Distinctions, merits and plain auld passes...

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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Gill the Piano
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Post by Gill the Piano » 05 Dec 2008, 20:45

100 Pass
120 Merit
130 Distinction
But as long as you pass...who asks? (I know I did, but I'm a rude girl). :D

ebonyivory
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Post by ebonyivory » 06 Dec 2008, 15:11

Oi! Dave! Watch it cariad!

So you are turning out to be competitive then! :lol:

My merit not good enough eh? :cry:

I've got to tell you, if my fingers hadn't turned into 2lbs of sausages, I'd have got a distinction!!! :D

That's why I am defo gonna take something for nerves next time, maybe that 'rescue' stuff I've been told about.

I am not really a sore loser, just playing with you, that's the thing with text, I hope you have sussed me out, don't want to come over all wrong. :shock:

Kim.

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Re: Distinctions, merits and plain auld passes...

Post by markymark » 06 Dec 2008, 16:46

dave brum wrote:Following the excellent news of Kim passing her Grade 1 this week with merit, could someone tell me the exact parameters of marks out of 150 you need for a Pass, a Merit pass and a Distinction.

Thank you - diolch yn fawr iawn
If anyone is interested in Trinity Guildhall examinations (of which I am an ardent supporter!!) the new mark scheme is as follows:

Piece 1 [22]
Piece 2 [22]
Piece 3 [22]
Technical Work [14]
Test 1 [10]
Test 2 [10]

TOTAL [100]

Pass is awarded at 60
Merit is awarded at 75
Distinction is awarded at 87


I have also heard about "Rescue Remedy". I've never had the need to use the stuff but folks who have used it say that it's basically the same as rum! Mind you, it seems to help you relax, though in some cases I heard of, perhaps too much!

ebonyivory
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Post by ebonyivory » 06 Dec 2008, 17:31

When I take my next grade I will have to drive there, so rum is out of the question. Need to find something that's above board but works!!! :wink:

Kim.

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Post by Gill the Piano » 06 Dec 2008, 18:30

Rescue Remedy is flower essences in brandy. You take THREE DROPS in a glass of water (or directly on to the tongue) so if that gets you tiddly you must be a very cheap date! :D I use it a lot if I have to play solo stuff - I hate performing solo!

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Post by ebonyivory » 06 Dec 2008, 23:25

Next time I go into town I will pop to the chemist and get some. I will try it out, just in case it has any funny side effects, don't want to find that out in the middle of an exam. Also, I have diabetes so will need to check that out.

By the way Gill, I am a cheap night out, but don't listen to gossip! Ha ha

Kim.

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Post by ebonyivory » 07 Dec 2008, 11:19

Dave,
You know I was only playing, I would be pleased for you if you got top marks! I am just cheeky!

Do lots of you piano peeps meet up then? Maybe we could arrange a big meeting in the spring, find a central point, that would be fun. We could all go into a piano shop and drive the owner mad :lol:

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Post by Nutroast » 08 Dec 2008, 16:30

It's lovely here, a great community. I've never had such a warm welcome from a web forum and hope to meet some folks when I can.

As for exams, just give me pass-with-a-push-downhill-and-a-following-wind, just so long as it's a PASS :P I've always been terrible at exams, that rescue remedy sounds perfect for me, three bottles in 3 drops of water, wasn't it?

Jan
xx

Gill the Piano
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Post by Gill the Piano » 08 Dec 2008, 20:05

Yep, if you take it that way then you'll have no worries about the exam whatsoever. Apart from finding the exam centre/room/piano/keyboard/stool...:D

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Post by Moonlight » 09 Dec 2008, 16:14

Gill the Piano wrote: Apart from finding the exam centre/room/piano/keyboard/stool...:D
...and middle C ! :wink:

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Post by Gill the Piano » 09 Dec 2008, 19:38

Get thin mittens, Dave, otherwise your fingers rub together and catch in a most offputting way...I speak as a church organist of many years' standing and therefore from experience!

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Post by yourforte » 09 Dec 2008, 21:58

Beware of the subjectivity of the marking. I've found that some of my most gifted students haven't come out of their exams with distinctions. And some of my 'less able' students have. I once had a boy who got 141 for his Grade 1 and then 108 for his Grade 2. With no drop of quality in my opinion. When I was younger I used to contest the marks but I don't anymore - or else I'd always be doing it. As long as a place at university or music college isn't at stake I wouldn't worry too much about the mark. Any sort of pass is an achievement.

Try not to let the thought of a distinction obsess you. I think, of course, that it's important that you pass but the actual mark doesn't say that much about your ability.

