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Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal?

Posted By: Donn

Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/13/19 08:00 PM

In order to enter a course in roughly two years time I need to achieve Grade 8.

My mother is a piano teacher so I've been playing quite casually all my life but I've only recently began to start focusing heavily on piano. In terms of performance, I can learn pieces around grade six within a few weeks and it takes me around a month to learn most pieces above that however I'm incredibly new to all other aspects of the exam and theory in general. I'm confident in my technical ability and I'm prepared to put a lot of time into this but I'd like to get any opinions on how achievable this is or what I should focus on.

It's not the end of the world if not.
Posted By: Cheshire Chris

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/13/19 08:07 PM

If your mother is a piano teacher, she presumably prepares students for the grade 8 exam and is by far the best person to advise you. She knows your abilities far better than we do. What’s her opinion?
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/13/19 08:21 PM

Good point. If you’re a solid 6, you could probably get through 8 in a year with a lot of work and practice. Make sure it’s focused and efficient practice.


Funny, when I saw the thread title, I thought it was someone starting from scratch trying to complete grade eight in one year. I thought, oh great, here we go again!
Posted By: EPW

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/13/19 08:29 PM

Or your mom should be able to advise on another teacher friend she knows to evaluate you.
I think you would have a chance if you are at a solid 6. But you might be at a disadvantage compared to other students that are a solid 8-9 level taking the course.
Posted By: BruceD

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/13/19 11:45 PM

Originally Posted by Donn
In order to enter a course in roughly two years time I need to achieve Grade 8.

My mother is a piano teacher so I've been playing quite casually all my life but I've only recently began to start focusing heavily on piano. In terms of performance, I can learn pieces around grade six within a few weeks and it takes me around a month to learn most pieces above that however I'm incredibly new to all other aspects of the exam and theory in general. I'm confident in my technical ability and I'm prepared to put a lot of time into this but I'd like to get any opinions on how achievable this is or what I should focus on.

It's not the end of the world if not.


There are some points here to which the answer might be: "It depends."

You write that you can learn grade six pieces within a few weeks, but the question is: "How well do you learn them?" Are they up to performance level. Would they be up to examination level and performed more or less flawlessly?

What other piano exams have you sat for? What is your experience performing under the stress of an examination? Unlike RCM (Toronto) ABRSM Grade 8 does not require that pieces be memorized nor are extra points given for memorization.

Putting a lot of time into all aspects of the examination may be enough but examination pieces should really be ready a couple of months before the examination so that you have time to live with them and really make them your own. All that said, Grade 8 ABRSM is not an examination that seems to have extremely high performance standards, and while the pieces are not technically that demanding they do represent a considerable step up from those required for the Grade 6 examination.

Make sure that you achieve at least the minimum tempo requirements for the technical tests (Scales and arpeggios).

How are your sight-reading skills? The requirements for Grade 8 don't seem to be that daunting.

So, all told; it depends, and what does Mom say?

Regards,
Posted By: Whizbang

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/14/19 06:48 AM

Originally Posted by Donn
In order to enter a course in roughly two years time I need to achieve Grade 8.


Can you elaborate on the course and why you are interested in it?
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/14/19 12:16 PM

Are you currently taking lessons? If not, you need to start now. By your own assessment you are confident in your technical abilities and you can learn Gr 6 pieces in a few weeks. But a teacher may have a different opinion. Do not try to do this without a teacher, and it may be best to study with someone other than Mom - many colleagues of mine have fellow teachers teach their children because having the parent in a supporting role is best for many kids.

Also, as the child of a teacher, it may be easy to set aside your lessons when things are busy for her paying students. It happens and I'm not judging, but if you are paying someone else, you will remain a priority.
Posted By: fatar760

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/14/19 12:25 PM

Personally, I'd gauge how ready you are based on whether you can comfortably sight-reading at that level and how well you can perform the scale/technical studies aspect of the exam.

It sounds like quite a work load and you'd have to be very careful that the sudden increase in the amount your playing, along with the new technical demands of the pieces, don't lead you to developing an injury from over-use.
Posted By: chopin_r_us

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/14/19 04:28 PM

If you haven't got grade 5 theory then go for Trinity. Don't see a problem otherwise.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/14/19 04:34 PM

Grade 8 ABRSM is not all that difficult, and yet people do struggle with it. The actual performance level is not that high in terms of the pieces, but you have to be secure in all of your scale work, arpeggios, and that takes a bit of time to learn if you're not used to doing it all the time. I know some may say scales are just the same pattern over and over, and to an extent that's true, but you'll be amazed at how easy it is to mess them up.

You also have to have solid aural, and a good theoretical knowledge. You'll want to know something about the pieces you're playing as well, it all helps.

So, can you do it in 2 years? Yes probably. The thing is you don't have to be that good to get a distinction at Grade 8 so it's not really a seal of quality, but you will have to work pretty hard just to get all the work done for it.

