What's the difference between Grade 8 and Diploma level piano?

(34 Posts)
springchickennolonger Sat 09-Aug-14 14:20:25

Can anyone help me please? I've passed Grade 8 Jazz Piano and I'm wondering if I'm capable of taking a Performance Diploma. What's the difference? Do I need to upgrade my old piano?

I only got a low merit but completed in less than a year. I'm ridiculously pleased with myself and I don't want ro get carried away!

Anyone out there who's done both who could give me some advice?

Thanks.

boogiewoogie Sat 09-Aug-14 21:40:43

I believe that the diploma comes after grade 8. Ask on the ABRSM forum. There are plenty of knowledgable people there and you may get a quicker response there than posting on mn.

Maestro Sun 10-Aug-14 09:52:33

I don't know about the jazz exams, but in the classical world Diploma level is a huge step above grade 8. The grades are basically for children, and diplomas are for professional level players.

springchickennolonger Sun 10-Aug-14 15:40:21

Maestro can you tell me what you mean by "professional level players"? Playing for money in, say, a cocktail bar? Playing in a concert? Teaching?

Most people I know who are professionals have degrees, not diplomas, so I suppose they've sort of bypassed the diploma requirement.

boogie I've asked on the abrsm site but no-one seems to know much about jazz (abrsm don't have a syllabus beyond grade 5). Great name, by the way..

I think a classical diploma is, alas, beyond me, however (although I've had a bash at some of the pieces.

Maestro Sun 10-Aug-14 15:52:37

As I remember, they were usually taken by students who had a serious eye on a potential career as a solo performer. You obviously don't need a diploma to play in a cocktail bar, you just have to be able to remember a lot of popular songs and/or noodle around for hours on end.

beccajoh Sun 10-Aug-14 15:55:29

It'd prob be a struggle if you've not played much classical. People I know who've done it have done the standard ABRSM grades, plus, usually, some sort of music degree.

ignominious Sun 10-Aug-14 16:42:39

Agree with Becca and I think if you were going to do it you'd be best off doing abrsm grade 8 classical first maybe? Who was the jazz with, trinity? Basically play a lot more classical I reckon. I did abrsm grade 8 recently but would not even dream of a diploma. Have a look at some diploma performances on YouTube? I do that whenever my self confidence is too high smile

springchickennolonger Sun 10-Aug-14 17:05:59

Thanks all. Maestro it is my dream to play cocktail piano in a bar in a lbd smoking a Sobranie in a long holder grin

Having considered what you've all said I'm not sure I'll ever have sufficient technique to tackle even grade classical. I would like eventually to teach, and there are loads of teachers of piano with degrees which are classical-related who I'll never hope to compete with in terms of accomplishment. My technique (in classical terms) is probably about that of a grade 6/7 pianist.

ignominious my Grade 8 was through LCM. I'd highly recommend it, incidentally. I'm struggling to find a Jazz diploma programme though, and I'm also struggling to find diploma-level jazz performances. Meanwhile, I've applied to do Grade 8 Rock and Pop theory, which is another step in the right direction.

Maestro Sun 10-Aug-14 18:00:31

You might have to move elsewhere then, because you can't smoke in bars anymore! (Do they do electronic cigarettes in long holders?)

I'd suggest you find a good jazz teacher and just carry on that way. I'd love to be able to play jazz piano, but I was always classically trained, and now I don't have the time to learn (and I'm not sure I'd have the natural talent for it either).

I'm not sure that rock and pop theory should take you more than 5 minutes though...

cathyandclaire Sun 10-Aug-14 18:10:03

Not sure about piano but dd has done her ALCM and dipLCM in musical theatre. They required a greater vocal range, the ability to demonstrate a variety of styles and a mature overall performance.She felt they were a natural progression from her grade 8 and did each one after a year's prep.
However I think she found both of then less frightening and challenging than her ABRSM grade 8! This could be because of her preference and ability for perfornance over aural and sightsinging though smile

ignominious Sun 10-Aug-14 22:04:03

I think you should go for it re piano bar or teaching without the diploma.

How did you learn jazz? Just had a look at the grade 8 syllabus and it looks terrifying. I always pick the jazz pieces for grades but that's the ABRSM idea of what jazz is and doesn't come close to actual jazz.

Christ now I've said jazz too much.

Ferguson Mon 11-Aug-14 17:20:41

I'll add a few links below that may help:

www.freejazzlessons.com/jazz-standards-you-should-learn-part-1/

www.freejazzlessons.com/jazz-standards-you-should-learn-part-2/

The Jamey Aebersold series of well over a hundred jazz tutor books, with CD, are THE source of all aspects of playing jazz, harmony, theory etc. They WERE on 'sendmemusic.com' but that is now giving an error, so I guess has folded?

However, this site seems to have a lot of the material. (Jazzwise magazine used to have an on-line sales branch, but that has gone now too.)

jazzesmusic.co.uk/category/pianokeyboard/

jazzesmusic.co.uk/category/jamey-aebersold-playalongs/

The JA books come with Bflat Eflat and (I think) bass clef music, so if you know sax and trumpet players, they can join in too!

