impair your ability to progress at some point.

BTW- If you don't reach your goal-don't beat yourself up- it just means that you are human. If I had to guess FWIW my 9 year old son has probably played about 1,000 hours to get to grade 3ish level (2.5 years) and that's just playing ability- not theory or sight reading too. He's never taken an ABRSM test.
Posted By: Ganddalf Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 02:12 PM
My experience is that progress does not only depend on the number of hours spent on (efficient) practice. The calendar time also counts. If you select a piece and spend one hour practice a day on this piece for 5 days I think you'll find that you have progressed further than if your spend one day with 5 hours practice on it. At least I'm the type of person who seem to continue the learning process when I sleep.

Now I have been practicing piano for almost 50 years and still not reached Grade 8 . Actually I don't even know what Grade 8 is.... So maybe my experience isn't worth so much....
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 02:50 PM
Originally Posted by kevinb
ABRSM piano examiners are looking for rather specific approaches to interpretation, phrasing, dynamics, etc. I don't necessarily thing they're right, from an aesthetic point of view but, as I said, I'm not an exam person so I don't have to.

ABRSM examiners up to - and including - grade 8 are simply looking for evidence of good technique and good musicianship. Not a specific approach to interpretation.

You can use any edition you like (but must bring your score with you to let the examiner see), and any interpretation within the bounds of good taste is fine.

I did my grade 8 with two other piano students I knew well when I was at high school. There was one piece in List C which we all chose, in which we had wildly different ideas (and tempi, and phrasing, and dynamics etc) - partly due to the fact that we had different teachers. Yet we all got very similar marks - but very different comments.

Also, I used the pedal quite liberally in my Bach Prelude & Fugue, whereas one of the others used absolutely no pedal in the same P & F (and lots of detached phrasing) - and we got exactly the same marks from the same examiner.
Posted By: Greener Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 03:06 PM
Originally Posted by Ganddalf
My experience is ...

... maybe my experience isn't worth so much.


The eye is in the beholder. Or, as we have it here, the ear is with the listener.

If you ask me, experience cannot be overlooked. You may be able to cram 8 years of curriculum into one year, but you will not have 8 years of experience. You will have one.

Just like you cannot become a Nelson Mandela without the suffering, you also cannot become Nelson Mandela with only the suffering. Part of the learning process includes time.

Best of luck in this pursuit. When you get your grade 8 though you will then need to get some experience behind you like any other person starting out on a career having just passed university.
I haven't seen a definition of what e.g. 6 hrs of daily practice means.
Does it mean 6 hrs on the bench in focused concentration, if not, how many breaks and for how long?
Do you include time away from the piano, studying the sheet music, reading piano related information?
Can you, or do you, log the actual daily time spent on the bench?
Posted By: f3r Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 03:42 PM
He wrote this earlier in the thread.

Originally Posted by thomascarding
f3r: My practice varies a bit, but a good rule of thumb that I try to stick to for a day when I practice 7 hours would be roughly 2 hours on technique, 2.5 on repertoire, 1 on sight reading, 1 on theory, 30 mins on aural training. Something like that...

Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 03:53 PM
Originally Posted by Ganddalf
My experience is that progress does not only depend on the number of hours spent on (efficient) practice. The calendar time also counts. If you select a piece and spend one hour practice a day on this piece for 5 days I think you'll find that you have progressed further than if your spend one day with 5 hours practice on it. At least I'm the type of person who seem to continue the learning process when I sleep.

Now I have been practicing piano for almost 50 years and still not reached Grade 8 . Actually I don't even know what Grade 8 is.... So maybe my experience isn't worth so much....


I feel the same way, although I've been playing for only a short time now. 8 hours in a day wouldn't help me at all. For whatever reason though, things seem to click a bit more after a good nap smile
Posted By: chamberbell Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 04:13 PM
I think it's brilliant. I love testing what is possible. I also like my day job, so not something I want to test myself, but I'll be following your progress. Great job keeping it up this long! You've already achieved so much by simply sticking to your plan. Many could learn from that, including myself.

And I think a lot of the negativity above has been already addressed by you. You're goal is to pass the exam, not replicate 8 years of emotional and musical growth as a person and musician. I would hardly think every student who passes the exam is at the same musical level overall, the same as every 4.0 student in school isn't the same "smart". You don't have to have Vladmir Horowitz-like musical maturity to pass the exam, and I'm sure there are some 30+ year students with advanced musical maturity who wouldn't. It's primarily a skill/knowledge test, as most all tests have to be.

I also think people are discounting how much progress you can really make when really focused for that long each day and it's your true top priority. Sure, there will be diminishing returns as the mind tires throughout the day but less-than-optimal returns are still returns. Anyone with a technical job that requires concentration and thinking has probably done more hours (in a row, nonetheless) of study and thought in a day. And it sounds like you're breaking up the hours into chunks throughout the day, which is commonly recommended for college students studying for the same reason.

Anyway, enough rambling. Good luck to you!
Posted By: 8 Octaves Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 06:03 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
ABRSM examiners up to - and including - grade 8 are simply looking for evidence of good technique and good musicianship. Not a specific approach to interpretation.


Agreed. In one of my Bach, my teacher had me Wite-Out all slur marks on the page and put in all new ones. shocked I almost didn't choose that piece for the exam because I have to show my music, and I so obviously altered the official music for RCM, and I was really worried. Turned out, the examiner gave me a good mark and commented really positively on the interpretation. The examiners are real musicians and they certainly would not mark down for choices that are sensible.

I don't pedal Bach, but if you do, as long as you can make it work, then yes. Perahia used pedal in his Goldberg Variations. It's brilliant. I will continue to not pedal. Ha!
Posted By: cefinow Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 06:12 PM
Originally Posted by 8octaves
The examiners are real musicians

+1

That's also what helped me not to be intimidated by teachers, too.
Posted By: Greener Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 07:02 PM
Originally Posted by chamberbell
...
I think a lot of the negativity above has been already addressed by you. You're goal is to pass the exam, not replicate 8 years of emotional and musical growth as a person and musician...


Experience cannot be crammed. There is nothing negative about this statement. It is just what is. Otherwise most of the commentary I have read on this thread has been very positive and encouraging.
Posted By: chamberbell Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/15/16 11:06 PM
Originally Posted by Greener
[quote=chamberbell]...
Experience cannot be crammed. There is nothing negative about this statement. It is just what is. Otherwise most of the commentary I have read on this thread has been very positive and encouraging.


I suppose negativity was too strong a word, but there has been quite a bit of commentary that roughly sounds like, "That's cute, but not how it works. You can't do that. But good luck." Not rudeness (no one's really that rude here), just a negative view that he will succeed.

I hear the same thing whenever I tell my husband I'm going to spend the next year getting in really good shape and I lay out a detailed plan for how I'll be ripped in December. I get, "Really? OK...good luck...no no, I fully support you, I just think it's unlikely" Supportive...ish. thumb

Some parts of experience can be crammed, some parts cannot. The events in life that help us interpret the emotions in music...not so much. But someone forcing themselves to commit to a one year Spanish immersion study in South America will have a lot more experience speaking Spanish then even a student majoring in Spanish at a university. The unknown is how much this particular fellow will be able to cram since that's unique to each individual and also untested.

I'm simply interested in his results because I see nothing specifically standing in his way. I think the hardest part will be sticking to his plan, but he seems to already be accomplishing that.
Posted By: Michiyo-Fir Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/16/16 12:56 AM
According to this Guardian article, Benjamin Grosvenor started playing at 6 years old and in 18 months was playing ABRSM 8 pieces.

" Coming from a half-decent amateur pianist, you could understand this comment, but from someone who started playing the piano aged six, and who was playing Grade 8-standard pieces just 18 months later"

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/apr/14/benjamin-grosvenor-pianist-proms
Posted By: DrewBone Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/16/16 01:55 PM
Originally Posted by Greener
Experience cannot be crammed. There is nothing negative about this statement. It is just what is...


The above statement is very true, wreaking of reality, which merely hinting of or speaking about in today's day and age seems to be considered politically incorrect, for fear of hurting someones feelings. Since when did truth and reality begin to hurt so much that it was to be hidden and never spoken, and where people had to be coddled instead of corrected?

As a youth I took violin lessons for 3 years, but simply couldn't perform vibrato, plus it sounded more like I was cutting the instrument in half when I was playing rather than making music. Although I wanted to learn, it just wasn't happening, so I accepted that fact, ended my lessons, and moved on.

Next on the list was the trumpet, where again I met with some difficulty. When I played it sounded like there was a drunk elephant in my room and I just couldn't "get it", so after 2 years off it went back to the music store. Again, I wanted to learn, but it just wasn't happening, so I again accepted that fact, ended my lessons, and moved on.

Oh well.

I really wanted to succeed at learning the violin and trumpet, but the learning experience proved that despite my yearning to do so successfully, and even with the proper instruction, the resulting reality of it dictated otherwise. Sure, I could have continued on in a futile effort, much to the dislike of my parents (and I'm sure the family pet as well), but what would continuing on have proven? What would I have accomplished? I'll tell you what...wasting my parents hard earned money and time that I could have exerted practicing the piano is exactly what I would have accomplished.

The above scenarios of instrument learning failure didn't cause the earth to stop rotating upon its axis, or me to cry myself to sleep every night for weeks, to seek counselling, or see a psychiatrist. It's a simple reality that just because a skill exists, doesn't mean that it can be learned or mastered by anyone who tries. Sure, there are "books" and study programs designed to "help" you forge your own destiny, but honestly, how many people, I'm sure by now numbering in the hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions, after attending those highly promoted lectures or purchasing those DVD's and books instructing you how to become successful overnight by buying houses "No money down!" or by flipping houses, ever went on to become a real estate magnate like Donald Trump? How many people who purchased any of the Bob Ross' "The Joy of Painting" DVD instructional videos went on to become the next famed artist of the century? How come we're not reading on a daily basis about all the success stories of the new trend of multimillionaire real estate moguls and billionaire artists that are overflowing in the streets? "It says I can do it right here in this $49 book I bought, see [holding the book up in the air while smiling and rapidly nodding head up and down]??!! Oh right, it's because the "reality" of it is that it's an extremely difficult and next to impossible thing to become a Conrad Hilton, a Rembrandt, or for that matter, a Horowitz, simply by taking shortcuts, or by buying and looking through books and instructional DVD's. There has to be in a person an inherent or natural skill just sitting there waiting to be accessed, just waiting for that moment, that primer, to burst free and blossom. Even then, being predisposed to an easy time of learning, it's the years of experience that defines the artists abilities, none of which can be obtained from being crammed into any short length of time. There are of course exceptions, but they are few and very, very far between.

The products mentioned offer people, of course for a price, this; a hope. Some people are inherently lazy, and others very optomistic, so combine the two with the mere suggestion of learning a skill or trade with minimal effort, and you've got a recipe that is of course appealing to the masses ([unemployed, sitting on a couch watching TV at 3am eating potato chips] "Hey, I know I can do this, because, well, who's better than me?!"), but the staunch reality remains that success in anything is almost never, ever, guaranteed. Yet despite this reality, these products persist year after year, sucking in the dollars and euros from those with high hopes, low budgets, and little hours to commit, meeting with the occassional success, but usually never to a level anywhere near the promises made by those offering these "roads to success."

