Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years?

Posted by: Teenagepiano

Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 12:12 PM

This is Grade 5 ABRSM btw.

I started learning piano this year. I've decided that I don't want to do every grade, but a simple progression would be just the Grade 5 and then the Grade 8. I am prepared to work hard to achieve this, since I actually like playing piano, practising for a couple of hours daily isn't a daunting task.

I do have a teacher and will ask him next lesson if its possible for me, but in general is this possible?

How long did it take you to get to grade 5?
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 12:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
I am prepared to work hard to achieve this,
Since you are ready to work hard, yes, it is possible.
Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
How long did it take you to get to grade 5?
I never did grades. My teacher took me out of graded books when I was playing for about a year and a half. After that, I purchased complete books of scores like all the Chopin Waltzes, Preludes, etc. and played with those. I never had any idea what grade I was playing. When I finally found out, I was a bit surprised to say the least.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 12:28 PM

It depends on how naturally talented you are. You can even reach grade 8 within 3 years (many prodigies have) if you have the work ethic as well as the talent - though I think you'll need much more than 2 hours/day practice to achieve that, talent or no talent.

But don't forget that you'll need Grade 5 Theory to do Grade 8 practical.

Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 12:39 PM

I never dealt with grades or levels.

Is this like video games where you have to unlock one level before you move onto the next?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 12:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I never dealt with grades or levels.

Is this like video games where you have to unlock one level before you move onto the next?


I've never played a video game in my life (unless Space Invaders circa 1980 fit the criteria) but yes, unlocking Grade 1 gives you the key to the stratosphere...

You even get a certificate to frame to display on your bedroom wall, unlike with video games grin.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 01:22 PM

While moving ahead rapidly through a graded system is possible, and while not every student "does" every grade, there is one thing to be mindful of if you try to go too far to fast: Skipping much of the earlier, basic repertoire can often lead to a poorer understanding and perhaps a poorer technical and artistic grasp of the simpler forms that lead to larger, more complex forms. Without that understanding, perhaps your concept of larger forms will be less firm than it could be.

Surely you can still play a Beethoven Sonata if you have never studied a Clementi Sonatina and certainly you can play a Bach Prelude and Fugue without having studied the Two- and Three-Part Inventions, but your progress in these larger works may be hampered if you have not worked your way up to them.

None of this - the various graded systems - really matters at all if your teacher has you on a system or plan that takes you progressively through the development of your technique as well as the building of your understanding of the forms that you will be studying.

You have to decide why you want to advance at a rapid pace; if it's just to get to the goal of Grade 8 ABRSM sooner rather than later, you have to consider that there may be disadvantages to doing so. By all means, consult with your teacher.

Regards,
Posted by: Schmoe

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 01:53 PM

I'm not familiar with the ABRSM grading system, but it's possible to advance quite quickly in a short time if you're willing to put in the effort. Just make sure that you are practicing when you sit down to improve, not playing. Push yourself to fail every practice session, hit the limit of your ability, and find how to improve. Obviously, a great teacher helps with this.

Again, I'm not familiar with the ABRSM grading system, but looking at the list of expected pieces for grade 5 I was well past them in terms of technical ability by the three year mark. Emotionally, I connected to the music, but in the past year I've matured immensely. I've now been playing for four years and am currently working on Copland's Piano Variations as well as selections from Debussy's Preludes, Messaiens' Vingt Regards, Bach's WTC, and Chopin's Etudes.

Above all, pace yourself and enjoy it! Even technically simple pieces have much to offer, and you'll be better off perfecting your skills in one grade before going to another (even if it takes longer than you expect).
Posted by: Teenagepiano

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 02:36 PM

Thanks for all the advice.

My motivation isn't purely to have a certificate on the wall displaying my apparent achievements.

I just want to be able to pick up any piece I choose and play it. Currently all the pieces I want to play are above my ability(pathetique sonata, tempest sonata, beethoven-lizst 5th sympthony, Chopins Fantasie-Impromptu, Revolutionary Etude, and the list goes on).

All of these pieces are around grade 8 level. While I agree that I don't have to do grades, personally I feel that they are good for motivation and as a benchmark. I just want my technical ability to catch up to the music that I enjoy. For example, currently I'm working on Moonlight Sonata 2nd movement, Clair de Lune, but I find it tough due to my sight reading.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 03:07 PM

Personally, I believe that one thing the Grade system (ABRSM is the one I'm familiar with but I think the other boards require similar) gets right is its insistence on developing 'musicality'. If a young or adult beginner pianist learns piano with no intention of doing any Grade exams, chances are his teacher wouldn't require him to be able to sing a note played on the piano (or a specified interval above/below it), sing a whole tune after just two hearings, copy and clap the rhythm as well as know the simple time of a piece of music (again after two hearings), then conduct it, etc. All these are required in the ABRSM Grade exams (and of course, to do Grade 8, you have to know the rudiments of harmony, counterpoint and composition).

