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#506180 - 01/03/08 12:23 PM ABRSM Grades
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
I think the ABRSM grading systems are excellent systems, and constribute greatly to the development and maturity of a pianist (or any other instrumentalist I would think).

However, despite their numerous advantages, I cannot help but feel a bit unsure about one aspect of them.

Here it is:
To pass your an entire section of it [the exam], or the entire exam, you must play two-thirds the standard of perfection (don't read that too literally). And to pass with distinction, the performance must be thirteen-fifteenths.

To 'pass' on the Scales and Arpeggios section , for example, you must score 14/21. No work offered is 14 less. For a distinctive performance, call it 19 marks; 5 more [than a passing performance].

To 'pass' on the scales (and arpeggios), however, you need only be able to know the notes, and have a general gist of going up and down, but for a 'distinction' you must be able to play all of them with even fingers, with total precision and accuracy; they must really bu under your fingers. To me, I cannot help but feel that it takes much more effort to learn to do that from a '14 score standard' of scales, than it is to learn the '14 score standard' from A PREVIOUS GRADE.
Applying the same thought to all the other sections, it seems to me that scoring 100 is 'out of scale' easier than it is to score 130. The difference between a 'merit' and a 'distinction', is going to be even more out of proportion; 10 marks of difference, with 6 sections, so each section will on average have about a tenth of it's score as the difference between a merit and a distinction. In contratst that there's two-thirds of difference bewtween no offered work and an "acceptable" standard of performance, I cannot help but feel a little doubtful of the system.


I am aware, that I am of much less musicality, experience, wisdom and any other quality than the ABRSM executives of which gives them the reasons and appropriateness to be in control of the exams etc..
I will not be offended if anyone replies saying bluntly that I am in the wrong.


Thanks for your opinions in advance though!!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#506181 - 01/04/08 12:54 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1164
Loc: Singapore
I used to take ABRSM exams but switched over to RCM soon after I moved here. If you ask me, RCM is much better, particularly because the student learns more.

Compare these 2:
For ABRSM exams, Grade 1-FRSM, you only need to learn 3 pieces. Whereas for RCM, the nunber of pieces that you need to learn increases as you go on.

to pass the exam for grades 1-10 you need to get a minimal mark of 60%, consider the fact that the individual who takes the exam has to learn more as well.
to pass the ARCT teacher's or performer's exam a minimum mark of 70 is required.

to pass technique a minimum mark of 6 is required.

this is the rcm's marking system:
90-100: 1st class honours with distinction
80-89: 1st class honours
70-79: honours
60-69: pass

although there's only a 10 mark difference between each point, there is a wide difference in the standard of playing, a huge one actually.

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#506182 - 01/04/08 06:21 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Amelia:
For ABRSM exams, Grade 1-FRSM, you only need to learn 3 pieces.

This is not actually the case. E.g. I played 5 pieces (total of 8 'movements'[1], if you like) for the 35 minute recital at DipABRSM. The LRSM and FRSM awards offer just as much flexibility. Even at Grade 8, although only three 'pieces' were required, with those that I chose this translated into 6 movements[2].

The ABRSM marking systems are quite different for the practical exams and diplomas:

Grades 1-8:[/b]
100-119/150 pass
120-129/150 merit
above 130 distinction

Diplomas: (DipABRSM, LRSM, FRSM)[/b]
40-50/100: pass
50-60/100: clear pass
60-70/100: high pass
above 70%: distinction

This is perhaps due to the professional exams reflecting the somewhat miserly tradition of grading arts subjects a degree level at British academic institutions. E.g. during my undergraduate (language/literature) studies, exams (including finals) were set and graded at a standard so as to produce something like the following:

40-44/100 ordinary pass (no honours)
45-49/100 3rd class honours
50-60/100 2nd class honours (division two)
60-70/100 2nd class honours (division one)
above 70% 1st class honours

Therefore one could conclude (given the arguable equivalence of the level required[3]) that the ARCT marking system (70% minimum pass compared to a DipABRSM's 40% minimum pass mark), basically gives you an extra 30% merely for turning up on time and sitting on the piano bench the right way round \:\)

On a more serious note, differences in marking systems are not particularly relevant; they are just alternative ways of skinning the same cat. Examining boards are evaluating musical performances and skills to a general standard and use the various marking systems as tools in the appropriate fashion.

