The grade system..

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Norwegianbaritone, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. Could someone explain the grade system of yours? Don't think we'we got antthing like it here in norway.

    :confused: :confused: :confused:

    Just wondered.. :)
  2. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    do you mean individual grades, or band gradings?
  3. the individual ones...
  4. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

  5. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    The grade system starts at Grade1 and runs through to Grade 8 but to gain grades 6,7,8 you must pass the Grade 5 Theory first
  6. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member


    The Grade system in this country can go beyond Grade 8, to a certificate I believe? On the whole I think they are a total waste of time, good to have on paper and CV but pointless otherwise. I just think that players could get along a lot better by experiencing playing music on a daily and annual basis than do exams where you learn 2 or three pieces parrot fashion. I think it doesn't fully push the boundaries of musicianship, it just highlights some aspects of being a musician, testing the technique and memory.

    But you can only do Grades 6,7 and 8+ after you do Grade 5 theory. I think it would be a good idea if they made it essential that before doing Grade 8 you have to do Grade 8 theory. If this has changed I apologise!
  7. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    With Associated Board, you can go on to doing a performance or teaching diploma as a post grade 8 qualification. You can also take the ABRSM exams in many other countries.

    I'm going to disagree with your views on doing grades. I think you've generalised a bit too much. In my experience the opposite is true, by not doing grades it is too easy just to learn how to play an instrument, but not learn how to play the music. By taking grades you are forced to learn theory, listening, sightreading, understanding different keys and their relationships (by learning scales), performance techniques, and more. Whereas by just playing in groups you can get a long way without ever understanding these points - you can still be a brilliant player, but not as rounded (musically speaking).

    I think grades are also good for younger learners as having something to aim for. I know this has been discussed before, so I'll not go into it in detail again.
  8. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I couldn't agree more:clap:

    I have only ever done one grade (5) at school 15+ years ago I have since played in all sections of brass banding and have not considered another grade as I feel that with respect to playing something like Prague or Entertainments or what ever piece is put in front of you being grade 5 does not mean that a grade 8 player could play it better

    I have experienced this at first hand where my bumper up was grade 8 but was by no means a better player than me alot is down to experience the only difference is that I can not officially teach where a grade 8 player can (that can't be right can it)

    These comments are not meant to be offensive to any players who take grades or that I have had association with I am just stating fact
  9. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    I thought that was just a myth?
    I did the grades when I was a kid, and they were a useful benchmarking exercise but not much else imo. Some of the best players I know never did grades or theory... and I've come across some really duff players/teachers with every bit of paper going including music degrees. Nuff said! ;)
  10. horn-girlie

    horn-girlie Member

    [quote=mart1n] the only difference is that I can not officially teach where a grade 8 player can (that can't be right can it)[/quote]

    Are you sure?!? i dont think you NEED to have grade 8 to teach, though many people/schools may request it. As far as banding is concerned, grades mean very little. You can have a grade 5 standard player who can keep in time with the band, follow the conductor etc – whereas just because you’ve been through the grades does not necessarily mean you can do this. That said, I have been though the grades + think that they are good motivation for improvement, whilst improving sight reading, scales etc.
  11. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    For parepathetic teaching excuse the pun you require Grade 8 or so I have been told otherwise I might have got into it before:dunno
  12. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    Not always - it all depends who you want to work for.

    I am one of those teachers who feel that the Grade system is VASTLY over-rated. If you teach properly you don't need a piece of paper saying how great the student is - the student can demonstrate this by playing something.
    I have come across far too many teachers whose sole aim is to get kids through exams - there is more to life than a bit of paper.
    I have come across far too many younger students who feel that Grade 8 is the only thing that matters - if you want a piece of paper, it is great. If you want to be a musician - nobody will care what piece of paper you have got, so long as you can play.

    One more thing - on the subject of theory - you don't need Grade 5 Theory in every instance - if using the ABRSM exams you can also have Grade 5 Practical Musicianship or Solo Jazz Subject, whilst for Guildhall you don't need Grade 5 theory until Grade 8.
  13. ruthatron

    ruthatron Member

    don't you just have to be of a grade 8+ standard and be able to prove it in an audition or similar situation?

    i've only taken grade 4 and 5, i don't see it as a problem. sometimes, you'll get taught simply to pass the grades, without doing any other music in between. (i also play the violin, and on paper i've only got grades 2 and 3, but i play at a diploma level standard). but, as i'm not hoping for a career in music (i don't even have a gcse in it) grades and exams aren't important to me, because i don't perform well in exam conditions, so why put myself through it.
  14. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    That's the case in many situations - they don't care if you have the bit of paper, so long as you can play and, more importantly, teach (the best players not always making the best teachers).
  15. ruthatron

    ruthatron Member

    that's true, teaching is completely different. some of the best players i've met would be awful teachers, especially with beginners!
  16. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    In retrospect the grade system may have its uses, in that it categorises issues so that people can say "you need to know about a, b and c". However, this is where I disagree with you Timbloke. By playing in groups and in different music ensembles you learn to play scales in the music itself, also to listen to the part next to you play in harmony (and therefore intervals), and again (dependant on the conductor) you learn musical terms (tempo, dynamics, Italian, German) in a non exam/pressure type situation. Performance techniques are also learnt in band, I learnt a lot more (musically and socially) from sitting next to Matthew Hilton at B+R than I would have learnt otherwise (use of alternative valves etc).

