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Looking at Beethoven Bagatelle's for example.

I learnt 119.4 a bit more than a year ago without any issues and Henle has it down as medium 4.

I feel like i can't even contemplate Für Elise and that I've got at least a few years to go before I should attempt it. Yet Henle rates it as easy 3.

Henle has overestimated the difficulty of 119.4 and underestimated the difficulty of Für Elise from my perspective.

I'm currently learning 119.1 and it feels harder than 119.4 but not massively so, it also is at level medium 4 on Henle. I could see these two belonging at the same level with 119.1 at the harder end and 119.4 at the easier end within the one level.

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I played the 119.1 for GCSE exam at school. I played the fur elise at the same time. I really think they are the same difficulty as each other. Both about Grade 6. I think if you can find the ABRSM grades for the pieces it may be helpful for you. Once you have gone beyond the graded system then something like Henle is more helpful as it grades pieces post Grade 8 well.

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The end of the 119.1 is quite difficult. As is the articulation. The Fur Elise has a faster second section but I dont think its as hard as you think. I am sure you can do it. Good luck.

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I agree that Fur Elise seems harder than 119/4 and even 119/1. But remember that any rating system like Henle is rating probably tens of thousands of pieces so that there may be what appear to be errors. It could even be a clerical error. Or there might be some reasonable reason that the person rating pieces had that's not so obvious.

This book might be more helpful since I think it's emphasis is more on pieces non professional often play:https://www.amazon.com/Pianists-Standard-Teaching-Performance-Literature/dp/0882846558/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2B4CRJXAFYWFO&dchild=1&keywords=guide+to+the+pianists+repertoire&qid=1617709013&sprefix=guide+to+the+pian%2Caps%2C144&sr=8-3

There's also a website somewhere that lists ratings for pieces from multiple sources for each piece so you can get a more rounded view of a piece's difficulty. I don't remember that site but I'm sure someone will post it. It would be interesting to see if some of the other rating systems agree with Henle or agree with your opinion.

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I recently learned nos. 9 and 10 from opus 119, and in my opinion Für Elise is much harder than those (no. 9 is Henle level 4, and no. 10 is Henle level 3). Generally speaking, I think Für Elise should at least be considered level 4.

Originally Posted by KevinM
I feel like i can't even contemplate Für Elise and that I've got at least a few years to go before I should attempt it.

I think you are rating its difficulty too highly; with the stuff you've been doing, you should be able to tackle it right now.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
This book might be more helpful since I think it's emphasis is more on pieces non professional often play:https://www.amazon.com/Pianists-Standard-Teaching-Performance-Literature/dp/0882846558/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2B4CRJXAFYWFO&dchild=1&keywords=guide+to+the+pianists+repertoire&qid=1617709013&sprefix=guide+to+the+pian%2Caps%2C144&sr=8-3
You beat me to it! 👍😂 This is a very good book, I use it often.

Für Elise and 119/1 are both a level 7 in the book.


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Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
I recently learned nos. 9 and 10 from opus 119, and in my opinion Für Elise is much harder than those (no. 9 is Henle level 4, and no. 10 is Henle level 3). Generally speaking, I think Für Elise should at least be considered level 4.

Originally Posted by KevinM
I feel like i can't even contemplate Für Elise and that I've got at least a few years to go before I should attempt it.

I think you are rating its difficulty too highly; with the stuff you've been doing, you should be able to tackle it right now.
119/9 is a level 6 in PGSTPL. She doesn’t say what 119/10 is.


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Originally Posted by KevinM
Looking at Beethoven Bagatelle's for example.

I learnt 119.4 a bit more than a year ago without any issues and Henle has it down as medium 4.

I feel like i can't even contemplate Für Elise and that I've got at least a few years to go before I should attempt it. Yet Henle rates it as easy 3.

Henle has overestimated the difficulty of 119.4 and underestimated the difficulty of Für Elise from my perspective.
Henle's grading system is indeed useless, not just because of its inconsistencies (which sometimes makes me think that they use a formula like: 'how many notes are there in each bar?' taking no account of the time signature, tempo and the technical skill required to play the actual notes) but also because at lower levels they are too close together to be of any use for beginner to late-intermediate students.

There used to an accurate grading system by Pearson (correlating to ABRSM/Trinity/AMEB grades) for several hundred piano pieces commonly played by students that I've linked a few times in the past, which was used by state schools in the UK for their music exams, but since the Covid revamp last year, it has been removed. The nearest equivalent I've found is for RCM grades 1-10, which looks reasonably accurate:

https://old.reddit.com/r/piano/comments/g5zurm/rcm_syllabus_grade_68_list_of_pieces_available_on/


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All grading systems are broken if you take them too seriously. You can grade things based on certain technical criteria (I remember doing this as an exercise in college for my pedagogy degree, yuk), but what can't be graded is the desire to learn a piece, for example. Take a student who would struggle with a piece, then move on to a more technically difficult piece that they found much easier, simply because they liked it more.

Even with myself, there are pieces I can play at the Diploma level no problem, but I really struggle with some that are only Grade 6 or 8, for example.