However, what is of fundamental importance is consistency and control. I believe that all serious and respected institutions (ABRSM, RCM, AMEB, etc) are continually training, informing and observing their examiners, as well as analysing performances presented and corresponding marks awarded, so as to achieve consistent and meaningful results. E.g. at diploma level all ABRSM exams are recorded (recital, viva voce and sight-reading test) for subsequent analysis and appraisal by a supervisory committee in London, to ensure that overall standards are being equally applied to all candidates by the various examiners; this is one reason why one has to wait at least two months for the results.


Michael B.
[1] Two distinct pieces, two preludes and fugues, and a two-movement sonata.
[2] One distinct piece, a prelude and fugue and a three movement sonata.
[3] e.g. either a DipABRSM or an ARCT is acceptable as prerequisite qualifications for a LRSM entry.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#506183 - 01/04/08 09:44 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
arp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 64
Loc: Solihull, England
 Quote:

For ABRSM exams, Grade 1-FRSM, you only need to learn 3 pieces.
I wonder when they dropped the 4th piece from the higher grades? When I was doing exams in the mid 1970s, for Grades V - VII it was a requirement to present 4 pieces.

There wasn't a lot of choice - two lists of three pieces which you couldn't mix and match and one out of four choices for the last piece. The first piece was usually Bach or Scarlatti, the second Beethoven, Mozart or Haydn, the third Grieg, Chopin or Schumann and the fourth a "modern" such as Poulenc, Bartok or Shostakovich but you could subsitute with one of the alternative pieces eg I played a Purcell piece for Grade V.

At the time (I was in my teens) I had absolutely no idea why the lists were structured in this way and none of my (four) teachers ever explained the background to the composers or even gave me a choice as to which of the pieces I was going to play in the exam. It was only until I started studying music academically with the Open University, a couple of years ago, that the penny dropped about how they represented particular trends in the history of music.

I've bought a couple of Grade V and VI books from the current syllabus and I can see that the choice is a lot wider. However, it looks to me as if the basic structure is actually quite similar except that the first piece is now Bach/Scarlatti/Mozart/Beethoven instead of having two pieces from this selection. The modern section has also moved on somewhat to include jazz piano.

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#506184 - 01/04/08 11:35 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
C H O P I N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 310
Loc: England
ABRSM has gotten easier... I believe I read somewhere that (when ABRSM was harder) the people who passed ABRSM grade 8 with distinction were considered exceptional pianists - the elite, because the performance level was so much higher.

For example; there wern't many pieces that were "outside" of the grade 8 ABRSM standard, but now almost everything seems to be!

I'm doing the ABRSM grade 5, and all though it has a few nice little pieces, one thing that caught my eye was the first piece in the sylabus - "Andante in B flat" (W.A Mozart). I remember my uncle telling me that for his grade 5 exam (about 37 years ago) he had to play Mozart's "Sonata Facile". Wich is alot more difficult than a small "andante" movement.

I also remember him telling me that he played "Fantasie Impromtu" for his grade 7, but looking at the sylabus online, the only Chopin piece is the Nocturne in F minor and thats in the grade 8 list. Not easy, but not as difficult as the Fantasie.

There were indeed 4 pieces to learn too.

The format of the grading system is good... In that it tests all of your technical abilities too. That side of the system hasn't gotten easier to my knowledge, and as far as scales and arrpegios go, there's a hell of alot to learn at the grade 8 standard.

C H O P I N
_________________________
"I Think Therefore I Am." - Rene Descartes

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#506185 - 01/04/08 11:49 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
 Quote:
Originally posted by C H O P I N:
I believe I read somewhere that (when ABRSM was harder) the people who passed ABRSM grade 8 with distinction were considered exceptional pianists - the elite, because the performance level was so much higher.

For example; there wern't many pieces that were "outside" of the grade 8 ABRSM standard, but now almost everything seems to be! [/b]
I can't really believe this. I passed grade 8 with distinction over 20 years ago, and it's very clear that there's a huge amount of music out there which is beyond me. I feel like I'm just beginning rather than being one of the elite.

