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#2010067 - 01/06/13 02:47 PM exams
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
I have done grade 1, 2 and 3

The way I have done them is one after the other, ie as soon as I have studied and taken and passed the exam, I am straight away buying the books for the next grade and working on the next grade immeiately I have the books. Someone who took grades 1 to 5 said that is not the way to go about it and a teacher should not be teaching like this. The person who told me this said that when she was learning, she would take the grade and then her teacher would refuse to delve straight into the next grade. She would have to play a lot of pieces at that grade first before moving up. I have had to tell my teacher to slow down with the grades. I have deferred doing grade 4 study until I feel ready, but if my teacher had her way, we would be already doing the scales etc for Grade 4 and I only got my results for Grade 3 just before Christmas.

My friend said I am going there to learn, not just to take exams which is what she thinks my teacher is only interested in teaching me. She thinks the teacher wants all the glory of getting as many students through as many exams as possible and that she said is NOT teaching.

When I was doing Grade 1 my teacher said that doing grades makes you a better pianist because you work to a structure, by doing arppegios, scales etc which you would not necessarilly always do if you were just doing pieces for fun


Edited by adultpianist (01/06/13 02:52 PM)

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#2010091 - 01/06/13 03:20 PM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
It doesn't sound like you know what you want so your teacher doesn't know what you want. You should talk to your teacher.

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#2010105 - 01/06/13 03:55 PM Re: exams [Re: MaggieGirl]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
I don't think you have read my post properly. I was not discussing what I want, I was discussing my friends comments on my teachers teaching methods against the way my friend was taught.

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#2010127 - 01/06/13 04:34 PM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11851
Loc: Canada
I remember earlier on that you originally told your teacher that you wanted to pass exams, but at the same time later on you began to be bothered by the way you worked on three pieces for a whole year, passed the exam, and then moved on to the next grade. So yes, there does seem to be some redefining of goals between you and your teacher. And to do that, of course you need to talk to your teacher (once you know how to verbalize it).

When I was on the RCM route on another instrument, we worked on numerous pieces, not only those for the exam. Actually we did this before doing the exam, and by the time I did my exam I was already working on the next level, but it comes down to the same thing. The bottom line is not the pieces, scales, arpeggios, and studies that you are doing, but the skills that are being put into learning these - and the skills being learned, period.

Quote:
When I was doing Grade 1 my teacher said that doing grades makes you a better pianist because you work to a structure, by doing arpeggios, scales etc which you would not necessarily always do if you were just doing pieces for fun

I have a bit of a problem with this last part, because even if you are "just doing pieces", they don't have to be done "for fun". There is a lot of learning that goes into pieces, including how you approach them, and how you tackle each element of them.

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#2010161 - 01/06/13 05:32 PM Re: exams [Re: keystring]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
Yes I do want to take exams. As each one gets harder and my life gets more busy, I found that they were very time consuming to do them one after the other. It is not a race. I was very stressed with Grade 3 and worked every moment of my spare time on the exam. I suffered with my social life, and was not sleeping properly when it was close to the exam. I am lucky I passed. I want to take a more relaxed approach and over Christamas I had a couple of pieces to learn and it was lovely to be able to take my time on them, rather than cram to get them done in double quick time because I have to perfect them in time for an exam. So I am taking three months off from exam study to just play at my leisure.

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#2010166 - 01/06/13 05:41 PM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2754
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Is this discussion intended to be somehow different from your other ones?
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2010167 - 01/06/13 05:46 PM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Have you posted on the Adult Beginners Forum (which is not just for beginners, by the way)? You will find quite a few adult students interested in sharing their experiences with exams, I would think.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2010172 - 01/06/13 05:56 PM Re: exams [Re: malkin]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
Originally Posted By: malkin
Is this discussion intended to be somehow different from your other ones?


No why do you say that?

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#2010174 - 01/06/13 05:57 PM Re: exams [Re: currawong]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11851
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: currawong
Have you posted on the Adult Beginners Forum (which is not just for beginners, by the way)? You will find quite a few adult students interested in sharing their experiences with exams, I would think.
That does seem like a good idea.

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#2010202 - 01/06/13 07:28 PM Re: exams [Re: keystring]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
I wanted advice from teachers that is why I posted here.

