Jump to content


Photo

Have I reached my ceiling of skills at Grade 1?


  • Please log in to reply
64 replies to this topic

#1 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 27 January 2018 - 18:22

Hey Everyone,

Feeling quite low about my piano ability. As some of you will have seen, I achieved Grade 1 in December. My teacher and I took a good month to just play stuff I enjoyed (City of Stars from La La Land). I haven't perfected this piece but its 5 pages long and requires quite some time to practise this 1 piece alone. I am a part time working Mum of 2 young boys aged 9 and 6, one of whom has autism. I am tired and struggling to find time to practise again.

My new grade 2 scales are really testing my ability, particularly E flat minor. I cannot believe that I will actually have to play these with both hands together too!

I am working through the Piano Adventures Level 2A, which is fun but challenging. Its not beyond me but its seeming so much harder at the moment, whereas I was able to play it before my exam. Its like I am having a post Grade exam slump. I am even finding the Grade 2 theory exercises much harder.

Is the jump between grade 1 and 2 quite steep? I heard it was just a stretch of more of the same. Could this be some strange delayed post exam fatigue or have I already hit my ceiling? I have to be honest, I am scared. What if I have?! Or am I such a perfectionist that I am as usual, trying to run before I can walk? I got a distinction in my Grade 1 though, surely I can deal with beginning Grade 2?

Your honesty and gentleness is much appreciated.
  • 0

#2 BadStrad

BadStrad

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3762 posts
  • Member: 88756
    Joined: 28-January 10

Posted 27 January 2018 - 18:58

It is maybe a case of PCF (Post Christmas Fatigue).  It's dark, it's wet, the nights are long.

 

Be kind to yourself.

 

Practice as slowly as you can, not as fast as you can't. (Ie don't play so fast that you make mistakes - even if that feels woefully slow at first.  I know that's hard to do especially when you factor in the impatience that can dog adult leaners, but it is worth it.  Keeping it slow should help you to avoid "learning" mistakes that will become harder to undo as you build your tempo.

 

I think of learning an instrument as going up a hill.  You see a peak in the distance and think "Aha!  Nearly there."  (eg grade one).  Then you get to the top of that peak and suddenly there is another one in the distance (eg grade two).  Celebrate reaching the peaks, enjoy your successes, but remember you didn't magically get there.  There was lots of work to get that good.  You're just at the start of that next peak.  This time next year you'll probably be wondering about grade three.  smile.png


  • 1

#3 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 27 January 2018 - 19:05

Thank you BadStrad. I think you are spot on about PCF!

I absolutely do need to slow down my scales. I guess I am trying to play them at the same tempo as my grade 1 scales. My teacher said the same thing about starting anew. I guess I am going to have to get used to this feeling each time I start learning something new.

Thanks for being kind.
  • 0

#4 Latin pianist

Latin pianist

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3184 posts
  • Member: 711500
    Joined: 01-April 13

Posted 27 January 2018 - 19:34

If you're doing Abrsm, you don't have to play Eb minor. There's been a lot of postings here by teachers saying that the jump from grade 1 to 2 is too big.Particularly the scales. But the pieces are demanding too. I like my students to learn a few previously set grade 2 pieces before we launch into the proper pieces.To be honest, I wouldn't have said Level 2A of Piano Adventures was grade 2 level, more grade 1.I like the Encore book 1 which has a few grade 1 pieces that were popular and progresses to grade 2 pieces. Then start the actual grade 2 pieces.
  • 1

#5 Acciaccatura

Acciaccatura

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 52 posts
  • Member: 897241
    Joined: 27-January 17

Posted 27 January 2018 - 19:36

Also, try to do something dead easy that would make you feel good about playing the piano. Even if it means learning something like "the wheels on the bus" for your kids to yell along to.


  • 0

#6 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 27 January 2018 - 19:58

Thanks Latin Pianist and Acciaccatura. You both make encouraging points. Yes Level 2A is grade 1 but I should be comfortable with it in my opinion. My teacher and I are going to work through it again anyway for consolidation so that can only be a good thing.

