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#1999791 - 12/15/12 12:00 PM Finishing RCM Worthwhile?
Hedgeclipper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 6
I did RCM throughout elementary and highschool up until grade 6 and midway through grade 7 with first class honours, but I ended up dropping out of the exams due to pressures from school and outside life and eventually stopping piano altogether. At the time I would practice 2 hours a day or so, but I never really enjoyed it. It just felt like something I had to do, just like school.
Now I am 18 and I'm in college and I've gotten back into music and jamming and whatnot and I would try to jam with my friends band or with people from school on guitar and other instruments, always apologizing for my lack of musical skill and all of that, until I "remembered" that I could play piano, so I retaught myself basic music theory and blues scales and learend a bit about blues, jazz and classical improvisation and bought a cheap keyboard for our band and, within a few weeks I could play like I used to! It's been a few months now and Now that I am playing music because I like music rather than because I am being forced to, I am practicing several hours a day (but mostly focusing on improvisation) and trying to learn a few classical songs to duet with my violinist friend.
Its all feels great, but I'm really not as good as I could be and the theory that I know and can apply to my improvisation/composition only goes so far, so I've been thinking of restarting my RCM examinations and at least getting the last 3 grades. UNfortunately I don't have a lot of time, as I am studying sciences in school and I tend to be very busy studying maths and chemistry and stuff, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the value/difficulty of doing RCM -- especially now that I am already 18? Do you think it is worthwhile, or would I be better off focusing on different aspects of music -- like improvisation and non-classical? Do you think its even possible to study for RCM at the same time as studying for difficult math&science exams? I've gotten pretty good since I picked up piano again, but I'm not sure where I should go with it now.

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#1999835 - 12/15/12 01:35 PM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Hedgeclipper]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 733
It's pretty clear that the Sorting Hat has placed in you House Blues, Rock, and Jazz, so I'd honestly just concentrate on what you like instead of forcing yourself through a classical curriculum because you think you should.

Jazz is certainly the equal of Classical in terms of complexity and depth.

I'd look for a good jazz teacher and take some lessons, even if it's only once a month.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#1999844 - 12/15/12 01:58 PM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Whizbang]
Hedgeclipper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 6
well don't get me wrong. I listen to as much classical music as I listen to rock and newer music. I find it deeply moving and emotional and I love it. It's just [censored] hard to play :P I also want to improve classical so I can jam with my violinist friend.

I'm not sure how to go about finding a jazz teacher though. I really don't understand jazz as well as I understand classical though, so I would really need a teacher.

I know it's not really important to do the RCM, but I just feel that if it's only 3 more grades it would suck to just quit at this point.

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#2000417 - 12/16/12 07:50 PM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Hedgeclipper]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Let's keep in mind that those are the hardest grades, especially grade 9 and 10. Those are the grades before the performer and teacher degrees.

It's worthwhile in that you grow as a pianist; if you're looking at it like "there's only three left, why not?" then you're probably approaching it the wrong way.

The point isn't whether or not you want to take exams, it's whether or not you're ready to put in the effort to grow that way as a pianist. The exams help you measure that growth.

I think it's possible to do both at the same time because I've done it and lots of my students are doing it. I had mostly math (two math courses) and AP english, plus lots of off-timetable courses like jazz band and leadership.

Edit: I also took two modern languages, French and Japanese.

You'll need to decide if you're able to commit to this, time and money wise, and find the right teacher. Keep in mind that the first teacher you find won't necessarily be the right one for you, so don't feel bad about switching because it's common and we expect some "shopping around" anyways.

Also, you'll need to catch up on a bunch of theory courses.

It's possible, but it's up to you.

Jazz is pretty fun once you get the hang of it; the Classical background definitely helps a lot. smile


Edited by Bluoh (12/17/12 08:41 PM)

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#2000531 - 12/17/12 01:22 AM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Bluoh]
Hedgeclipper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 6
well next semester I will be taking a physics, chemistry, possibly a biology course and calculus 2, so, along with practicing for gr7 or 8 RCM, that would be a lot.
I'd have to completely give up my social life.
But who's got time for a social life when you've got a beautiful acoustic piano sitting in your living room?

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#2000543 - 12/17/12 02:11 AM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Hedgeclipper]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Maybe I'm too unfamiliar with these exams, but there's no need to rush your learning - in fact, last I checked, rushing it is, and always has been, detrimental to progress and proper learning in regards to the piano (as well as most all other facets of life). You can agree with the fact that if somebody truly wants to do something, they can find and/or make time most every day to accommodate it for at least 30 minutes to an hour, right? Well why not apply this logic to the piano and simply enjoy the process (believe it or not, you can make great progress this way! wink ) - RCM exam(s) in the future or not.

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#2000544 - 12/17/12 02:16 AM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Hedgeclipper]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1313
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
My professional view is that if you head back to the RCM at this juncture, it will cure you of your love for the piano, just as it almost did once before. But find a teacher who can help you with both classical and jazz piano.

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#2000605 - 12/17/12 08:16 AM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Hedgeclipper]
fizikisto Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 267
Loc: Hernando, MS
Hedgeclipper

Why do you want to take the exams? What's your goal? Some people HATE not finishing what they started. Is that what's bothering you? Do you feel that passing the exams to completion would give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction worthy of the work you would have to put in to get there? If so, I'd say that's a laudable goal.

