Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

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jimmyblues
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby jimmyblues » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:02 pm

Blondie wrote:...It was in a cold church hall but the acoustics were awesome :) Obviously I was nervous and made a few fluffs in the pieces (nothing major). The sight reading was a killer, Eb I think! The rhythm/improvisation exercise was also much harder than I anticipated and If I were doing it again I'd go for a different option. I was happy to come away with a merit.

If you can, get youir hands on 'past papers' for the unseen parts of the exam, it will give you a good idea of the standard required. Needless to say, you have to prep this stuff to death so that it holds up under exam conditions (especially as this is your first). Make sure you play the pieces and the tech suite in front of people, you do not want to be playing this stuff in public for the first time in the exam room.


Blondie - thanks very much for that, very helpful! :D

Are you saying youd rather have done the aural test than the improv, or a different type of improv? Also, how long did it take you preparing for the exam (from seeing the syllabus to the actual exam day)?

Thanks for the hints. I definitely want to acquire some 'past paper' stuff. My sight reading is ok, but needs work and under pressure I imagine nerves would hamper my abilities. I definitely need to do some practice in front of an audience before the exam. What did you do for this? Just playing in front of friends/family, or actual 'recital' type run-through in front of strangers?

Thanks again for your help, much appreciated :)
JDC
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Blondie
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby Blondie » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:24 pm

For the options I would have probably done the aural, or perhaps different type of improv, I don't know. I made the mistake of thinking I was good rhythmically (play flamenco, some latin, used to play in bands etc) and so it would be a piece of cake. However, you have to read a rhythm off the staff, for several bars, and then use that to improvise a composition on the spot. The rhythm was twice as long as I'd expected and felt almost random, by the time I'd got to the end I'd forgotten how it started and you need it all in your head whilst you are composing the piece. Very tough under pressure and you get about a minute to prep it!

I took about a year to prepare but of course personal circumstances are a big factor. I do a lot of weddings in the summer and so have less time to work on my own stuff.

To practice pieces I played for my teacher, for family and would occasionally drop the Piazolla piece (the most difficult) in when I played at gigs.

Dave68

Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby Dave68 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:41 pm

Blondie wrote:
I took about a year to prepare but of course personal circumstances are a big factor. I do a lot of weddings in the summer and so have less time to work on my own stuff.


Were you already at that standard would you say, and it was just a case of learning the pieces? or did learning the pieces bring you up this standard?

The reason i ask is that I had learned all of the pieces for grade 8 about 5 years ago and could play them well, but then never sat the exam for various reasons. I'm now trying to learn a whole new set of pieces so that i can take it again. I've not actually started yet, but was hoping to get the pieces honed by summer - I may be being a bit optimistic.

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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:07 pm

Blondie wrote:grade 8 ... It carries the same weight as A levels

Not good A levels - to clarify, a good A level pass credits the candidate with 120 or 140 UCAS points; even a C grade gives 80 points. The maximum number available from a music performance grade is just 75, and that for a pass with distinction at grade eight.

I no longer teach in college but I still guide a number of students into University and other forms of higher education each year - without doubt the most well regarded of the two examinations is the A level.

Having said that it should be noted that some music colleges and conservatoires do accept less academically qualified candidates. For instance, Birmingham Conservatoire only requires a couple of A2 grade E (40 points) passes (and an audition) for their BMus course ... there may be some that ask even less.

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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby John D » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:15 pm

To add to the confusion we have the Royal College of Music which is university standard and usually attended from the age of 18+ After A levels!! Many also refer to specialist musical higher educational establishments as 'music colleges'. If you wasn't confused before you are now!!!!

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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby jimmyblues » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:06 am

Dave68 wrote:
Blondie wrote:
I took about a year to prepare but of course personal circumstances are a big factor. I do a lot of weddings in the summer and so have less time to work on my own stuff.
...The reason i ask is that I had learned all of the pieces for grade 8 about 5 years ago and could play them well, but then never sat the exam for various reasons. I'm now trying to learn a whole new set of pieces so that i can take it again. I've not actually started yet, but was hoping to get the pieces honed by summer - I may be being a bit optimistic.