Its interesting to hear that E flat Minor is not required. I shall have to look into that. Also, ABRSM G2 scales book says both C and E Majors contrary motion are 2 octaves. I thought just C Maj was 2 octaves at G2 and E Maj only 1 octave.
  • 0

#7 becster

becster

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 313 posts
  • Member: 888990
    Joined: 05-September 14

Posted 27 January 2018 - 21:30

Wow it sounds like life is full on for you and I think the root of your worries lies in the facts that you're tired, you have little time for practice and the fact that you only just did you grade 1 in December!

Don't underestimate the negative effects of tiredness!!

Try twisting it all around - you are doing loads, you've only just done your grade 1 and you're already looking at and working on grade 2 requirements! That in itself is a great achievement. The fact that you're managing any practice with two young boys is extremely commendable! I wouldn't expect anyone to finish grade 1 and suddenly be at the grade 2 standard. At least a year would be more like it! If not much longer.

It can be disheartening to have been at the top of your game as far as grade 1 is concerned and then ooh crikey! You're at the bottom of it all again for grade 2. But... You did it before (for grade 1). You can do it again. You got this! Just give yourself time and be kind to yourself. Watch how you talk to yourself - is it kind? Would you talk to your sons in the same way if they were learning? If not, maybe change your inner chat. You can so do this xx
  • 1

#8 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 27 January 2018 - 23:53

Becster, you speak such truth. Thank you. Yes! I must start to speak kinder things to myself. I know it will be at least a year or more before any grade 2 exams but I think I just felt overwhelmed by the requirements of the scales and tiredness doesn't bode well for optimism. I guess a year is plenty of time to practise too. Like you say, I felt like this for Grade 1 once :)
  • 0

#9 adultpianist

adultpianist

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 883 posts
  • Member: 888829
    Joined: 04-August 14

Posted 28 January 2018 - 00:24

Becster, you speak such truth. Thank you. Yes! I must start to speak kinder things to myself. I know it will be at least a year or more before any grade 2 exams but I think I just felt overwhelmed by the requirements of the scales and tiredness doesn't bode well for optimism. I guess a year is plenty of time to practise too. Like you say, I felt like this for Grade 1 once smile.png

 

I can only relate to your problems from learning the flute. I started with good intentions and found it too hard despite a teacher saying I have potential.  I gave up.  Then I decided to give it a serious go and got a better quality flute and I am finding it much easier.    I figured it was not the right time for me to do the flute seriously and I would practice very spasmodically.  I would practice and then not practice for weeks and find I had to go from the beginning again.   I cannot afford a regular teacher so I am doing it on my own  regularly now whilst getting the odd tuition every now and then from a teacher.    I love it now.  

 

I hope you feel better about things soon


  • 0

#10 gav_1988

gav_1988

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Member: 416492
    Joined: 06-March 12
  • Stoke-on-Trent

Posted 28 January 2018 - 04:21

Hey Everyone,

Feeling quite low about my piano ability. As some of you will have seen, I achieved Grade 1 in December. My teacher and I took a good month to just play stuff I enjoyed (City of Stars from La La Land). I haven't perfected this piece but its 5 pages long and requires quite some time to practise this 1 piece alone. I am a part time working Mum of 2 young boys aged 9 and 6, one of whom has autism. I am tired and struggling to find time to practise again.

My new grade 2 scales are really testing my ability, particularly E flat minor. I cannot believe that I will actually have to play these with both hands together too!

I am working through the Piano Adventures Level 2A, which is fun but challenging. Its not beyond me but its seeming so much harder at the moment, whereas I was able to play it before my exam. Its like I am having a post Grade exam slump. I am even finding the Grade 2 theory exercises much harder.

Is the jump between grade 1 and 2 quite steep? I heard it was just a stretch of more of the same. Could this be some strange delayed post exam fatigue or have I already hit my ceiling? I have to be honest, I am scared. What if I have?! Or am I such a perfectionist that I am as usual, trying to run before I can walk? I got a distinction in my Grade 1 though, surely I can deal with beginning Grade 2?