Good luck anyway. E x
Regard music as a precious gift. See me at www.yourforte.net. Elaine

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Post by yourforte » 10 Dec 2008, 01:08

Well I would try to be Mr Perfect Piano Player if I were you. But you mustn't be put off by Mr/Mrs Non-Perfect Examiner is what I'm saying.

Btw, have you played in front of anyone else apart from your teacher? Try to get some practice in front of an audience so you're confident that you can play through your nerves. I find even playing in front recording equipment makes me nervous.
Regard music as a precious gift. See me at www.yourforte.net. Elaine

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Post by Descombes » 10 Dec 2008, 03:38

yourforte wrote: Try not to let the thought of a distinction obsess you. I think, of course, that it's important that you pass but the actual mark doesn't say that much about your ability.

Good luck anyway. E x
I think the problem about over-ambitious expectations regarding Distinctions come when a pupil plays the pieces excellently, but does not match that standard in the other sections of the exam. Getting a Distinction usually means having good marks on the scales, aural and SR. I admit that I always push my pupils to know their scales backwards (not literally); they sometimes moan in the run-up to an exam, but they usually get good marks on the day.

SR is another aspect where marks can be built up if the preparation is logical. (See all our discussions about Paul Harris's books.) I do find, however, that they are tighter with SR marking than they were when I took the exams many years ago. The same goes for Aural: I can remember that it was common to get full marks. These days that seems to be rare. They even seem to deduct marks for being accurate but a bit slow; years ago that was interpreted as double checking before answering and was thought to be a good thing!

As several others have said, it's best not to get too hung up about Distinctions. I can remember being hugely disappointed to get "only" a Merit for Grade 7, after a run of Distinctions. It wasn't long before I realised that it really didn't matter and that a Merit was a considerable achievement!

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Post by yourforte » 10 Dec 2008, 11:04

Yes, I agree Descombes. I insist also that my pupils learn their scales inside out and back to front. Almost invariably I find my pupils realise that they have to learn their pieces very well but they often won't address the rest of the exam requirements. I give my pupils plenty of exercise in SR and aural during their lessons but some don't go away and practise these aspects. SR does improve very rapidly with practice but quite a lot of people are loathe to do it. Having said all that, I do think the marking has become tighter on both aural and SR. The emphasis these days (and I think correctly so) is on playing a SR piece without hesitations and getting the rhythm right - even at the expense of the notes. I've also noticed, however, that those pupils who are indeed very good at SR will often be marked down for not observing details of dynamics, expression, etc. Other, less able, pupils are given similar marks just for attempting to cope with the basic reading. But to get back to my original point, marking can still be subjective. I recently had a man do Grade 8 who plays his music like a real musician. He achieved just a pass but I had another girl who simply couldn't play certain parts of her pieces and she came out with an almost identical mark.
Regard music as a precious gift. See me at www.yourforte.net. Elaine

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Post by Descombes » 10 Dec 2008, 11:58

I think that most piano teachers would agree that scales, aural and SR need careful preparation. However, I have often acted as accompanist for other instrumentalists in their exams. Many are fully prepared, but it is very common for them to know their pieces well, but to fall down on the rest of the exam. Many teachers of these instruments are non-pianists, so feel that they cannot prepare the pupils for the Aural Tests; of course there are CDs of the tests and they can also be prepared without a piano.

Scales often seem poorly prepared too. Dare I say that brass players seem to be the worst? I have often had to listen from outside the exam room, while a brass player struggles to get at least one scale right!

So piano teachers seem to get something right by insisting on good, all-round preparation.

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Post by yourforte » 10 Dec 2008, 17:50

I've often accompanied other instrumentalists too - and I agree that they're often unprepared for exams in areas other than the pieces. Yes, I've stood outside doors too.. I often wonder if it's harder to learn scales on other instruments. I mean you can see the sharps/flats on the piano. I used to play clarinet and flute and sax myself but because I was a pianist I could always visualise the sharps/flats on the keyboard. I think it's easier to do theory for the pianist too. (Although, having dabbled with the trumpet as well as the woodwinds, I'm of the opinion that the piano is much harder all in all.) I agree that teachers of brass and woodwind who can't play the piano themselves would have a problem going through aural tests with their pupils. Sometimes I teach people who just come for practice in aural, and I usually go through the aural tests when instrumentalists come to rehearse with me.