The get rich scheme, identified as such because, well, it's a "scheme" silly!

**********

scheme
skēm

verb
1. make plans, especially in a devious way or with intent to do something illegal or wrong. "he schemed to bring about the collapse of the government"

synonyms: plot, hatch a plot, conspire, intrigue, connive, maneuver, plan

**********

Reality. I wish we'd get back to it.

Regards,
Andy
Originally Posted by DrewBone
Originally Posted by Greener
Experience cannot be crammed. There is nothing negative about this statement. It is just what is...


The above statement is very true, wreaking of reality, which merely hinting of or speaking about in today's day and age seems to be considered politically incorrect, for fear of hurting someones feelings. Since when did truth and reality begin to hurt so much that it was to be hidden and never spoken, and where people had to be coddled instead of corrected?

As a youth I took violin lessons for 3 years, but simply couldn't perform vibrato, plus it sounded more like I was cutting the instrument in half when I was playing rather than making music. Although I wanted to learn, it just wasn't happening, so I accepted that fact, ended my lessons, and moved on.

Next on the list was the trumpet, where again I met with some difficulty. When I played it sounded like there was a drunk elephant in my room and I just couldn't "get it", so after 2 years off it went back to the music store. Again, I wanted to learn, but it just wasn't happening, so I again accepted that fact, ended my lessons, and moved on.

Oh well.

I really wanted to succeed at learning the violin and trumpet, but the learning experience proved that despite my yearning to do so successfully, and even with the proper instruction, the resulting reality of it dictated otherwise. Sure, I could have continued on in a futile effort, much to the dislike of my parents (and I'm sure the family pet as well), but what would continuing on have proven? What would I have accomplished? I'll tell you what...wasting my parents hard earned money and time that I could have exerted practicing the piano is exactly what I would have accomplished.

The above scenarios of instrument learning failure didn't cause the earth to stop rotating upon its axis, or me to cry myself to sleep every night for weeks, to seek counselling, or see a psychiatrist. It's a simple reality that just because a skill exists, doesn't mean that it can be learned or mastered by anyone who tries. Sure, there are "books" and study programs designed to "help" you forge your own destiny, but honestly, how many people, I'm sure by now numbering in the hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions, after attending those highly promoted lectures or purchasing those DVD's and books instructing you how to become successful overnight by buying houses "No money down!" or by flipping houses, ever went on to become a real estate magnate like Donald Trump? How many people who purchased any of the Bob Ross' "The Joy of Painting" DVD instructional videos went on to become the next famed artist of the century? How come we're not reading on a daily basis about all the success stories of the new trend of multimillionaire real estate moguls and billionaire artists that are overflowing in the streets? "It says I can do it right here in this $49 book I bought, see [holding the book up in the air while smiling and rapidly nodding head up and down]??!! Oh right, it's because the "reality" of it is that it's an extremely difficult and next to impossible thing to become a Conrad Hilton, a Rembrandt, or for that matter, a Horowitz, simply by taking shortcuts, or by buying and looking through books and instructional DVD's. There has to be in a person an inherent or natural skill just sitting there waiting to be accessed, just waiting for that moment, that primer, to burst free and blossom. Even then, being predisposed to an easy time of learning, it's the years of experience that defines the artists abilities, none of which can be obtained from being crammed into any short length of time. There are of course exceptions, but they are few and very, very far between.

The products mentioned offer people, of course for a price, this; a hope. Some people are inherently lazy, and others very optomistic, so combine the two with the mere suggestion of learning a skill or trade with minimal effort, and you've got a recipe that is of course appealing to the masses ([unemployed, sitting on a couch watching TV at 3am eating potato chips] "Hey, I know I can do this, because, well, who's better than me?!"), but the staunch reality remains that success in anything is almost never, ever, guaranteed. Yet despite this reality, these products persist year after year, sucking in the dollars and euros from those with high hopes, low budgets, and little hours to commit, meeting with the occassional success, but usually never to a level anywhere near the promises made by those offering these "roads to success."

The get rich scheme, identified as such because, well, it's a "scheme" silly!

**********

scheme
skēm

verb
1. make plans, especially in a devious way or with intent to do something illegal or wrong. "he schemed to bring about the collapse of the government"

synonyms: plot, hatch a plot, conspire, intrigue, connive, maneuver, plan

**********

Reality. I wish we'd get back to it.

Regards,
Andy

thumb
I think it's possible.
Why wouldn't it? Beethoven, Mozart, and many more reached that level and beyond at an early age, and in a short time.
It's a matter of attitude and dedication with hard work.

What did Bernhard say?
There are 3 requirements for piano success, and I've already forgot. Environment, dedication, some aptitude?
It made a lot of sense when I read it some time ago. Maybe somebody here remembers.

And some people love a challenge like this.
There are more genii in the world today than there ever have been in history.
It's just that very few of them dedicate themselves to piano playing.
Posted By: ebonykawai Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/16/16 05:11 PM
Good luck! Make sure you do what Clara Schumann did: add a long walk outdoors every single day, for an hour or more. She credited this daily habit to her being able to deal with everything life threw at her. And what life threw at her was gargantuan. wink
Posted By: Greener Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/16/16 06:21 PM
Originally Posted by RaggedKeyPresser
I think it's possible.
Why wouldn't it? Beethoven, Mozart, and many more reached that level and beyond at an early age, and in a short time.
It's a matter of attitude and dedication with hard work.


A touch of genius was also working in their favour of course.

I don't think it is impossible. All the power for trying and sincere best wishes for your success, even if only partial for anyone that does try for it.

On the other hand, I'd hate for anything like this to then begin to be a new normal. Like once it has been done, taking 8 or 10 years to get to grade 8 becomes no longer quite as remarkable of an achievement ... Oh yeah, well buddy over here did it in only 1 year ...

The truth of the matter is, whether you take 1 year or 10 years, for most normal people this comparison would show quite different results I think, even if they both achieved a similar grade on the exam.
Posted By: ebonykawai Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/16/16 07:58 PM
Originally Posted by pianofan1017
Check out the youtube video for Leo-Bailey Yang.
He learned piano at age 6. At age 7 and 4 month, he passed ABRSM grade 8 with distinction.
Currently he is the youngest pianist with ACTL performance diploma in UK. He was also on British got talent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59k_VIngG4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmeDLW9TR6g


I'm not sure prodigies should count, LOL.
Posted By: Tonedeef Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 08:40 AM
If you are able to achieve Grade 8 in one year then I salute you I really do. It is not something that I could achieve but this does not taint my next comment on this subject which is: I feel that any grading system be it for piano, martial arts, fly fishing or brain surgery is to stand up with your peers and be assessed to a set of standards. I suspect however that there is a significant risk of trying to progress so far so soon that it would be very easy to 'learn for the grading' without developing the underpinning knowledge that should accompany the grading. I am a fly fishing instructor, which I appreciate has absolute zero to do with piano playing but I see this occurring in my own area of expertise. Getting back to piano, I am constantly twisting my teachers arm to move me along faster and faster and faster. During my last 3 lessons she has told me quite firmly that although she appreciates that I am practicing for many hours every day, she feels that I must not attempt to fly ahead as there must be a period to allow what she is teaching me to be practically applied to playing music so that it sinks in to my thick skull for life. This may not apply if you are in fact a child prodigy which starting to play at 50 years of age, sadly I am not. On a semi related note, I am approaching the stage where I can begin to appreciate a good pianist from somebody who can bluff their way through a piece of music. I have seen a number of individuals who have never taken a grading in their lives but can play to an extremely proficient and high standard. Most of them smirk at pianists who put themselves through a grading system. I suspect however that few of them, if any could pass a Grade 8 exam. (No offence whatsoever intended to any Grade 8 and above pianists). I wish you much success in your quest. If you achieve what you are attempting to do and are then looking to take on students, I will sign up with you immediately. I think my piano teacher might follow me and sign up too.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 02:59 PM
Originally Posted by Tonedeef
I am approaching the stage where I can begin to appreciate a good pianist from somebody who can bluff their way through a piece of music. I have seen a number of individuals who have never taken a grading in their lives but can play to an extremely proficient and high standard. Most of them smirk at pianists who put themselves through a grading system. I suspect however that few of them, if any could pass a Grade 8 exam.

If someone can play, say, Beethoven's Appassionata very well but can't pass the Grade 8 ABRSM, he's just a one-trick pony. He might not be able to sight-read, or know any theory, or have basic aural skills (yes, believe it or not, you don't need aural skills to play advanced repertoire). He might even have been taught that sonata by rote by his teacher, and might not even be able to read music at all (yes, this does happen). He might not even be able to play "Happy Birthday" by ear, using basic chords for the harmony.

Really, the ABRSM exams are just basic tests of all-round musical skills, that all classical pianists should have at each stage in their development. They don't demand anything extra that are superfluous to the requirements of any decent musician.

To put that in context, my teacher didn't bother to do any aural training with me, or make me practice sight-reading, once she realized that I was playing through lots of stuff on my own (from scores borrowed from the school music library), and that I was singing in the school choir. All she did was to do a 'mock' ABRSM exam with me a couple of weeks before the actual exam, to make sure that my sight-reading and aural skills were up to scratch.

Posted By: Greener Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 04:05 PM
Originally Posted by Tonedeef
I have seen a number of individuals who have never taken a grading in their lives but can play to an extremely proficient and high standard...

Originally Posted by bennevis
...
If someone can play, say, Beethoven's Appassionata very well but can't pass the Grade 8 ABRSM, he's just a one-trick pony...

They can both play certain things well. The rest -- the substance behind what got them there -- is really only of consequence to them. Other musicians (it seems more than any) desire the back story before awarding any due (un-biased) appreciation. IE. what else can you do? I grew up listening to all the arguments about it and the mud slinging (if and when it occurs) goes both ways.


Posted By: MomOfBeginners Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 04:06 PM
Just curious - and sorry for going off-topic.

There's a fly-fishing exam?
Posted By: sonhnguyen Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 05:39 PM
After comparing his progress to mine, I think he can do it. I've been studied for a year and practiced about 1hr every day or roughly 360hr/yr give or take a few. I'm on the same page as his, learning the same song and techniques (at least according to his blog). My teacher and some good pianist I've known informed me that I can reach grade 8 in about 5-6 years. I know I'm slow so I'll go with 7 years. That is around 2500 hours. He's practicing around 6 hour per day or 2100 hours a year. It's very close so I think it's really doable goal.
Posted By: Coyotewoods Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 06:36 PM
Gave me the giggles, you did. :o))

I'd love to learn fly fishing someday. Without a teacher I'm likely to catch the bottom of my jeans, though.
Posted By: Tonedeef Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 06:51 PM
Originally Posted by MomOfBeginners
Just curious - and sorry for going off-topic.