All the major jazz musicians and styles are represented, so there could be a lifetime of material there. Also, the "Music Minus One" series have stuff, and the big "Fake" books have thousands of tunes in them.

Here's a few tunes to get you started:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMibKxQWRnw

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU1hm7KlfT8

www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJngXnWtVnI

www.youtube.com/watch?v=06_uCl_Bovs

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLdKObM2OJ8

This is the finale of Michel Camilo's 1st Piano Concerto. (He was at the Proms a year or two ago.) :

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxmvVUuTVTY

I assume you know all the best jazz pianists to follow; I saw Brubeck, Peterson, Garner etc several times in the '50s, '60 and '70s. If you want any more information, let me know.

springchickennolonger Mon 11-Aug-14 17:38:25

ignominious you must be a kindred spirit!

How did I learn jazz? I went back to piano when I was sahming dd, tried out some easyish classical pieces (Einaudi
etc) but they bored me. So I thought I'd give jazz a go instead, and completely by chance found a teacher of jazz! It was a lucky find.

I've always had a good ear, but I was a poor sight reader (or so I thought..) and my technique was a bit lacking too.(Still is...)

I started off doing random stuff from the syllabus (abrsm) but didn't want to do grades as I go to pieces in front of people. But suddenly I thought "why not?" and decided to go for grade 8. I don't have any other grades but my proficiency level and theoretical knowledge in terms of classical had stagnated at about grade 6. It was hard work, but I got through somehow.

I agree with you about the abrsm pieces. They don't offer enough opportunity for improvisation, imo. If you, or your pupils, need a jazzy challenge I'd recommend Lcm or even Rockschool.

The Grade 8 is not terrifying! There is a piece (I did Taste of Honey), from the book and two improvised pieces (I did Misty and Lullaby of Birdland) which you take from a Real Book and interpret. There's an aural test, musical awareness, creative response and the dreaded scales.

In my experience there is a lack of coherent support for theory. I enjoy the theoretical side of jazz particularly and I've put myself in for the grade 8 Popular Music Theory exam. Now that IS terrifying.

Sorry that's a really long post. Typical self-absorbed jazzer! If you want to know more, feel free to pm me.

beccajoh Mon 11-Aug-14 17:44:56

I'm classically trained (piano, violin and viola) and am hopeless at Jazz. Just can't get my head around it so I'm impressed at anyone who can do it!

springchickennolonger Mon 11-Aug-14 17:54:26

Ferguson I didn't see your post. Thanks. I'd love to have seen those great pianists. I must add Bill Evans to your list: my favourite, I think!

Yes to JA. I've got lots of his stuff. I've used freejazzlessons too, for inspiration. I'd add 7note mode and jazzedge to your list,too. In fact there's so much stuff you can't see the wood from the trees sometimes.

As a theory resource, I think the "go to" book is Mark Levine's Jazz Theory.

springchickennolonger Mon 11-Aug-14 17:59:46

beccajoh I don't think jazz is more difficult, necessarily.Just different. Depends what you're used to, I suppose!

Ferguson Mon 11-Aug-14 18:17:07

Ahh - so you are further on than I'd realised!

Yes, sorry I left Bill Evans out - I'm ashamed to say can't remember whether or not I saw him.

Big bands were my favourite though: Basie, Ellington, Kenton, and most of all Buddy Rich.

springchickennolonger Mon 11-Aug-14 19:13:30

Ferguson I'm still only a novice, I'm afraid. Long way to go yet...i listen, read and swot up as much as possible, though. Jazz is sort of infinite, isn't it?

Maestro Tue 12-Aug-14 12:58:03

My friend Gwilym Simcock started out as a classical musician. He's not done too badly...

springchickennolonger Tue 12-Aug-14 16:43:17

OMG Maesto you are FRIENDS with Gwilym Simcock ? (swoons....),

Maestro Tue 12-Aug-14 18:16:52

When he was still at college he used to play in my local bar. He still pops in to play every now and then (even though it's not my local any more).

springchickennolonger Tue 12-Aug-14 21:05:05

You lucky thing......wow! I'd love to see him live.

Maestro Tue 12-Aug-14 21:19:47

It's been something of a privilege to see him develop. He always had something a bit different about the way he played, but he has become one of the best I've ever heard.

springchickennolonger Wed 13-Aug-14 15:02:59

Yes, he does seem to stand out. I love the way he seems to blur the divide between classical and jazz. I'm not surprised he has a classical background.

Castlelough Mon 18-Aug-14 13:12:30

Ooh I'm just marking my place so I remember to go back and look up some of those links.

I went back to piano lessons 3 years ago after doing Prelim & Primary as a child. I've since sat Grade 3,4 and am due to do Grade 5 in October. All classical. Would love to learn jazz though!

Can anyone recommend where to start for a novice like me? Online tutorials, videos, books? I'm hoping to tackle Grade 6 (Classical) next year...

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