Yes, to get back to the point: examinees need to be prepared in all areas for an exam.
Regard music as a precious gift. See me at www.yourforte.net. Elaine

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Post by markymark » 10 Dec 2008, 17:53

I think the problem about over-ambitious expectations regarding Distinctions come when a pupil plays the pieces excellently, but does not match that standard in the other sections of the exam. Getting a Distinction usually means having good marks on the scales, aural and SR. I admit that I always push my pupils to know their scales backwards (not literally); they sometimes moan in the run-up to an exam, but they usually get good marks on the day.[/quote]

I absolutely agree. You can not really evaluate someone's musicality based on the letters after their name, their grade level or even whether or not they have a degree in music. I know as you start to move to degree standard, medicore musicians are harder to find, hoever, I know of a case where someone took music as a main subject, got a BEd degree in it, but can't read music very well at all. The degree gets supplemented with so much written work and essays besides composition and performance that, in the same way kids do in Grade exams, weak areas in the musician get pulled up by their ability to talk or write about music.

By contrast, there is no substitution for a musician being able to "walk the talk" so-to-speak.

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Post by yourforte » 10 Dec 2008, 19:48

I agree entirely. When I was an undergraduate it was possible to do huge amounts of your degree in the history of music - which, as you say, was mainly essay based. A BEd would be even worse in that respect. I think these days it's even easier to get a degree in music without being particularly musical. It used to be the case that you had to have a Grade 8 in your first instrument and a Grade 6 in your second, and also have to have an 'O' and an 'A' level in music. (And it also helped if you went to a posh school.) These days there are rarely such demands.
Regard music as a precious gift. See me at www.yourforte.net. Elaine

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Post by Gill the Piano » 10 Dec 2008, 20:07

dave brum wrote:
Interesting, Gill! Do you still play on a Sunday morning then?
Ho yes; often TWO gigs on a Sunday morning...mine's the smart car effing and blinding behind a load of stupid cyclists riding through the lanes five abreast, and I'm usually shouting 'SOME of us have work to do!!!!' NB Not little, not too old (47) and only a little wizened...

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Post by ebonyivory » 14 Dec 2008, 22:38

Ok, I tried to translate that... you b*gg*r!

Something about a 'welsh woman my dear'. That was the best I could do.

Ha ha ha

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Post by ebonyivory » 14 Dec 2008, 22:52

Am I close with 'great load of poo often incorrect'

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Post by ebonyivory » 14 Dec 2008, 23:09

Ha ha

My friend is from Wales and she taught me two or three words, I find Welsh really hard to do/remember.

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Post by markymark » 18 Dec 2008, 01:04

yourforte wrote:I used to play clarinet and flute and sax myself but because I was a pianist I could always visualise the sharps/flats on the keyboard. I think it's easier to do theory for the pianist too. (Although, having dabbled with the trumpet as well as the woodwinds, I'm of the opinion that the piano is much harder all in all.)
I would agree with you to an extent. I would suggest that the strings would be much harder as fingering accuracy (on the string) is so important so as not to play a slightly sharp or flat note. Brass is the easiest, speaking from experience, though piano is certainly not straightforward.

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Post by yourforte » 18 Dec 2008, 19:38

Yes, I agree. I think string players have to have very good ears as well as accurate fingers. At least the notes are already there for you on the piano. I also agree that brass players have it (relatively) easy. Three valves or a slide, a good set of lips, and away you go...
Regard music as a precious gift. See me at www.yourforte.net. Elaine

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Post by joseph » 22 Dec 2008, 12:31

I can proudly tell you that my 2 ABRSM pupils got distinctions:

an 11 year old doing grade 5 got 135
a 16 year old doing grade 7 got 130.

My trinity guildhall pupils (the ones I teach at school) got

grade 1, 8 year old boy, 87 distinction
7 year old girl, 80, merit
10 year old boy, 82, merit
9 year old girl 76, merit (didn't practise properly.... Lol)
Piano Initial
10 year old girl (written off by many of her school teachers as stupid)

87 distinction.

I can't take all the credit, they come to me once a week and then have to work on their own. I am pleased and relieved.....

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Post by joseph » 22 Dec 2008, 19:47

be warned - i whip them very hard!

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Post by joseph » 24 Dec 2008, 19:18

I can be Mister Whiplash, any day! :wink:

Yes, I always pick up on my pupils mistakes, and try to guide them and bring out the best that is in them. Some of the parents hate this approach and would prefer I say 'Yes sweetie, thats perfect' when it clearly isn't!

I have a few families that are wonderful, and want what is best for their kids, and are willing to take the hard work on the chin, their children thrive and its the highlight of my week to see them! Truly!

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Post by markymark » 26 Dec 2008, 23:23

Most good teachers have developed "the look"....

Done properly, nothing else is needed!

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