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#3163168 10/10/21 03:31 PM
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I just recently came across the RCM piano syllabus (2015 edition, which is the latest). Apart from satisfying the usual curiosity of difficulty grading for certain (well-known) pieces, the syllabus is also quite extensive and covers so many composers I've never even heard of. At the end it sort of has an egalitarian effect, in that Krebs is on an equal footing with Bach, Cimarosa with Beethoven, Reger with Chopin, and Beach with Debussy! But I thought the most interesting piece was the piece titled 'Disco-Visit', which one of the etude selections for Level 8 (on par with Bach Inventions and Beethoven Op. 49 for the Baroque and Classical selections).



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If you're interested in the gradings of lots of pieces that students commonly learn for exams, here's one used in the UK for piano students doing state exams in music, for which they have to play pieces of a required grade. Obviously the grades here correspond to ABRSM/Trinity, not RCM.

To convert ABRSM grades to RCM levels, multiply by 1.25 (or multiply by 5 then divide by 4):
http://www.chsg.org.uk/_files/subje...evel-Music-Difficulty-Levels-Booklet.pdf


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Originally Posted by bennevis
If you're interested in the gradings of lots of pieces that students commonly learn for exams, here's one used in the UK for piano students doing state exams in music, for which they have to play pieces of a required grade. Obviously the grades here correspond to ABRSM/Trinity, not RCM.

To convert ABRSM grades to RCM levels, multiply by 1.25 (or multiply by 5 then divide by 4):
http://www.chsg.org.uk/_files/subje...evel-Music-Difficulty-Levels-Booklet.pdf

Thank you for the link to the ABRSM grades. I have to say that I find some of the rankings completely at odds with my own (meagre) experiences. Debussy's "La fille aux cheveux de lin" is ranked 9, whereas "Dr Gradus ad Parnassum" is ranked 8. I have played the former without all that much issue, but the latter seems frighteningly more difficult than the prelude, and I haven't dared try it out yet. Also, Brahms's waltz opus 39, 15 is ranked a mere 6, but for me that piece was far more difficult to handle than the Debussy prelude. And Grieg's "Puck" is ranked 7, two levels below the Debussy, but in my experience insanely much more difficult to play.

I suppose that like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, difficulty is in the hands of the beholder.


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Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
Thank you for the link to the ABRSM grades. I have to say that I find some of the rankings completely at odds with my own (meagre) experiences. Debussy's "La fille aux cheveux de lin" is ranked 9, whereas "Dr Gradus ad Parnassum" is ranked 8. I have played the former without all that much issue, but the latter seems frighteningly more difficult than the prelude, and I haven't dared try it out yet. Also, Brahms's waltz opus 39, 15 is ranked a mere 6, but for me that piece was far more difficult to handle than the Debussy prelude. And Grieg's "Puck" is ranked 7, two levels below the Debussy, but in my experience insanely much more difficult to play.
The ABRSM grades for pieces take into account not just the digital dexterity and the technical skills required but also voicing and musical difficulties, which is probably why La fille is given what seems like a disproportionately high grade: the melodic line and its phrasing must be clear and maintained all the way through, no matter what's going on beneath, otherwise the piece loses its focus.

Whereas Dr Gradus has a constantly moving RH part using a lot of the 'weak fingers', but is otherwise straightforward, and if you consider that a Grade 8 student is playing one-handed scales in thirds and the WTC, it's really not that difficult in comparison. The Brahms Op.39/15 is again much easier & straightforward to voice than La fille.

The Grieg Puck looks tricky but it's basically a one-trick pony: even the sequence of chords is straightforward to master once you realize that only the upper notes change, therefore you keep your hand in the same position. Also, don't forget that each grade corresponds to a year of lessons for the average student, meaning that a student who is tackling Puck has been learning from a teacher for seven years, gradually building up dexterity as well as speed. Not to mention seven years of scales & arpeggios.


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It is interesting that the ABRSM/Trinity syllabus includes a Fugue by Pachelbel and a Chorale Prelude by Zachau, as both are composers often ignored by pianists.

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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
I just recently came across the RCM piano syllabus (2015 edition, which is the latest).

Somehow, it just never occured to me to use this syllabus as a source of inspiration for pieces at my level that I may like to play. Thank you cygnusdei!


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Thank you for the link to the syllabus. The rankings are quite interesting, and often at odds with my own experience. Level 10 is where things get really interesting. Some of the things in that level seem easy to me (e.g., Debussy "Danseuses de Delphes"), but others are very difficult (e.g., Brahms Op. 118 #4). Same thing in the ARCT level: the Chopin D flat Nocturne is pretty doable (with some tricky frilly bits), but the Brahms Op. 119 #4 (which I'm working on now) is a real bear. I think these differences are due to my dexterity and speed not being so great. I imagine most pianists are going to have their own individual strengths and weaknesses that will make these rankings seem not quite right all the time.


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Wow, that's disappointing. Nothing I have played in the last 5 years is on that list.


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Originally Posted by gooddog
Wow, that's disappointing. Nothing I have played in the last 5 years is on that list.

The good things is, lots of new pieces at your level to chose from to play during the next 5 years. thumb


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Level 10 is where things get really interesting. Some of the things in that level seem easy to me (e.g., Debussy "Danseuses de Delphes"), but others are very difficult (e.g., Brahms Op. 118 #4). Same thing in the ARCT level: the Chopin D flat Nocturne is pretty doable (with some tricky frilly bits), but the Brahms Op. 119 #4 (which I'm working on now) is a real bear.
There is a substantial range of difficulty in Level 10, with it topping out at difficult virtuoso pieces (Chopin Gm and Fm Ballades, Bach Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue, Franck Prelude, Chorale, and Fugue as some examples).