I have some old ABRSM books (40 years old or so) which don't seem any harder than grade 8 was when I took it. On the other hand I have some books from another British examination board ( Trinity ) which are definitely harder, although of course their grading system is different. But the overall standard for Trinity does seem higher than ABRSM.
_________________________
John

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#506186 - 01/04/08 12:49 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
I don't think that simply because the pieces are 'note easier' the exam should be considered easier, well maybe a tiny bit, but nothing too great.
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#506187 - 01/04/08 02:40 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
JohnEB:
I passed grade 8 with distinction over 20 years ago[/b]

Er, (counts on fingers), 28 years ago for me. Then again, there were periods of numerous years between then and now where I played very little, and when I did, it was not particularly challenging material either; only in 2005 did I restart in a reasonably serious fashion.

I feel like I'm just beginning rather than being one of the elite.[/b]

Same here. The DipABRSM last year was a stepping stone towards a more considered way of learning, practicing and playing, but the gap between that and what is expected at the next level up seems a bit of yawning chasm to my bloodshot eyes at the moment, and I can see it taking at least two to three years of hard work to get towards LRSM level in terms of technique, repertoire and experience. That said, I am in no rush, and am just trying to enjoy the ride ;\) .

Even then, (and no disrespect at all to those who possess that or similar qualifications, far from it, as it something to which I very much aspire), one is hardly one of the elite, but just one of many well-rounded and experienced musicians around there are around these days.

I have some old ABRSM books (40 years old or so)[/b]

I have some Grade 5,6 and 7 books from the early 1930s (inherited when I was a teenager from an elderly neighbour whose wife was a pianist), which seem perhaps a little more demanding than when I took these exams. Then again, perhaps the examiners were slightly more forgiving of a not quite so accomplished performance of a more 'difficult' piece. Or perhaps, like an ageing sportsman, the older I get, the better I was \:D .

-Michael B.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#506188 - 01/04/08 03:15 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1164
Loc: Singapore
Micheal: "either a DipABRSM or an ARCT is acceptable as prerequisite qualifications for a LRSM entry."

although this statement is probably true, i'm going to have to disagree with it. why is ARCT a quilification for a LRSM entry, rather ARCT should be a prerequisite qualification for FRSM entry.


For the ARCT performer's exam, the student is expected to prep is recital with the max.time of 1 hr. The following pieces must be performed:
J.S Bach P+F or a Concert piece
Complete Classical Sonata
18 C Piece
Early 20th C piece
Late 20th C piece
Concert Etude
The ARCT Performer's exam is really hard and the pieces from the LRSM syllubus are all in the ARCT syllubus list. It should vary on what the individual is learning rather.

"Therefore one could conclude (given the arguable equivalence of the level required[3]) that the ARCT marking system (70% minimum pass compared to a DipABRSM's 40% minimum pass mark), basically gives you an extra 30% merely for turning up on time and sitting on the piano bench the right way round"
I disagree with this. You have no idea how hard it is to pass the ARCT exam. Many people have failed it and retaken it. ARCT examiners are very particular about a piece being played well.

My teacher is an ARCT examiner herself so she knows.

You seriously should check both syllubuses and compare them, starting from the beginning.

Not to mention, while the ABRSM exams have been getting easier, the RCM exams have been getting harder since I moved here.

For ABRSM dip even if you played 5 pieces, the Grade 10 RCM exam requires 5 pieces plus 2 studies to be played from memory. actually, it's optional for the 2 studies.

