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Finishing Grade 8 Piano by 12 years of age


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#46 corenfa

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 20:42

I'm rather glad I didn't get my Grade 8 by age 12. The piano teacher I had when I was 14 sacked me when I didn't want to do my diploma. She had a waiting list and there were plenty of other 14-year-olds waiting to do their diplomas with her. I've got nothing against her or them, but I had other things to do, and I'm glad I did them. I eventually passed my diploma a month ago, rather many years after the age of 14. Good things come to those who wait. Nonetheless, it's good if a 12 year old wants that Grade 8 enough to put in the work. 


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#47 Dorcas

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 20:51

I'm rather glad I didn't get my Grade 8 by age 12. The piano teacher I had when I was 14 sacked me when I didn't want to do my diploma. She had a waiting list and there were plenty of other 14-year-olds waiting to do their diplomas with her. I've got nothing against her or them, but I had other things to do, and I'm glad I did them. I eventually passed my diploma a month ago, rather many years after the age of 14. Good things come to those who wait. Nonetheless, it's good if a 12 year old wants that Grade 8 enough to put in the work. 

 

Well said.  Sorry, but I feel sorry for students who are pressured, either by themselves, peer pressure, teacher pressure, parent pressure, you name it, spending too much time on an instrument.  The hours involved are frankly absurd.  Yep.  I have nailed my colours to the mast.  I accept prodigies exist, but sometimes, not always for the best reasons, or with the best results.  

 

To contextualise my remarks, the current educational fad for forest schools, which has come from Scandinavia, lovely area of the world, used to be called growing up in the fifties and sixties in England.  Yep, I am completely retrograde, and think children should be allowed to get bored, without recourse to musical instruments, computers and, wait for it, paddling in the river, which is how much of my misspent youth, was misspent.

 

Now I am going off to sulk.  Quote me on that one at your leisure. 

 

:piano:

 

edit: grammar are or


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#48 Aquarelle

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:48

This is all a bit sad; "Finishing" Grade 8 piano is a choice of words which says a little more than was perhaps intended. I would have thought "Achieving" might have been a better choice. I'm sure some pupils can achieve G 8 by the age of 12.  I'm sure that for some this is a good thing and for others a disaster; It all really depends on how the pupil got to G8 - in other words, what was their musical journey. Was it straight down the musical motorway with a rare stop off at a service station? Or was it an interesting, winding path taken at a sensible pace, with time to enjoy the musical scenery?

 

I am not being judgmental of the original poster. I am just making the point that I would prefer my pupils to take the winding road and I would also add that musical maturity develops slower than technique and brilliance. I'm rather more interested in musical maturity that brilliance  - but then my pupils are pretty average for their age and I don't have any little Mozarts. If I had had any I am sure they would have left me behind and gone on to a better teacher long ago!


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#49 Dorcas

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Posted 26 September 2019 - 11:56

This is all a bit sad; "Finishing" Grade 8 piano is a choice of words which says a little more than was perhaps intended. I would have thought "Achieving" might have been a better choice. I'm sure some pupils can achieve G 8 by the age of 12.  I'm sure that for some this is a good thing and for others a disaster; It all really depends on how the pupil got to G8 - in other words, what was their musical journey. Was it straight down the musical motorway with a rare stop off at a service station? Or was it an interesting, winding path taken at a sensible pace, with time to enjoy the musical scenery?

 

I am not being judgmental of the original poster. I am just making the point that I would prefer my pupils to take the winding road and I would also add that musical maturity develops slower than technique and brilliance. I'm rather more interested in musical maturity that brilliance  - but then my pupils are pretty average for their age and I don't have any little Mozarts. If I had had any I am sure they would have left me behind and gone on to a better teacher long ago!

 

The voice of common sense.  24 piece wonder students, not easy to teach whilst they learn technique and repertoire solely through exam material.  OK if you want to learn like that, but usually, poor sight readers and not particularly interested in the instrument itself.


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#50 jenny

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Posted 26 September 2019 - 13:27

There was an ABRSM post on facebook this week about an 8 year old passing Grade 8 with distinction. I think it was on violin.


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#51 EllieD

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Posted 29 September 2019 - 08:05

Be interesting to know how many of these talented prodigies make it as a soloist musician. Probably a tiny percentage. And would that be a higher percentage than soloists who have achieved their status after a less prodigious childhood? I remember a programme on telly about a young artist. He had created some amazing pictures as a child, truly outstanding, and achieved a level of fame within that world - his pictures sold for £lots. But the programme focussed on him turning into adulthood, by which time his pictures really were no better than those of any other adult painter. How was he going to reclaim his niche market? I don't know what happened next. (Obviously I wish him well, can't remember his name unfortunately.)

 

I am very impressed by dedicated and talented youngsters of course. In any walk of life. But the vast majority probably don't achieve the levels of success they (and their parents) might have envisaged, and they need to bear that in mind as they begin to grow up.


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#52 Bremmer

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:37

I once had the very scary experience of accompanying a violin pupil of mine at an audition for the Menuhin school. There was a little lad there, about 9, happily practising the first movement of the Elgar Cello concerto on a very small cello for his audition.

 

My pupil aged 10 had started the violin with me just 6 months prior to that, completely  from scratch - no musicians in the family, no prior music tuition at all. He had just passed Grade 5 violin with distinction and taken and passed his grade 5 theory. The Menuhin school were impressed, but said it was a bit too early to really assess his potential and offer him a place ( I agreed with them, but it was his Dad who had pushed for this ). They were however very interested and asked to see him again in 6 months.