There's a fly-fishing exam?



Yes there are examinations for fly fishing instructors. These are separate qualifications for single handed and double handed fly casting instructors. There are also qualifications for fly dressing instructors. As daft as it may appear the qualifications are extremely difficult to acquire and can take the neck end of a couple of years each to qualify in. Some people take the exam and fail and never go back. In the organisation in which I qualified there were 3 increasingly difficult levels of assessment for trout rods, salmon rods and tying bits of dead animals to fishing hooks.


Good innit?
Geoff
Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 07:29 PM
Originally Posted by sonhnguyen
After comparing his progress to mine, I think he can do it. I've been studied for a year and practiced about 1hr every day or roughly 360hr/yr give or take a few. I'm on the same page as his, learning the same song and techniques (at least according to his blog). My teacher and some good pianist I've known informed me that I can reach grade 8 in about 5-6 years. I know I'm slow so I'll go with 7 years. That is around 2500 hours. He's practicing around 6 hour per day or 2100 hours a year. It's very close so I think it's really doable goal.

Sorry, but no. There is this fad on the Internet to believe that everything is just a matter of the raw number of hours you practice but that is simply not the case. The brain also needs some time for all this to sink in and this is partly done during sleep. In 6 years you get almost 2200 nights of sleep while a year only gives you 365. But when you practice more intensively you should also have more lessons with your teacher so that you don't go off too much on your own without direction (everyone here agrees that this leads to disaster). Well, it so happens that one week is usually a convenient interval and for most people that means about 10-15 hours of self-practice between lessons. Maybe 20 if you're very ambitious. If you're doing 40 you should definitely check up with your teacher twice a week.

But all these theoretical calculations are misguided. What counts is the effect. I think you're doing yourself a disservice by cramming so much. From your videos your technique obviously needs some work and this will only get worse if you practice many hours without a teacher by your side correcting you. Your musicality also needs improvement. You shouldn't move on as soon as you master the notes of a piece. You should work it until you can really play it musically. If you want to go "faster" (in the sense of cramming in more material) you should do more pieces in parallel but keep them for longer rather than moving on from a piece after a week on it.
Posted By: MomOfBeginners Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 08:08 PM
Tonedeef,

I fully respect the skill of fly fishing. Sorry, I didn't mean for the question to sound demeaning. I know it takes years and years of practice and patience to hone the skill. I understand that the creation of the flies themselves is a great art.

I just always thought it was a skill that was passed down from generation to generation. Now that you explain it's the instructors who take exams, that makes sense.

Now fly-fishing - I bet you can't go from scratch to Grade 8 in one year, even if you're as talented as Leo-Bailey Yang.
Posted By: sonhnguyen Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 08:12 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by sonhnguyen
After comparing his progress to mine, I think he can do it. I've been studied for a year and practiced about 1hr every day or roughly 360hr/yr give or take a few. I'm on the same page as his, learning the same song and techniques (at least according to his blog). My teacher and some good pianist I've known informed me that I can reach grade 8 in about 5-6 years. I know I'm slow so I'll go with 7 years. That is around 2500 hours. He's practicing around 6 hour per day or 2100 hours a year. It's very close so I think it's really doable goal.

Sorry, but no. There is this fad on the Internet to believe that everything is just a matter of the raw number of hours you practice but that is simply not the case. The brain also needs some time for all this to sink in and this is partly done during sleep. In 6 years you get almost 2200 nights of sleep while a year only gives you 365. But when you practice more intensively you should also have more lessons with your teacher so that you don't go off too much on your own without direction (everyone here agrees that this leads to disaster). Well, it so happens that one week is usually a convenient interval and for most people that means about 10-15 hours of self-practice between lessons. Maybe 20 if you're very ambitious. If you're doing 40 you should definitely check up with your teacher twice a week.

But all these theoretical calculations are misguided. What counts is the effect. I think you're doing yourself a disservice by cramming so much. From your videos your technique obviously needs some work and this will only get worse if you practice many hours without a teacher by your side correcting you. Your musicality also needs improvement. You shouldn't move on as soon as you master the notes of a piece. You should work it until you can really play it musically. If you want to go "faster" (in the sense of cramming in more material) you should do more pieces in parallel but keep them for longer rather than moving on from a piece after a week on it.

Points well taken. But it's really interesting to see his result. So much to learn, smile
Posted By: Tonedeef Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/17/16 08:24 PM
Originally Posted by MomOfBeginners
Tonedeef,

I fully respect the skill of fly fishing. Sorry, I didn't mean for the question to sound demeaning. I know it takes years and years of practice and patience to hone the skill. I understand that the creation of the flies themselves is a great art.

I just always thought it was a skill that was passed down from generation to generation. Now that you explain it's the instructors who take exams, that makes sense.

Now fly-fishing - I bet you can't go from scratch to Grade 8 in one year, even if you're as talented as Leo-Bailey Yang.



There are a million zillion more important things in life than fly casting. With this in mind I would have to be a complete twit to take any offence from someone asking questions about it. As for demeaning? I never considered your question in any way demeaning. If you wish to learn and ever find yourself in the North West of England then please look me up and the tuition will be for free.
Posted By: Medved1 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/18/16 01:28 AM
This topic speaks to a goal of mine, which is to learn more efficiently (gets more and more important, when you're getting older and realizing that time is not infinite).

I have been reading the responses for a couple of days, and feeling some emotional responses to just about everything that has been said. At some point the critical thinking will have to kick in – but this is a hot topic for me, and, it seems, just about everyone.

I read some of the OP’s website, and let’s just say that I’m feeling a little jealous that he has such an interesting year ahead of him! I read it as a vote of confidence in the arts that he would pick the piano as the means to experience intense learning. Certainly there are some parts of the plan that seem more grounded than others, and perhaps part of the process he is after may require sorting out the parts of the plan that work and the parts that need further thinking. But it is all heart, and I admire it.

To be honest – I see the 1 year deadline as a bit of a red herring. It may or may not happen, but I think someone pointed out that if this process really works, and gives the OP the bigger result he is looking for – skills that transcend an academic education – the deadline, met or missed, won’t mean that much. It gives a bit of a thrill, I suppose. There may indeed be a built in conflict between the deadline and the OP’s comments on his website about what he’s trying to accomplish in terms of deep learning. But again, what’s a plan except something to revise!

I was interested to read the OP’s comments – I’m going to paraphrase here a bit – that this is a plan to learn “tangible” skills, contrasting that with whatever happens, or doesn’t happen, in higher education. I suppose I thought in those words when I was in my 20s also. 30 years on, I see those concepts merging. What I look for in a colleague or a new hire is the ability (and desire) to learn, the curiosity, the determination, the refusal to give up, the ability to change. I think you can practice those habits anywhere – at work, in academia, and certainly in piano – but I think of those less as skills and more as habits or tools that result from putting yourself in the way of lifelong learning, and can be applied anywhere.
Posted By: Morodiene Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 03/18/16 01:08 PM
I think it's fine to have goals, even if they are unrealistic as I believe this one is. But as long as the OP is willing to adjust his goals according to his actual progress.

Sometimes when setting goals in a new venture, we don't know enough to really know what's realistic and possible. I do this, and I think we all do - even if it's something like trying a piece that's way beyond your current capabilities.

The important thing is to not get frustrated or give up when it becomes clear that we won't reach it in time. Life happens, or we come to realize what is really entailed in the goal we seek. So at that time, you adjust your timetable based on your actual experience and not theoretical knowledge as when you started.

From watching the latest video available, I see there's a lot of tension in the playing. This is fine for what's being played now, but it is what is to be expected from someone who has only touched the piano for a few months. There is not a comfort level that comes with time. And "time" playing piano is not measured in hours, but consecutive days, weeks, and months.

I emphasize this because there is only so much learning that will occur in a day's time. If you are able to maximize that time with efficient practice, then that will be the best you can hope for. But that efficient practice must be done over a long period, weeks, months, years, because each day is built upon the previous day's work. Efficient practice does not necessarily mean more hours - even Chopin did not recommend his students practice for more than 3 hours:

Quote
Many pianists, already advanced, believe that it is necessary to play at least six to seven hours a day in order to achieve their goal; they are in error: I am able to assure them that a regular, daily, attentive study of at most three hours, is sufficient for this purpose; any practice beyond this, damps the spirits, produces a mechanical, rather than an expressive and impassioned style of playing, and is generally disadvantageous to the performer...


Note that in the above quote, he is referring to advanced students. The OP is not advanced, and so his music does not require the kind of detail work that an advanced piece of music that is 8 pages long requires. So all of this extra time he is spending is going to waste.

What can he be possibly be doing for all that time on pieces like the simplified version of The Entertainer, except for lots of repetition? Even 1 hour on a piece like that is too long. At some point long before those hours are completed learning has stopped. Any moment beyond that is gratuitous.
Posted By: JazzyMac Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/01/16 04:03 AM
Has anyone here checked out his blog lately? I have to say, while there is much to learn as far as technique, tone, feeling, etc., he has definitely come a long way in just over six months!
Posted By: f3r Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/01/16 05:06 AM
I have.

Morodiene pointed out the tension in his hands. By watching his last video you can see he hasn't fixed that yet and now he is apparently developing RSI. He does need rest but more importantly he must get rid of all that tension.
Posted By: fiver Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/02/16 04:38 AM
Yeah I wish the guy well but this seems like a recipe for injury if I've ever seen one. Simply taking a break is doubtfully enough. If and when the project is resumed if a more appropriate pace isn't taken he's at risk of permanent damage.
Posted By: Stubbie Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/02/16 02:25 PM
It's a noble endeavor to learn new things, to strive to achieve in an area at a high level. BUT...but here the original poster is, at the six month mark, flirting with being burned out mentally and injured. The goal--reach grade 8 proficiency--is fine, the timetable--one year--is more than ambitious, even when you have all day to practice. It's not a race and it's more than the hours per day.

Originally Posted by Morodiene
I think it's fine to have goals, even if they are unrealistic as I believe this one is. But as long as the OP is willing to adjust his goals according to his actual progress.

Sometimes when setting goals in a new venture, we don't know enough to really know what's realistic and possible. I do this, and I think we all do - even if it's something like trying a piece that's way beyond your current capabilities.

The important thing is to not get frustrated or give up when it becomes clear that we won't reach it in time. Life happens, or we come to realize what is really entailed in the goal we seek. So at that time, you adjust your timetable based on your actual experience and not theoretical knowledge as when you started.

From watching the latest video available, I see there's a lot of tension in the playing. This is fine for what's being played now, but it is what is to be expected from someone who has only touched the piano for a few months. There is not a comfort level that comes with time. And "time" playing piano is not measured in hours, but consecutive days, weeks, and months...........



