Even stupider question

Posted by: ten left thumbs

Even stupider question - 12/27/12 04:40 AM

These 10 levels (of which everyone speaks so knowledgeably), are they standard across the board? (By which, I mean the US)

I have in front of me Jane Magrath's Standard guide, copies of Keith Snell piano repertoire, and The Achievement Program (Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory) piano syllabus. They all have 10 levels.

We have 8 grades here, not 10 levels, and I've been trying to work out how they compare.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 10:18 AM

It's pretty arbitrary, and there's no standardization when it comes to determining what makes a level/grade 5 for example. So you really have to compare the repertoire to be sure you're comparing apples to apples.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 11:03 AM

The US is a free-for-all when it comes to private music instruction, which fits with the American psyche of individualism. But various state (vs national) organizations of music teachers over the years put together graded syllabuses as teaching suggestions.

A studio teacher may give some credence to these suggestions, or not. As Morodienne says, the whole thing is arbitrary, but can be helpful guidance.

Here in English Canada the British-flavored Royal Conservatory system has divided repertoire into 11 compartments of difficulty, Grades 1 through 10, plus a graduation level (which for some reason is not called 11).

For many years the Royal Conservatory has been trying to establish beachheads in the US, since the US is such a big market and much of this graded system is about making money (i.e., through selling books and exams). This campaign hasn't been too successful, but with enough advertising and promotion anything is possible.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 11:10 AM

Thumbs, this might be easier for you: simply find a calculator, and multiply every piece in your graded system by one point two five. Et voila! Suddenly you could pass for a Yankee.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 11:17 AM

1.25, not quite sure I've got you.

So far I've been working under the hypothesis that level 3 more or less equates to grade 1, etc, and that seems to work for the lower grades.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 11:31 AM

Check your calculator. Or multiply by three instead. :-)
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
1.25, not quite sure I've got you.

You don't like math, eh?

All the posts so far are spot on. I know for certain RCM is trying to take root in California, but it's hard to persuade piano teachers who, as a species, defy evolution.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 12:40 PM

The Magrath level 10 is lower than the RCM level 10, although I've never stopped to work out just what RCM level Magrath's book reaches.

The Henle website also has a 10-level ranking of pieces.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 12:44 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
The Magrath level 10 is lower than the RCM level 10, although I've never stopped to work out just what RCM level Magrath's book reaches.

Jane Magrath's expectations are more realistic. That being said, RCM levels are generally pretty realistic as well.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 01:11 PM

Actually Keith Snell Repertoire has 11 levels:
Preparatory
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Level 6
Level 7
Level 8
Level 9
Level 10
So, it is 11 levels.
Same as CM in California by MTAC, we have 11 levels too, not 10.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 01:27 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Same as CM in California by MTAC, we have 11 levels too, not 10.

Well, if you want to get that specific, then you're forgetting Panel, Panel Master Class, and Young Artist Guild. Some folks think CM has 14 "levels."
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 10:13 PM

"...Re: Even stupider question..."

"The only stupid question is the one that is not asked." Socrates, as I remember (or Plato, quoting him); I paraphrase freely.

Actually, it seems to me that the dialectic went something more like: "When a wise man doesn't understand something, he says, 'I don't understand.' When a fool doesn't understand something, he says... nothing."

Anyway, ten left, now you're informed; we all are.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: Even stupider question - 12/27/12 10:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
.
...For many years the Royal Conservatory has been trying to establish beachheads in the US, since the US is such a big market and much of this graded system is about making money (i.e., through selling books and exams). This campaign hasn't been too successful, but with enough advertising and promotion anything is possible.


Peter, do you know of any registry of U.S. piano teachers who use the Royal Conservatory system?

If there aren't any in my area, might it make sense to broach with a non-RCM teacher the concept of attempting to pursue the RCM curriculum? In other words, can a student and teacher do this on a DIY basis, or is there a need to have been raised in, and be plugged into, the formal network?
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Even stupider question - 12/28/12 01:10 AM

Sure, anyone can jump into the RCM exams on a do-it-yourself basis, with or without a teacher's help. Kids would not do so without a teacher cracking the whip, but sometimes adults do it on their own.

I'm sure there are lists of teachers who espouse the RCM religion in Nebraska, Hawaii, and northern Virginia. But the religion is just one of standardized testing, not one requiring trained clergy. The whole concept is very British and very old-fashioned.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Even stupider question - 12/28/12 08:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"...Re: Even stupider question..."

"The only stupid question is the one that is not asked." Socrates, as I remember (or Plato, quoting him); I paraphrase freely.

Actually, it seems to me that the dialectic went something more like: "When a wise man doesn't understand something, he says, 'I don't understand.' When a fool doesn't understand something, he says... nothing."

Anyway, ten left, now you're informed; we all are.


I have a friend who sometimes says "There are no stupid questions, only stupid people who ask questions" but that clearly does not apply here! smile
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Even stupider question - 12/28/12 09:16 AM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
.
...For many years the Royal Conservatory has been trying to establish beachheads in the US, since the US is such a big market and much of this graded system is about making money (i.e., through selling books and exams). This campaign hasn't been too successful, but with enough advertising and promotion anything is possible.


Peter, do you know of any registry of U.S. piano teachers who use the Royal Conservatory system?

If there aren't any in my area, might it make sense to broach with a non-RCM teacher the concept of attempting to pursue the RCM curriculum? In other words, can a student and teacher do this on a DIY basis, or is there a need to have been raised in, and be plugged into, the formal network?

