Grade 5 piano nightmare!

(51 Posts)
Suki2 Tue 27-Nov-12 06:04:04

DS is aged 10, in year 6 at school, and is currently working towards grade 5 piano. His history is that he did grade 1 and got a distinction in May year 4. His teacher advised that he skip grade 2, so he went on to grade 3 the following year, ie May of year 5 and got a distinction.

We then moved areas, so got a new teacher, and, as he's such a fast learner, I said he'd be looking at skipping grade 4. So, he started the new pieces in grade 5, and the nightmare started! I had no idea the jump was so big between grades. He's coping well with the pieces , but so many scales to learn! I'm trying to teach him bit by bit; his teacher is good at teaching the pieces but does not seem to teach him the scales.

His teacher intends him to do grade 5 in May, but I'm wondering if November would be better. Problem then of course is that's such a long time to spend on this pieces. I'm sure he'd pass grade 5 in May, but he's used to getting a good mark! How long do people normally spend on grade 5? Is a year between grade 3 and grade 5 long enough or not? It's difficult to judge how he'll be in May.

Please help; I don't have the experience to know if I'm giving him too much to deal with. He practises for about 40 minutes a night.

NaturallyGullible Tue 27-Nov-12 06:42:35

What's the rush? Is he trying to get a music scholarship at an independent school?

From your OP, and the timescales, it seems all he does are the exam pieces. DS is grade 8, and has skipped some grades, but played music for pleasure at the grades he skipped IYSWIM. For instance, is your DS learning Christmas music now, or any modern classics?

It seems a very pressured way to learn, with all the emphasis on passing exams and getting distinctions.

3b1g Tue 27-Nov-12 07:21:12

I failed Grade 5 piano the first time I took it, so I'm probably not the best person to give advice on this, but I would say to go for the time that clashes with the fewest GCSE exams/assessments.

3b1g Tue 27-Nov-12 07:23:02

Sorry, just read the post properly and noticed that he's aged 10, not Y10. In that case, go for whatever is easiest for him and keeps him enjoying the piano.

incogneetow Tue 27-Nov-12 07:23:20

Break down the scales and do a few at a time. Does he play the scales well?

It does seem like a lot of haste to me, though. Has he done theory? If not, why not drop the pieces for now, work on the grade 5 scales and aural and get the theory out of the way. Then prep for the exam - with new pieces if necessary - when he's more ready.)

(ds2 did grade 2 in Summer (2011) then grade 4 in Easter 2012 - distinctions for both. But we - together with the teacher - decided for him to have a term off AB completely and just do some fun jazz/improv work and master the scales. As it happens he is actually ready for his exam now, but can't do it as we got the new syllabus! So, we're looking for a centre that will do a very early entry in the new year.

What I'm saying is, yes gr3 -> gr5 in a year is a big jump.)

Limelight Tue 27-Nov-12 07:24:58

That sounds very pressured. He doesn't need to do it in May OR November if he's not ready for it. I agree with whoever above said he should be playing for fun too (Christmas songs on repeat. Poss not so fun actually... grin)

Has he done his grade 5 theory?

mummysmellsofsick Tue 27-Nov-12 08:00:33

I'm a mus teacher. The exams are constructed so that an student of average ability who works fairly consistently can get from one grade to the next in approx 1 year. So a very gifted student who does say 1 hour + per day might well get on faster. However there are 'sticking points' here and there, for example on some instruments one needs a stretch or strength in the hands that just comes as they get older and shouldn't be hurried. It's MUCH better in the long term not to rush through the grades and to learn as many extra pieces from outside the syllabus as possible, to perform in concerts, to work on musicianship skills and sight reading, play with other musicians etc.

mummysmellsofsick Tue 27-Nov-12 08:26:17

As for 'playing for fun' I try to aim for a balance of fun, seasonal, technical, exam, non exam, pieces of different genres. If they do it 'just for fun' they often don't progress, and being stuck is ultimately not fun, and if they learn jut for exams they often end up bored

MrsMellowDrummer Tue 27-Nov-12 08:37:57

My son has done similar with the horn. He tends to do a grade every 2 terms, or has at times skipped one altogether. He's now 10, and ready for grade 6.
There's no point playing the same pieces for terms and terms, once you're ready. Could your son aim for May, but maybe start a different selection of pieces for it? That way he'd still be learning new things, and keeping it fresh.

