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#347674 - 11/10/06 04:58 PM Grading scale of difficulty
Jamie22 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/10/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Washington
Hello! This is my first time posting on Piano World Forums. I just have a question regarding the grading scale of music. Sometimes when I want to buy sheet music, I see some sort of system for grading the difficulty. Could someone explain this system to me with maybe some examples of popluar songs for each level? Also, what level of playing am I? Some songs I am learning currently are Ronda Alla Turca (mozart), Tarantella in A Minor (Pieczonka), Flight of the Bumble Bee (Rimsky-Korsakov), Sonata in C, Hob. XVI/1 (Haydn), and Waltz in Dflat Major Op. 64 No. 1 (Chopin). thanks for all your help!

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#347675 - 11/10/06 08:08 PM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
phonehome Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/06
Posts: 921
I personally despise grading systems in music. There are many "technically" difficult pieces that are not difficult to pull off. There are also many works (specifically late Beethoven, Schubert, and some works of Liszt) which are not as difficult from a mechanical standpoint as many other pieces but should be considered as difficult to perform successfully as anything out there because of the emotional capacity and poetry needed to understand them.

As far as grading, I'll go on a scale from 1-10. This is just my personal opinion of these pieces, and many will probably disagree with certain things. Many considerations are taken. For example, there are certain pieces that are technically graspable by extremely prodigal 12 year olds that they should NEVER play because they can't possibly understand them.

10. Rachmaninoff's 3rd concerto, Bartok's 2nd Concerto, Prokofiev's 2nd Concerto, Prokofiev Sonata No. 8, Samuel Barber Sonata, The last three Beethoven Sonatas, Liszt Sonata, Schumann Fantasie

9. Rachmaninoff's 2nd concerto and Paganini Rhapsody, Gaspard De la nuit, Debussy's Imagines Book II, Chopin Sonata No. 2, Prokofiev's 3rd and 5th concertos, Apassionata, most Schubert Sonatas, Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies

The rest to come haha this is taking too long

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#347676 - 11/11/06 02:26 AM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
phonehome Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/06
Posts: 921
I personally despise grading systems in music. There are many "technically" difficult pieces that are not difficult to pull off. There are also many works (specifically late Beethoven, Schubert, and some works of Liszt) which are not as difficult from a mechanical standpoint as many other pieces but should be considered as difficult to perform successfully as anything out there because of the emotional capacity and poetry needed to understand them.

As far as grading, I'll go on a scale from 1-10. This is just my personal opinion of these pieces, and many will probably disagree with certain things. Many considerations are taken. For example, there are certain pieces that are technically graspable by extremely prodigal 12 year olds that they should NEVER play because they can't possibly understand them.

10. Rachmaninoff's 3rd concerto, Bartok's 2nd Concerto, Prokofiev's 2nd Concerto, Prokofiev Sonata No. 8, Samuel Barber Sonata, The last three Beethoven Sonatas, Liszt Sonata, Schumann Fantasie

9. Rachmaninoff's 2nd concerto and Paganini Rhapsody, Gaspard De la nuit, Debussy's Imagines Book II, Chopin Sonata No. 2, Prokofiev's 3rd and 5th concertos, Apassionata, most Schubert Sonatas, Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies

The rest to come haha this is taking too long

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#347677 - 11/11/06 03:30 AM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
alex s Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 39
Loc: san antonio
I'm not trying to be distracting from the original post, but I'm curious as to what pieces a prodigal 12 year old could technically play, but shouldn't, because they can't understand them. What is so "deep" about such a piece that it stands incomprehensible to a younger person. And what type of maturity needs to develop before it should be attempted and performed.

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#347678 - 11/11/06 08:43 AM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
ctnski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/06
Posts: 272
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
Greetings,

May I refer the original poster to Maurice Hinson's excellent "Guide to the Pianist's Repertoire (3rd Edition, Indiana Univ. Press, 2000)? He uses four grades: easy, intermediate, moderately difficult, and difficult. Not every piece is specifically graded, but by reading between the lines, as it were, I should say all the pieces you mentioned are on the "M-D". The Guide contains an ordering of Beethoven sonatas by progressive difficulty, which I have found useful. Cheers.
_________________________
NY Steinway A 2005; Roland FP-7F/ FP-4

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#347679 - 11/11/06 09:17 AM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18890
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by alex s:
[...] but I'm curious as to what pieces a prodigal 12 year old could technically play, but shouldn't, because they can't understand them. What is so "deep" about such a piece that it stands incomprehensible to a younger person. And what type of maturity needs to develop before it should be attempted and performed. [/b]
I would suggest that such pieces as the late Beethoven Sonatas, the Schubert posthumous Bb Sonata and the Bach Goldberg Variations, for example, would fall into this category as would any of the late Brahms pieces.

Just as a young - even if brilliant - actor cannot really "bring off" Richard III or King Lear, so a youthful pianist, while being able to play all the notes, cannot bring the depth of interpretation required to successfully play the late Beethoven Sonatas.

Some famous pianists have corroborated this idea by saying that, although they "learned" such pieces in their youth, it was not until their later years that they "understood" the depth of these pieces, an understanding that only life experience can bring.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#347680 - 11/11/06 07:44 PM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
phonehome Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/06
Posts: 921
And as far as your repertoire goes, Jamie, I'd say you're about a grade 5 1/2. Of course, my system sucks and I have no clue what I'm talking about, but that doesn't matter =o).

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#347681 - 11/13/06 06:58 AM Re: Grading scale of difficulty
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
Jamie, try this:
http://www.pianostreet.com/Graded_Pieces_All.xls

- or the ABRSM:
http://www.abrsm.org/resources/perfDip05Part2.pdf
(This is the link to their diploma-exam-syllabus. The grading 1-8 you can find elsewhere on their site.)

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