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Grade 4 Block

Posted: 02 Jan 2014, 23:56
by Natalied

I initially joined this forum to seek advice about buying a piano. I am an adult beginner and I made it through my first grades pretty quickly with lots of motivation and regular practice, but since I have started grade 4, I seem to have slowed down and am struggling to motivate myself as everything seems so much harder. I love the piano and am really disppointed in myself as I want to make it to grade 8 eventually. My piano teacher is also lush, so I can't blame her, I really enjoy lessons.

Have any other learners had this experience around this level? Any advice would be welcomed.

Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 03 Jan 2014, 08:07
by dave brum
Hello Natalie

Yes I have 'hit the wall' as well, around Grade 3 - and the early part of Part 3 of Complete Piano Player.

But surely making it to Grade 8, in my opinion is unimportant. What IS important is the enjoyment factor. You're enjoying lessons. You like your teacher. And you've done 3 grades. Do you really need to struggle to do something if it will compromise your enjoyment of the instrument? Because if that goes then that's that. Please believe me, it has happened to me.

Also it is important not to let the whole idea of studying for an exam cross the line into obsessive territory. Again I did and it led me to something very nasty indeed in the exam room.

It is possible to continue to learn at your own pace without putting any undue pressure on yourself to do exams. I'm sure your piano teacher would understand if she's as 'gert lush' as you say she is! You will then continue to enjoy learning - at your own pace - and the more you enjoy the piano the more you'll learn! If that means dropping the exams then so be it.

If you do want to continue with Grade 4, why not, say, leave it until 2015, or 2016, or even later and then you'd have more time and space to get your head around it.

Also, check out any free concerts/piano recitals/jazz piano gigs where you live. Going to a concert (free or otherwise) can be a great source of motivation.

Happy New Year


Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 03 Jan 2014, 13:25
by Natalied
Thanks, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I just can't stand repeating one bar over and over again, though I know it is the best way to learn in terms of muscle memory. I'm too impatient to play the whole thing and I hate starting one hand at a time.

Hope your grade three goes well!

Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 03 Jan 2014, 13:52
by dave brum
Natalied wrote:Thanks, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I just can't stand repeating one bar over and over again, though I know it is the best way to learn in terms of muscle memory. I'm too impatient to play the whole thing and I hate starting one hand at a time.

Hope your grade three goes well!
Warning: Impatience is not good, I've had that and it's led to obsessiveness.

Actually G3 didn't go well (did it in June 2012) despite getting 128 and I'm not doing any more exams, but I'd rather helpfully share my own experiences so that other piano learners do not make the same mistakes as I did rather than have someone experience a little bit of misfortune and allow it to fester into something humungously uncontrollable!

Remember you have a very supportive teacher. I've had three and I never had a really good relationship with any of them! You need to speak to her and see what she says, but what you're experiencing is merely a blip. Please Natalie do not allow it to frustrate you. Concentrate on the things you CAN do and put the exam book down, and you will feel better. Why don't you play something to somebody other than your teacher....or pop into your local piano shop and pretend to be a customer! Even playing a nice pristine piano will make you feel like a pro!!

It's only because I have had tons of bad luck myself and I am in a strong position to advise somebody what not to do so as the same thing that happened to me, I would not want to happen to another learner.

Try doing that one bar at a really snail like speed. Then when you've managed it, gradually speed up but only when you feel happy. Even if you're playing that one bar at 60cbpm or even slower, you're playing it! And remember Natalie, it's not a race. You haven't got to play it at the Albert Hall next Saturday!


Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 03 Jan 2014, 19:07
by Gill the Piano
You're learning for fun; just relax. If you don't like these G4 pieces, look at another syllabus - Trinity for example. Or ABRSM do jazz grades - but that might need a different teacher and if you like yours, that would be a shame. There is no law that says you have to do all the grades, so you could just do a load of G4 standard pieces and the scales/sightreading for G4 then when you've satisfied your teacher that you COULD pass G4, get the G5 syllabus. Plenty of people miss out grades. Or wait till a new syllabus comes out (not till 2015, I think).
I am impatient and often rush ahead, only to rue it later on. It really is the only way to learn thoroughly, boring as it is...sorry, no magic wand!

Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 05 Jan 2014, 21:59
by Natalied
Thanks for the advice

Have decided to do a fake grade 4, as I don't find the exam pieces very exciting. Am going to do Gymnopedie 1, Bach's Prelude in C and the ffirst bit of moonlight sonata, but do all the scales bits and pieces for grade 4. I think will be more motivated if I like the pieces and I am well into the Bach already!

Thanks for the advice, I definately want to do a real grade 5 though.

Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 00:52
by Jason
Should consider that with some care tbh. There is often a big jump in between Grade 4 and 5. I've heard teachers refer to this as the break-off point for the non-serious students. Just a thought.

Re: Grade 4 Block

Posted: 21 Jan 2014, 01:13
by markymark
Agreed, although not impossible to achieve by yourself.
Are you keeping theory going?