Also with scales - we make a scales pot. Write all the scales/arpeggios/excercises (whatever it is he has to do) on slips of paper. Put in one pot. Pull out one at random - if he can do it with no probs it goes into a second pot. If not, back into the first. The challenge is to empty the first pot as quickly as you can. You can also put some random "nice" things in, like eat a biscuit, or tell a joke, just to mix it up!

Colleger Tue 27-Nov-12 08:39:42

It does sound like he's only done exam pieces. It's really not for you to decide when he sits the exam or if he should skip them. May is plenty time to sort out scales. You need to take a back seat and let the teacher do her job.

Suki2 Tue 27-Nov-12 08:54:06

Thanks for the replies. No, he's not going for a scholarship; I've always followed his teacher's advice; the reason he's skipped grade before is because he is a fast learner (in everything), so his old teacher looked at his playing ability and recommended grade 3 last year. He has never practiced for more than the recommended amount; ie 30 mins for grade 1 etc; we usually miss a day out at the weekend.

Agentprovacateur, I've found the exams a useful aim but don't want them to be the main aim of his playing, and that's my concern now in fact, that there's a huge focus on only exams. In the past, he has played Christmas songs etc but he's not doing that now.

Mummy smells of sick, I hear what you're saying about sticking points, and I have to say that the size of his hands now is an issue for the first time, as he's complaining that they ache after practise, because of continually having to stretch octaves.Not sure how much they'll grow over the next year, though, so it may still be an issue! I totally agree with extending his repertoire beyond the grade 5 syllabus, if only because if he's stretched by grade 5, grade 6 will not be pleasant.

I don't know how i've found us in this situation, and am not pleased with his new teacher, who should know better.

He does do theory, and is about grade 3, his teacher aims for him to do grade 5 next November, which seems reasonable, as it's a year away. He is a very able learner.

I should add that we are based abroad, so one issue for us is that the examiner only comes out twice a year; May and November, so if he doesn't take it in May, he has another 6 months to go; I've had experience of him being over ready as for grade 3 he was ready in January but the exam was in May; that is not a good thing to happen either; he only played the pieces through on an occasional basis, but was still fed up of them by the time the exam came!

Incongneetow, your teacher sounds great, I like the idea of a term broadening skills. Are you saying though that your son knows the scales but hasn't started the grade 5 pieces yet? If so, how long will it take him to learn them? My DS does play scales well, but his teacher is not teaching them to him; she just sets them for the next week and I'm struggling at home to teach him them (I'm not a music teacher but can just about do this). I'm feeling quite overwhelmed at this, but having said that he has taken on board the ones we've done so far, so in fact this probably won't be an issue. How long did your son take to learn the scales?

I need to have made a decision by Christmas, so the entry forms will need to be in. His teacher is strongly advising to enter, but I'm thinking of just saying no.

pianomama Tue 27-Nov-12 09:23:30

May is a long way away to sort out scales. However it is worrying that he only learns exam pieces.My DS did some of his exam pieces a year ago, played them in festivals etc. Then went on completely different pieces (I guess his teacher picks them to deepen/develop technique ). He picked them up again in September and the difference was huge - he "matured" into them.The problem with playing the same pieces for an extended time is that they get bored, stop paying attention to sound,expression etc and can easily murder the piece. I suspect your teacher worries about that and thats why she wants to do it in May.
Is there any way you can introduce separate practice time - say 30 mins just for scales? Our rule is - once he gets the scale right (hands separately first), he has to play it 3 times without any mistakes.They do take time..

ZZZenAgain Tue 27-Nov-12 10:34:19

If the pieces are going ok, can you have a word with the teacher about the scales and any other concerns you have? It seems to me the teacher has simply followed your lead when you suggested skipping grade 4 but is probably amenable to making some changes.

gelo Tue 27-Nov-12 11:34:34

I'd say, if the teacher is going to want him to sit the exam at some point anyway and is going to stick with the same pieces until he does, then you would be better sitting it anyway and taking a lower result on the chin, but otherwise I'd defer and choose new pieces from the list to prepare or miss out grade 5, play lots of grade 5/6 level stuff and then take grade 6 at some stage in the more distant future. I think playing the same pieces even until May is rather a long time to be honest.