In the end though really it always depends on the teacher. When I was doing ABRSM exams with my previous teacher, I only learnt the 3 pieces that were required, no extra learnt at all.
Currently with my present teacher I learn alot more. I even learnt extra pieces for my grade 10 RCM exam.
Now for my ARCT exam, well by the time i'm done next year I will be done with many other pieces as well. My current teacher does not believe in teaching only what is required for the exam but much more then that, double or triple the number amount of pieces.
Having said that this is what i've learnt not having taken my exam yet:
1 Bach concert piece
3 complete classical sonatas
2 18th C pieces
2 early 20th C pieces
1 late 20th C piece
4-5 concert etudes

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#506189 - 01/04/08 04:39 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Amelia,

I am not going to get into some kind of "which exam board's examination is the hardest" contest, I was merely correcting a factual error that you made concerning the number of pieces required from ABRSM "Grade 1- FRSM" as stated in your post.


the pieces from the LRSM syllubus are all in the ARCT syllubus list[/b]

And many Grade 8 pieces are in the DipABRSM list, but this is not particularly relevant either. As has been mentioned above and many times before, the apparent difficulty of pieces on a repertoire list is not an surefire pointer as to what absolute standard of technical ability, precision and musicianship that is required to gain a particular grade in any exam. Perhaps an ARCT simple pass performance would not be sufficient for the same in an LRSM exam for the same piece. The facts as published would seem to suggest this is not unlikely, given that an ARCT is considered as an 'acceptable subsitution' for a DipABRSM as a prerequisite for LRSM entry, rather than anything like its equivalent.

I am sure that if the ABRSM really did consider it to be more fitting as a prerequisite for the FRSM than LRSM, then of course it would be. The entry fee for FRSM is nearly 50% higher, so it would make economic sense for a start ;\) . Seriously, the people who make these evaluations and take these decisions know a lot more about these things than either you, I or anyone on this forum do, so I am willing to take their word for it and I think you should too.

The ARCT Performer's exam is really hard[/b]

I am sure that it is not easy, as it is considered to be a professional examination. By the way, are there any written submission, interview/viva voce/analysis elements, or a sight-reading/quick study test, as there are for the ABRSM diplomas?

You have no idea how hard it is to pass the ARCT exam.[/b]

Nor you a DipABRSM or LRSM...

Many people have failed it and retaken it.[/b]

Many people also fail the DipABRSM (about half at their first attempt according to ABRSM statistics) and then retake it, though this in itself means nothing. Perhaps the neither the RCM nor the ABRSM are doing a good enough job of educating and informing potential candidates and teachers about the standard that is expected, or perhaps otherwise passable candidates get overly-nervous and mess it up on the day, or maybe a whole host of other reasons.

Nevertheless, I still stand by the essence of my (somewhat jocular) assertion that the marking schemes are incomparable, given the "minimum pass to distinction" range is 70-90 for ARCT, and 40-70 for ABRSM. A very small percentage of ABRSM diploma candidates achieve over 70%, and I would bet hardly any over 80 in a given year. Please re-read what I stated about British marking schemes at university level, and perhaps this might become clearer. In any arts subject, a mark over 70% is exceptional, and a mark over 40% is considered worthy of a pass. So, the effective marking 'window' (from lowest possible to pass up to the best candidate of the year) is probably 40-80 in the ABRSM way of thinking. This would appear to be more like 70-95 (or maybe 100?) according to the ARCT philosophy.

As I said before, it is just different ways of achieving the same thing, and you shouldn't get too confused by it. If you really believe that anyone who merely passes ARCT (with the minimum 70) would have automatically a got a distinction (with 70) at DipABRSM, then you are clearly mistaken, given how the relative merit and standard of these qualifications are considered by the academic bodies concerned.

I would be interested to look through the ARCT syllabus, but the RCM hasn't joined the 21st century yet and made the repertoire list available online (unlike all ABRSM diploma and practical exam information), and I am not going to order a postal copy from Canada to Switzerland just for the fun of it \:\) .

All the best in your ARCT studies.

Michael B.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#506190 - 01/04/08 05:21 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
C H O P I N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 310
Loc: England
Must be a mistake on my part then John. Possibly wasn't ABRSM, or I'm getting heavily confused. My uncle's teacher was a very demanding man, he was a concert pianist... (Used to wrap the kids knuckles, if they hadn't practised). It's quite possible he told me wrong, after all, 37 years is a long time - but I swear he mentioned the sylabus being harder. I'll ask him when I get a chance! ;\)

C H O P I N

PS - My uncle's piano teacher memorized the 48 preludes and fugues... Im sure that was never a grade requirement though! \:D
_________________________
"I Think Therefore I Am." - Rene Descartes

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#506191 - 01/04/08 08:16 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17666
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by PoStTeNeBrAsLuX:
Amelia,

[...] By the way, are there any written submission, interview/viva voce/analysis elements, or a sight-reading/quick study test, as there are for the ABRSM diplomas?

