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Decided to take my grades..!

Fraser Jarvis

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OK, I've been thinking about this for a while now, and have come to the conclusion i can learn so much more by taking a step or two back, learning some music theory and working through the grade system, spoke to my teacher Brian who agreed with me.
Any other adult beginners going through the grade system? and how are you getting on??
 

Pyrografix

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Sunny Aberdeenshire
Not going through it yet Fraser, in that I haven't taken any exams yet, but have committed (told my tutor and a few family members so I don't back down!) to taking jazz and classical exams this year. Last time I took an ABRSM exam was MANY MANY years ago, age 11, when I sat Grade 4 on the violin.
I get very nervous playing for other people, so it will be a huge step for me!

Good luck!
 

jazzdoh

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West Midlands
I finished my grades (classical)15 years ago,decided not to take the diplomas but it is a great grounding and i think my reading ability back then was probably better than what it is now.

Good luck
 

Young Col

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Coulsdon, London/Surrey
I would have done grades on trumpet and clarinet when I was at school, but I don't recall there being such a system then (it was a long time ago...). I am now doing sax grades and I'm presently doing 6 ABRSM as a challenge. I play some more difficult stuff in the sax ensemble I'm in, but grades expose you and you need to play with accuracy and consistency as you get to higher levels. I probably wouldn't have said this two or three years ago, but I think taking the challenge of doing grades has made me a better player all round than if I had just continued with lessons without a target.

I guess your teacher will advise you, but ABRSM, Trinity and others have different nuances in their syllabusses. As you probably know there are also jazz grades.
 

PaulM

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143
Location
West Berks
Any other adult beginners going through the grade system? and how are you getting on??

Yes, after a year of learning I'm taking my ABRSM grade 3 on Monday morning. This will be the first music exam I've ever taken. I decided to go down the exam route because it forces you to learn stuff you'd probably skip because it either doesn't interest you; or you're rubbish at so you avoid it. It will also be a recognised benchmark of ability in the skills tested in the exam.

Having prepared assiduously, at this stage I can say with absolute certainty that I am heartily sick of playing the same three test pieces, as well as the required scales and arpeggios. Monday can't come soon enough. I just hope I don't suffer from nerves.

Paul
 

BUMNOTE

Senior Member
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591
Location
Wolverhampton West Midlands
Hi Fraser,i dont think taking grades will do you harm at all,you obviously can play by being in bands.I have taken abrsm grades 3-4 classical a couple of years ago,and today i took grade 1 jazz.I do them cause not being in band or playing with others,it gives me focus to practice on certain things like someone else said you may otherwise not want to do,its also nice to have the certificate!!:)So good luck you be fine.Bumnote.
 

Fraser Jarvis

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1,917
Thanks for the support guys, don't think nerves will be a problem but i may have some issues with time signatures i think, the thing is when i play or improvise a solo with the band i automatically know what key I'm in and what to progress to next etc, but i haven't a clue about what time sig we are playing.....i just play what i hear (or want to hear) so this will be fun as well!

BTW my teacher is starting me on grade 5, this shocked me as i always thought you had to start on at least grade one and go from there!
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
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Sunny Aberdeenshire
BTW my teacher is starting me on grade 5, this shocked me as i always thought you had to start on at least grade one and go from there!

No - I'm diving in at 5 as well. My understanding is that with ABRSM, you can't go beyond grade 5 classical without completing grade 5 theory. But there is an exception - if you've passed grade 5 Jazz, you can carry on and do the additional classical grades without doing the theory exams.

As the others have said, it certainly focuses the mind and practice sessions, and forces you to learn scales (my other weak point!)!
 

dooce

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Daventry
Good on you Fraser. I remember doing the grades on flute as a kid and it still brings me out in a cold sweat, standing in a dusty music-room with some hatchet-faced examiner determined not to show one iota of compassion as I struggled through Debussy's Syrinx (which sounds like a disease but is actually a well-known flute solo). However I am sure times have changed and you'll have a ball. Enjoy the journey.
 

Fraser Jarvis

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standing in a dusty music-room with some hatchet-faced examiner determined not to show one iota of compassion
Haha, yes when I've taken my Daughter to her grades, the lady pianist is very much like that! and yes i want to do the theory exams as well, i guess by not doing them or getting away without doing them is tantamount to cheating nobody but myself, so I'm going for the full Monty!

And Bill, nice to meet you the other night at Pete's jam session, will try to make the next one if we miss practice again...
 

dooce

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1,428
Location
Daventry
Haha, yes when I've taken my Daughter to her grades, the lady pianist is very much like that! and yes i want to do the theory exams as well, i guess by not doing them or getting away without doing them is tantamount to cheating nobody but myself, so I'm going for the full Monty!

