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Strange Grade 8 Piano Exam Experience


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#1 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 13:57

Greetings, all.  I had my Grade 8 exam yesterday afternoon.  It was a fairly strange experience.

 

First let me say that the examiner was great.  No complaints about him at all.  I think he found it as strange as I did.

 

I was the last exam of the day.  Fine, somebody has to go last.  They were running early, so I pretty much went straight into the exam when I arrived at the center (which was a church).  Again fine, 20 minutes of practice on the cheap electric in the practice room wouldn't make that big a difference.

 

The piano was terrible.  It was an old (very old) and unresponsive Kimball grand.  Between the horrid old piano and the bad acoustics of the church sanctuary, it sounded like a [email protected]#$ harpsichord.  Furthermore, the piano was elevated on cast-iron risers, so the pedals where high (the pedals didn't bother me) and the bench was low.  The bench was not adjustable, but thankfully they had some rubber floor mats that I put on top of the bench to raise me up a bit.  (I like to sit high.)  But all that I could live with and just laugh about.

 

I started with scales and chords, which were pretty much perfect.  I wasn't very nervous, and my hands were fairly steady.  (My hands always shake, as did my father's, but usually it doesn't interfere with my playing.  I should have been a brain surgeon!)

 

Then as I was preparing for the Bach, a workman came in the side door and started fiddling with some equipment!  The main entrance to the hall was guarded, but the side door was not.  (And probably has to remain unlocked while the hall is occupied due to fire code.)

 

The examiner was very polite, explaining that we were having exams and needed privacy.  But the workman didn't speak English!  This went on for a few minutes, then finally I broke down and explained it to the workman in Spanish.  When he finally understood, he left, but took his time about it.  The examiner was unhappy about the disruption, but thanked me for assisting.

 

But get this - by the time the workman left the room, my nerves had really kicked in.  My hands were shaking disastrously.

 

I made a stupid mistake in the first line of the Bach prelude, but the rest of it was pretty good.  The fugue was nearly perfect - probably my strongest playing of the day.  (BWV 875, Prelude and Fugue in D minor, WTC Book 1)

 

The Beethoven sonata movement (Rondo from Op. 14 No. 1) was okay - a few stupid mistakes due to nerves.  Not my best performance.

 

The Brahms (Intermezzo in A minor, Op.76 No. 7) was pretty good - almost as good as the Bach fugue.

 

Sightreading was... well, it was sightreading.  I think I did okay.

 

Aural was a mixed bag.  Mostly good, but some stupid mistakes in sight singing and I don't think I did so well on describing musical features.

 

At least it's done now.  After the exam, my wife and I went for tacos to our favorite Mexican taqueria (one of the advantages of living in Texas) and then went on a six mile evening hike.

 

Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for a good score.  I know I passed, and most likely got merit.  Hopefully the examiner kept the disruption in mind when scoring my playing!


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#2 Gran'piano

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 14:40

Keeping on in the face of adversity! Great stuff.

When I was 'adjudicating' at practical exams, for which I had helped to sort out the marking system, we had an extra ten marks which we could give 'at our discretion' for coping with completely unexpected things which would negatively affect the exam result. I never had cause to use this 'power', but had I been the examiner at your exam you'd have got the lot!


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#3 mel2

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 17:31

You'll be able to dine out on this story for years to come.
If you don't do as well as you'd hoped, at least you have a jolly good excuse - but let's hope it doesn't come to that.
Sounds like a memorable day throughout. :)
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#4 Banjogirl

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 17:50

Goodness! I think you did well to play at all, never mind as well as you seem to have. Well done for getting through it and fingers crossed for a well deserved good mark.

The worst thing that every happened to any of mine in an exam was my son's sax exam which was on a really cold day. The sax had got very cold in the car and just would not stay in tune in the very warm church hall. He retuned it for each piece and I thought the examiner was somewhat unkind to remark on the tuning, when the caus of the problem was fairly obvious, and not my son's fault.
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#5 helen_flute

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 18:18

Oh my, it sounds like you did very well under challenging circumstances! Fingers crossed for a good result, and perhaps some marks to reflect the difficulties beyond your control. I'm sure many of us would have gone totally to pieces.


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#6 hennylemon

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 12:03

Wow, well done for getting through your exam under those conditions! I'm always very concerned about unfamiliar pianos and your exam piano seems to have been awful! 


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#7 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 13:59

Thank you, everyone.  The local representative has always been prompt about getting the results back to applicants.  I will probably get them towards the end of this week, or next week at the latest.  I haven't felt very nervous about the score, but I suppose I must be anxious on some level because I had a nightmare about a piano exam last night!  In the nightmare, I was the one who walked in and disrupted an exam, and the examiner was furious at me!  Thankfully, it was just a nightmare!

 

I'll post again when I get my score.


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#8 helen_flute

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 17:13

Definitely a not so subtle message from your subconscious! Hopefully your results will be through soon and your subconscious will be able to relax.


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#9 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 13:32

 I suppose I must be anxious on some level because I had a nightmare about a piano exam last night! 

Ha, I get graduation nightmares decades after graduating, lol!


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#10 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 14:33

Big sigh of relief!  The results came in the mail over the weekend.  My student and I both got distinction!

 

The Bach Prelude and Fugue received the highest marks.(28/30)  The examiner said made some very complimentary remarks, especially about the fugue.  (This is the sort of music that I love, and it probably shows in my playing.)

 

The Beethoven rondo received one mark lower than the Bach (27/30), with some very reasonable and accurate constructive criticism (could be played with more flamboyance in places, and some rhythmic irregularities - the examiner actually used the word "flamboyance"!)

 

Brahms... well, I was surprised that the Brahms intermezzo received the lowest marks of the three pieces, one mark lower than Beethoven (26/30).  The examiner would have liked to heard more passion and drama.  I was playing it safe, especially since the exam piano was a nasty piece of work, but I guess I played it a little too safe.

 

Scales and chords: 20/21 - I did have a little slip in one of the one-handed scales in thirds.

 

Sight reading: 16/21 - a reasonable mark based on my performance

 

Aural: 16/18 - a misidentified chord and a little slip in sight-singing

 

133/150.  No complaints.  Onward and upward!

 

My next exam will be Grade 6 Theory while I work on my ARSM programme.  I'll probably take both Grade 6 and Grade 7 Theory before the ARSM.


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#11 ABN

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 14:43

^^^ congratulations to both you and your student on earning a distinction especially given the events during your exam.
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#12 hennylemon

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 14:48

That's an amazing result! A huge well done!


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#13 Gran'piano

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 15:17

Congratulations.
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#14 fsharpminor

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 15:17

Well done Austin.  Now for the diploma ! smile.png


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#15 Banjogirl

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 15:56

Well done!
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