I know this question isn't addressed to me, but personally I believe I am above Grade 8 standard in terms of pieces I have played before. However getting the repertoire up to perfect standard (or as close as) which stands up in a pressurised situation is what I am finding the toughest bit. SO to be able to e.g. play each piece without errors five times in a row. That for me is what is taking extra time. I believe someone has mentioned on the forum before that when under pressure our performace ability drops a couple of grades I can well believe that, unfortunately.... :shock:
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby jimmyblues » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:16 am

Blondie wrote:For the options I would have probably done the aural, or perhaps different type of improv, I don't know. I made the mistake of thinking I was good rhythmically (play flamenco, some latin, used to play in bands etc) and so it would be a piece of cake. However, you have to read a rhythm off the staff, for several bars, and then use that to improvise a composition on the spot. The rhythm was twice as long as I'd expected and felt almost random, by the time I'd got to the end I'd forgotten how it started and you need it all in your head whilst you are composing the piece. Very tough under pressure and you get about a minute to prep it!

I took about a year to prepare but of course personal circumstances are a big factor. I do a lot of weddings in the summer and so have less time to work on my own stuff.

To practice pieces I played for my teacher, for family and would occasionally drop the Piazolla piece (the most difficult) in when I played at gigs.


Thanks for the detail Blondie. :D

I've always considered my improv skills good (starting playing electric acoustic blues, some jazz etc) but Im not sure how good they actually would be when put to the test and given strict parameters like you mention. Something I need to check with my teacher about...!

Was getting the grade just a desirable goal for you rather than a necessity etc? How have you found getting gigs/playing at weddings. It's something I'm looking to do in the future (along with teaching) to make a living, but just wondered how many options there are and how hard it is to break into the arena of paid performances i.e. whether you need 'contacts' etc.

all the best

JDC
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby Blondie » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:49 am

jimmyblues wrote:I've always considered my improv skills good (starting playing electric acoustic blues, some jazz etc) but Im not sure how good they actually would be when put to the test and given strict parameters like you mention.


I play in a rumba/latin fusion duo (think Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin etc only not quite so fast :) ) and we improvise solos all the time. None of this was any use in the G8 exam..

jimmyblues wrote:Was getting the grade just a desirable goal for you rather than a necessity etc? How have you found getting gigs/playing at weddings. It's something I'm looking to do in the future (along with teaching) to make a living, but just wondered how many options there are and how hard it is to break into the arena of paid performances i.e. whether you need 'contacts' etc.


Oh the grade 8 was purely for my own purposes, and irrelevant for any gigs I do. Same goes for the Diploma (work in progress), although of course I mention these things on my website for what they're worth.

Happy to discuss getting weddings gigs/gigging in general but that's taking the thread way off topic and there are lots of threads about wedding gigs.

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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby Blondie » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:51 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Blondie wrote:grade 8 ... It carries the same weight as A levels

Not good A levels - to clarify,


Yes thanks for that Mark, always a risk in being too brief. What I meant was they are a level 3 qualification, but I didn't have to explain what that meant.

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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby Blondie » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:59 am

Dave68 wrote:Were you already at that standard would you say, and it was just a case of learning the pieces? or did learning the pieces bring you up this standard?


Well I'd say they were at an appropriate level of study for me at the time - just stretching me (possibly the PIazolla involving a lot more stretching, literally :) ) It wasn't a case of picking up pieces that were easy for me, and I wouldn't want to have done it without a teacher.

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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby jimmyblues » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:02 pm

Blondie wrote:...Oh the grade 8 was purely for my own purposes, and irrelevant for any gigs I do. Same goes for the Diploma (work in progress), although of course I mention these things on my website for what they're worth.

Happy to discuss getting weddings gigs/gigging in general but that's taking the thread way off topic and there are lots of threads about wedding gigs.