Thomas, take the time off you need to let your hands heal and let your head recover from the grind. Then, head back to the piano and take it at it's own good time. Piano is for a lifetime. Don't neglect to let the joy in.
Posted By: WimPiano Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/07/16 03:49 PM
Nice to read about a fellow fly fishing pianist laugh
Although I do like the idea of being able to play Grade 8 pieces straight away I think that it's in a sense like fly fishing, love the journey and the time spend playing/fishing, not the goal.
Posted By: Medved1 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/07/16 04:33 PM
I just finished reading Thomas's updates on his blog - very honest self evaluation, and I salute it! Hang in there, the RSI will certainly get better with time off, and I think you are on the right path toward, as wimpiano just said, finding the enjoyment in the journey.

I wonder whether accelerated learning can co-exist with enjoyment. If acceleration means taking off the brakes, so the learner progresses at a natural speed rather than an artificially slow one, maybe so. Perhaps the test is whether the acceleration leads to more enjoyment or not. If yes, put on all speed and carry on. If not, find the right speed.

That might work, if put together with a good comment that someone made - could be on another thread, or could be on "The Musician's Way" - that appropriate challenges probably lead to growth, inappropriate challenges (ie, too hard too fast) may (don't have to, but the probability is high) lead to the development of bad habits, crutches, whatever you want to call it, in order to survive.

There may be a lesson there for most of education - we push the kids so hard, so early - and they may grow, or they may shut down thinking in order to struggle through the skills. I had a chance conversation the other day with a math student (college age, math major, who hated math in school but loved math competitions) who was surprised to hear that "back in my day" (early 70s) we learned multiplication tables in 5th grade rather than today's standard 2nd or 3rd. 45 years later, I truly don't think it hurt my math at all, and I get paid these days to do practical applied math (risk management) all day. Just different times, but different, not neccessarily better.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/07/16 05:29 PM
Originally Posted by Medved1
If acceleration means taking off the brakes, so the learner progresses at a natural speed rather than an artificially slow one, maybe so.

I thought accelerated learning means an artificially boosted one - i.e. push forward at all costs, regardless of consequences.....

Great if you're talking something that's totally mental, rather than physical - like learning a new language. The fastest way to learn a new language, as many language students will know, is to stay in the country where that language (and only that language) is spoken, and attend classes day & night. Speak, breathe, think and dream in that language.

Playing the piano is totally different......
Quote
There may be a lesson there for most of education - we push the kids so hard, so early - and they may grow, or they may shut down thinking in order to struggle through the skills. I had a chance conversation the other day with a math student (college age, math major, who hated math in school but loved math competitions) who was surprised to hear that "back in my day" (early 70s) we learned multiplication tables in 5th grade rather than today's standard 2nd or 3rd.

The reason why kids in some other parts of the world progress so much faster - especially in math - is because they are continually pushed. And all kids are expected to do their best, and teachers make sure everyone keeps up with everyone else.

BTW, the Chinese model of math education is about to be taken up in a certain Western country, in an effort to combat the deterioration of standards in math (kids of the same age are three years behind their Chinese counterparts).........
Go for it..if this brings you joy then it is half the fuel you will need ...look forward to reading your journey...
Posted By: Medved1 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/07/16 11:13 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Medved1]

Playing the piano is totally different......
Quote
There may be a lesson there for most of education - we push the kids so hard, so early - and they may grow, or they may shut down thinking in order to struggle through the skills. I had a chance conversation the other day with a math student (college age, math major, who hated math in school but loved math competitions) who was surprised to hear that "back in my day" (early 70s) we learned multiplication tables in 5th grade rather than today's standard 2nd or 3rd.

The reason why kids in some other parts of the world progress so much faster - especially in math - is because they are continually pushed. And all kids are expected to do their best, and teachers make sure everyone keeps up with everyone else.

BTW, the Chinese model of math education is about to be taken up in a certain Western country, in an effort to combat the deterioration of standards in math (kids of the same age are three years behind their Chinese counterparts).........


Very true. I am certainly not applauding the current US method of teaching math = what I have seen in my kids' text books is a lot of tricks, but not so much understanding.

Such a shame - what I remember from my long string of outstanding math teachers (had to grow up to realize how lucky I was) was always a sense of "you are ready to understand this, so I'm putting it in front of you now", and then a series of drills, explanations, and question/answer sessions that would lead the student to "getting it" and enjoying it. We were a little ahead - in middle school, there was a group of about 20 of us, in a class of around 150, who were just put into the next grade's math classes, and then, the last year in the school, we were brought together into a special class - but it wasn't off the charts stuff, and I actually don't think any of us thought of it in terms of "pushing", even though I suppose it was. The thing I remember was really enjoying the whole process of learning and using math, and that enjoyment has stayed with me. I wish my kids enjoyed math as much as I do - unfortunately, they got the pushing, but not the process of "let's understand this, and enjoy the process of figuring it out".

Trying to bring it back to piano (sorry - went way off on a tangent there), the process of setting challenges and meeting them has been really central to me sticking with lessons this time around. And here too, what has really helped is to have a teacher who thinks in terms of "what are you ready to tackle right now, and what should I put in front of you", which is a good antidote to my thoughts of "I have spent a month on this piece and it's not done yet", a bad habit I am trying to break.
Posted By: pmh Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/09/16 08:19 AM
Hi guys, I too applaud Thomascardings efforts but I also think he is too ambitious. I did zero to grade 5 in14 months and ended up practicing 4 to 5 hours per day whilst working full time. It became a horrible nightmare and totally shattered my motivation. I spent the next 10 years away from the piano which has been such a shame. I did pass the exam with a merit which wasn't bad I guess. I really hope Thomas is able to hold onto his enthusiasm for piano after this project is over and that he eventually succeeds with grade 8.
Posted By: sedgecumbe Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/09/16 08:57 AM
goodness... still a good effort zero -5 in 14 months....
Posted By: f3r Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/09/16 01:39 PM
Originally Posted by pmh
ended up practicing 4 to 5 hours per day whilst working full time.
How did you make it possible?
You did good but I wouldn't be happy without a Distinction and at least 140. That would mean that I really have passed the Grade, especially after working so hard.

I ended up like Thomas...

I think my teacher has pushed me too much and I decided to take on the challenge instead of realising it was too much of a risk, both physically and mentally. I was supposed to play at least 1 Chopin Nocturne in my 2nd year. eek
Posted By: pmh Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/09/16 02:24 PM
How did I do it? Basically getting up early and going to bed late 24/7😬 When I went for the exam I was petrified and the tension noted by Morodiene above was in full swing. The examiner was a woman younger than myself but to me she seemed like a fierce judgemental witch😱 The whole point of the grades is to build up skill, technique and musicianship slowly laying down solid foundations in theory and practice. In all these discussions I must say the tortoise and the hare come most readily to mind.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/09/16 03:35 PM
Originally Posted by pmh
The whole point of the grades is to build up skill, technique and musicianship slowly laying down solid foundations in theory and practice. In all these discussions I must say the tortoise and the hare come most readily to mind.

When I was a student (from age 10 to 20), I wasn't in a hurry. And none of my three teachers during the time when I was doing ABRSM grade exams were in a hurry either. It was simply one grade a year, with plenty of time to assimilate lots of repertoire in between.

None of them ever mentioned the possibility of skipping grades. They realised I was a mediocre student. Enthusiastic, but mediocre, and no talent to speak of cry . I absorbed a lot of classical music (while also dabbling in improvisation on pop tunes on the side, purely for my own amusement), including learning a lot of pieces by myself, which I never told my teachers about. I likened it to reading Enid Blyton and Capt. W. E. Johns under the bedclothes while also studying Charles Dickens and James Joyce with my English teacher grin.

Improvement was slow but steady. Suddenly, I woke up one morning to find that I could play pieces like Chopin's 'Revolutionary' Etude and 'Heroic' Polonaise properly (i.e. all the right notes in the right order at the right speed with the right expression - better than Eric Morecambe ever managed, I believe wink ). Mr Preview would have been amazed. Actually, my first two teachers would probably have been amazed too, that such an untalented kid ever managed to get beyond Grade 5, let alone a performance diploma.......

And I never got injured, or burnt out - in fact, my love for music and playing the piano grew and grew all those years, and to this day.
Posted By: Plowboy Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 08/12/16 03:00 PM
For those wondering what bennevis is talking about:
Posted By: alexii Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 06:16 PM
Hi! I was wondering if there are any updates on this rather ambitious project? I checked frequently earlier on this year, however, upon trying to follow the link just now, it appears the site no longer exists!
Posted By: pianoMom2006 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 07:40 PM
I think the person who tried this project burned out. I don't remember exactly their wording but the person did post in September and it seemed like the person was no longer going to try for Grade 8 in one year.
Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 08:15 PM
He got RSI then took a break but when he came back he didn't sound as motivated as he was at the beginning. The last posts I read he admitted that it wasn't such a good idea after all and he still wants to learn the piano but at a slower pace.
Posted By: dmd Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 09:31 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
He got RSI then took a break but when he came back he didn't sound as motivated as he was at the beginning. The last posts I read he admitted that it wasn't such a good idea after all and he still wants to learn the piano but at a slower pace.


What do you mean ... "when he came back". According to his profile page, he only posted on the 14th of March, 2016 between 10:33 in the morning until 2:08 in the afternoon.
Posted By: earlofmar Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 10:00 PM
What I could never understand was there were people here in the forum who thought it was even possible. There were many words of encouragement which left me thinking they may have secretly been hoping he would make it? We all love an underdog story, (Eddie the Eagle), someone defying the conventional wisdom. If it were only one grade 8 piece then that's another story but preparing for a grade 8 exam is incomprehensible.
Posted By: Utkonos Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 10:07 PM
This is the post people were mentioning above:

Quote
Posted on September 14, 2016

Hello all! Apologies that I’ve been out of touch for so long. I spent most of my summer away travelling and was away from a computer for much of the time and (more importantly for my project) away from a piano for all of it. I got back about a week ago and since then have moved house, so it’s only really this week that I’ve begun to get back to the piano. And, man – have I forgotten a lot! It was quite worrying at first as my fingers seemed completely lost on the keys and every other note was a mistake. Still, I guess that’s to be expected when you don’t play for two months. Thankfully it’s starting to come back to me, so I guess in a week or so I’ll be back to where I was.

I think the amount of time I’ve spent away was symptomatic of being a bit burnt-out with the project, so for this second half of the year I’m going to take things a bit easier on myself. Therefore, I’m planning to focus entirely on enjoying what I’m doing with the piano, rather than trying to push myself to take Grade 8 in January. I still intend to take Grade 8 in the future – but in my own time and in a manner that I’ll enjoy rather than the 40 hours a week slog that I was putting myself through. As such, this week I’ve started looking at a different piece – Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 which is one of my favourite pieces of music and was an unofficial goal for me to achieve at the start of this project. For anyone unfamiliar with this piece (you poor things) you can see a great rendition of it here. This is quite a way beyond where I currently am (particularly having gone backwards over the summer) but if I get there by Christmas I’ll be happy!