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Don't be guided too rigorously by "grades" of pieces; grading systems can vary widely, even be inconsistent even within themselves. With so much of the standard repertoire available for free on such sites as IMSLP and others, read through pieces that you may be interested in and decide for yourself whether a piece is within your grasp or not. Ignore the grade number that some editor may have applied to the piece.

Regards,


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They're just guidelines.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Don't be guided too rigorously by "grades" of pieces; grading systems can vary widely, even be inconsistent even within themselves. With so much of the standard repertoire available for free on such sites as IMSLP and others, read through pieces that you may be interested in and decide for yourself whether a piece is within your grasp or not. Ignore the grade number that some editor may have applied to the piece.

Regards,
Very good advice.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Don't be guided too rigorously by "grades" of pieces; grading systems can vary widely, even be inconsistent even within themselves. With so much of the standard repertoire available for free on such sites as IMSLP and others, read through pieces that you may be interested in and decide for yourself whether a piece is within your grasp or not. Ignore the grade number that some editor may have applied to the piece.
Regards,

I agree, and I think exactly how badly wrong Henle seems to get it is exactly why this is correct.

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Für Elise is a rather simple piece. A single voice only or single voice with a simple accompaniment. No technical challenges except speed, no wide spans, rather simple harmonically (that's why it became a smash hit) very easy to interpret. That's why it's rated on the upper end of "easy" (grades 1-3).

Opus 119 combines multiple voices in one hand and asks for good control of voicing, has larger chords, trills lasting over multiple measure etc. pp. That's it's rated "medium" (grades 4-6).


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Pianosyllabus.com lists the ‘grades’ provided by all exam boards. Yes, there is some inconsistency between the grades, but it is a very useful tool.

IMHO The problem I see with Henle is the system smashes the lower grading together—-because there is not much interest on that site with easier Music. They lean more toward more difficult repertoire.


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Originally Posted by JoeT
Für Elise is a rather simple piece. A single voice only or single voice with a simple accompaniment. No technical challenges except speed, no wide spans, rather simple harmonically (that's why it became a smash hit) very easy to interpret. That's why it's rated on the upper end of "easy" (grades 1-3).

Opus 119 combines multiple voices in one hand and asks for good control of voicing, has larger chords, trills lasting over multiple measure etc. pp. That's it's rated "medium" (grades 4-6).

The 2 episodes are definitely much more difficult than the main theme. There is a speed factor but also articulation is not so simple. That is why in the RCM syllabus, the 119/1 and Fur Elise are both categorized as level 7 out of 10. And 119/4 is definitely simplier than both of them and way shorter.

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The only way to make good use of the Henle system is to regard it as three very large bins: easy, medium, and hard. I wouldn't want to get much more 'granular' than that.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Pianosyllabus.com lists the ‘grades’ provided by all exam boards. Yes, there is some inconsistency between the grades, but it is a very useful tool.

.

totally agree, probably my go to site.


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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Originally Posted by dogperson
Pianosyllabus.com lists the ‘grades’ provided by all exam boards. Yes, there is some inconsistency between the grades, but it is a very useful tool.

.

totally agree, probably my go to site.
That's the one I use. I like their normalized rating where they convert the several grading systems to a single scale (from 1 to 10).

The site seems to have been upgraded at some point in the last year. They now offer a version of crowd-sourcing a rating, where they ask for input by users. I don't know how or even if they use that input--maybe if a large number of people thing a rating is too high or low, they'd somehow incorporate that into the normalized rating.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by KevinM
Looking at Beethoven Bagatelle's for example.

I learnt 119.4 a bit more than a year ago without any issues and Henle has it down as medium 4.

I feel like i can't even contemplate Für Elise and that I've got at least a few years to go before I should attempt it. Yet Henle rates it as easy 3.

Henle has overestimated the difficulty of 119.4 and underestimated the difficulty of Für Elise from my perspective.
Henle's grading system is indeed useless, not just because of its inconsistencies (which sometimes makes me think that they use a formula like: 'how many notes are there in each bar?' taking no account of the time signature, tempo and the technical skill required to play the actual notes) but also because at lower levels they are too close together to be of any use for beginner to late-intermediate students.

There used to an accurate grading system by Pearson (correlating to ABRSM/Trinity/AMEB grades) for several hundred piano pieces commonly played by students that I've linked a few times in the past, which was used by state schools in the UK for their music exams, but since the Covid revamp last year, it has been removed. The nearest equivalent I've found is for RCM grades 1-10, which looks reasonably accurate:

https://old.reddit.com/r/piano/comments/g5zurm/rcm_syllabus_grade_68_list_of_pieces_available_on/

I found the Edexcel booklet here:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.chsg.org.uk/_files/subjects/music/Summer%2520Work/GCSE-AS-and-A-level-Music-Difficulty-Levels-Booklet.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiQ0vig0OvvAhVYg_0HHfV0Ce4QFjAAegQIAxAC&usg=AOvVaw2FvzEHDT3OcNclXIYEAzlO

It's very useful.

Sorry, don't know how to do the link thingy!

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