Your honesty and gentleness is much appreciated.

 

 

According to your post on the thread where we all shared results last month, you absolutely nailed your grade 1 exam (and got full marks on one of your pieces!). That alone should give you  a bit of a confidence boost that you've got quite a bit more pianoing in you yet! 

Life tries to pull us in lots of directions at once, with different things needing your time at any given moment. You shouldn't feel bad or worry that you're struggling for time to practice. Learning music should, above all, be an activity that you enjoy and a way of unwinding. Exams are nice to work towards and are cause for celebration when they go well, but are by no means the be all and end all. (Also, E flat minor is definitely not on the grade 2 syllabus, as per the following https://us.abrsm.org.../piano-grade-2/ - it doesn't come up until grade 5)

 

Give yourself time, and just enjoy yourself. There's no need to worry about grades until you're good and ready. Go hunt out some repertoire that you just really really like and throw yourself into it.  Then, when the time comes, go and get yourself another Distinction :) 


  • 0

#11 Thepianist

Thepianist

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 186 posts
  • Member: 893388
    Joined: 20-June 15

Posted 28 January 2018 - 07:04

Don't give up yellowlemon, what your feeling is perfectly normal. It just takes time , I've had numerous times I've wanted to throw in the towel especially in the early grades but you just have to keep going. I can't stress enough how great slow practice is, I'm talking mega slow. Do your scales 3 or 4 times with each hand mega slow, invest in a metronome if you can. Try and sight sing as you go along when you play a c sing cccccccccc lol you know what I mean? All this puts the foundations in and makes it easier as you go up the grades. Don't doubt your ability not for one second, you can do anything you want to do it just takes hard work. Think of it as a battery sometimes you feel negative like your not getting anywhere. But the positive side is that your brain is absorbing what you are feeding it. Sorry for the essay! :) you will get there just keep going don't give up. The amazing things in life the special things all take hard work. Love , work , hobbies . ambitions ect people can have everything they want if you keep plodding away.
  • 0

#12 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 28 January 2018 - 08:21

Gav_1988 I think you are right. Its feeling bad about not having as much time to practise. I know you say I did well but my pieces took me 6 to 9 months to really learn and perfect. I was playing them for so long that I had time to perfect them and pretty much memorise them (although I still needed the music to prompt me).
My sight reading is just terrible though. Someone once said it just clicks at some point. I know it has improved somewhat of course but boy I wish it would click, especially my recognition of rythym.

Is E Minor Harmonic not the same as Eb Minor then? E Minor Harmonic has Bb Eb Ab in it? Perhaps I am getting confused. Its this one that I am finding tough though. I need to slow right down, many of you have said that and I agree. I should slow the scale down completely.

ThePianist, I hadn't thought to sight sing too. Thats a really good tip! Thank you. No need for essay apologies. I am greatful that you all took the time to reply to my insecurities. I won't give up, I have plenty of perseverance but I need to bring a bit of perspective again and expect this new learning curve. I still enjoy playing and relax when doing so. This is the whole point, not just exams. I need to remember this.
  • 1

#13 Latin pianist

Latin pianist

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3184 posts
  • Member: 711500
    Joined: 01-April 13

Posted 28 January 2018 - 08:32

E minor harmonic has F# and D# in it.
  • 0

#14 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 28 January 2018 - 08:49

Right you are. I am getting in such a pickle.

Just looked at my books...

G2 ABRSM Scales book shows:
E Minor Harmonic (F# D#)
E Major (F# C# G# D#) (for contrary motion 1 octave)

My Theory of Music Made Easy G2 by Lina Ng is teaching Eb Major (Bb Eb Ab) as well.

No wonder I got confused. I must make sure I recognise the difference between these 3! :)
  • 0

#15 YellowLemon77

YellowLemon77

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Member: 897222
    Joined: 22-January 17
  • South Wales

Posted 28 January 2018 - 08:59

Its E Minor Harmonic (F# D#) that I am struggling with. I will slow it right down. The idea of playing this hands together evades me!
  • 0