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Who's Doing Summer Exams?


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#1 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 14:09

Greetings, everyone.  I saw a spring exam thread but none for summer, so I figured I would start one and hopefully get to know some folks.

 

Who all is planning to take exams this summer?

 

I'm taking my ABRSM Grade 8 Piano in late May.  (Here in the Republic of Texas, we have two ABRSM exam sessions, late May and late November.  There is one Trinity session, also late May.)

 

I've been working on the following three pieces from the 2017-2018 syllabus (we get a full year of syllabus overlap here):

  • Bach - Prelude and Fugue in D minor from WTC II, BWV 875
  • Beethoven - Rondo/Allegro comodo, third movement from Sonata in E, Op. 14 No. 1
  • Brahms - Intermezzo in A minor, Op. 76 No. 7

I've about got all three pieces where I want them.  One of my colleagues is a retired conservatory professor, and she has helped me whip them into shape.  The Bach is probably my strongest, with Brahms close behind, and the Beethoven being my weakest.

 

Aural is a mixed bag for me.  Cadences are good, modulations are good, description of music is good, but sight singing is meh and singing back the lower voice is the pits.  Also, I can numerically identify the chords at a cadence point, but I'm not too confident about identifying inversions.

 

I'm not worried about sight reading; I've always been a strong reader.  My idea of fun is opening the WTC to a random page and sight reading a prelude and fugue, or similarly for a volume of Beethoven sonatas.  My approach to reading is apparently terribly behind the times (notes, not intervals) but it works well for me.

 

Scales and arpeggios are coming along.  I spend 45 min to one hour on just scales and apreggios every day.  I would not advise that in general, and I am going to cut way back on technical work after the Grade 8 exam.  I'm focusing on fluency and musicality rather than tempo. 

 

The sheer amount of scales and arpeggios at this level makes me strongly conflicted about ever entering a student for ABRSM Grade 8.  I have one student doing the Associated Board exams; she'll be taking Grade 2 the same day that I take my Grade 8.  We may switch her to Trinity at some point along the way, unless ABRSM reduces the scale burden in the next syllabus.

 

I'd like to earn at least a Merit, but I will be content if I pass.  I don't think I have a path to Distinction on this one, but I'm going to try my darndest.

 

So, anyone else planning to take exams this summer?  What instruments?  What pieces?  What are your strong points, and what are you working hard on?

 

Good luck to everyone!


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#2 Misterioso

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 14:39

Grade 2 pipe organ - I think.

 

For pieces, I'm looking at:

Bach: Warum sollt ich mich denn gramen 

Velde: Veni, veni, Emmanuel

Vierne: Interlude No 1

 

I'm most confident on the Bach, least confident on the Interlude (recent change of mind) and hope to get through all the changes of manual with the Velde. I'm not especially worried about scales or aural, and I haven't tackled any sight-reading yet.

 

....Then again, with all the bad reports about ABRSM, I may abandon the whole thing. It's not going to work if they schedule my exam for when a service is taking place in the Church, or if they make a fuss about me doing the aural on the same day but at a different venue because there is no piano at the Church.


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#3 margaret

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 20:13

hello Dr Rogers and thanks for your interesting post. I enter lots of pupils for Trinity exams (as well as AB) and I really like the fact that, although there are less scales, there are 3 exercises concentrating on different aspects of technique. Pupils seem to enjoy them. Re aural tests have you explored this website

 

https://www.e-musicmaestro.com/

 

I think its really useful. Basically gives you lots and lots of examples of aural tests. I use it for my pupils and also bought a subscription for myself. Hofnote is another useful website.

 

I started to learn the violin 6 years ago and am planning on taking my grade 8 in the Summer (fingers crossed) I took my grade 7 about 18 months ago. I love the violin mainly because it is so challenging.I find practising endlessly interesting as there is just so much to learn and think about.  I chose to do the Trinity syllabus because their technical requirements are so logical and sensible. I also prefer their aural tests.

 

Good luck to everyone preparing for exams


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#4 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 27 March 2019 - 12:10

Misterioso:

 

Pipe organ - wow!  I have only had the good fortune to play "the king of instruments" once in my life.  There were none in the area I grew up in - they were widely considered sinful.  I would love to have a small pipe organ in my house, but so far I haven't had any luck convincing my wife.  (Neither have I had any success in convincing her to let me get a second grand piano...)

 

I listened to your three pieces on Youtube (but I'm not sure I found the right Vierne).  I'm a little jealous...

 

Do you need any help teaching music up in the Hebrides?  That sounds absolutely idyllic.

 

 

margaret:

 

e-musicmaestro is what I'm using to practice my aural.  My one exam student is using it as well.

 

What pieces will you be playing for your violin exam?  I used to play the fiddle (traditional styles, not classical) but arthritis forced me to give it up a few years ago.


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#5 Violalala

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 14:47

Hello! I'm going to attempt a flute exam next term, Grade 3 probably. I've not picked my pieces yet but can play all the ones in the book pack just about!


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#6 gemmasue

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 17:26

Hoping to finally take my grade 8 flute. That’s as long as I don’t chicken out!
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#7 Scaredycat

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 17:48

Grade 1 piano. Gulp!
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#8 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 18:28

gemmasue and Scaredycat: which pieces have you chosen?

 

Violalala: please let us know when you choose your pieces.

 

Good luck to everyone with your preparations!