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#2010206 - 01/06/13 07:35 PM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
ZoeCalgary Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/11
Posts: 748
Loc: Calgary Alberta
About a year ago I told my teacher I wanted to do exams. I was excited to start and put all I had into it! But then after a few months of thus being the only focus I started putting to much pressure on myself and stressing myself out. Plus it was getting tedious doing only exam things. Thankfully at that time Christmas was right around the corner and I started doing Christmas pieces and stopped all exam requirements for two months. It's the best thing I did. Now I'm sure to have extra 'fun' pieces to learn while preparing for mynext exam ;grade 5). Makes the whole process more enjoyable.

My teacher at the time was very exam focused as well. She was okay with the Christmas break but really focused hard afterwards. And when I finished my exam she wanted to jump right to new books. But I was adamant I needed a break from exam stuff and she listened. In the end I got a longer break anyway due to personal circumstances.

I had to switch teachers due to scheduling and my new teacher knows I want to follow the exam route but not rush. Her approach is to play through 2/3 if the books and then pick pieces to finalize. I like this approach much better actually and I am still doing my own fun pieces. We have about 15 minutes for fun thing and 45 minutes on exam things in my hour long lesson. So far this is working out nice. And all the variety in the pieces is really helping me and it's good to know I'm still in track for the graded requirements (just at a slower pace).

Just try to be clear to your teacher you want to still pursue exams but not at the expense of having no time to learn or play anything else. For the RCM you can register for exams 4 times a year and whenever you want so there is no reason to feel like you should cram, get stressed, and lose sleep over it! Yikes! What does it really matter if it takes you longer to be ready for an exam as long as you are always learning and always having fun!

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#2010267 - 01/06/13 09:27 PM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
It doesn't matter what your friend thinks about his or your teacher.

I think my daughter's guy coach is the best coach. My best friend thinks her coaching team is the best. Her daughter places better than mine, but she also has 4x's the money, homeschools etc, etc. Comparing only causes grief and anxiety.

I don't think there is one 'right way' to do anything. If you are happy, you are happy.

If you aren't, you have to decide what makes you happy and communicate your needs.

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#2010512 - 01/07/13 10:05 AM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Adult, it's not how I would teach.

Exams are great for saying, at this level, I should be doing such and such scales and arps, and I should be able to sightread this level, and have these aural skills.

Exams are not good in themselves to push a student's ability - they should take the exam for they level they are playing. There is significant work between ABRSM levels, and unless you're super-duper fast, you will miss out by doing only exam work.


Originally Posted By: adultpianist

When I was doing Grade 1 my teacher said that doing grades makes you a better pianist because you work to a structure, by doing arppegios, scales etc which you would not necessarilly always do if you were just doing pieces for fun


I would take issue with this. There's no reason not to study rhythm, tonality, expression in a piece you are playing 'just for fun', no reason not to take it to performance level just because you aren't being examined on it.

It's the kind of thing you could ask your teacher again, and if the same answer is given, ask why.

This is just my opinion, not making any assumptions about your teacher's strategy and the rationale behind it.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2011784 - 01/09/13 04:16 PM Re: exams [Re: ten left thumbs]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Adult, it's not how I would teach.

Exams are great for saying, at this level, I should be doing such and such scales and arps, and I should be able to sightread this level, and have these aural skills.

Exams are not good in themselves to push a student's ability - they should take the exam for they level they are playing. There is significant work between ABRSM levels, and unless you're super-duper fast, you will miss out by doing only exam work.


Originally Posted By: adultpianist

When I was doing Grade 1 my teacher said that doing grades makes you a better pianist because you work to a structure, by doing arppegios, scales etc which you would not necessarilly always do if you were just doing pieces for fun


I would take issue with this. There's no reason not to study rhythm, tonality, expression in a piece you are playing 'just for fun', no reason not to take it to performance level just because you aren't being examined on it.

It's the kind of thing you could ask your teacher again, and if the same answer is given, ask why.

This is just my opinion, not making any assumptions about your teacher's strategy and the rationale behind it.


I returned to my lessons today after the Christmas break and we are playing some short pieces. I have told my teacher that at the moment I do not wish to study for the Grade 4 and she said that is ok and would I let her know when I decide I am ready to go for the next grade and then I will get the books and start the study. I feel more relaxed about things and can take things at a steady pace and I do not feel that I have to rush anything. cool

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#2012047 - 01/10/13 02:43 AM Re: exams [Re: adultpianist]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Fantastic! There's so much repertoire at your stage, and I hope you enjoy it! smile
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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