I'm trying to remember what ds did... He sat grade 5 piano two terms after grade 3 and I think got a merit on 5 rather than distinction. He was a little older though - did his grade 3 in June of year 6 and then grade 5 with his new teacher at senior school a couple of terms later (April). He spent most of the first term of yr7 playing other things and then started preparing for the grade 5 in about November on the recommendation of his teacher (but he had taken things more slowly before grade 3, so may well have been beyond that standard when he took it). Like your ds he struggled with the scales (never liked those, and was always under prepared for them at all the grades he did). After that, he slowed down again, moving to grade 7 about two years later and grade 8 in year 11.

CURIOUSMIND Tue 27-Nov-12 11:37:33

OP,When you said your Ds skiped grade 2 ,then grade 4, do you mean he completely skiped grade 2, 4 scales, sightreading ,pieces?
I hope it's not like this.
Like everybody suggested , you need to play many pieces, like 10 plus exam pieces at this stage, in different style, ideally ,your exam pieces are the last 3 you are working on at this level.This is the way to speed you up eventually, not slow you down.
You don't have to take the exam, but need to go through the equal quality work to solid you up.
The gap between each grade is getiing dramaticly bigger than you thought.The distinction of grade 3 is so different from grade 5 distinction, then grade 6+ is another big difference again.

You still got 6 months to sort this out. Not too late if you start the amending work now.
Scales, take your time, sep hands, correct fingering , to achieve 3 in a row without mistake, play musically, not notes one after another. Then you can put hands together ,aim to achieve 3 in a row again.So, on and on.
Practice time, 30 mins for grade 1 is such huge a lot of time, who suggested 30 mins for grade 1?? 10 mins for grade 1 is what I thought for fast learners.
For Grade 5, 40 mins is enough for fast learners.

3b1g Tue 27-Nov-12 13:51:55

30 minutes a day for Grade 1 ??!! I've been going by the formula 10 minutes for Grade 1, 20 minutes for Grade 2 etc. Maybe this is why no one in our family gets distinctions in our music exams! grin

ATailOfTwoKitties Tue 27-Nov-12 13:56:19

In this house it's more like 'Have you brushedyourteethfoundyourPEkitand done some musicpractice?', yelled up the stairs at 8:25...

ByTheWay1 Tue 27-Nov-12 16:59:43

If he is in Y6 remember SATs are in May - how much pressure do you want in one or 2 months...??

FastLoris Tue 27-Nov-12 17:47:52

Assuming it's ABRSM grades you're doing, you may have been caught out by their particular approach to scale knowledge. Each of grades 1-4 introduces a few scales and arpeggios (in no particular rationsl order, I personally think), and the students does not need to keep up the previous ones for the next exam. The problem then is that at grade 5, they have to do ALL of what was done in grade 1-4, plas a few few more, to make the entire "set" of major and minor in all keys.

Partly because of this, and partly because the progression of scales in the syllabus doesn't make any musical sense to me, I always have students keeping up scales from previous years and learning many more scales than they need for each grade, according to a more logical musical system (eg, playing them all in ascending or descending order of how many sharps/flat in the key signature, up to whatever number of sharps/flats they're up to). Then grade 5 is not such a big deal.

OTOH if your kid is such a fast learner, and IF you can find someone who can take him methodically through the musical logic behind the scale system, rather than just trying to learn each one separately by rote, you may find he can do it and actually likes the logic of it. Grade 5 is where they all really slot into place.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the set pieces for ABRSM change next year. The old (2011-12) pieces can be entered for the first round of exams in February/March, but not after that. Not sure from the timescale of your description, but if he started the pieces some time ago he may be using the 2011-12 book, and would need to learn new ones for May OR November.

Other than that I agree with everything mummy said, and other comments about taking it easy. Skipping grades is a lot easier in some other instruments than in piano, because of the relative complexity of the music (having harmony and being in several lines). Even if a kid is very able, I'd probably tend to do one grade a year and bulk it out with other useful skills, and fun pieces.