During that time, the family moved away and I very sadly lost him as a pupil, though he did come back briefly for a lesson about 6 months later, he was playing Beethoven Spring Sonata for his Grade 8 which he would have been taking almost exactly a year after he started the violin. 

He ended up at the Purcell school, after which we lost touch.


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#53 elemimele

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 10:56

I'm completely in agreement with Aquarelle.

 

EllieD's question ("Be interesting to know how many of these talented prodigies make it as a soloist musician") is only the tip of the iceberg. Something I've noticed amongst highly-successful friends in an fairly international context is that those who come from backgrounds that put great value on passing high-level music exams at a very early age tend, now, in adulthood, to have given up altogether. They've not only failed to make it as a soloist musician, but they've failed to make it as a musician at all.

I don't know why! Perhaps it's because they were mixed up with friends in the same system, compared themselves to prodigies, and became despondent? Perhaps they felt that only true excellence would ever be good enough, and didn't believe they could reach such heights?

Perhaps it's down to what the exam was supposed to achieve. If the whole point was to become a soloist, then a miss is as good as a mile; having failed to make it, you may as well give up. If the exam was supposed to help you get into a top university on a different subject, then having done so, why bother continuing to play? The benefit of a more windy route, enjoying the scenery, is that it favours the person who plays because they like and treasure the music, and that sort of person will go on to a lifetime's enjoyment. They may never play particularly well, but they will always play, and hopefully, each year, will play a little more broadly, or a little better, than they did the year before. Their growth may not be so dramatic, but it will be sustained and useful growth. In a way, I prefer a system that generates 100 adults who play in local orchestras or sing in choirs, or play in a little band, or with their kids, than a system that generates 1 great soloist and 99 disillusioned doctors/financiers/whatever who think that grade 8 violin is a stage you grow through at age 13.


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#54 bentogirl

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 09:22

Not a music teacher but I am involved in education. I think it’s a reflection of the “stamp collecting” approach to education- certificates are there to be collected, and what you have to do to get them is almost immaterial. What matters is climbing some notional achievement ladder and ticking off each level as you do it. You also see it in the broader education system in the UK in general, and I think it’s a devaluation of learning things because they are intrinsically interesting. See also the posts about elder children wanting to stop classes because they’re too busy ticking exam boxes - the idea of a hobby as a break from everyday life isn’t seen as valuable - success at exams is all consuming.

Parents also need to shoulder some of the blame - many like to be able to say their child is Grade whatever, but they also find grades reassuring as some kind of proof that the pounds spent on music classes have some kind of measurable value, certificates being worth more than being able to play...
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#55 Dorcas

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 11:10

Personally, I love it when students excel from their own volition.  The reality for most is rather different.  I particularly like the points Bentogirl has made.  An exam, is just an exam, and not an end in itself.


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#56 Banjogirl

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 18:05

When the Boy was learning the cello locally, his teacher had another pupil who was roughly where the Boy had been when he was her age, about two years behind him. Her mum kept asking me what grade the Boy was at because she was paranoid that her little darling would fall behind. She must have been very fed up when her daughter gave to the cello entirely. I wonder if the obsession with getting to the right grade at the 'right' time had anything to do with it!
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#57 lil_mist

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 16:04

Piano isn't even my main concern right now. I have many other concerns such as schoolwork (obviously), fencing, writing, and debating, and yes I have a very active social life. I would definitely not consider myself a prodigy, but my teacher felt like I could give Grade 8 a shot in Grade 5, so why not? It was a challenge for me, and it's not like I passed it with ease.

 

You can rant about whatever you want, and I don't mind you giving your opinion at all, but please do not make assumptions or question my "social life" or anything personal. Fyi, I am the exact opposite of socially awkward.

 

Just because I have had some achievements at an early age doesn't imply my debility in the long term. My goal for now is to complete DipAbrsm, LRSM, and FRSM. After that, I'm hopefully going to enter some formal and important competitions and when I have the ability, hold some mini-concerts, so your assumption about being unhealthy in the long term is invalid.

 

Also, some kids in my grade, are at the same level that I am on, so I would not consider myself a "problem", even further from a prodigy.


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#58 elemimele

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 16:31

lil_mist, please don't feel you should take this thread as reflecting on you personally, and please don't feel upset by it. It's a very old thread, and many, like me, will have skipped to the start to see what it was all about, and maybe read the last few posts, to see where it's gone, and may be completely unaware of your post in the middle!

There are lots of different people in the world, and what's right for one won't be right for another. You're clearly doing fine - carry on as you are! The issue that's being discussed is that many people here have encountered many students who are forced by parents, society-expectations or peer-pressure to take exams rather faster than is good for them. These are, you're right, generalisations, and I don't think anyone is applying them to you. I'm certainly not, because you're quite right, I don't know your individual circumstances. I can only write about people I know.

I think it's reasonable to be concerned about the pursuit of exam results at all cost - because it definitely happens, and it's definitely bad for some people. It's something against which many of us wish to fight, to change society's expectations, and to counter that peer-pressure, and to give young musicians who need it a bit of breathing-space. On the other hand, other young musicians, without ruthlessly pursuing exam results, will just get them, because they are able to pass while still being balanced happy people, and they're getting a good grasp of the subject as they go along. It looks like you're in that happy group, from what you've said, so all I'd say is: enjoy! But please don't take anything I wrote as reflecting on you - it wasn't meant to.


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#59 lil_mist

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 12:59

No of course I didn't! And thank you for the encouragement :)

I know some people who are pressured by their parents to take exams, and I would definitely not want that.


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#60 elemimele

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 22:06

glad you're not upset; and good luck - sounds like you've got a busy life and a busy future! But busy people have the most fun, I think.


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