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#9 Scaredycat

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Posted 29 March 2019 - 06:15

I'm doing Theme, The Echo and Happy Day. These are coming along though I could do without the random mistakes. Aural and scales should be ok too if I don't rush things. However the current weak spot is sightreading so I'm doing lots of practice using one of Paul Harris' books.
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#10 gemmasue

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Posted 29 March 2019 - 07:01

I’m doing allegro aperto (Mozart), Sevilla (Albeníz) and a Koehler study (not sure what it’s proper name is, it’s number 76 in the more graded studies book!). They’re all plodding along nicely, although there’s slight issues to solve in each.

The bit I worry about is aural. I understand why we do it, even though I hate it! I struggle with the singing sections, especially having to sing a tune back. I have really bad memory and forget the first bars by the time they finish playing it! Scales are annoying- I can learn them and then can’t play them because of nerves! Thankfully my sight reading skills are pretty strong.
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#11 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 29 March 2019 - 14:24

Scaredycat:  Those are some great selections.  I'm really loving the pieces on the new syllabus, especially at the lower grades.  I have a student who is about to start learning the very pieces you mentioned.  She's not going to sit the exam, but I feel that she would benefit from playing more pieces at that level in addition to the harder pieces she wants to play.  (I'm doing Grade 8 from the previous syllabus; we have a full year of overlap in the US.)

 

gemmasue: I just listened to those pieces on YouTube.  Man, those are impressive!  I especially loved the Sevilla - so atmospheric.  I suppose the aural portion will be the same for both of us.  I don't mind the singing portion so much, but I'm not very good at repeating back the lower part of a multi-part phrase.  I also have trouble identifying the inversions of chords in the cadence.  I think I'll do okay on the rest of it. 

 

My students, though, seem to find the singing parts terrifying.  For their sakes, I wish the Board would remove the singing requirements.


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#12 ABN

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 18:49

Hi fellow adult learners/summer exam sitters

I'll hopefully be taking AB grade 3 piano exam in session B July if ready, teacher and I have until early May to decide.
If we do go for it in July I'll be playing B4 hallelujah and C3 Blues in the attic but not yet decided on the A piece, I'm leaning towards bransle de la torche but I also like the other 2 A' pieces Allegro and Giga so think maybe play around with all three and see which one I settle on.

Andy
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#13 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 13:27

Greetings again, Andy.  This current syllabus certainly offers an embarrassment of riches, with many wonderful selections at all levels.  One of my students is doing Grade 2 in May (on the same day I'm doing Grade 8), and we had great fun going through the Grade 2 pieces.  I have also played through the Grade 3 pieces as sight reading practice (all the ones I could find without ordering additional books, that is).

 

If I were doing Grade 3, I would almost certainly choose Bransle de la torche for my A-list piece.  I also really like the Hook Allegro.  I wasn't too impressed with the Seixas Giga - for some reason I don't enjoy jigs on the piano.

 

Have you looked at the Dittersdorf English Dance, the Haydn German Dance, or the Mozart Minuet (A-4, A-5, and A-6 respectively)?  Those are all great pieces as well, especially the Mozart and the Haydn.

 

Huh... I just realized that five of the six A-list pieces in Grade 3 are dances...

 

I didn't have a source for the B-list Hallelujah so I haven't tried it.  Is it a good arrangement?  I must say nothing else on the B list really sticks out to me.  If I had to pick one of the others, I'd probably go with the Carraoll Shadows or Reinecke Prelude.

 

Blues in the Attic is definitely a great choice from the C-list.  I also like Face in the Crowd.  I didn't care for the Bennett Diversion - unless such music is masterly handled (a la Debussy), I'd rather have a well-defined tonal center.  As for the Bartók selection, kill it with fire.  I will only ever teach Bartók when it appears on exam syllabi.

 

I didn't want to order books for Unicorn or Wouldn’t it be Loverly?.  I would probably like the latter, and perhaps the title of the former would make it appealing for some younger students.


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#14 ABN

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 14:40

Hi Dr. Roger's,
I think we're both in agreement on the A piece Bransle de la torche it really is very tuneful, I have listened to A4,5 & 6 on YouTube but keep going back to my original choice so I think that's pretty much decided, probably
I have the score for hallelujah in 'a dozen a day' I bought the book specifically for hallelujah but was pleasantly surprised by the other tunes within, so will be having a play with a couple of those,
For the C piece I think I'll stick with blues in the attic as I really like it however I bit the bullet last night and ordered a copy of the graded piano player grades 2-3 from ABRSM as I'd like to play wouldn't it be loverly for fun and there looks to be some more potential included in the book. So much music to tackle I just don't know where to start,
I'm just so happy to say the more I play/practice the bigger the availability of music that I can try to tackle becomes, not wanting to rush as I'm very much enjoying the "journey" but I can't wait until I'm at a level where the music I really, really want to play will be within my grasp.

Andy
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#15 ABN

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 15:04


I didn't have a source for the B-list Hallelujah so I haven't tried it. Is it a good arrangement? I must say nothing else on the B list really sticks out to me. If I had to pick one of the others, I'd probably go with the Carraoll Shadows or Reinecke Prelude.
.

Forgot to answer in last post, yes hallelujah from the B list is a very nice sounding arrangement, it runs 32 bars and has an optional repeated section, I say optional as it doesn't sound overly shortened without playing the repeated section but definitely sounds better with it, the bulk of the tune is in the lh and the melody which mirrors the words of the song is in the rh, it's really quite enjoyable.

Good luck with your grade 8
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