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Originally Posted by bennevis
If you're interested in the gradings of lots of pieces that students commonly learn for exams, here's one used in the UK for piano students doing state exams in music, for which they have to play pieces of a required grade. Obviously the grades here correspond to ABRSM/Trinity, not RCM.

To convert ABRSM grades to RCM levels, multiply by 1.25 (or multiply by 5 then divide by 4):
http://www.chsg.org.uk/_files/subje...evel-Music-Difficulty-Levels-Booklet.pdf

Interesting that the syllabus includes some works by Baroque and Roccoco composer Louis-Claude Daquin, who is most known as an organist. His harpsichord work Le Coucou (The Cuckoo) is on the syllabus, and is especially fun on piano for how the piano renders the cuckoo bird call in the cadenza:


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Here is Le Coucou on harpsichord:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Louis-Claude_Daquin_Le_Coucou.ogg

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Interesting that the syllabus includes some works by Baroque and Roccoco composer Louis-Claude Daquin, who is most known as an organist. His harpsichord work Le Coucou (The Cuckoo) is on the syllabus, and is especially fun on piano for how the piano renders the cuckoo bird call in the cadenza:

Didn't know this piece before today. I LOVE IT!


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It is the 1st movement of Daquin's 3rd harpsichord suite. There is a clear influence of Francois Couperin in not having all movements in a collection/suite using dance forms, using descriptive titles, and use of the French Rondeau form:

https://ks4.imslp.info/files/imglnk...s-claude_daquin_-_pieces_de_clavecin.pdf

Daquin was a child prodigy and virtuoso of the organ and harpsichord.

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Originally Posted by Mark Alexander
Thank you for the link to the syllabus. The rankings are quite interesting, and often at odds with my own experience. Level 10 is where things get really interesting. Some of the things in that level seem easy to me (e.g., Debussy "Danseuses de Delphes"), but others are very difficult (e.g., Brahms Op. 118 #4). Same thing in the ARCT level: the Chopin D flat Nocturne is pretty doable (with some tricky frilly bits), but the Brahms Op. 119 #4 (which I'm working on now) is a real bear. I think these differences are due to my dexterity and speed not being so great. I imagine most pianists are going to have their own individual strengths and weaknesses that will make these rankings seem not quite right all the time.
It seems that you shouldn't attempt Mozart Sonata K. 331 (Alla Turca) unless you're at ARCT level! wow


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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
It seems that you shouldn't attempt Mozart Sonata K. 331 (Alla Turca) unless you're at ARCT level! wow
I don't think that is how the syllabus should be interpreted. It is simply a list of pieces to choose from for the purposes of examinations. For levels up to level 10 there are time constraints that make it impractical to choose some repertoire and many pieces that could be played by students have been left out because of this (for instance K 265 is nowhere in the syllabus). The sonatas at level 10 are all either short or they let students play only some movements. For example, for Beethoven op. 2 no. 1 you can choose to play either movements 1 and 2 or movements 3 and 4 as these are roughly equal. Mozart K. 331 on the other hand is very unbalanced, with the first movement taking most of the time and effort and even by itself it would be too long for a level 10 exam.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by cygnusdei
It seems that you shouldn't attempt Mozart Sonata K. 331 (Alla Turca) unless you're at ARCT level! wow
I don't think that is how the syllabus should be interpreted. It is simply a list of pieces to choose from for the purposes of examinations. For levels up to level 10 there are time constraints that make it impractical to choose some repertoire and many pieces that could be played by students have been left out because of this (for instance K 265 is nowhere in the syllabus). The sonatas at level 10 are all either short or they let students play only some movements. For example, for Beethoven op. 2 no. 1 you can choose to play either movements 1 and 2 or movements 3 and 4 as these are roughly equal. Mozart K. 331 on the other hand is very unbalanced, with the first movement taking most of the time and effort and even by itself it would be too long for a level 10 exam.

Just FYI: other syllabus rate it as a 7


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I don't think that is how the syllabus should be interpreted. It is simply a list of pieces to choose from for the purposes of examinations. For levels up to level 10 there are time constraints that make it impractical to choose some repertoire and many pieces that could be played by students have been left out because of this (for instance K 265 is nowhere in the syllabus). The sonatas at level 10 are all either short or they let students play only some movements. For example, for Beethoven op. 2 no. 1 you can choose to play either movements 1 and 2 or movements 3 and 4 as these are roughly equal. Mozart K. 331 on the other hand is very unbalanced, with the first movement taking most of the time and effort and even by itself it would be too long for a level 10 exam.

Wow, that's interesting - I didn't realize that time constraints figured in the repertoire selections (15, 30, and 60 minutes for levels 9, 10, and ARCT respectively - but no mention of time constraints for levels 1-8 presumably by virtue of the repertoire itself). I thought these were like typical exams where the jury would just tell you to stop when they've heard enough (for sonatas the recapitulation usually gets the axe, and other movements as they see fit).


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Yes, exam syllabus is often a good place to look for new (and less popular) works to be explored & learned!

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Thanks for posting the link to the ABRSM syllabus. That is a handy document well worth the reading.

But I was surprised to see an error in the composers list for the jazz piece "Take Five".

I take it they are using the E minor version complete with the "middle eight" rather than the simplified G minor version with no middle eight? In my experience both versions always have the correct composer on the top right hand corner.

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