Posted By: Utkonos Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 10:09 PM
And the RSI one:

Quote
Posted on July 26, 2016

Unfortunately I’m still on a bit of a hiatus at the moment. I had started to ease myself back into my piano practice with a few hours last week, but my RSI came back quite quickly so obviously hasn’t properly healed yet. As such, I’m having to give myself a bit more time off (which is actually lovely given that the summer has finally arrived!). Whilst a bit frustrating, the timing is actually quite opportune – as I’m going to be away travelling for the majority of August (in fact, if you’re reading this blog in mainland Europe and wanted to meet me – then drop me an email, I might just be heading your way!), so the enforced time off will give my hand a prolonged period without playing which (fingers crossed) will be more than enough time for it to fully heal. The big lesson for anyone attempting a project similar to mine though is to back off as soon as you start to feel any pain. I was a bit too focused on trying to get my target hours done when it started, so I played on in spite of the pain – which has obviously made things worse. Oh well, lesson learnt.
Posted By: dmd Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 10:15 PM
Just curious ....

What happened to those postings ?

Posted By: Utkonos Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 10:27 PM
These are from his blog, rather than on the Piano World Forum. The blog seems to be down at the moment so I copied and pasted these from the cached version in case people are interested.

The blog is a good read and it includes (or included) video clips.
Posted By: dmd Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/26/16 11:02 PM
Originally Posted by Utkonos
These are from his blog, rather than on the Piano World Forum. The blog seems to be down at the moment so I copied and pasted these from the cached version in case people are interested.

The blog is a good read and it includes (or included) video clips.


It sounds like that RSI was possibly more serious than he thought.

That is definitely a lesson for beginners.

If something hurts when you play, STOP PLAYING.

It's too bad, if that is what happened.

Posted By: Tubbie0075 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/27/16 06:42 AM
I don't know how far you are into your plan for taking the ABRSM grade 8 piano exam, but have you pass the grade 5 theory?

ABRSM Grade 6-8 prerequisites

Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/27/16 11:39 AM
I don't think the OP is still reading this forum but I saw on his blog that he did pass the grade 5 theory. Anyway, the project has been abandoned since then (see the last few posts in this thread).
Posted By: Tubbie0075 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/27/16 08:34 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I don't think the OP is still reading this forum but I saw on his blog that he did pass the grade 5 theory. Anyway, the project has been abandoned since then (see the last few posts in this thread).


Ah... ok. I think it's too ambitious and may even be detrimental in the long term.

Posted By: Just Steven Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/28/16 01:01 PM
I have snake oil for sale. If you rub it on your fingers, you can play grade 8 materials instantly.
Posted By: sonhnguyen Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/28/16 03:53 PM
Originally Posted by Just Steven
I have snake oil for sale. If you rub it on your fingers, you can play grade 8 materials instantly.

I don't think that's a nice thing to say. He did not actually ask for a miracle or an instant way or magical way of achieving level 8. He knows it take a lot time, commitment that's why he practices for 8 hours or more per day, every day. I and many people actually admire him for that. The problem is his expectation is too high so he doesn't have enough time. That's all.

It's not like he comes here and ask "is there away to reach level 8 in a year with only practicing for an 1hr per week?". Just my 2 cents.
Posted By: Just Steven Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 01:48 AM
Originally Posted by sonhnguyen
Originally Posted by Just Steven
I have snake oil for sale. If you rub it on your fingers, you can play grade 8 materials instantly.

I don't think that's a nice thing to say. He did not actually ask for a miracle or an instant way or magical way of achieving level 8. He knows it take a lot time, commitment that's why he practices for 8 hours or more per day, every day. I and many people actually admire him for that. The problem is his expectation is too high so he doesn't have enough time. That's all.

It's not like he comes here and ask "is there away to reach level 8 in a year with only practicing for an 1hr per week?". Just my 2 cents.

If you don't believe in snake oil, what made you believe 8 hours a day could get him from ABRSM grade 1 to 8 in a year --plus or minus? He will lose his fingers before then.
Posted By: Medved1 Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 04:03 AM
I wouldn't wish RSI on my worst enemy, let alone on a guy who's giving it his all. Everyone here is giving it their all. That's what makes this forum such a great place.
Posted By: Just Steven Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 01:41 PM
Originally Posted by Medved1
let alone on a guy who's giving it his all.

Fiddlesticks!


Posted By: Morodiene Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 01:49 PM
Originally Posted by Medved1
I wouldn't wish RSI on my worst enemy, let alone on a guy who's giving it his all. Everyone here is giving it their all. That's what makes this forum such a great place.


Yes, it's a shame he didn't listen to those that advised him against his ambitious plan, but these are the results, sadly. Not only did he get RSI, but burn out as well.

Some of us have to learn lessons the hard way.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 02:22 PM
In none of his posts here did he ever express a love for music, nor for playing the piano.

It seems that the whole so-called project was just a challenge for him (like going on a one-way mission to Mars wink ) - to prove to himself (?) or to 'experts' that this is possible. Probably plus bragging rights.

Of course, almost anything is possible - but only if you have the talent and the passion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59k_VIngG4
Posted By: Morodiene Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 08:40 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
In none of his posts here did he ever express a love for music, nor for playing the piano.

It seems that the whole so-called project was just a challenge for him (like going on a one-way mission to Mars wink ) - to prove to himself (?) or to 'experts' that this is possible. Probably plus bragging rights.

Of course, almost anything is possible - but only if you have the talent and the passion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59k_VIngG4


That's in interesting observation...here's from his 2nd post:
Quote
I think it's such a shame when people think 'I'm too old to learn something new now, if only I'd done it as a child' - so part of me wants this project to prove that adults can learn new skills just as quickly as children can :-)

So we know at least part of his motivation. Thing is, most children don't go from grade 0 to 8 in a year, either. It's very, very rare that anyone can do this - child or adult.
Posted By: dmd Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 09:29 PM
Originally Posted by Morodiene
It's very, very rare that anyone can do this - child or adult.


Rare ?

Then, you are aware of someone that did it ?

Posted By: Morodiene Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 09:52 PM
Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by Morodiene
It's very, very rare that anyone can do this - child or adult.


Rare ?

Then, you are aware of someone that did it ?



Apparently that child in the video...it says they started piano at age 6 and they are age 7 doing Grade 8. wink
Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/29/16 09:59 PM
Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by Morodiene
It's very, very rare that anyone can do this - child or adult.


Rare ?

Then, you are aware of someone that did it ?


Didn't you see the video of Leo Bailey-Yang posted by bennevis above? He got his ABRSM Grade 8 with distinction after one year of playing the piano and is the youngest person ever to have achieved ATCL. Rare indeed.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 10:20 AM
I know this thread hasn't been active since forever, but for anyone who followed this back in the day, I know that there was a certain poster on a piano forum who started when he was 15 and studied with Josh Wright, got to grade 8 in a year, and later went on to study at a conservatory. Also, Josh Wright mentioned in a video that he had a couple of students who managed to learn Chopin etudes from scratch, in two years. He added, however, that it was indeed very rare to be able to do that.

I think many people here would be aware of bernmhard's posts. I believe he has said that many of his students get to the point where they are able to play grade 8 pieces in 2-3 years. I think it requires a certain kind of person to get there (which may in of itself be a gift), but it's eminently possible.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 10:59 AM
Originally Posted by ranjit
I think many people here would be aware of bernmhard's posts. I believe he has said that many of his students get to the point where they are able to play grade 8 pieces in 2-3 years. I think it requires a certain kind of person to get there (which may in of itself be a gift), but it's eminently possible.
I don't have a high regard of this bernmhard (who apparently cultivated a cult following in another forum), but basically, if you choose your students carefully, you can get great results in a short period of time.

Just like if you choose your parents carefully..... smirk

How did Team GB get so many medals in the London Olympics, following dismal showings in previous ones? After London snatched the 2012 prize (in 2005 - from Paris wink ), scouts were sent to schools to seek out highly motivated sports-mad children, get them to do tests of muscular power and endurance and coordination skills (with a specific regard to their body shape and height & weight), and many were persuaded to change their sports to ones that gave them the best chance of medalling/podiuming, based on their specific attributes. They were then given extensive training in the sport that was chosen for them. It worked. Within a few short years, kids who'd never done rowing, fencing, judo (etc) before became elite athletes in those sports.

That is nothing new - Eastern European countries and the USSR had been doing that (and more smirk ) for nearly a century, including for musicians..........
Posted By: earlofmar Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 11:06 AM
If you happen to be that ''special person'' of course anything is possible however, for the rest of us it isn't going to happen. Keep in mind the OP gave up are burning himself out as well as getting an RSI problem.

I don't understand the fascination with getting to grade 8 at warp speed anyway. What exactly is the point of that? It is not as if passing grade 8 is really a measure of greatness.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 11:28 AM
Also, I think that while the poster getting RSI was unfortunate, it could have been avoided if he paid heed to the advice of the forum members. Disregarding expert advice is a common trap beginners fall into all the time, as is reinventing the wheel. During my first six months of playing the piano, I was playing anywhere from 4-8 hours daily, without a teacher. However as far as I can tell, I did not develop any real bad habits. And this is because I was extremely cautious to the point of obsession about playing with proper technique from the get go, and was really hard on myself about it. This involved never leaning on the wrist, trying my best not to bottom out on the keys and depress them only as much as I had to, put in only the amount of force necessary.

I have also never felt tired while playing the piano, even when I was playing obsessively for the first few months. Many teachers speak about developing "endurance" on the piano. This is why I disagree -- I am quite confident that anyone can play piano without getting tired if only they knew how not to waste energy. Even beginners -- it's not rocket science, but you need to be really disciplined in that regard imo.

Just putting it out there -- for anyone else who wants to attempt the same kind of thing as the OP of this thread.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 11:38 AM
If I remember correctly, Bernhardt was teaching very young students who started off taking lessons five days per week. Did I misremember this?

As far as the teenager who later attended conservatory, he practiced 8-12 hours per day; developed an injury from the extended practice. During his senior year in college, he went through severe burnout where he didn’t know if he wanted to continue with piano. His words ‘he imploded’ and had to force every ounce of practice.

I, too, do not understand the fascination with this; new pianists reading this can develop feelings of inferiority when they can’t reach grade 8 in one year, or they do reach it and develop burnout or an injury.

So we resurrect this four yr old thread???
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 12:10 PM
Originally Posted by ranjit
During my first six months of playing the piano, I was playing anywhere from 4-8 hours daily, without a teacher. However as far as I can tell, I did not develop any real bad habits. And this is because I was extremely cautious to the point of obsession about playing with proper technique from the get go, and was really hard on myself about it. This involved never leaning on the wrist, trying my best not to bottom out on the keys and depress them only as much as I had to, put in only the amount of force necessary.
I don't think you could know if you were playing with proper technique or not without having a good teacher.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 03:54 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
If I remember correctly, Bernhardt was teaching very young students who started off taking lessons five days per week.
You're right -- I don't think he exclusively took on young students though.

