QUOTE(morton @ Feb 16 2011, 03:05 PM)
Ensemble playing is a completely different skill. In grade exams some people as I have found out from the answers on this forum rely on their pianist to cover up mistakes that thay make in rhythm. In an ensemble of amateur players, no one is going to help you out with your rhythm, you are on your own.
That 'covering up' is an important part of ensemble playing, eg: if you are sitting there for 12 bars rest and you have a cue marked in that some other part hasn't reached yet, unless they've given up completely, you may be better waiting until they get there, if the rest of the orchestra followed.
In an ensemble there are going to be note, rhythm and volume mistakes, and part of being in an ensemble is that when it wobbles a bit in those sorts of circumstances you should be trying to help steady the ship.
To play in an ensemble for fun means that there is no need for you to have passed any exams. So what does having passed grade 8 show that you can do? It shows that you can play scales from memory. It shows that you might be able to read grade 6 music at sight, however if you don't get full marks for this then obviously you aren't grade 6 standard in sight reading. It shows that you know something about the music that you are playing, all my musical friends know this whether they have taken exams or not. (Most concerts have programme notes about the pieces being played.) It shows that you can play some music with a pianist who is better than you are.
Having a grade 8 shows that you were able to satisfy the examiner that you met the requirements for grade 8 on the day of your exam. In the same way having an A-level maths shows that you satisfied the examiners in your exam for that.
You don't need to get full marks in a music grade exam, so why should full marks be required in the sight reading to demonstrate a capability of sight reading a grade 6 style piece of music?
So why do grade 8? Well some people like to have milestones in their playing. That's fine. However grade 8 doesn't qualify you for anything. This is why I don't pay any attention to what grades/ diplomas people have taken, because in the general adult music making scheme of things they don't mean anything. They are only useful if people want to do recitals.
Not very many of the people I come into contact with want to do recitals, they wouldn't consider this as fun playing.
As above a grade 8 shows you satisfied the examiners that you were of that standard for one particular half hour.
Why are they useful if people want to do recitals?
An amateur ensemble also doubles as club. Like a bowling club or a tennis club etc. It is a way of meeting new people, making new friends, getting out of the house, an intersting hobby. You don't need any exams to be good at any of these things.
People often like a benchmark, sports clubs can provide a handicap, so in music people can use a grade as a grading, and a specific target to aim at often helps with improving.
On their own, none of these exams qualify anyone for anything. Further study is always needed.
How is that different to anything else?