Some questions on Grade 1

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

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Some questions on Grade 1

Post by Ingersoll » 27 Mar 2009, 11:22

Hi All,
I am a father of 2 (3 soon) who took up the piano about 2 months ago. I live in Ireland, my piano teacher want me to take the grade-1 Abrsm exam in June but i am not convinced it is in my best interests...

First some quick questions for those of you who know these things. The actual exam - from the Abrsm website it seems that for grade-1 piano there is a practical - (scales, 3-pieces and broken chords etc), an Aural test and a written paper. Do i have this correct or is something missing? There seems to be a breakdown of theory, Aural and practical musicianship - how are these related to the piano grade exactly?

Are they typically done on the same day? I think i could be ready for the practical by June, but the Aural scares me, i have problems picking up the tempo of a piece - not sure how to fix this. My teacher has never done the Abrsm exams before, and has little information on the subject - he is trying to chase up the questions i am asking here. My sight-reading is also very poor.

I think i could get ready for the exams and possibly even pass, but as a thirty-five year old male i have not taken up the piano just to pass exams. I accept that they are important, and i intend doing them, but surely not at the expense of killing the enjoyment of playing. I have suggested to my teacher that i defer the first-grade exams until the next set (November), he isn't keen. I feel i am spending all my time on the piano now, learning the same three (for now) pieces which is a little joyless to be honest. I think that if i deferred i could spend time improving my sight-reading, playing some simple pieces outside the set-pieces of the exam etc.

I would welcome your thoughts/comments.


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Re: Some questions on Grade 1

Post by Moonlight » 27 Mar 2009, 15:39

Hi and welcome

I can only help you with a few of your questions at the moment as I havn't done any of the tests yet but am preparing to take my grade 2 at some point this year ( Hopefully! ). There should be some other guys on here who can help you with the other questions though.
there is a practical - (scales, 3-pieces and broken chords etc), an Aural test and a written paper. Do i have this correct or is something missing?
You missed out the sight reading test, you will need to brush up on your sight reading to do that in the test. For some advice on sight reading theres this link: ... f=7&t=7045 to a topic about it on here that was posted recently.

My advice is don't rush in to exams too soon unless you are really comfortable with all the pieces and have gone over most of the other requirements for the test with your teacher, thats what I'm in the process of doing now with mine. If you don't feel like you can do the June test then wait, take it easy.

In my opinion grade tests are really just a marking point on your progress and thats it. There nice to do to see how well you have done, and give your pratice more direction. Yeah, they should never make you hate pratice or playing. I think its slilly to only concentrate on grade tests and the grade pieces, apprently thats all some people do. They do a test, pass then do the next one without fully explored other repertoire for the next grade and then they find the pieces and requirements in the next grade a struggle because they are only ever familiar with the grade pieces they were working on.

Try not to fall into that trap of only doing grade tests; I’m sure you won’t though. It’s best to supplement your grade test pieces with other pieces you want to learn on the side, that are the same level you are at the moment or are level or few higher in grade. I have found playing pieces that was hard for me to be quite a help, but it’s up to you what you feel your abilities are. Find yourself some music that you really want to play and just try to play it, or go though a music method book if you like the pieces in them, try to expose yourself to as music as possible not just grade pieces. You want to be able to come away from the piano most of the time feeling ‘wow I love playing it!’.

Hope my advice was somewhat helpful. :mrgreen:

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