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Grade 8 piano - having a crisis of confidence!

Discussion in 'Music' started by Mrs Mo, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Just got the syllabus workbook etc for grade 8 piano 2011/12 - is it just me or is it really, really difficult? It seems a huge jump from grade 7, which I passed last year.
    I've been trying to choose which pieces to study - dont really like any of them in section B, apart from the Beethoven Sonata Op 13 "pathetique" but there's no way I can play anything that fast!
    Anyone else feel the same?

  2. Just got the syllabus workbook etc for grade 8 piano 2011/12 - is it just me or is it really, really difficult? It seems a huge jump from grade 7, which I passed last year.
    I've been trying to choose which pieces to study - dont really like any of them in section B, apart from the Beethoven Sonata Op 13 "pathetique" but there's no way I can play anything that fast!
    Anyone else feel the same?

  3. bod99

    bod99 New commenter

    You passed? Wasn't it you who was so sure you'd failed?! Congrats!
  4. I would suggest that you don't know what you can do until you try! Give the Pathetique a go, and see how much you can work up to the speed!
    I have recently taken up the Organ (at the age of 42!) and although I have Grade 8 + piano (as well as other instruments), I am not finding it very easy at all. Every time my teacher puts something new in front of me, I think 'I can't play that!', but gradually, and eventually, I master them. It's a bit of a labour of love, but I'm enjoying it so much, and progressing! I'm currently working for Grade 5!
    Give it a go! You will surprise yourself!
  5. I agree with Rebecca. Dont doubt yourself before you've started.
    When I went started Grade 8 piano, it was very daunting and i felt some of it was out of my reach, but my teacher went through each part of it very steadily. Breakdown your pieces bar by bar, starting slowly, and as you get to know it, you'll be able to speed up.
    I do understand your worry - you go from your grade 7 level, being able to play your pieces backwards, knowing your scales so well etc... to suddenly being confronted with all new tricky things to learn!
    Dont worry. It is challenging, but go at your own pace and you'll get there. It's so worth it in the end!
  6. Bod99 - yes, it was me who was convinced I'd failed grade 7. I nearly did - I scraped through by the skin of my teeth. I put this down to a) nerves - I was a wreck! and b) not enough practice. The last 6 months before my exam, I had to drop everything and sort my elderly mum's house sale out. I was so busy to-ing and fro-ing to Essex that I often went several days without even touching the piano. Not good just before an exam!
    I'm being made redundant in 3 weeks so I guess I'll have lots of free time in which to practice the "pathetique" and other pieces.

  7. Don't panic about the pathetique. The first opening section can be mastered in a relatively short period. the rest of the movement, take your time work things out and gradually build up the tempo to performance speed. practice little sections and it'l start to come together.
  8. Which movement of the Pathetique are you doing - I@m learning the last mve for a piano competition - I must admit it's not easy.
    The key to the uppoer grades is lots of practice on the scales and exercises. Remember "Scales are marks for free!". And lots of work on these strengthens the hands and builds stamina.
    And, yes, the jump between G7 and G8 is probably the largest in the grades (or maybe G5 - 6).
    One step at a time - that's the ticket!
  9. QFE

