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Anyone else hoping to do Grade 5 piano this year?


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#1 Witzend

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 18:04

It's not the first time I've set myself this goal, but life has got in the way - largely grandchild care and needing to be away from home and piano a lot more than I'd like (not all holidays!). But there should be less of all that this year, I hope.
I've just been choosing my pieces - Andante in A, Plauderei, and Film Noir - having listened to the CD a lot those are the ones I liked best.
I'm going to have to be very disciplined with scales this time. In a previous year when pieces were ready, but scales were still iffy, I thought I might have just scraped a pass, but was too chicken to risk it.
It'd be nice to compare notes (no pun intended) and progress with anyone else.
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#2 Rosamund1959

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 18:24

Hi, Witzend!  Me too; planning on taking Grade 5 in June, I'm doing  Minuetto, Etude in a minor and Film Noir (my favourite!). Like you, the scales will prove a challenge, I think it's a huge jump from 4 to 5 in the scales department! I'm taking it a bit easier in preparing for this one as I practiced so intensively for the previous 4 grades that I provoked bad arthritis in my thumb joints and have to have cortisone injections to get me through the exams (and beta blockers to control the adrenaline rush!!). The beauty of learning an instrument in retirement...

 

Here's to 2019 and getting to grips with exams!!


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#3 Witzend

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 20:28

Hello Rosamund!
You've done so well with grades 1-4. I haven't taken an exam since grade 2 as a child. I set myself this as a challenge and would really like to achieve it this time - it'll be the 3rd time I've worked on G5 pieces. Didn't really like the pieces in the last syllabus, which didn't help my motivation, so what with very little grandchildren etc. on top it was never likely to happen.

Two grades a year is really going at it! You must spend a lot of time practising.
I need to be a lot stricter with myself this time. An hour a day whenever possible, or maybe 2 x half an hour.
As for scales, I'm planning on one of the iffier ones plus the arpeggio, each week.

Sympathies over your thumb. I really strained a thumb joint a year or so ago, trying to do a big stretch with To A Wild Rose. Nothing like as bad as yours, but it did take a long time to get better, and I still feel it now and then, so will need to be careful.

If 1959 was your birth year, I'm 10 years older - big birthday do coming up next month. Trying not to think about it!
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#4 ejw21

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 14:13

Good luck Witzend and Rosamund :)


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#5 gav_1988

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 20:27

I'm just returning to the piano after a break of probably the best part of 10 years, and longer still since my last piano exam. 
 

I might set myself the goal of (re)taking grade 5 by the end of the year. If nothing else, it'll force me to get to grips with my scales once and for all haha.


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#6 Witzend

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 12:05

Thank you ejw and hello Gav!
Same here with scales. I'm planning on one of the iffy (or frankly forgotten) ones each week, scale and arpeggio 10 times a day each. Won't always be possible, since we do need to be away fairly often, but as far as possible.
I read somewhere that 70 times is necessary to get something into your muscle memory, so let's hope 10 x 7 plus follow up practice, will do it.

Edit to add, I'm finding scales practice a very good excuse for putting off the dreaded tax return, but am now going to exercise willpower in that direction too.
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#7 gav_1988

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 02:45

Thank you ejw and hello Gav!
Same here with scales. I'm planning on one of the iffy (or frankly forgotten) ones each week, scale and arpeggio 10 times a day each. Won't always be possible, since we do need to be away fairly often, but as far as possible.
I read somewhere that 70 times is necessary to get something into your muscle memory, so let's hope 10 x 7 plus follow up practice, will do it.

Edit to add, I'm finding scales practice a very good excuse for putting off the dreaded tax return, but am now going to exercise willpower in that direction too.

 

I was always terrible at scales when I was taking piano grades as a kid. I seem to be faring with them much better on my sax, which I think has given me a push to get to grips with them on a piano now I'm coming back to it. I know most of the scales, as in notes/key signatures, but getting my fingers to do anything remotely logical is another matter entirely. 
 

My current plan of action is to work through the 'Improve Your Scales' series of books - I've got the grade 2 book on its way. Slow and steady and all that. 