I do the RCM to a certain extent, even though I don't have students participate in anything to pass a level. I just use the books and there's a Teacher's Handbook which is very helpful for the order in which you should teach (although I sometimes go outside of this) and for ideas on how to address certain issues the student might have with a piece.

I love the quality of these editions, and that's my biggest draw to them - along with a great selection of music I may have never worked with before. The one drawback is that they release new editions of the books every 7 years I think, and that means it's tough to get hold of the old editions after a while. This forces me to buy new books and the handbook.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Even stupider question - 12/28/12 10:43 AM

The RCM in the US is called TAP: The Achievement Program.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Even stupider question - 12/28/12 11:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
The one drawback is that they release new editions of the books every 7 years I think, and that means it's tough to get hold of the old editions after a while. This forces me to buy new books and the handbook.


Don't ever think the modern RCM is not above all a business. Canada is too small a market for its products.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Even stupider question - 12/29/12 11:19 AM

Peter, really I have no idea what you mean about 1.25 or 3. Could you explain again please?

So far I have learned that:

RCM is Canadian, and the US equivalent is The Achivement Program.

MTAC does CM and that's California.

Macgrath grades a little easier than RCM.

I'm not sure I can accept there is *no* correlation between these. Often a teacher here will post 'I have a student at level two and...' and other teachers at least give the impression of knowing what that means.

Well, then what does it mean?

Perhaps I should add I'm not interested in the pros and cons of the various different systems, as value for money, or whatever, or the rights and wrongs of exams. I'm just trying to work out what the north American levels mean.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Even stupider question - 12/29/12 11:46 AM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Peter, really I have no idea what you mean about 1.25 or 3. Could you explain again please?

So far I have learned that:

RCM is Canadian, and the US equivalent is The Achivement Program.

MTAC does CM and that's California.

Macgrath grades a little easier than RCM.

I'm not sure I can accept there is *no* correlation between these. Often a teacher here will post 'I have a student at level two and...' and other teachers at least give the impression of knowing what that means.




They only know what it means if they are familiar with the system they are referring to. If someone comes online and says "I play at a grade 2 or level 2" I have no idea what this means. I need them to tell me what they're working on specifically so I have an idea of what they're doing. So, I'm telling you, it means nothing without that context.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Even stupider question - 12/29/12 12:08 PM

ten left thumbs, I don't recall Peter mentioning 3, but the idea behind 1.25 is this: if the 8 level ABRSM system and the 10 level RCM system start and end at the same level of difficulty, then mathematically you can convert one set of levels to the other by multiplying the ABRSM level by 1.25. For example, 8x1.25 = 10, so ABRSM 8 would correspond to RCM level 10. 4x1.25 = 5, so ABRSM level 4 would correspond to RCM level 5.

The "if" is important: do we know that ABRSM and RCM start and end at the same level? Another poster mentioned that she thinks they start at different places, so she thinks ABRSM 1 is the same as RCM 3, and that after that the levels proceed at the same pace: A1=R3, A2=R4, and so on up to A8=R10.

I see an interesting challenge: to examine the pieces assigned at various levels in all these systems and come up with a correlation. It won't be perfect, because some systems might rank the relative difficulty of some pieces differently.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Even stupider question - 12/29/12 12:33 PM

Okay, back to the OP...

I think all this "levels" talk is pointless, except for the idea that "level 10" (or whatever is the highest level in each system) is supposed to lead into an entry point auditioning for college/university/conservatory piano major.

But if you look around, every college has its own set of criteria. I know most colleges will require a J.S. Bach Prelude and Fugue (or the equivalent), a classical sonata movement of Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven, plus a large Romantic work (e.g., Chopin Etude or Rachmaninoff Prelude). Some colleges also want a standard 20th-century work (e.g., Prokofiev Sonata).

And when you get to repertoire of this caliber, you can get 10 different experts in the same room and they'll argue until their faces are blue which work is "harder" than another. Where do you draw the line between a BM work and a MM work or a DMA work? Is Chopin Ballade No. 2 a BM-level work, while Ballade No. 4 is DMA-level work??
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Even stupider question - 12/30/12 06:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene


They only know what it means if they are familiar with the system they are referring to. If someone comes online and says "I play at a grade 2 or level 2" I have no idea what this means. I need them to tell me what they're working on specifically so I have an idea of what they're doing. So, I'm telling you, it means nothing without that context.


Got it, thanks.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Even stupider question - 12/30/12 06:39 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

I see an interesting challenge: to examine the pieces assigned at various levels in all these systems and come up with a correlation. It won't be perfect, because some systems might rank the relative difficulty of some pieces differently.


OK, I will do this and see what comes up. I can accept imperfection. smile

To address AZN's point, yes there will be some subjectivity in assigning levels to pieces, especially at the higher levels. I am more interested in the lower levels, and I'm really just trying to get a feel for how to understand all sorts of US-Canadian materials I end up using.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: Even stupider question - 01/01/13 06:32 AM

Quote:
I'm not sure I can accept there is *no* correlation between these. Often a teacher here will post 'I have a student at level two and...' and other teachers at least give the impression of knowing what that means.

Well, then what does it mean?


As someone else already said it doesn't communicate specific information unless you also include what system is being used.

But it can give general information. You can understand that someone working on level one is still early on in the process, and someone at level 9 should have some significant skills.