Of course it depends on what else you're doing in your life, how busy is your timetable? You'll need a good two hours per day to practise for this, and the practice will have to be of fairly consistent and good quality.
Posted By: Mosotti

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 04:27 AM

I don’t think it’s possible unless you get lucky.
Posted By: Cheshire Chris

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 06:41 AM

Why do you say that? If the OP is comfortable with grade 6 pieces, going to grade 8 in two years seems very achievable to me. An advancement of one grade a year is pretty average.
Posted By: Wayne2467

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 11:27 AM

it’s only three pieces per grade isn’t it. So sounds achievable to me from what the OP has posted about themself
Posted By: Mosotti

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 12:06 PM

Well, let's wish him luck and wait for an update smile
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 01:55 PM

Originally Posted by joe80
Grade 8 ABRSM is not all that difficult, and yet people do struggle with it. The actual performance level is not that high in terms of the pieces...


This comment really piqued my interest. I won't disagree, as I could see Grade 8 pieces being considered relatively easy from a certain point of view.

But it makes me wonder: what sort of repertoire are you playing? If you're playing Gaspard three times every morning before breakfast, then Grade 8 is peanuts, but for most amateur pianists Grade 8 is fairly ambitious.

Quote
The thing is you don't have to be that good to get a distinction at Grade 8 ...


I sincerely hope that's the case! I'm sitting Grade 8 on the 24th of this month, a little more than a week.

Quote
You'll need a good two hours per day to practise for this, and the practice will have to be of fairly consistent and good quality.


100% agree. I'm putting in about two hours a day, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering family.
Posted By: ShyPianist

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 02:05 PM

Originally Posted by joe80
Grade 8 ABRSM is not all that difficult, and yet people do struggle with it. The actual performance level is not that high in terms of the pieces, but you have to be secure in all of your scale work, arpeggios, and that takes a bit of time to learn if you're not used to doing it all the time. I know some may say scales are just the same pattern over and over, and to an extent that's true, but you'll be amazed at how easy it is to mess them up.

You also have to have solid aural, and a good theoretical knowledge. You'll want to know something about the pieces you're playing as well, it all helps.

So, can you do it in 2 years? Yes probably. The thing is you don't have to be that good to get a distinction at Grade 8 so it's not really a seal of quality, but you will have to work pretty hard just to get all the work done for it.

Of course it depends on what else you're doing in your life, how busy is your timetable? You'll need a good two hours per day to practise for this, and the practice will have to be of fairly consistent and good quality.


I think this is a case of it's easy when you know how and you've done it. If you're a concert pianist then Grade 8 is obviously "not that difficult". If you're just starting with Grade 8 standard pieces then it's pretty difficult. Same as A level maths is "not that difficult" for a university maths professor. As for a distinction at Grade 8 not really being a seal of quality, well why does anyone bother working for anything in that case?

OP, it sounds eminently doable to me, but you will know much better when you start tackling some of the Grade 8 repertoire. Good luck :-)
Posted By: Mosotti

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 04:08 PM

Just wondering, since you say it’s not a big deal, has anyone here got or knows someone who got level 8 with distinction in 2 years? And I not even talking about complete beginner, let’s say from grade 5. He also needs grade 5 in music theory to take grade 8 directly.
Posted By: ShyPianist

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 04:27 PM

Originally Posted by Mosotti
Just wondering, since you say it’s not a big deal, has anyone here got or knows someone who got level 8 with distinction in 2 years? And I not even talking about complete beginner, let’s say from grade 5. He also needs grade 5 in music theory to take grade 8 directly.


Well I for one was countering the idea that it's not a big deal, but suggested that if he is playing Grade 6 standard pieces now then Grade 8 within two years sounds very doable. However you make a good point about theory. Still Grade 5 theory is not exactly rocket science so assuming the OP reads music fine then I also think that's doable. Hard work, but doable.
Posted By: Michael P Walsh

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 06:58 PM

Originally Posted by Mosotti
Just wondering, since you say it’s not a big deal, has anyone here got or knows someone who got level 8 with distinction in 2 years? And I not even talking about complete beginner, let’s say from grade 5. He also needs grade 5 in music theory to take grade 8 directly.


I think one of the pianists who used to post on here got to grade 8 in frighteningly quick time. Never say never, there's always someone in the world achieving things that are hard to believe. As for grade 5 to grade 8, I expect that's hardly unheard of. Not saying it's easy or even common, not at all.
Posted By: Donn

Re: Is ABRSM Grade 8 in a year and a half an achievable goal? - 05/15/19 07:41 PM

Thanks for all the insightful responses.

To answer a few questions, I am currently taking lessons fairly regularly and the fact that I have access to a piano almost all of the time means that I'm quite easily getting over two hours of practise each day.

In terms of my ability, I'm familiar with performing music for a crowd (though mostly in a band) and I've taken a couple flute exams before so I'd say I'm familiar with the general layout and pressure of the exam. My main issue is my sight reading and sight singing which both still feel very raw.

How long it takes for my pieces to get up to performance standards varies but I'd say a month is probably a fair assessment. Though, I've got into the habit of learning new pieces while working on those I've learnt - unsure of whether that's a good idea but my teacher hasn't said anything yet.

As for what my mum says, she thinks it's definitely achievable. She thinks my piece playing skill is a lot higher than the rest and she's confident that I could pass the Grade 5 theory without too much trouble. My scales and aural she thinks aren't bad considering I've never approached them before, she's mainly worried about the amount of content I have to catch up on.

Thanks again.
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