Thanks Blondie - I've PM'd you about this.

cheers

JDC
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby bunglenutter » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:14 pm

choctawchas wrote:i have a student that is taking his grade 8 trinity exam this summer. his pieces are the Sor Rondo op.22;
Piazzolla's Milonga del angel and the Ruiz-Pipo Danza.


I played these pieces for my exam in 2010 and, as you say, if you play the Milonga well you will have the examiner enthralled.
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby senunkan » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:13 am

I took my ABRSM grade 8 last year.
The syllabus is found here http://www.abrsm.org/regions/fileadmin/user_upload/syllabuses/guitar0811.pdf
I didn't choose the easiest but rather something that I like, it certainly helps in motivating me to practise for the exam.

I did the following piece:
Scarlatti: Sonata in A major K322
Tarrega: Grand Val
Torroba: Madroños

About the exams, the 3 set pieces and the scales are in fact the easiest part of the exam...
What I find challenging are the aural exams and the sight reading.

Aural exam involves identifying chords cadence, modulation etc.
They really test my ability to listen and discern the chord inversion differences
There is a section on sight singing the lower part while the examiner plays the upper part.
That is something that we don't do normally as a guitarist.
Now when I look at a score, I can roughly sing out the melody line.
One thing about the aural exam is that they are more piano-centric as all the repertoire they played and ask you to comment on are based on the piano repertoire.

I started preparing for the aural examination under a pianist teacher about 1/2 year before the exams.
Even till the exams, my sight singing wasn't in the tip top condition; I barely scrape thru'
As for the sight reading it wasn't very hard, just that they tend to give non-guitaristic key like one with 2 flats or 3 flats.

Musically, I do feel that I improved after taking the exams.
It is really a fruitful process to go thru'; well attaining the cert is certainly a bonus, but more importantly is that I gain more understanding in music in general.
One thing though is that most of the examiners are non-guitarist; so even you have very good RH tone or use of tone color changes to highlight a piece they probably won't take too much notice of.
They look for more common music features like phrasing, dynamics, articulation, some of which guitarist tend not to take too much notice of.
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby jimmyblues » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:18 am

senunkan wrote:I took my ABRSM grade 8 last year...


Thanks for the insight, Senunkan - very useful.

As for this:

senunkan wrote:....One thing though is that most of the examiners are non-guitarist; so even you have very good RH tone or use of tone color changes to highlight a piece they probably won't take too much notice of...


I would hope that if it was done properly, they wouldn't be able to NOT notice it! :D switching from tasto to pont is something that even the most non-guitaristic ears can hear, surely? but then maybe thats just from my 'conditioned' perspective... :(

cheers

JDC
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Re: Which grade 8 pieces are you learning?

Postby senunkan » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:27 pm

jimmyblues wrote:As for this:

senunkan wrote:....One thing though is that most of the examiners are non-guitarist; so even you have very good RH tone or use of tone color changes to highlight a piece they probably won't take too much notice of...


I would hope that if it was done properly, they wouldn't be able to NOT notice it! :D switching from tasto to pont is something that even the most non-guitaristic ears can hear, surely? but then maybe thats just from my 'conditioned' perspective... :(

cheers

JDC


Sure they do noticed that, just that they don't place much emphasis on that.
E.g. say you did a Baroque passage, with 2 repeated phrase one in normal one in ponti cello
If you do it in almost the same volume, they probably won't notice it much.
However, if you did with the 1st phrase louder and 2nd phrase softer, then to them they do hear a change in dynamics and the change in tone color will be a bonus; something only guitar can achieve.

In piano each tone is the same, so they vary things up with legato (from holding of key to the use of sustain pedal) and detached notes (from discrete notes to staccato) or the wide dynamic range that piano has (from pp to ff)
So I won't be surprised if they do not place much emphasis on tone color changes.

What I am saying is that the music interpretation must be done right something common to all instruments, articulation, dynamic, phrasing, etc. then any thing that is purely guitaristic will be a bonus to enhance the interpretation.
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