I have a friend who started learning the piano after he retired five years ago, and got a teacher as well as investing in a Steinway upright (no less). Originally he intended to do the Grade exams, but found the aural part of the exam too difficult, and decided against it. So he just learns easy pieces, but still can't sing a note at the right pitch, can't reproduce a simple rhythm and can't tell whether a piece is in duple, triple or quadruple time.
Posted by: TrueMusic

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 03:12 PM

Haha, teenagepiano, you remind me of myself a few years back. Yes it's possible, just be willing to buckle down and practice! Get a good teacher and trust their guidance [even when you may think you know better] and if the teacher knows your goals, they should have a good idea of how to get you there.

Also, keep in mind, we almost always enjoy music that's a bit past our technical level, wink. Once you get to be able to play things like the Pathetique, you'll probably start enjoying more Liszt or late Beethoven, or maybe Rachmaninoff, and things that again...are a stretch and slightly beyond where you're at. [Also, by the way, all the pieces you listed were ones I wanted to do three years back but were beyond me, and although I'm not working on them right now they're all well within my reach. Except maybe the Liszt-Beethoven. Then again, I would never really want to play that one. But all that to say, it's doable!]
Posted by: carey

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 03:39 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
So he just learns easy pieces, but still can't sing a note at the right pitch, can't reproduce a simple rhythm and can't tell whether a piece is in duple, triple or quadruple time.

Perhaps he should have taken up golf instead......grin
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 04:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
I do have a teacher and will ask him next lesson if its possible for me, but in general is this possible?


Yes.

Lots of people get to grade 5 repertoire in three years. But it takes a certain age, training, background, and level of physical talent to get there.

Then there's the question of what "Grade 5" means. Cramming pieces into your hands well enough to get a passing score on a performance exam is a lot easier (and maybe less meaningful) than going into more musical depth with earlier repertoire.

Think of it this way - you could practice souffl├ęs for a year and get really good at them, but that wouldn't make you a pastry chef. For that, you'd need actual culinary training in a variety of different desserts. Of course, if all you care about is making souffl├ęs, then that's fine, too.
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 06:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
This is Grade 5 ABRSM btw.

I started learning piano this year. I've decided that I don't want to do every grade, but a simple progression would be just the Grade 5 and then the Grade 8. I am prepared to work hard to achieve this, since I actually like playing piano, practising for a couple of hours daily isn't a daunting task.

I do have a teacher and will ask him next lesson if its possible for me, but in general is this possible?

How long did it take you to get to grade 5?




It really depends on the student, but if you're prepared to work for it, then you'll likely make it if only out of sheer effort. wink

I personally didn't take exams for every grade, and I don't recommend my students take exams for every grade either.

I'm not sure what level you're at right now, but yes, it can be possible, keeping in mind that it depends on the student and their practice techniques.

Also keep in mind that music isn't just about the notes and memorizing scales, it's much more than that. wink
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/24/12 06:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
(pathetique sonata, tempest sonata, beethoven-lizst 5th sympthony, Chopins Fantasie-Impromptu, Revolutionary Etude

That's the danger of thinking in terms of "levels." Some of these pieces are definitely post-grade 8, if not several years post-grade 8. Learning piano does not end at grade 8, and playing at grade 8 does not mean you will be able to play all the difficult music out there.

If you truly have your eyes set on playing very difficult music, then taking these leveled exams is really not for you--you're beyond that. Just be prepared to spend many years of practice before you get there.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/25/12 12:07 AM

Yes.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/25/12 03:15 AM

Could you learn all of your "dream pieces" in 3-5 years time? A very "iffy" maybe.

Would you spend the next 3 years doing nothing else but struggle learning them if that was your be-all and end-all goal? Yes.

After 3 years time, would you be able to pick up a similarly difficult piece and learn it with any ease? No.

Would your time be better spent learning and progressing properly for the next 5-10 years so that you could finally then look at such pieces and be able to play them beautifully after but only a few days/weeks time? Definitely.
Posted by: debrucey

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/25/12 04:41 AM

I think you need three ingredients to reach your goals.

1. A good teacher
2. Good and regular practice
3. Humility
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: Is it possible to reach grade 5 within 3 years? - 11/25/12 06:40 AM

Originally Posted By: debrucey
I think you need three ingredients to reach your goals.

1. A good teacher
2. Good and regular practice
3. Humility


Almost all the great advice I've received at Piano World is recapitulated in that short post.

Taking up the piano for the first time as a 59-year-old beginner has done wonders for my humility. If, when she first met him, Guinevere had persuaded Lancelot to start on piano, "Camelot" might have ended differently.