Or, do you simply want the improved skills and feel that you need a structured program to accomplish that. If the latter, then there are probably better ways to go about it than pushing through RCM (given your other commitments and time constraints). Surely there must be a music department at your college? Go talk to the chair of the music department there. Explain your situation. Ask his or her advice. You might be able to get private/semi-private instruction from one of the faculty as part of your tuition and get college credit for it. Or they may know local teachers not affiliated with the university that would be perfect for your needs and willing to work with you. If you do that, prep a couple of your best classical pieces, not as a formal audition per se, but rather so that you can help the chair evaluate your current level.

btw, my handle, fizikisto means physicist...you've picked a challenging field, going into the hard sciences. I wish you well in your endeavors. smile
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Yamaha P-250

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#2000856 - 12/17/12 07:51 PM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: fizikisto]
Hedgeclipper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: fizikisto
Hedgeclipper

Why do you want to take the exams? What's your goal? Some people HATE not finishing what they started. Is that what's bothering you? Do you feel that passing the exams to completion would give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction worthy of the work you would have to put in to get there? If so, I'd say that's a laudable goal.

Or, do you simply want the improved skills and feel that you need a structured program to accomplish that. If the latter, then there are probably better ways to go about it than pushing through RCM (given your other commitments and time constraints). Surely there must be a music department at your college? Go talk to the chair of the music department there. Explain your situation. Ask his or her advice. You might be able to get private/semi-private instruction from one of the faculty as part of your tuition and get college credit for it. Or they may know local teachers not affiliated with the university that would be perfect for your needs and willing to work with you. If you do that, prep a couple of your best classical pieces, not as a formal audition per se, but rather so that you can help the chair evaluate your current level.

btw, my handle, fizikisto means physicist...you've picked a challenging field, going into the hard sciences. I wish you well in your endeavors. smile



it's more the former than the latter. I hate not finishing what I start.

In terms of simple piano skills, I think I could learn to play better with methods other than RCM (although I've always felt that stress increases creativity, so the stress of the exams might help push me)

I'm still considering it, but, to be honest, I know I will either fail my RCM exam or fail my calculus 2 if I take it next semester. Maybe the one after.

For now, I think I will keep working on my improvisation and jamming with my band! I do, however, need to find more structure, as, right now, I barely feel like playing songs. All I ever do when I "practice" is sit down and improv and sometimes compose pieces. I think I will take your advice, guys, and find a less strict piano teacher and try to practice a little bit.

Now that piano is a sort of fallback when I am to stressed from studying, it no longer feels like studying and, rather, feels like blissful relaxation! Somehow, increased difficulty of school has made piano much more enjoyable.

And thanks for the good wishes! I just finished the hardest cal exam I've ever seen so hopefully they will do me well! smile

e: Also, can someone explain to me exactly what "jazz" is? I have improvised a few times and played things that sounded jazzy, but I don't understand strictly what jazz means somehow. I mostly play blues, rather than jazz, but I'd love to start playing more jazz. Jazz piano is about the coolest thing a man can do.


Edited by Hedgeclipper (12/17/12 07:52 PM)

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#2000859 - 12/17/12 08:02 PM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Hedgeclipper]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 733
Originally Posted By: Hedgeclipper
e: Also, can someone explain to me exactly what "jazz" is? I have improvised a few times and played things that sounded jazzy, but I don't understand strictly what jazz means somehow. I mostly play blues, rather than jazz, but I'd love to start playing more jazz. Jazz piano is about the coolest thing a man can do.


That's an impossible to answer question!

Jazz is a music of American origin that arose during the second decade of the twentieth century. It arose out of earlier forms of music like ragtime. It has some characteristics:

* It relies on syncopated rhythms (in which accented melody notes fall on weak beats)
* It relies on swinging (in which evenly played notes are stretched. In jazz, two eighth notes would generally be played as if the beat were divided into thirds, with the first note taking two of the three divisions and the second only one)
* It uses a wide variety of color tones in its scales, such as flatted fifths, raised ninths, etc.
* It has a strong improvisational tradition in which soloists play melodies around the chord structure of a basic piece

All the above is incompletely correct or incorrect.

There's not really any bright lines in music. Ragtime pretty much seamlessly morphed into early jazz and stride which then morphed into blues, boogie, swing, bop, post-bop, bossa nova, rock, etc., etc. etc.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2000878 - 12/17/12 08:52 PM Re: Finishing RCM Worthwhile? [Re: Whizbang]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Whizbang

That's an impossible to answer question!

Jazz is a music of American origin that arose during the second decade of the twentieth century. It arose out of earlier forms of music like ragtime. It has some characteristics:

* It relies on syncopated rhythms (in which accented melody notes fall on weak beats)
* It relies on swinging (in which evenly played notes are stretched. In jazz, two eighth notes would generally be played as if the beat were divided into thirds, with the first note taking two of the three divisions and the second only one)
* It uses a wide variety of color tones in its scales, such as flatted fifths, raised ninths, etc.
* It has a strong improvisational tradition in which soloists play melodies around the chord structure of a basic piece

All the above is incompletely correct or incorrect.

There's not really any bright lines in music. Ragtime pretty much seamlessly morphed into early jazz and stride which then morphed into blues, boogie, swing, bop, post-bop, bossa nova, rock, etc., etc. etc.


Jazz actually takes from a lot of origins and there are different types of jazz.

'Jazz' actually started from African-American slaves' calls and songs in the US; gradually it moved from calls and spirituals across fields to more refined settings and the different styles of jazz (Blues, Swing, Bebop, Cool Jazz, etc.) emerged. That's where the improv comes from.

We consider ragtime an early form of jazz, but some people use both terms interchangably. The term 'rag' was used in jazz's early days.

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