    QFE New commenter

    Grade 8 is a bit of a jump. I do find it interesting that there is an assumtion by some pupils/parents that they can do one grade a year - admittedly, I had one pupil some years ago who did this in slightly less time, staggeringly talented and I did recommend to her parents that they should consider sending her to a top-gun piano tutor, but she was 'a once in a teachers lifetime' exception.
    I would caution against the constant persuit of grades though. Just as much can be gained from experience as an accompanist and by playing a wider range of repertoire.
    To the poster who is having organ lessons - excellent!! A dying art around here in the 'Village'. I recommend that you sit in with your local cathedral organist at a service - volunteer to turn pages. You will learn a lot. Sometimes just seeing someone else doing it makes you realise that it is possible!
  10. Thanks QFE. Even though I'm from a provincial town, I am lucky enough to be learning on a magnificent 4 manual Aneessens romantic organ that has recently been rebuilt (by Nicholson's). According to many of the organists who visit, we have an instrument that is the match of many cathedrals, and a superb organist (who is also my teacher).
    As we have a regular recital series, I am able to watch many superb organists - and hope!
    Like I said, I never thought I'd ever master the art of getting my feet to work in time with my hands, but I am - gradually!!!!
  11. Thanks for your encouraging comments. I will try my best. I sometimes despair though at how **** I am. I tried going over my grade 7 pieces the other day - I only did the exam in December. I couldn't even remember how to play one of the pieces! I've gone and forgotten it. I think I've forgotten most of the scales too. I know I have a pretty cr*ppy memory; I cant play from memory, I have to always read the score. I know I've never had a brilliant memory, but it's just getting worse and worse! I know I am juggling lots of things at the moment - job hunting, caring for my mum, my family, working, music studies etc. but this is ridiculous.[​IMG]
  12. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    My piano teacher reckoned on an extra year between grades 7 and 8. So before I even looked at the grade 8 pieces, we worked on longer pieces such as sonatas, pieces with lots of notes such as impromptus, some fugues, plus the scales. There is a big jump from grade 7, and that way I got some practice at those things without overworking the pieces I would eventually do.
  13. As a double grade eight-er ( masochist I hear you cry!) I'd recomend you get a copy of Hanon's The Virtuoso Pianist. At grade 7-8 level technique is a must and Hanon is great for developing it. Play each exercise slowly with great attention to evenness of tone. Gradually build your speed up but do not get carried away! For further masochism: Put five coins on the left of the keyboard. Play one exercise perfect, move the coin to the right side and so on. If you fluff it, start again. Its beastly, but it works. Oh, and given your commitments you can do it in bite-size sessions too and it is great for zoning out a little.

    Personally I'd avoid the Pathetique, its far harder than many realise and has been done to death!
  14. Thanks nights - I'll try to get a copy of the Hanon book. I'm getting so confused about which pieces to do. Oh dear!
  15. Just realx and do what you have to do, try to learn some new things and you know that practice makes perfect.. progress and you don't know maybe you'll be better than others.
  16. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Well done Mrs.Mo on Grade 7 success! I know it's easy to say bit try to relax - there is no time limit on you doing Grade 8 is there?
    (I attempted mine the year before I got married (1981!) as I was at one end of the UK and my soon-to-be-husband was at the other. His challenge was to gain experience towards Chartered Engineer and make us a double-bed (from scratch, padded head-board and all!!) and my challenge was to gain experience as a new music teacher and sit my Grade 8 piano. I was too relaxed about it all and spent so much time chatting to my lovely old piano teacher (I returned home to teach for year 1) that I never got round to it, I did learn a Beethoven sonata in E and a Brahms piece which I thought my hands would never be big enough to play, and all the scales but I didn't manage the whole thing.)
    I did do an LTCL singing when my children went to school and I was teaching part-time, so I know it's possible - maybe when I retire? You have so much on your plate (we're going through the mum-bit now too, it's hard isn't it?) and it's good that you have an outlet - we musicians are so lucky in that respect!
    Good luck!
    Joni x
  17. Thanks Joni for your kind words and encouragement! I know what you mean about managing the stretches. One piece I've chosen is the Prelude & Fugue in B by Clara Schumann, which is a lovely piece but some of the stretches seem huge to me (I dont have very big hands), in fact, I reckon Clara S was probably a man.
  18. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Perhaps that's why Robert Schumann threw himself into the Rhine when he eventually discovered the ghastly truth of what lay beneath the petticoats [​IMG]
  19. ... the clue lies in her maiden name perhaps ROFL

    I recall reading that Robert tried to improve his reach by stretching his fingers. Perhaps there was a little bit of Munchausen going on between Robert and Clara!

    All that said I love to play aufschwung - when I've practiced!

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