Originally Posted by dogperson
As far as the teenager who later attended conservatory, he practiced 8-12 hours per day; developed an injury from the extended practice. During his senior year in college, he went through severe burnout where he didn’t know if he wanted to continue with piano. His words ‘he imploded’ and had to force every ounce of practice.
Sad to hear that, I hear he was a really nice guy. Still, we do have an actual example of someone who managed to get to a grade 8 standard in one year, which is in itself a pretty incredible feat. Also, I could think of keeping it up for a year or two and then move on to a less strenuous practice regimen. At least as to the question of whether it is possible for certain people under certain circumstances -- the answer seems to be yes. I mean if you had an example of someone who managed to get to the Olympics against all odds and then burned out hard, your conclusion wouldn't be to not aim for the Olympics! It would be that extraordinary feats such as these can have repercussions, and to beware of them.

Originally Posted by dogperson
I, too, do not understand the fascination with this; new pianists reading this can develop feelings of inferiority when they can’t reach grade 8 in one year, or they do reach it and develop burnout or an injury.

I don't think discussion of this kind is necessarily harming anyone -- after all, people are reading both replies for and against, and someone (me! :P) trying to attempt it would know of the possible consequences beforehand. And it is helping me form a picture of what is possible and what isn't.


Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[quote=ranjit]I don't think you could know if you were playing with proper technique or not without having a good teacher.
I am working with a teacher right now, as well asked several teachers online to comment on videos of my playing, and all of them have said that my technique is fine. There is always the possibility of something falling through the cracks, but that happens to people all the time even with teachers.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 05:33 PM
Ranjit
I believe it’s important to provide complete information: yes, the teenager reached grade 8 in one year but he practiced 8-12 hrs per day, had an excellent teacher and had an injury.

new students shouldn’t just hear the ‘rosy, sounds easy, let’s do it part’. ... but the entire story.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 05:50 PM
Originally Posted by ranjit
I am working with a teacher right now, as well asked several teachers online to comment on videos of my playing, and all of them have said that my technique is fine. There is always the possibility of something falling through the cracks, but that happens to people all the time even with teachers.
As you resurrected this old thread, and you believe that you've cracked the 'self-teaching' conundrum, why not do Grade 8 ABRSM (or RCM level 10, if you're in North America) yourself, and get an independent & objective assessment of your capabilities?

While I don't teach adults, I know a few who do, and they tell me they turn a blind eye to technical deficiencies and 'bad habits' in their adult students who aren't doing exams (a high percentage of whom tried self-teaching before realizing that they need a teacher), because they don't want to discourage them.

I'm not saying that your teacher does that, but as you keep telling us here in ABF (and in Pianist Corner) that if only we would do what you did, viz: I was extremely cautious to the point of obsession about playing with proper technique from the get go, and was really hard on myself about it. This involved never leaning on the wrist, trying my best not to bottom out on the keys and depress them only as much as I had to, put in only the amount of force necessary etc, we would all progress much faster with no adverse effects, and much more efficiently in our learning, the best way to prove to yourself - and us - that you've got what it takes is to pass the exam.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/03/20 06:17 PM
In any case i dont know of any adult that has a regular job that can spend effective 40 hours per week on the piano (to the 40 hours, one need to add rest time), except maybe those that dont sleep in the night. Spending 20 hours or 3 real hours per day would already be a challenge for most.

I think these type of challenges belong to the same category as those who decide suddenly that they wan to run a marathon with 3 months training and faster than ... (pick your time) or those fortunate ones that take the challenge to climb Mount Everest or whatever just to prove they can do it (but of course there are real climbers that also do that because they like it). I know a few people that did that and ended up with serious injuries.

All these are just personal challenges that dont bring much in terms of value or lessons for the poor adult struggling to learn piano while facing his every day life challenges.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/04/20 12:00 AM
Originally Posted by bennevis
I'm not saying that your teacher does that, but as you keep telling us here in ABF (and in Pianist Corner) that if only we would do what you did, viz: I was extremely cautious to the point of obsession about playing with proper technique from the get go, and was really hard on myself about it. This involved never leaning on the wrist, trying my best not to bottom out on the keys and depress them only as much as I had to, put in only the amount of force necessary etc, we would all progress much faster with no adverse effects
This piece of advice wasn't directed towards you, it was directed towards the kind of adult beginners who start out on their own with ambitious goals. I see that a vast majority of them have a rather lazy approach towards developing technique. It also only applies to grade levels which usually don't involve real technical challenges. If you want to play a chopin etude, sure, you'll have to think much more carefully about hand tension. But I find this to be something clearly doable in the initial stages, which is neglected all the time. It's not some miracle pill.
Posted By: peterws Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/04/20 09:54 AM
I just wonder; if this guy or anybody did gr8 in a year, what then? they'd pronbably go crazy from life's mediocracy . . .
Posted By: Greener Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/04/20 05:17 PM
Perhaps they could do it all again next year, but on Trumpet. laugh

By the time it takes most people to get to grade 8, you could have a full piece band.
Posted By: sinophilia Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 06:35 AM
Originally Posted by Sidokar
All these are just personal challenges that dont bring much in terms of value or lessons for the poor adult struggling to learn piano while facing his every day life challenges.

Amen!

I also wonder how can someone find 8 or even more hours a day to devote to a single task. It's not even fun anymore! Single-mindedness to the point of obsession is often behind great achievements, but while I can see the value of devoting one's life to physics or medicine, what's the point of just learning the piano quicker than others? And obviously, passing a grade 8 exam doesn't make an artist of somebody. It's still a life-long endeavour. I suspect that many of these overachievers just want to monetize their YouTube channel grin
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 09:01 AM
Originally Posted by sinophilia
I also wonder how can someone find 8 or even more hours a day to devote to a single task. It's not even fun anymore! Single-mindedness to the point of obsession is often behind great achievements, but while I can see the value of devoting one's life to physics or medicine, what's the point of just learning the piano quicker than others?
Playing scales for 8 hours a day doesn't really make sense. But supposing that the practice is spread out over a wide variety of tasks, then it makes sense. You could devote some time in a day for sight reading, practicing pieces, memorizing parts of pieces, ear training, transcribing, playing some popular music, improvising, technical exercises, critical listening and score reading, etc. It usually doesn't make much sense to do so at a beginner level, but experts can practice that long effectively for a few days. It's hard to think of it as a long term plan however -- that looks like a recipe for burnout.
Posted By: Stubbie Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 01:48 PM
Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by sinophilia
I also wonder how can someone find 8 or even more hours a day to devote to a single task. It's not even fun anymore! Single-mindedness to the point of obsession is often behind great achievements, but while I can see the value of devoting one's life to physics or medicine, what's the point of just learning the piano quicker than others?
Playing scales for 8 hours a day doesn't really make sense. But supposing that the practice is spread out over a wide variety of tasks, then it makes sense. You could devote some time in a day for sight reading, practicing pieces, memorizing parts of pieces, ear training, transcribing, playing some popular music, improvising, technical exercises, critical listening and score reading, etc. It usually doesn't make much sense to do so at a beginner level, but experts can practice that long effectively for a few days. It's hard to think of it as a long term plan however -- that looks like a recipe for burnout.
But for the beginner it would need to be long term (more than a few days--more like a year or two as in the OP's title for the thread). As a long term plan (which the beginner would need it to be) it requires that one has either someone else to support them, they have income from an inheritance, or they are retired and living off saved income. And someone else is doing all the daily living maintenance such as cooking, cleaning, child care, etc.

The expert, who could practice effectively for eight hours at a time, generally does not need to do so (except in an emergency or a case of bad planning smile ) and when they practice, they concentrate on only a few things--they don't need to work on all of those tasks a beginner needs to work on (practicing sight reading, ear training, transcribing, playing popular music, for example).
Posted By: keystring Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 02:14 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
I don't have a high regard of this bernhard (who apparently cultivated a cult following in another forum) .....
To have any kind of regard for a person, you first have to know that person, what they do or did, etc. I have a feeling that you have read what people have said about him. The "cult" thing is a turn-off, and a low impression from all that is understandable. I'd be the same. But none of that is the teacher. I'm lucky enough to have had a series of personal exchanges with him, and gained a high respect. What you read is not representative. You'd probably come away with respect too. One reason he stepped away was seeing the impossibility of transmitting in forums what must be carefully taught in regular personal lessons. A distortion happens.

Originally Posted by dongperson
If I remember correctly, Bernhardt was teaching very young students who started off taking lessons five days per week. Did I misremember this?

I do remember something in that forum, when I first looked him up due to all the references, talking about the ideal of daily teaching. It does make sense, since esp. at the beginning stage habits are formed in each practice session, so that the next lesson consists in part of undoing what got formed wrongly - it would go much faster if there was daily supervision. Indeed, if you read Czerny's "letters to a young lady", this young aristocrat only practised under the daily supervision of her tutor - that's how it was done once upon a time.

He did not only have young students. He shared with me a book he compiled for a student who was at the onset of senility, so that he had trouble remembering, and so put together the book as a memnonic. This would have been quite an elderly student.

While on this tangent: When a teacher teaches, he reaches into his grabbag of all his knowledge and experience, to teach the student in front of him, whom he has been teaching for months and years - so he knows where this student is, in this moment, within that timeline. A dozen things may go into what is taught in this or that instant, and they all work together. As he explained it: in putting this in writing in a forum, the teacher has to dismantle this package, lay it out dissembled - the student must know to reassemble it as a whole - not to take things literally or as separate instructions, otherwise there is a problem. That is what happened, and why what is written, and the cult thing too, becomes "not representative".
Posted By: keystring Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 03:07 PM
Fwiw, I'm not a fan of "grade 8 from scratch in 1 (or 2) years". When I started my first ever lessons, I was basically put on that kind of path, and was ill at ease by the time I was congratulated when I was passed on to yet another grade, still in my first year. At one point my unease was too great, I said I felt I was missing something, and my perplexed teacher went back at my request, and we skimmed through even faster. Later when I finally knew enough about music learning (though still not much) he had said "One can learn to play even grade 8 material primitively." With an instrument that was highly difficult technically, together with a badly made instrument, this led to collapse. Otherwise it might just have led to crude playing. After all, when I was a self-taught child I played material which later on I found out was "advanced" - don't ask how I played it, though - with rushed abandon probably.

I do agree with Ranjit about ways of practising, on one's own (or even with a teacher), with the degree of care etc. he sets out. We have a lot of good resources - which can be weeded out from the plethora of bad ones - to work with. In fact, had these things been available then, I might not have fallen into the hole that I fell into while under that kind of instruction. It's not a matter of producing pieces at ever higher grade level labels, but learning to play, with all the skills and knowledge attached to that.
It's probably worth to remember that there are neurological limits of what can be learned in one day. If you reach that limit, all the time after it will be spent in vain. Unfortunately it seems that no scientific research concerning these limits in relation to piano exists, so we don't know how to calculate the amount of time exactly, but if I had a choice of working a little less, knowing that all my practice is efficient, versus working more and probably wasting time, I would definitely choose to work less.

If you feel significant regress compared to the end of your previous practice day, it usually means that you spent too much time on it the previous day, more than necessary, and you exceeded the limit.

That said, I've never met recommendation for beginners or intermediate students, even for those aspiring for a professional career, to play more than 3 hours a day. I think it may be considered the maximum at those stages. Most teachers also recommend to split daily practice into several sessions and to end each session as soon as student starts to loose focus, so the optimum practice time may vary.