[/b]
Michael :

I am not - repeat not - in the "my exam is harder than your exam" camp.

I offer the following since I think you may be interested: here are some items from the RCM Syllabus re: the ARCT examination. Keep in mind that the ARCT examinee has two choices : Performer's ARCT or Teacher's ARCT. I'm quoting here almost exclusively from the section for Performer's ARCT.

"Candidates applying for Performer's or Teacher's ARCT examinations must have completed a Grade 10 practical examination with either a total mark of at least 75 or a minimum of 70 percent in each section of the practical examination. Candidates must also have completed all Grade 10 theory co-requisites with a total mark of at least 70 percent on each theory examination."

"Performer's ARCT Required examinations :
- Performer's ARCT Practical Examination
- Grade 2 Rudiments
- Grade 3 History
- Grade 4 History,
- Grade 4 Couterpoint
- Grade 5 Harmony or Advanced Keyboard Harmony
- Grade 5 History
- Grade 5 Analysis"

"The ARCT Diploma is the culmination of the RCM Examinations examination system. The Performer's ARCT examination will be evaluated as a concert performance. Excellence in every aspect of performance is expected.
Candidates must achieve an Honours standing (70 percent) in order to be awarded an ARCT Diploma.

Candidates are expected to perform with confidence, to communicate the essence of the music, and to demonstrate keyboard command. At the ARCT level, candidates must show an understanding of the stylistic and structural elements of each repertoire selection.

Within the overall performance there should be room for individuality, and if this individuality is present it will be rewarded. However, current performance practices and generally accepted stylistic approaches should be observed.

Memorization is compulsory. Candidates not playing from memory will receive comments only from the examiner. A mark of zero will be assigned to any repertoire selection played with the music. Consultation of the score is not permitted.

If a candidate is able to preserve the continuity of a performance of a work despite a small break in concentration, a passing mark will not be precluded.
The candidate's performance of a work may receive a failing grade for any of the following reasons:
- lack of stylistic awareness
- repeated interruptions in the continuity
- substantial omissions
- textual inaccuracies
- complete breakdown of the performance

[ARCT Practical Examination]
Candidates must be prepared to play six selections: one from each of
*List A: (Works of J.S. Bach)
*List B: Sonatas (Beethoven, Clementi, Grieg, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert)
*List C: Romantic Repertoire (Brahms, Chopin Franck Liszt Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann)
*List D: 20th-Century Repertoire (Albeniz, Debussy, Dohnanyi, Faure, Gershwin, Granados, Poulenc, Ravel, and others)
*List E: 20th-Century Repertoire (Barber, Bartok, Copland, Crumb, Ginastera, Hidemith, Messiaen, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Webern, and others)
*Concert Etudes (Chopin, debussy, Ligeti, Liszt, MacDowell, Moszkowski, Prokofiev, rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and others)

Scales, Four-Note chords, Arpeggios, Octave scales

Ear Tests
1 - Metre : Candidates will be asked to identify the time signature 2/4 3/4 6/3 9/8 of four-measure passages. The examiner will play each passage once.

2 - Intervals : Candidates may choose to
a) sing or hum any of the following intervals after the examiner plays the first note once or
b) identify any of the following intervals after the examiner has played the interval once in broken form :
- above a given note : any interval within a major 9th
- below a given note : any interval within an octave

3 - Chords : candidates will be asked to identify by chord symbols or names (I, tonic; V, dominant; etc.) the chords used in a four-measure phrase in a major key. The phrase will begin with a tonic chord and may include chords on the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth degrees of the scale. The final cadence may contain a cadential six-four chord. The examiner will play the tonic chord once and then play the phrase twice at a slow to moderate tempo. During the second playing, the candidate will name each chord after it has been played.

4 - Melody Playback : Candidates will be asked to play back a two-part phrase in a major key. The examiner will name the key, play the tonic triad once, and play the phrase twice.