Suki2 Tue 27-Nov-12 17:49:19

Curiousmind, no, he didn't completely skip grades 2 and 4; he did the work for them ie he covered the pieces, scales and sightreading. He has also done one non exam grade 5 piece.I've found the idea that you should do 10 plus exam pieces a useful one, and one that I agree with. I think I'll have to broach the subject with his teacher, as I suspect she does not encourage a broad repertoire. For grade 3 DS had learnt most of the pieces in the book with his old teacher, but that was partly because he's a fast learner and she didn't want him to get bored.

Gelo, it's interesting that your DS sat grade 3 then grade 5 two terms later. That's the exact schedule that my son has now, which we're struggling with. Did your DS find it a struggle? I think one concern I have is that DS"s sight reading will be only just good enough, and I'd rather he was above, not working to the standard.

pianomama, I like the idea of stopping pieces then restarting them again with a greater maturity. Although it's very early days I'm finding that DS"s pieces lack maturity at the moment, because of the jump to grade 5. We do sometimes do separate scales practices, but at the moment still feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of them ; I had no idea there were so many. DS"s teacher does not spend much time on them in the lessons, although to be fair, maybe the hard slog has to be done at home.

By the way1, good point about the SATS.

3b1g, ATailOfTWoKitties, Curiousmind; yikes, I thought it was 30 mins for grade 1, plus five extra mins for each additional grade!!! You're right, it is ten mins, no wonder we do so well in the music exams!

cubscout Tue 27-Nov-12 17:51:03

Just adding my two penny worth. Ds currently Grade 5 age 11 and also in Year 6. He had taken all grades and achieved distinctions in 1,2 and 3 then a good merit in Grade 4. What tripped him up at G4 was how much harder the sight reading was- and believe me he had actually practiced sight reading very hard! He also played quite a lot of repertoire in between exams.

As well as the technical issues there is a whole new level of musicality that examiners are looking for, more subtlety, understanding of structure, conventions etc. I think this can really only come with experience of exploring the repertoire and playing around . So more than technical competence. Might it not be worth delaying a bit , giving him a bit of time to mature? Ds is waiting 18 months between G4 and 5 to allow him to develop a bit. He's running through grades on his second instrument but its not such an issue as he has explored the piano repertoire .

I would also add that as a child I was pushed through exams without a thorough knowledge of the repertoire. I achieved a G 8 by 17 but then gave up. I started lessons again some years ago and I was shocked at how much I had missed. Happily I am rectifying that now, and playing is more pleasurable than its ever been.

cubscout Tue 27-Nov-12 17:52:21

Cross post!

Suki2 Tue 27-Nov-12 18:12:17

FastLoris I see what you mean about the scales; I didn't realise that he should be still practicing the ones from other grades. I've looked at the book and like the idea of playing them according to the number of sharps and flats. I'll get him to take a fresh look at it.

Thank you for mentioning the change in pieces. He's got the new 2012/13 book, and in fact his teacher only started teaching the pieces a few weeks ago; I thought this was a little late as his previous teacher for grade 3 started the pieces in September for the May exam, but she did lots of other things with him, like Christmas music, duets with a friend, and in fact he ended up learning most of the pieces in the grade 3 book.

Having read all the comments here, I think DS should be solidifying his skills, not rushing into grade 5. I've certainly never intended it to be such hard work.

gelo Tue 27-Nov-12 19:40:27

Suki, he wasn't stressed by it at all as I remember, he was really enjoying his lessons with the new teacher (who was a lot better than his old one) at the time. He didn't bother much with the scales though, as he had a philosophy that if he attempted all of them in the exam however badly he would get minimum marks for that section at least (you get a third of the marks just for trying apparently) and would try and make up the marks lost elsewhere. He took that strategy for several years on both his instruments and still managed distinctions mostly. His teacher never bothered with scales much in lessons either - I think music teachers tend to either be sticklers for insisting scales are done properly or just leave it to the students to do them themselves (or not), there don't seem to be many in the middle. Obviously, scales are an important part of musicianship, so this isn't a recommended approach, but might explain why the scales requirement didn't stress him at that time.

incogneetow Tue 27-Nov-12 21:10:14

I like the tip given here about putting scales on a slip into a pot. We'll try that.

ds2 has "learned" all his gr5 scales, but he needs to play them more musically. Currently he seems to be interpreting that as "faster", and is tending to make more mistakes, which is worse. So we're in need of a new strategy.

pianomama Tue 27-Nov-12 21:50:29

It is really important to get things sound good at very slow pace first (according to DS's teacher) - for both pieces and scales. Practising scales in different rythms trains the fingers to "remember". Also playing stacatto is very good for achieving evenness even though stacatto is not required for G5. Also makes it more fun for DC. I know kids love playing with speed of light, I think this is where a mother with a big stick comes in smile.