It concerns other piano-related activities as well, I'm sure that spending more than 20-25 minutes a day on ear training is not efficient, and spending more than 30-40 minutes a day on theory is also not efficient.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 05:01 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I'm sure that spending more than 20-25 minutes a day on ear training is not efficient, and spending more than 30-40 minutes a day on theory is also not efficient.
I've noticed that many adult students seem obsessed by spending lots of time on theory, as if it will automatically improve one's piano playing. Well, it doesn't. whistle

As for ear training, I also can't understand why anyone would want to sit at a computer and listen to random noises generated by a computer. Simply - listen lots, and with intent. By that, I mean that if you decide to listen to a pop song, discern the notes in relation to the scale - use the solfege do-re-mi system with moveable 'do', and thereby know what the notes are in the scale (N.B. it doesn't matter what key the song is in - you need to be able to - and should - know, which is the tonic note of the song, and sing it aloud.) From there, you will know the intervals between the notes of the melody of that song. And then, play the melody on the piano by ear - in C major, if you wish. (That was what I did as a kid - play all pop songs by ear in C major, or A minor if in a minor key. I never counted that as 'practice time'.)

Going a step further - from melody and intervals to harmony - listen intently to the chords. Common chord progressions are common in all music, and every budding musician should be able to recognize them whenever they occur, in any context. Therefore, every time you listen to a simple song (of course I exclude the likes of Berg et al smirk ), try to hear the harmony being used. From there, you can go on to harmonize tunes yourself.

And so on.

And all of that without taking a minute away from actual, proper practicing on the piano.
Posted By: Greener Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/06/20 05:42 PM
It's not a race ...

I went back to servicing Swimming Pools of all things, when I first came to a new town a couple of years ago. I remembered from my College years that I quite enjoyed it at the time. The money wasn't great but on a beautiful day it was like Nirvana.

That was quickly all stripped away though, as the younger Gent. I was working with was all about efficiency and getting home an hour earlier for the day.

So, to shave off some time, he was always on my back, completely took anything I liked about the job away. I soon hated it ... and I am outta here.

To me efficiency, isn't always worth it.

I like that line from the Chevy Chase movie ... I think it's European Vacation. He gets pulled over for speeding and the Policeman in his broken English says ... "Where's da fire?"
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 08:56 AM
Originally Posted by Stubbie
But for the beginner it would need to be long term (more than a few days--more like a year or two as in the OP's title for the thread). As a long term plan (which the beginner would need it to be) it requires that one has either someone else to support them, they have income from an inheritance, or they are retired and living off saved income.
I think 4-6 hours a day with a few break days thrown in is possible, and a talented student with that level of dedication will probably get to grade 8 in 1-2 years if s/he really wants to. I've seen a few examples of such people on forums.

Originally Posted by keystring
Fwiw, I'm not a fan of "grade 8 from scratch in 1 (or 2) years". When I started my first ever lessons, I was basically put on that kind of path, and was ill at ease by the time I was congratulated when I was passed on to yet another grade, still in my first year. At one point my unease was too great, I said I felt I was missing something, and my perplexed teacher went back at my request, and we skimmed through even faster.
Honestly, I feel like doing multiple grade exams a year is pointless. You only actually have to give grade 5 and grade 8 ABRSM. I would imagine that someone on that kind of path would just give those two exams, and be done with it. In my experience, I didn't really care about grades -- I just picked pieces which I thought might be achievable, and saw if I could manage them. The grade system is a kind of bottom-up approach. There are other ways to go about it imo. I think the way it usually works is by achieving a higher level of "understanding" quicker. So, if you're learning scales, you don't think -- okay, grade 1 scales are C major and G major, at 60 bpm. Instead, you learn all of them at once, and try to get the hand motions perfect. Once you do that, you can probably play the scales in a bunch of different configurations at 100 bpm -- it's not about the speed, it's the fact that you have *got it*. So you take the same amount of time, but learn the concept to a much deeper level.

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
It's probably worth to remember that there are neurological limits of what can be learned in one day. If you reach that limit, all the time after it will be spent in vain. Unfortunately it seems that no scientific research concerning these limits in relation to piano exists, so we don't know how to calculate the amount of time exactly, but if I had a choice of working a little less, knowing that all my practice is efficient, versus working more and probably wasting time, I would definitely choose to work less.
I just wanted to point out that this is basically conjecture. Yes, it is trivially true that there will be some kind of upper bound on the amount that can be learned in one day. But there is no real way to figure out what that limit is, and I can wager that there isn't a consensus even among neuroscientists as to what that is. So, your argument regarding the optimal amount of time it takes to do something in a day has nothing to do with science per se, it is purely from your experience, and highly debatable.

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
If you feel significant regress compared to the end of your previous practice day, it usually means that you spent too much time on it the previous day, more than necessary, and you exceeded the limit.
I think regress has to do more with the quality of practice than the actual time spent. Basically, when you're practicing, you want to get it right as much as possible, for which you need to be focused. There was a study on conservatory students where they asked them to learn a snippet of music and play it the next day. The amount of time spent didn't really matter that much. However, they found that the relative number of times when they played it correct, and certain practice strategies basically accounted for most of the difference.

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
It concerns other piano-related activities as well, I'm sure that spending more than 20-25 minutes a day on ear training is not efficient, and spending more than 30-40 minutes a day on theory is also not efficient.
Ear training maybe, but I have always found that I prefer to work on theory for a solid block of several hours. The idea is basically to understand it once, and get it right. (What exactly do you mean by working on theory?) Also, I think that you can work on transcription for a longer time (I'm sure professional transcribers as well as many jazz musicians spend hours a day listening to recordings and figuring them out), and that can also be considered a form of ear training.
Posted By: sinophilia Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 01:15 PM
Originally Posted by ranjit
Playing scales for 8 hours a day doesn't really make sense. But supposing that the practice is spread out over a wide variety of tasks, then it makes sense. You could devote some time in a day for sight reading, practicing pieces, memorizing parts of pieces, ear training, transcribing, playing some popular music, improvising, technical exercises, critical listening and score reading, etc. It usually doesn't make much sense to do so at a beginner level, but experts can practice that long effectively for a few days. It's hard to think of it as a long term plan however -- that looks like a recipe for burnout.

What I meant was - how can someone find 8 hours a day for piano practice?!? Adults have jobs, families, friends, pets, houses to tend to, hobbies... But to be honest, even if I didn't need to work for a living or I didn't have to care about family, cats, garden etc. I would choose to do many different things with my time, play the piano, yes, but also read, write, travel, workout, learn new languages, and why not, just have fun! Time goes by very quickly, you know. I'm 45 and sometimes I'm not completely sure how that happened.
Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
It's probably worth to remember that there are neurological limits of what can be learned in one day. If you reach that limit, all the time after it will be spent in vain. Unfortunately it seems that no scientific research concerning these limits in relation to piano exists, so we don't know how to calculate the amount of time exactly, but if I had a choice of working a little less, knowing that all my practice is efficient, versus working more and probably wasting time, I would definitely choose to work less.
I just wanted to point out that this is basically conjecture. Yes, it is trivially true that there will be some kind of upper bound on the amount that can be learned in one day. But there is no real way to figure out what that limit is, and I can wager that there isn't a consensus even among neuroscientists as to what that is. So, your argument regarding the optimal amount of time it takes to do something in a day has nothing to do with science per se, it is purely from your experience, and highly debatable.

ranjit, I'm sorry to say it, but your answer is completely uneducated. Learning to play the piano is a form of motor learning, and motor learning has been one of the focus points of science in recent decades. It's true that most of research is devoted to sports and rehabilitation and not to piano playing, but the amount of literature is big and growing, and it includes papers which focus on the best ways of exercising, the optimal amount of exercising per day and the degree of skill retention the next day. This degree of skill retention can be easily measured, and it determines the limit of what can be learned in one day using a chosen exercise regimen. It's not just a speculation, it's a thing that both neuroscience and pedagogy deal with. And if you wonder about the reasons behind these daily limits, you may also google for neuroscience of sleep and the role of sleep in consolidation of skills and memories.
You said you're good at self-education, please, do your homework. wink

Originally Posted by ranjit
What exactly do you mean by working on theory?
I mean training of theoretical elements recognition in music. Just like motor learning and ear training, this kind of training has a limit on the next day skill retention and requires sleep.


To imagine a limit properly you may think of practicing a scale. Suppose today you start at speed X and by practicing it very hard and very long you reach speed X+3n, but when you start to play it tomorrow you can only play it at speed X+1n. This regression shows that some work was done excessively.

On the other hand, sometimes there is a situation when you reach only X+1n speed on one day and on the next day you reach, say, X+1.5n speed right at the start. I guess we all know this wonderful feeling. It shows that the amount of practice the day before was optimum.
Posted By: Stubbie Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 02:37 PM
Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Stubbie
But for the beginner it would need to be long term (more than a few days--more like a year or two as in the OP's title for the thread). As a long term plan (which the beginner would need it to be) it requires that one has either someone else to support them, they have income from an inheritance, or they are retired and living off saved income.
I think 4-6 hours a day with a few break days thrown in is possible, and a talented student with that level of dedication will probably get to grade 8 in 1-2 years if s/he really wants to. I've seen a few examples of such people on forums.
You have conveniently elided over how your beginner is going to support "4-6 hours a day" for 1-2 years. Who earns the income to pay the rent? Who does the laundry and prepares meals and cleans up afterwards?

If you are writing purely hypothetically (or conjecturing), then go ahead--conjecture away.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 02:45 PM
I would like to see one example where a talented beginner has done this in 4-6 hrs per day. One example provided early was of a teenager who later majored in music. What was initially omitted in the post was he practiced 8- 12 hrs per day and had an excellent teacher.

Essential components of examples should not be omitted.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 10:48 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
ranjit, I'm sorry to say it, but your answer is completely uneducated. Learning to play the piano is a form of motor learning, and motor learning has been one of the focus points of science in recent decades. It's true that most of research is devoted to sports and rehabilitation and not to piano playing, but the amount of literature is big and growing, and it includes papers which focus on the best ways of exercising, the optimal amount of exercising per day and the degree of skill retention the next day. This degree of skill retention can be easily measured, and it determines the limit of what can be learned in one day using a chosen exercise regimen. It's not just a speculation, it's a thing that both neuroscience and pedagogy deal with.
Could you link specific papers? As it stands, it's not clear whatever research you've read applies to the piano. Again, I never denied that sleep consolidates memory, and there is a limited amount of information you can theoretically learn in a given time frame (this much is obvious), but your claims regarding what that limit is in a day are borne out of experience, and not neuroscience.

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
And if you wonder about the reasons behind these daily limits, you may also google for neuroscience of sleep and the role of sleep in consolidation of skills and memories.
You said you're good at self-education, please, do your homework. wink
Of course I am well aware of the role sleep plays in memory consolidation. My point is that it's not clear what the optimal amount of practicing is or whetehr your intuitive feeling that you're "done for the day" means that you've hit your theoretical limit for learning for that day. So the time durations you quote are purely subjective.

