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Piano Grades and John Thompson

(13 Posts)
Merrin Fri 14-Sep-12 11:54:01

Does anyone know which grades John Thompson's piano books equate too? DD has just started Book 3.

Seeline Fri 14-Sep-12 11:57:11

My DS was using part 4 as one of his books when working towards grade 3, but has given up now so not sure if he would have progressed further before the exam.

Merrin Sun 16-Sep-12 12:17:27

That's very interesting Seeline, thank you. smile It gives me an idea where about she is but as she doesn't seem to do any scales and her sight reading is not so sharp I would say not a very accurate idea! Which other books was he using? So far DD has only used John Thompson, I wonder if its the norm to learn from several?

Seeline Mon 17-Sep-12 10:13:57

He was also doing pieces from Waterman and Harewood Piano Lessons Book 2, as well as the actual Grade 3 pieces and scales. It was a shame that he gave up but was just fed up with the practising - especially scales grin

Merrin Mon 17-Sep-12 20:19:33


musicposy Thu 27-Sep-12 21:14:46

I would say it's nowhere near as far ahead as Grade 3 (I've been a piano teacher for 20 years). My pupils are about ready to do Prep test once they've finished book 2, so I'd say that's more or less where your daughter is. By the end of book 3 you are probably touching Grade 1 standard. She is probably just about ready to make a start on some scales and arpeggios now, so you could mention it to the teacher if she is keen.

People really underestimate just how hard Grade 1 is on the piano. It sounds so basic, too! You need to be able to read at least an octave and a half of notes in both treble and bass clef, be able to play confidently hands together where the left hand does more than just add a few accompanying chords and have a good secure sense of rhythm, dynamics and articulation to do well at Grade 1.

seeline I do wonder if your son's teacher allowed him to work on Grade 3 too early. This can make the practice too daunting and the scales next to impossible, leading to pupils becoming discouraged and giving up.

OP, I'm not saying this to discourage you, by the way! It's just that parents can sometimes think their child is doing less well than they actually are when it takes a little while to achieve Grade 1. And yes, most of my pupils learn from a variety of sources as I find it makes better sight readers and more well-rounded musicians. But that doesn't mean the teacher is necessarily wrong if the method is suiting her. smile

musicposy Thu 27-Sep-12 21:16:33

How long has she been learning and how old is she, btw?

FastLoris Fri 28-Sep-12 23:47:49

Also a piano teacher and totally agree with Musicposy. It's very difficult when people assume a kind of one-grade-per-year-rule. That might be about average once someone is going with the piano (IF, and ONLY IF focusing on grades happens to be the best learning progression for them anyway), and it might be true of grade one on some instruments. But it certainly isn't true of Grade 1 piano. I normally suggest two years minimum from starting, and wouldn't be at all fazed about taking three. Not because it's necessarily impossible to take it earlier, but just because there's so much else worth exploring, in terms of deeper grounding in musicianship and really hearing what they're doing.

The sheer fact of having to play two lines of music at once totally sets the cognitive demand of grade 1 piano apart from grade 1 in other instruments.

musicposy Sat 29-Sep-12 13:15:56

Absolutely agree 100% FastLoris smile I always reckon on 2 years to Grade 1, though younger children often take three and that is absolutely fine. You need to set good foundations if you are not to fall down at the higher levels. I read somewhere that it takes the same time to get to Grade 1 on the piano as Grade 3 in other instruments.

nickeldaisical Sat 29-Sep-12 13:23:41

the John Thompson ones are completely made up with grades.

they're great books for learning, though, I've used them myself.

It's very useful to get a copy of the grade 1 associated board syllabus and work from that.

They also need to learn scales etc, so you'll need that.
I bought a copy of the exam pieces for the year and have been learning some of those, too.

the book I started learning from was an old one.

i agree that it's a great idea to use various books, because i found that most books follow a pattern, and that you get used to how they lay the pieces out, and swapping to another book really throws you and makes you realize you dont know as much as you thought grin

Merrin Sat 29-Sep-12 13:42:06

Thanks for all your input! I feel very encourage by it grin DD has been learning for two academic years, just starting her third year this September. She started in Y2 and is now Y4.

Her teacher asked her if she would like to try an exam this year. I think she is verging on ready to start working towards Grade 1, to work for the prep test.

I am without any musical experience and her peers are all on Grade 1 or 2 for their instruments (flute and clarinet) so I was a tiny bit concerned DD wasn't progressing. I had no idea about the difference in musical ability for piano so its really useful to know that.

From your posts here and from looking on line I think she right on track and doing well grin

She seems to quite like John Thompson but I have a couple of Christmas Carol books for her to enjoy for variety, one is Pam Wedgewood's UpGrade Christmas which is just the right level and has some fun songs as well as traditional.

musicposy Sat 29-Sep-12 17:38:05

Sounds like she is doing fine smile

UpGrade is a great series. I particularly like More UpGrade 0-1 which has some really fun pieces in it and would take her nicely to Grade 1 standard. Christmas carol books always add variety and interest but I won't do them until after the October half term <meanie> grin

deepfish Thu 04-Feb-16 22:06:48

How is your DD going now?
I think John Thompson 3rd book is grade1. The fourth book is lower grade 2. Here is a sample in youtube.
This kid played the second song in the fourth book:

Then it took him 6 months to play the easiest grade3 song,
and he was not close to the quality of this grade3 song.

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