Dancergirl Tue 27-Nov-12 23:01:33

OP, you seem to make a point of saying he's a 'fast learner'. Even if he is, a musical instrument should be enjoyed first and foremost. I sense (although I may be wrong) that you sound quite stressed about it all. And there seems to be a rush to get through the grades.

I would slow it down a bit. He should increase his repertoire but NOT exam pieces. There's lovely Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin music which will a new challenge to him without the pressure of an exam.

And however long you have between grades, there's no guarantee of another distinction even if that's what he's always got. It depends on so many things.

Suki2 Wed 28-Nov-12 09:03:30

Pianomama, I like the idea of playing the scales in different rhythms and staccato; that will liven up his practice! We already do the pot thing.

Dancergirl, yes, I am stressed about it, but have tried not to convey this to DS. I'm not in a rush to push him through the grades; I think our situation has come about as a result of moving areas, ignorance on my part of the jump between grades, a teacher who is more than willing to put to the next grade and having Christmas as a deadline for entry! Piano has never been a source of stress before, I do want to slow down. I do agree as well about higher marks very much being dependent on performance on the day.

I intend to talk to his teacher about giving him a broader range of music and slowing down the pace!

DeWe Wed 28-Nov-12 13:48:28

I'd ask why he needs the pieces this early.

Dd1 has done her exams in the summer term, one a year, she's did grade 4 last summer.

She gets the first grade piece some point in the beginning of the spring term, along with doing other pieces. Gradually over the spring term she'll get the other pieces, but still doing other stuff. About a month before the exam she'll drop the other pieces and work entirely on the exam except for what she does for her own amusement. She practices 10-20 minutes 5-6 days a week, so not huge practice either.
She's getting good marks so it obviously works.

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Wed 28-Nov-12 14:18:24

Personally I think it sounds too focused on exams. I did grade 6 in year 6.

I learnt many many pieces of music and for each exam I started to learn the exam pieces 2 weeks before the exam. My teacher wanted me to sound fresh and not too bored of the pieces.

FastLoris Wed 28-Nov-12 20:47:44

Bartimaeus was that piano or another instrument?

Theas18 Wed 28-Nov-12 23:01:21

Sounds terribly rushed unless he actually really lives taking the exams. If he doesn't have a target like a scholarship I'd be tempted to put the brakes on a bit and lit him mature with ome repertoire and extra theory/ aural to make him really comfortable in these areas- the aural gets hard by grade 5 , and he needs grade 5 theory sort of soonish.

I've said it may times but the best teacher my kids have - the one they love and respect, who treats them as mature musicians, allowing them to explore the music properly, work out what they think it means and ow it should be played rather than dictating to thm what the examiner wants, if the one that puts little stress on exams. Ds is soon to do grade 8 - his last grade was 5 years ago!

Mind you, you do ave to have great confidence in the teacher and to be ale to hear improvements to keep lessons going without " proof"...

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Thu 29-Nov-12 09:53:09

Piano.

To be honest my mum got a little bit fed up of having to buy so much music! Especially as I never spent more than 3 weeks on a particular piece (but he never stopped me playing it until I could play it well IYSWIM).

My teacher was excellent and got me to learn a variety of stuff. Sometimes I'd learn a piece for a couple of weeks then stop it, then he'd come back to it one or two months later.

I never got bored with a piece of music and I would voluntarily go back and play pieces I'd learnt months before just for enjoyment.

hardboiled Thu 29-Nov-12 10:34:03

Grade 3 to Grade 5 is a big jump. Like others said, there is no rush. You will probably feel a huge weight off your shoulders if you decide not to put him for the May exam. Besides, what's the big deal about a distinction, a merit, a pass? One can have a bad day or encounter a really unfriendly examiner - DS had one, the poor child was trembling all through the exam and couldn't sing. It has nothing to do with their playing and enjoyment of music. We are turning music into an "exam thing". They are not musicians, they are exam-takers.