And Bill, nice to meet you the other night at Pete's jam session, will try to make the next one if we miss practice again...

...and likewise, nice to meet you. Still thinking about that tasty Selmer of yours.
 

Dave McLaughlin

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Paisley, Scotland
Having prepared assiduously, at this stage I can say with absolute certainty that I am heartily sick of playing the same three test pieces, as well as the required scales and arpeggios. Monday can't come soon enough. I just hope I don't suffer from nerves.

Paul

Couldn't agree more - and I've got over a week to go!
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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The Malverns, Worcs
OK, I've been thinking about this for a while now, and have come to the conclusion i can learn so much more by taking a step or two back, learning some music theory and working through the grade system, spoke to my teacher Brian who agreed with me.
Any other adult beginners going through the grade system? and how are you getting on??

I have taken grades 4,6 and 7 practical: Trinity Guildhall Jazz Sax.
And ABRSM grade 5 theory.

When I first started having lessons, I steadfastly declared I was not going to take exams, but after about 18 months, I wanted a target to work towards, a reason to perfect pieces rather than get then just OK.

I found my grade 6 stressful. I don't really know why, but vowed I wouldn't take another, but a year or so later, I did.

I am not yet considering grade 8, but it will happen, as will (according to my teacher) a diploma after grade 8.

Her most recent curved ball question was did I plan to take grade 8 Jazz or Classical. As someone who also steadfastly refused to play classical music, I am currently playing Telemann duets as a means to improving my technique!

Ho hum!

And I decided that over the summer break 18 months ago I would teach myself as much music theory as I could. Once the summer was over, I entered myself for the grade 5 theory paper, it seemed a pity to waste a productive summer.
 

easycn

Member
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33
Location
Hong Kong
Hi All

I started playing the sax in October 2011 and took the grade 5 classical exam in May last year. I felt it was a big place to jump in (and it was) but I was fairly motivated and it went well. That said I was pretty nervous on the day but I found the examiner was very professional and did her best to make me feel comfortable. I have some previous music education so I guess my theory was already there to begin with.

I am now working on my Grade 6 and will take that exam in April/May (I picked up the theory at the end of last summer).

For me it has been a really useful way to have a goal to work toward. I often feel like I am never going to get there but at those times I slow myself down and work on small sections of the pieces and that way I can at least feel some sort of daily progress.

I don't think the exams cover everything but they are a great way to motivate and give you milestones in your Sax journey.

Good luck with your exams!
 

TheCureFan

Member
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207
Location
westcountry England
Will hopefully be starting work towards them soon. Have mentioned to my tutor that i'd like to and he's agreed just a matter of where to start. Only really been playing since mid november last year, but he reckons I could probably go in at grade 3 or 4. I'll probably to grade 1 to start purely and simply as I've never done a music exam in my life not even at school. Once thats done then i'll work on grade 4.
 

Young Col

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Coulsdon, London/Surrey
Fraser, Just to add to what I said earlier and to what others have said, I started at 5 too. If you've been playing for a while there is probably little point starting right at grade 1. There is indeed the option of jazz grades in lieu of grade 5 theory for entry to 6 but I did the theory and it has just been so useful. 6 at ABRSM gets harder since as well as major scales you need to do minors in both harmonic and melodic form. For lower grades it is one or other. Although 6 doesn't cover every key, it takes in most so I've found it's worth doing all 12 in major, harmonic and melodic minors (plus arps, various dom 7s and dim 7s as well!); you're going to need them some time, especially if you carry on to 8.
 

easycn

Member
Messages
33
Location
Hong Kong
I have to agree with Young Col, I'd listen to your tutor about which grade to start at. I think they are primarily aimed at children and give early progression. If you have played for a while already you can probably aim higher than 1.

Best thing to do is look at the pieces for the grade your tutor recommends and see what you think of them.

I am aiming to pick up the grades one by one now. I'm in no rush so one a year if I can fit it in.

Also while I am primarily interested in improvised music, I am doing the classical grades at the recommendation of my tutor as there seems to be more focus on technique but both give you a goal and a timeline which is the handy thing.

For the theory just pick up the ABRSM theory workbooks http://shop.abrsm.org/shop/prod/ABRSM-Music-Theory-in-Practice-Model-Answers-Grade-5/2049695 (get 1-5) and the Threory http://shop.abrsm.org/shop/prod/Taylor-Eric-The-AB-Guide-to-Music-Theory-Part-I/598230 not expensive and easy to work through.

Good luck!
 

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