I'll be interested in your experiences of ARSM, Dr Rogers, perhaps that will help me make my mind up!
I'll be taking it in May of 2020, if all goes according to plan, so I have eight more months. I took Grade 8 in May of 2019. The Professor and I originally set a timetable of one year for ARSM, and then another two years for DipABRSM, but she's thinking we can bring that in a bit.
It turns out that a year was probably longer than I really needed for ARSM. Now I'm at the point where the programme is really coming together, and I still have eight months to go before the exam! We only get two practical sessions per year in the Republic of Texas - May and November. It's too late to register for the November session, so I'm stuck with next May.
But there's a bright side to this: I should have that programme down nearly flawlessly!
She suggested that I start working on one of the pieces for the DipABRSM to prevent boredom while I polish up the ARSM programme. I've started on the Bach Toccata in E minor, BWV 914. I just poke at it a little bit every day, but I've made some progress. It has four movements: an easy prelude, a tricky fugato, a moderate fantasia, and a difficult fugue. I've been nailing down the fingerings in all the movements, but focusing my efforts on the fugato and fugue. I've made a lot of progress on the fugato (fingering is the difficulty there) but that fugue is a real butt-kicker. But I adore that fugue, so I feel it's worth every minute of slow, hands-separate practice.
The Beethoven sonata I'm doing for DipABRSM (Op. 14 No. 2) is easier than the one I'm doing for ARSM (Op. 14 No. 1) so the Professor and I aren't too worried about it. The Chopin Nocturne will be tricky, and I'm dreading all the woodshedding that ill be needed for my Debussy Prelude (La puerta del vino)...
Hopefully I'll be able to do the DipABRSM in a year and a half after the ARSM.