The grades narrow the repertoire and sometimes slow down the learning because one is just waiting for the exam to come before going onto new pieces. We are experiencing that with scholarship auditions, which are in two months. DS is just practising the scholarship pieces over and over again and it's like a brick wall. Sometimes he finishes practising and turns to me and asks "Was that scholarship level?". It breaks my heart that his music has become a means to something and can't wait till it's over. My fault for starting the whole thing. DH learnt piano without ever taking an exam and plays g8 standard.

Sorry for the rant. Feel very fired up about the whole system. angry

chocoluvva Thu 29-Nov-12 10:46:43

All the major scales starting on a black key - except F# - can have the same fingering in the left hand - 321 4321.
Ask your DS to tell you the names of the notes in the newer scales eg C# minor without looking at the keys.
Practice new scales in one direction only for a week, especially descending.
Hope that helps with the scales smile

MorningPurples Thu 29-Nov-12 11:43:40

You could try looking up some of the activities on Practice Spot as they have different ways of presenting the scales, suggestions for practising, lists of ones to do, etc.

Look under the section on 'free tools and resources'. Every time you refresh the page, a different set of activities is featured (or I think if you click on 'more' in the corner, you can see all of them at once).

Some of it is keyboard based; some of it is more generic - sightreading examples seem to only be single line treble clef, as far as I can see, haven't found a way of changing them into anything else yet, but I only came across it the other night and haven't looked through it all yet. But it does seem to have some useful ideas to make practice a bit different.

Theas18 Thu 29-Nov-12 12:39:12

Harboiled I so agree!

pianomama Thu 29-Nov-12 13:54:33

Theas,Hardboiled - So do I !!! ... DS recently played in a very high caliber competition with some young G8 at 8 types.Quite arrogant with even worse mothers smile. "My son did his G8 at 8(9) with Disctinstion, he got 30 marks for all the pieces" etc etc.(oh yes and they prctice 5 hours a day as well). All of the said DC played really fast complex show off pieces so unmusically, one couldn't help thinking - why? what is the point?
Obviously the adjudicator knew who to pick out of the lot <she said modestly>. Time to remind the marvellous child to do the last practice before the exam...

pianomama Thu 29-Nov-12 14:03:33

Going back to scales, it really is the piano teacher's responsibility. I would approach her and ask what is her plan with regards to scales.

seeker Thu 29-Nov-12 14:10:53

What does he want to do?

pianomama Thu 29-Nov-12 14:26:50

Honestly? To play Star Wars game on his computer grin
Just to set the record straight - the reference to "marvellous" is completely ironic. Its the pre-exam nerves on my part.

FastLoris Thu 29-Nov-12 20:52:38

Totally agree with hardboiled.

Bartimaeus - if you learn all your grade 4, 5, 6 pieces in a couple of weeks before the exams and did well, then you are some kind of exceptional genius or you were home educated and practised all day every day. Children generally just don't/can't do that.

ByTheWay1 Fri 30-Nov-12 11:02:20

My DD 12 is doing grade 3 and it takes her up to 12 weeks to get a piece ready for exam..
1 week hands separate,
1 week to put hands together and to get onto metronome to "get" the rhythm,
4 to get speed up to exam requirement,
another 2 to get dynamics close to correct
2 weeks to get tempo right without the metronome
and up to 2 weeks for tweaking the sheer joy of the musicality from a piece....

she does 20 min 4 times a week and one longer 40min session at the weekend... with a 30min lesson once a week - (goes up to 1 hour for the 3 weeks before exam.. I have 2 DD - one does her exams in winter, one in Spring so we can vary lesson length depending who is closest to exam date!)

2 weeks total sounds child genius, or someone who has nothing else to do... especially as practise has to include scales, sight reading, aural work, and 2 other pieces...

Xenia Fri 30-Nov-12 13:17:42

As he's ready and the teacher wants him to take it I would just get on and do it even if he doesn't get as high a mark this time. Then once he has grade 5 he won't be able to do grade 6 anyway until he does passes grade 5 theory so he is going to be held up by that for a bit anyway. Some children respond more to exams than others and some don't work as hard if an exam is not in the offing.

