Exam-pianos experience

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

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano

Post Reply
New Member
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: 05 Jul 2011, 13:43

Exam-pianos experience

Post by Spinet » 05 Jul 2011, 14:11

My son has taken his Grade 6 piano exam today, and having taken Grade 7 myself on the same piano...we are both in agreement that it isn't up to scratch as an instrument.

i have brought it to the attention with the Associated Board Representative, and this time she was very angry that I mentioned it again.

Surely the standard of the piano affects the marks you receive. Has anyone else had bad experiences with examination centre pianos? ..... These piano exams are too expensive to be marked-down by bad exam pianos!!!

Gill the Piano
Posts: 4181
Joined: 25 Oct 2003, 19:39
Location: Thames Valley

Re: Exam-pianos experience

Post by Gill the Piano » 05 Jul 2011, 14:47

She would have been cross because it was her own instrument, I expect. But the fact remains that you're right; some exam pianos are only permitted to be used up to Grade V owing to their age and condition, but quite a few slip under the wire in my opinion. You need to approach the Board themselves if you're unhappy with the standard of the instrument. It would be very hard for them to set a standard for pianos, because some are grands (a bit intimidating for kids who've never encountered one before) others are uprights, and they all vary enormously in age and condition.
Try talking to the Board themselves as the Rep is a bit touchy, and register your complaint. Then have a look at some of the other ABRSM centres near you - you don't have to go to the nearest one. Ask other people who have been to other centres for their opinion on the instruments there.
Good luck! :piano;
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1836
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland

Re: Exam-pianos experience

Post by Colin Nicholson » 06 Jul 2011, 19:43

Hi Spinet

I am a piano teacher, and yes, one or two of my pupils have 'grumbled' in the past about a particular 'exam' piano. However sometimes it is also the pupil's lack of trying out many different pianos. Just wondered what you meant by a "bad exam piano" ?? Poor tone/ poor repetition/ poor dynamic range?? etc.

Depending on the pieces your son has learnt, one or two of the grade 6 pieces are quite technically demanding. For example, the B piece "Mignone" (in E flat minor) - has a tricky run of triplets throughout. A pupil of mine played this piece at the Leeds centre on a grand piano, and while I desperately tried to added more contrasted dynamics on his own piano, my pupil would not venture further than his own piano, and one of the school pianos.... so as a result, the examiner's comments were "dynamics could be contrasted more" (words to that effect). However, he passed his Grade 6 piano exam comfortably.

I think it was disgraceful however that the rep was angry by your remarks! Gill is right, you need to contact the Chief Examiner or write to them stating your complaint.... but I feel you need to be more specific about the condition of the piano your son played on.

Its a funny old world here in Yorkshire.... in Halifax, the piano seems quite old, a few small problems with it (and even 'ugly' looking!!)...... but a pupil of mine passed his Grade 1 last year with 144 marks. However, 10 miles down the road in Bradford, the piano is supplied by a well-known piano shop - and they kindly rent out a new Yamaha U1 or U3 for the occasion.... similar standard pupils have only passed with merit! ...... so I think sometimes the piano is down to personal taste. The examiners always try the piano out before exams start, and particularly in view of them playing the aural tests.... and I can assure you that if the piano was not "up to scratch".... the examiner would say so.

Keep up the good work, and look luck for your son's results.

Colin Nicholson.
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

Post Reply