5 - Sight Reading : 1) Candidates will be asked to play at sight a given passage approximately equal in difficulty to repertoire of a Grade 9 level. 2) Candidates will be asked to play at sight a passage equal in difficulty to repertoire of a Grade 3 level, demonstrating the musical features and characteristics of the piece. (No question will be asked about this music.) 3) Candidates will be asked to clap or tap the rhythm of a melody. A steady pace and rhythmic accentuation are expected.

The Viva Voce Examination on A. Pedagogical Principles and B. Applied Pedagogy are reserved for the ARCT Teacher's Examination.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190 in satin ebony

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#506192 - 01/05/08 04:43 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Thanks for that Bruce, I appreciate your taking the time to post the information. Similarly I will not repeat anything concerning the perceived difficulty of any exam, just a few impressions about the format.

It would appear that structure of the ARCT exam resembles more that of a ABRSM practical exam, in terms of pieces, scales/arpeggios, aural tests[1], sight-reading, etc., rather than the ABRSM diploma awards. Neither scales/arpeggios nor aural tests are features in any ABRSM diploma examination, whereas the written submission (basically programme notes for the recital) and a 15-20 minute viva voce section, both of which are absent from the Performer's ARCT, account for 25% of the total mark (sight-reading for 15% and recital for 60%, and all three section must be passed.)

If I recall correctly there have been some comments from certain quarters that the written submission and viva voce parts of the ABRSM diplomas are given too much importance from a marking point of view, and that the exam tests more the general musicianship and communication skills than the outright performing ability of the candidate. The predictable response, from those who agree with the current policy, is that general musical knowledge and experience, as well as the ability to communicate, are also very important aspects of being a performer, rather than just being able to play all the right notes in the right order.

Thanks again and enjoy your weekend!


Michael B.
[1] Here is the ABRSM Aural test syllabus:
http://abrsm.org/resources/auralSyllabusComplete08.pdf
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#506193 - 01/05/08 07:39 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Has anyone read more into my original post concerning the distribution of marks?
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#506194 - 01/05/08 08:41 AM Re: ABRSM Grades
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
hopinmad,

Before getting distracted by statements such as "RCM is much better, particularly because the student learns more," I did try to understand the point you were making, in terms of effort/standard required for the reward gained. But it seems to me that the issue is simply one of bell-curves, medians, distribution, standard deviation and all that other stuff that caused my eyes to glaze over during maths and statistics classes all those years ago. It is a bit like a case of diminishing returns: to get just a few marks more, it costs an awful lot extra in terms of work and dedication.

But you are right; there is an inordinate amount of work required to raise, for example, one's scales performance from a pedestrian 14/21 (pass) standard to a 19/21 (distinction) style, similarly for the pieces from 20/30 (pass) to 26/30 (distinction). To take the piece example, it does seem a bit odd at first sight that one gets the first 20 marks for playing the piece in a recognisable fashion with some attention to dynamics and phrasing, but overall not a hugely artistically impressive performance. Then, to gain a distinction, those next measly 6 marks are such a world apart in terms of practice, awareness, musicianship, talent or whatever, that perhaps it doesn't seem in proportion.

I think the important thing to remember is that examiners are fully aware that the difference of a couple of marks here and there (once over the pass threshold) is where the whole drama is played out, and think long and hard about whether a piece was worth say, a 24 or a 27, as such decisions will make a big impact on the overall final grade. I also share others' strong suspicions that examiners also look at the overall mark, and perhaps reflect on whether this really corresponds with their general feeling about the candidate's overall performance and presentation, and then perhaps review individual section marks (up or down) with this in mind.

Anyway, don't get too distracted by it all... the time spent worrying about it, is of course time not[/b] spent putting in the practice in order to get those extra few little marks that make all the difference \:\)

-Michael B.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#506195 - 01/08/08 06:21 PM Re: ABRSM Grades
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Yes yes you understand me.
I had myself suspected that suspicion of examiners looking at the overall mark and reflecting in it maybe their general feeling before reviewing the individual sections with that in mind.

It would be greatly interesting to see different examiners exam, simply for curiousity.

And it indeed it naive of me not to realise the examiners are well aware of the difference of a few marks here and there.

Thanks for the reply anyway!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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