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#8 Witzend

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 15:20

I've got the G5 ditto. So I'm picking one of the scales I never properly got to grips with, to focus on each week. There are a few I never even started, like the contrary motion groups (except the FMajor) - I do find those particularly hard!
Good luck.
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#9 dynari

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 02:59

I'm also taking my Grade 5 this year - in March! This will be my first time taking a piano exam. I grew up in America and took piano lessons as a child, but exams were not a common practice. I didn't even know music exams were a thing until I moved to the UK. I had weekly lessons, learned scales, practiced pieces, and performed at an annual recital for parents. But that's it! When my childhood piano lessons came up in conversation and people asked me about "grades," they were met with a very confused look! 

 

And so those conversations brought me here. I now have a piano again for the first time in 15 years. I didn't realise how much I'd missed it and have taken it up again with great enthusiasm. I looked into exams since I'd been hearing so much about them, and I always love a challenge, so I decided to go for it. I don't know what grade I would have been had I been taking exams as a child, but I suspect somewhere around 7 or 8. Of course, it has been 15 years since then. Because the theory exam is a pre-requisite for Grades 6-8, I decided 5 was a good place to start so I've been working on those pieces and revisiting my scales. (I recently discovered that the ABRSM might accept a music theory exam I took in school in place of the Grade 5 theory, so I may get a pass on that after all! It's currently under review.)

 

Anyway, I'm booked in for the Grade 5 exam in March. I'm doing Andante in A, Etude in A Minor (my favourite), and Film Noir. I don't have a teacher and don't attend lessons so I'm kind of in the dark on my own.

 

It would be great to keep up with all of you and discuss our progress.


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#10 EllieD

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:54

Hi Dynari, and welcome! smile.png Good luck with the exam prep!


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#11 Witzend

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 10:23

Hello, Dynari - all the best for March! Given your previous standard it doesn't sound as if you'll have too much trouble.,
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#12 dynari

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 11:44

Thank you both! Yes, it's all coming back quite nicely though there are a few sticking points! I don't know if I'd ever done contrary-motion scales for harmonic minors (if I did, I've repressed the memory). I'm working on Group 1 but still struggling to master F and C# minor contrary motion. I recently started a practice log and have been rating myself on scale performance. For me, it feels encouraging to see progress this way. Here it is in case anyone else would find this sort of thing helpful: https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

 

My pieces are close to performance standard, I think, but I usually botch some of the ornaments in the Farrenc piece, and my timing/rhythm is still a bit off on a few bars of the Cornick. I'm definitely taking this a lot more seriously than I'd ever have done as a child. Amazing what adulthood does to you. It's no wonder adults are so much more nervous in the exams compared to children. I'm hoping I won't completely fall apart like I did when I took my UK driving exam.


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#13 Witzend

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 18:47

Hope you're all getting on well.
I've come to the conclusion that much as I love it, Plauderei is going to challenge my abilities a bit too far, given so much else to do, what with a lot of scales to perfect as well..
Now working on Etude in A Minor, which I'm finding rather easier. And I do like it, which certainly helps.
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#14 dynari

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 23:31

Hope you're all getting on well.
I've come to the conclusion that much as I love it, Plauderei is going to challenge my abilities a bit too far, given so much else to do, what with a lot of scales to perfect as well..
Now working on Etude in A Minor, which I'm finding rather easier. And I do like it, which certainly helps.

 

Excellent choice! I absolutely love Etude in A Minor. So much that I'm getting into Louise Farrenc. I've been working another one of her pieces ("Impromptu") for the past few weeks:

 

And this one ("Air russe variƩ op. 17") is now on the long-term dream list:

 

I liked this description of her work: "...she creates such romantic, frenetic, nervous and tempestuous atmospheres. She was an eminence of organic and rationalism-based chaos..."

 

Enjoy!!


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#15 Witzend

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 13:37

I dare say it's me, but in some pieces there's a little section where despite having worked out optimum fingering, my fingers seem to get a mental block, so to speak. In the Etude in A Minor, although I'm having no trouble (or at least no more than usual) with anything else, it's those 4 chords in bar 6 - or rather the 2nd pair, coming quickly after the first. I've more or less cracked it - I hope! - by repeating bars 5 and 6 very slowly, literally about 50 times in succession.

No such trouble so far with the other pieces, thank goodness.
Anyone else having similar 'blocks'?
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