Three of our children got music scholarships but even there the schools look for ability not just what exams passed although ours certainly did quite a few exams.

I think there are bigger jumps between grade 5 and 6 than between 4 and 5. And grade 7 can be pretty hard too.

hardboiled Fri 30-Nov-12 13:37:16

Xenia, it is nice to hear your DC schools looked for ability rather than exams passed. My experience is that they set minimums for grades, ask for copies of marking papers from the examiners, etc. I was recently told by a music head that very very rarely a scholarship at 11+ would go to a child who is "only" Grade 5. No mention as to whether the child is showing musicality, passion, feeling, etc.

Still, chronically, fuming. angry

pianomama Fri 30-Nov-12 15:31:44

Not necessary. Usually they refer to "Grade 5 standard" Music schools and JD in conservatoires mention it as approximate standard by the age of 11 BUT it make absolutely no difference to them. Lots of DC don't do any grades at all but are outstanding musicians

Xenia Fri 30-Nov-12 15:38:49

I only said that because I read the rules and they seemed to say ability to the standard but not doing the exam was fine, whereas my lot seem to think if they get 101 that's amazing as they passed, the perfect amount of work for the exam has been done (not my view of course). So they certainly had grades for 13+ it varied but tended to be grade 5 theory and 2 grade 6s or 7s and in one case a grade 8. It also depends on the schools too. One of ours rejected a 50% music scholarship to one school for a much lower value one at a much better school and that was the right choice.

Certainly in our local private schools you will always get in almost every year group some stunning young musicians 1 or 2 in every year who are getting distinction in grade 7 or 8 at 12 in two instruments head and shoulders above the others (and much better than most of mine have been).

It does no harm to have a music scholarship on your CV and you get university UCAS points for associated board music exams (which my daughter, 20s, was having to count up even last year on an on line job application) and some employers are keen on classical music so it can give you common ground in an interview BUT none of that matters at all as much as having fun at it. I sing and play every day even at my age. The fact I got 4 grade 8s is neither here nor there. it is just a nice hobby to have for life and it's terribly useful if you can play the piano although it does mean you can get saddled with playing when you'd rather sing or play something else.

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Fri 30-Nov-12 15:41:09

I wasn't a child genius on the piano hmm

Sorry, I was just giving my experience.

Scales, sight-reading and aural were practised all the time, not just for exam prep.

For example, I did sight-reading with every new piece - why wouldn't you? It's the perfect opportunity.

I also rarely played with just one hand. I just jumped in with both - but this is how I was taught, I can't say if it's right or wrong.

I didn't spend hours per day. I practised every day. 20-30 minutes depending on the grade. And a one hour lesson per week.

I was just trying to make the point that you don't have to play with the sole aim of getting the grades.

Schmedz Thu 31-Jan-13 23:06:54

Be careful the syllabus he is using will still be valid in May. My daughter did her Grade 4 in December 2012 and her teacher wanted to enter her for grade 5 in march using the 2012 syllabus because she liked the selection of pieces. This is with ABRSM not Trinity or another exam board. Daughter decided to learn the pieces she likes and work on technique rather than notching up exams! She also learns violin so with two instruments to practise I thoroughly approve...
Just because you might be capable of moving rapidly through the exams doesn't mean you need to take them all. At intermediate and advanced level there is so much more to playing than churning out 3 pieces plus scales and interpreting a range of music stylistically and building. Good repertoire is surely more important.

helenawalsh1 Wed 10-Apr-13 19:09:28

hi there, firstly, well done for him! He has worked hard, and is evidently a very talanted young musician! I did my grade 5 piano exam when i was 12, i got a merit, just 2 marks off a distinction. I had got a distinction in all of my other exams, and the reason that i got a merit this time is because i had done my grade 4 in August, and my grade 5 in Decemeber, leaving not a long enough gap. So if i was him, i wouldn't take the exam so soon, because if you want a good level you need to give it time, and if your worried, allow yourself to relax, and give your self a break. Working on grade 5 with about just 2 years of playing is brilliant, and you should be proud of him, but let him relax.

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