Jul 12 2004, 07:16 AM
I've been learning piano for 3 years (only the last 9 months with a teacher) but don't want to take practical exams as I don't like the pressure (although I am doing theory). I'm wondering whether it's better to follow the exam syllabus anyway, to give structure to learning, rather than just playing increasingly more difficult pieces with a hit-and-miss technique. I do play scales, and my teacher tries to encourage my sight-reading, but is this enough? (I'm 54, by the way and play pieces in the grades 4-6 range, though I can only play the grade 4 pieces well.)
I'd be so grateful for any advice...
Jul 12 2004, 08:18 AM
It's true that the exam system provides structure and a series of goals.
With some of my pupils (especially the younger ones) when someone says "I don't want to do exams" I sometimes suspect it's partly because they only want to play pieces and don't want to be "bothered" with all the other bits and pieces. It can be difficult to persuade them of the value of anything that isn't a piece! But this is clearly not true in your case.
While I don't put pressure on students to do exams, without them they can be a bit unfocused. In your case it needn't be so, because you obviously see the value of scales, sight-reading and other skills, and are doing them alongside pieces.
I recommend you make sure that you keep scales, arpeggios, sight reading and aural skills well abreast of the pieces you are doing in terms of grade, and yes, if it helps to identify each level by all means follow the syllabus. Have a book of studies on the go as well as the pieces you are doing.
Don't worry. Enjoy your playing!
Jul 12 2004, 08:40 AM
The thing I've found is that scales and arpegios *do* help with playing. I'm not always that strict in practising them, and in particular find it hard in the winter as those dark cold mornings make it hard to get out of bed, so I end up rushing out to work. In summer, I'm usualy up with the lark so do scales etc. before work. There's no doubt that pieces come along better when I'm practising scales.
At present I'm working on Mozart D.m Fantasy, and there's no way I could even start to play the candenzas without some knowledge of scales!! Beginging to worry if I'll ever be able to play the second one as it is!!
Jul 12 2004, 09:24 AM
I agree. Now that my grade 6 is out the way, - and because I was doing so much scale practice for it - I am finding it increasingly difficult now to keep the scales going without an awful lot of discipline. I have to make myself to them at the beginning of each practice, as it is so tempting to launch straight into Farewell to Stromness and Einaudi LOL!
Jul 13 2004, 11:50 AM
Thanks all! I must try to improve my sight reading which is well below everything else, except aural, which I've not done at all. I actually enjoy playing scales & arpeggios, so practising these isn't a problem.
I really appreciate these message boards for the many perspectives they give.
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