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#1104786 - 08/12/04 01:23 AM What exactly are "levels"?
Niet Over Een Nacht IJS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Trying to understand exactly what the meaning is of a "level". Thompson has its books organized by "grade", Alfred by "level", others talk about "year", etc.

Is there a standard definiton of Piano level 1 vs. 2? Are there standard reference pieces or exercises that one should be able to play? Tests, diagnostics?

Are there dangers of trying to play above one's "level?

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#1104787 - 08/12/04 06:16 PM Re: What exactly are "levels"?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i guess it depends on which country you are from, because each country has its own grading system, and each one might be different from one of another country. so, when you talk about what grade level you are at, you have to specify which country's grade system first. i think US system is different from UK's. i heard that with UK system, one can just take a public exam of a grade level. if you pass, you pretty much know what level you are at. this probably is not the case in US or some other countries, where music major or some sort are required.

there is another common sense approach though, in which people judging you as beginner or intermediate or advanced player (or maybe subcategories of those) by what difficult level pieces you can play. then again each piece has been ranked differently in different grade systems, but for some popular pieces, most people would easily rank it at certain level. also, people use 'year' to measure one's playing progress, because under an ideal situation (with a good teacher and your own motivation/practice etc.) you are supposed to advance to a certain level after so and so years. hope i am not wrong with those.

#1104788 - 08/16/04 07:38 AM Re: What exactly are "levels"?
Niet Over Een Nacht IJS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Thanks to signa for the response.

I have looked into the British system which is quite impressive. The Associate Board of the Royal Schools of Music is reachable at the following web address: http://www.abrsm.org/

Information on the graded piano exams is on:

The ABRSM is putting itself forward as an internationally recognized standard for music levels. Exams can be prepared for and taken across the world (apparently 6000 people a year take them in the USA alone).

What I am looking for as an adult (re)beginner is an objective standard against which I can judge my progress and compete a little, if only with myself. The ABRSM exams might help provide that.

Still curious though about "pace". What is a reasonable pace for an adult learner who is willing to put in 1-2 hours a day of practice and take weekly lessons? Sometimes I feel like everything is going SO SLOWLY.

#1104789 - 08/16/04 11:42 AM Re: What exactly are "levels"?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
Niet, i'm glad that you found ABRSM that you might be able to use. i don't know how to say anything about 'pace', because it is highly individual and also depends on other factors (such as teacher factor, with/without, good/bad). but as i read from some books, for adult learners or any piano learners for that matter, the progress is always like a 'stairway', where you could stay on a plateau for quite a while without seeing any real progress, but suddenly one day you'd progress to another level. so, one has to be patient on this. if you are doing everything right, something will happen one day when you feel you could do much better on everything you play. hope this helps.

#1104790 - 08/17/04 10:57 AM Re: What exactly are "levels"?
Peter_G_Moll Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 30
Loc: Arlington, VA
Dear Niet Over Een Nacht IJS,

You might find it useful to look at these two posts on another forum.

On the ABRSM and other examination sytems:


On piano programs or syllabuses:


Best wishes,

Peter G. Moll


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