Originally Posted by ranjit
What exactly do you mean by working on theory?
I mean training of theoretical elements recognition in music. Just like motor learning and ear training, this kind of training has a limit on the next day skill retention and requires sleep.
[/quote]
Do you mean stuff like knowing subdominant, dominant functions, etc. and being able to spot them in context? I'm not really sure about that, from my personal experience, one extended session works quite well if you need to understand and apply a bunch of rules. You just need them committed to memory in a sense. Maybe I'm just weird that way, but I've found extended sessions to work very well with learning any kind of music theory (or pretty much any kind of theory in general). This is because after a while you get into a state of focus or immersion which allows you to make connections and see the "bigger picture". With a small session, you are limited to seeing only a small portion of the whole, and that limits your ability to grasp the concept as a whole, which speeds up the learning process.

Originally Posted by Stubbie
[quote=ranjit][quote=Stubbie]
You have conveniently elided over how your beginner is going to support "4-6 hours a day" for 1-2 years. Who earns the income to pay the rent? Who does the laundry and prepares meals and cleans up afterwards?
This situation happens a lot when a beginner starts late in high school/early on in college or takes a gap year somewhere, say, before applying to a conservatory program. I'm at home right now (WFH), and I do often practice for that amount of time. Office work is over by 6 or so, and I often practice from 9pm-2am or something similar. So the hours are there, it's a question of whether it's actually possible to use them. Still figuring that one out myself! :P


Originally Posted by dogperson
I would like to see one example where a talented beginner has done this in 4-6 hrs per day. One example provided early was of a teenager who later majored in music. What was initially omitted in the post was he practiced 8- 12 hrs per day and had an excellent teacher.

Essential components of examples should not be omitted.
Yes, I agree with you that having an actual example of someone would be great; however, no one comes to mind at the moment. I also gave a time frame of 1-2 years, not 1 year. Given the fact that practicing 8-12 hours in a day is probably inefficient (though it's very hard to say in a particular case), it may be possible to achieve the same amount of improvement in 4-6 hours (admittedly, conjecture on my part, but not without basis: I'm drawing from studies which try and find the point of diminishing returns). Also, since the guy got there with 8-12 hours daily practice over one year, it makes sense that 4-6 hours over two years should do the trick! smile
Posted By: ranjit Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 10:48 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
ranjit, I'm sorry to say it, but your answer is completely uneducated. Learning to play the piano is a form of motor learning, and motor learning has been one of the focus points of science in recent decades. It's true that most of research is devoted to sports and rehabilitation and not to piano playing, but the amount of literature is big and growing, and it includes papers which focus on the best ways of exercising, the optimal amount of exercising per day and the degree of skill retention the next day. This degree of skill retention can be easily measured, and it determines the limit of what can be learned in one day using a chosen exercise regimen. It's not just a speculation, it's a thing that both neuroscience and pedagogy deal with.
Could you link specific papers? As it stands, it's not clear whatever research you've read applies to the piano. Again, I never denied that sleep consolidates memory, and there is a limited amount of information you can theoretically learn in a given time frame (this much is obvious), but your claims regarding what that limit is in a day are borne out of experience, and not neuroscience.

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
And if you wonder about the reasons behind these daily limits, you may also google for neuroscience of sleep and the role of sleep in consolidation of skills and memories.
You said you're good at self-education, please, do your homework. wink
Of course I am well aware of the role sleep plays in memory consolidation. My point is that it's not clear what the optimal amount of practicing is or whetehr your intuitive feeling that you're "done for the day" means that you've hit your theoretical limit for learning for that day. So the time durations you quote are purely subjective.

Originally Posted by ranjit
What exactly do you mean by working on theory?
I mean training of theoretical elements recognition in music. Just like motor learning and ear training, this kind of training has a limit on the next day skill retention and requires sleep.
[/quote]
Do you mean stuff like knowing subdominant, dominant functions, etc. and being able to spot them in context? I'm not really sure about that, from my personal experience, one extended session works quite well if you need to understand and apply a bunch of rules. You just need them committed to memory in a sense. Maybe I'm just weird that way, but I've found extended sessions to work very well with learning any kind of music theory (or pretty much any kind of theory in general). This is because after a while you get into a state of focus or immersion which allows you to make connections and see the "bigger picture". With a small session, you are limited to seeing only a small portion of the whole, and that limits your ability to grasp the concept as a whole, which speeds up the learning process.

Originally Posted by Stubbie
[quote=ranjit][quote=Stubbie]
You have conveniently elided over how your beginner is going to support "4-6 hours a day" for 1-2 years. Who earns the income to pay the rent? Who does the laundry and prepares meals and cleans up afterwards?
This situation happens a lot when a beginner starts late in high school/early on in college or takes a gap year somewhere, say, before applying to a conservatory program. I'm at home right now (WFH), and I do often practice for that amount of time. Office work is over by 6 or so, and I often practice from 9pm-2am or something similar. So the hours are there, it's a question of whether it's actually possible to use them. Still figuring that one out myself! :P


Originally Posted by dogperson
I would like to see one example where a talented beginner has done this in 4-6 hrs per day. One example provided early was of a teenager who later majored in music. What was initially omitted in the post was he practiced 8- 12 hrs per day and had an excellent teacher.

Essential components of examples should not be omitted.
Yes, I agree with you that having an actual example of someone would be great; however, no one comes to mind at the moment. I also gave a time frame of 1-2 years, not 1 year. Given the fact that practicing 8-12 hours in a day is probably inefficient (though it's very hard to say in a particular case), it may be possible to achieve the same amount of improvement in 4-6 hours (admittedly, conjecture on my part, but not without basis: I'm drawing from studies which try and find the point of diminishing returns). Also, since the guy got there with 8-12 hours daily practice over one year, it makes sense that 4-6 hours over two years should do the trick! smile
Posted By: keystring Re: Grade 8 from scratch in one year - 10/07/20 11:01 PM
Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
ranjit, I'm sorry to say it, but your answer is completely uneducated. Learning to play the piano is a form of motor learning, and motor learning has been one of the focus points of science in recent decades. It's true that most of research is devoted to sports and rehabilitation and not to piano playing, but the amount of literature is big and growing, and it includes papers which focus on the best ways of exercising, the optimal amount of exercising per day and the degree of skill retention the next day. This degree of skill retention can be easily measured, and it determines the limit of what can be learned in one day using a chosen exercise regimen. It's not just a speculation, it's a thing that both neuroscience and pedagogy deal with.
Could you link specific papers? As it stands, it's not clear whatever research you've read applies to the piano. Again, I never denied that sleep consolidates memory, and there is a limited amount of information you can theoretically learn in a given time frame (this much is obvious), but your claims regarding what that limit is in a day are borne out of experience, and not neuroscience.
I'll cut to the chase. I will go by what teachers who work with students, with extensive experience, one-on-one say. I'll even go with what teachers, who have considered research material, and who have also worked (etc., as above). I'll go with what people learning to play an instrument can report. But I will not go on papers that are published somewhere, and where the abstract things become extrapolated into ideas of what probably works - or that tests subjects through trials put together by researchers who have not worked for years with students - who may not be musicians, etc. Not that alone, in any case.

In case this is in any way in the picture; I will not take one set of ideas over the others because of credentials or titles that the writer may have. Some of the most expert (in the true sense) people are ones who are utterly unknown, because they are too busy making things work. I want to hear from anyone, and about what anybody has done.

Thinking about this part here
Originally Posted by Iaroslav
This degree of skill retention can be easily measured.
Some years ago in this forum a teacher who created teaching materially that was being used nationally and internationally, corrected me on a wrong supposition. It involved programs like ABRSM, RCM, etc. but goes beyond it --- namely that these are centered around measurable things, but that many elements of music are immeasurable and those miss the mark. Likewise if you are going to do studies that get published with results, you can ONLY go for measurable things. It means what is subtle or immeasurable will not be part of this "set of knowledge". The scientific studies may give us information - some information - but not all information - and they are also not proof that other things may not be true or may not exist.

Ranjit - sending a PM.
Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
ranjit, I'm sorry to say it, but your answer is completely uneducated. Learning to play the piano is a form of motor learning, and motor learning has been one of the focus points of science in recent decades. It's true that most of research is devoted to sports and rehabilitation and not to piano playing, but the amount of literature is big and growing, and it includes papers which focus on the best ways of exercising, the optimal amount of exercising per day and the degree of skill retention the next day. This degree of skill retention can be easily measured, and it determines the limit of what can be learned in one day using a chosen exercise regimen. It's not just a speculation, it's a thing that both neuroscience and pedagogy deal with.
Could you link specific papers? As it stands, it's not clear whatever research you've read applies to the piano. Again, I never denied that sleep consolidates memory, and there is a limited amount of information you can theoretically learn in a given time frame (this much is obvious), but your claims regarding what that limit is in a day are borne out of experience, and not neuroscience.
When you said that it's just my conjecture and it has nothing to do with science per se you quoted only the first paragraph of my post, the paragraph without any numbers. It made me think that you are questioning the theoretical basis. Possibly I have misunderstood you.

The numbers - yes, they are from my subjective experience, I thought it was clear from my post.

*No, sorry, I'm not going to search for papers now.

Originally Posted by ranjit
Do you mean stuff like knowing subdominant, dominant functions, etc. and being able to spot them in context? I'm not really sure about that, from my personal experience, one extended session works quite well if you need to understand and apply a bunch of rules. You just need them committed to memory in a sense. Maybe I'm just weird that way, but I've found extended sessions to work very well with learning any kind of music theory (or pretty much any kind of theory in general). This is because after a while you get into a state of focus or immersion which allows you to make connections and see the "bigger picture". With a small session, you are limited to seeing only a small portion of the whole, and that limits your ability to grasp the concept as a whole, which speeds up the learning process.
I was talking about doing music theory exercises. I think I touched that subject recently somewhere. It's not the initial skill acquisition phase like understanding what a dominant function is, but a substantially longer skill "automation" phase when you learn to identify it instantly in music. You may google for music theory exercises to understand better what I mean.

You're right that understanding of some concept may take more time, actually as much as it needs until it's understood, and there is no need to limit this time, except when the mental focus is lost, what I mentioned earlier.
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Iaroslav
This degree of skill retention can be easily measured.
Some years ago in this forum a teacher who created teaching materially that was being used nationally and internationally, corrected me on a wrong supposition. It involved programs like ABRSM, RCM, etc. but goes beyond it --- namely that these are centered around measurable things, but that many elements of music are immeasurable and those miss the mark. Likewise if you are going to do studies that get published with results, you can ONLY go for measurable things. It means what is subtle or immeasurable will not be part of this "set of knowledge". The scientific studies may give us information - some information - but not all information - and they are also not proof that other things may not be true or may not exist.
Yes, I fully agree. Science can only operate on clean-cut things, the art is beyond science in that sense.
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