    Is learning three pieces for an exam any more educating as preparing three pieces for a concert? I agree that the exams give an achieveable goal for young people, but so does learning pieces for a band concert, being enrolled in playing in a local big band or folk group or playing smaller chamber ensemble repertoire. Playing in as many ensembles in as many styles will be an educative tool that is significantly better at creating a rounded musician.

    One small final point, we all learn more when we play in band, sight read, learn how to play in solo and ensemble mode, tuning, listening, stylistic and performance authenticity. The one thing I would highlight is, that in this process we are never conscious of the fact that we are learning a lot, we may pick up on the obvious but we take a lot of things as being a natural process of banding.

    I suppose no harm can come from grades and its a question of personal preference, mine involved an intense association with as many types of music as possible. You could ask me to play crab scales but as much as I know about them I wouldn't be able to play them, unless a fellow player went, "yeah they are just like that run in that "test piece" we played in the open last year. Again its all about smoke and mirrors!
  17. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    Having just read through the whole thread I think we may have moved a bit off topic and are now discussing the merits of the grade system - I can't see a posting that has fully explained the AB Grade system (or any other in fact) so here goes:

    The associated board examines candidates in four or five diferent areas - performance (3 pieces), scales, aural and playing at sight. Trumpet players are also examined in transposition from Grade 6 onwards. There are 8 Grades plus diplomas and performance certificates.

    A syllabus of music is published (and updated - although not for all instruments each time ) every two years. Teachers/students then select 1 piece from each of the three lists to prepare. There are generally about six pieces in each list and the lists are designed to cover most styles and periods of music. Each of these pieces will be worth a maximum of 30 points in the exam.

    In addition to the pieces a number of major scales, minor scales (both harmonic and melodic at the higher grades - the candidate can choose which version up to Grade 6 in Brass exams), chromatic scales and all their relevant arpeggios are to be played from memory both slurred and tongued (trombonists legato tongue instead of slurring). From Grade 5 onwards Dominant sevenths are also required and from Grade 6 Dominants and Diminished are needed. At Grade 8 every major, minor, whole tone, chromatics, dominant 7ths, diminished 7ths and arpeggios known to man seem to be required. (I had a student who counted them to over 100 once so decided to learn one of each and hope!)The scales are worth a maximum of 21 marks.

    The aural tests consist of at least four tests and require the candidate to tap the pulse of a passage of music emphasising where the strong beat falls and then identifying thetime signature (test A), to sing phrases back to the examiner after they have played it (at the higher grades this is done from a score with the examiner just playing the accompaniment!) (Test B), To identify certain features of a piece of music (such as the cadence and progression - Grade 8) (test C) and to answer questions on the features of the piece of music (including the form, structure and style at upper grades) (test D). The aural test is worth 18 marks.

    Finally (unless you are a trumpet player and have to transpose) is the sight reading test where you are given a short (16 bars or so) piece in the keys realting to your grade (ie the ones that your scales were based around) and at the difficulty for your grade. You have 30 seconds to look at it then you must play it. The sight reading is worth 21 marks

    There is a total of 150 marks available. 100 marks are required to pass. 120 to get a merit and 130 or more to get a distinction.

    A little bit more than learning 3 pieces in reality.

    Hope this helps NorwegianBaritone

  18. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    I believe a grade 8 associate board can also now be counted as an AS-Level (17 year old's school qualification). Thus making it sensible for parents to spend a fortune on certificates that give you no more playing ability than you had before.
  19. ruthatron

    ruthatron Member

    french horn players also need to transpose.

    i think it's worth saying as well, that trumpet,cornet and flugelhorn all have the same list. i think baritone and euph. do too
  20. ruthatron

    ruthatron Member

    it's not that grade 8 is counted as an AS level, Grade 6,7 and 8 ABRSM exams (both practical and theory) are counted as UCAS points. (the new system which uni entries run on - each qualification is given a set number of UCAS points, with the level of qualification and grade acheived taken into consideration). Practical grade 8 with distinction is worth more in UCAS points than an A at AS level. All exams can be entered, so if you did them all, you could get lots of points.
    One of the problems with this, is that some Uni's don't offer places on points, it's still done on grades, but it does give more of an incentive to take the higher grades to those people who don't need music qualifications specifically but are only put off the exams by the cost.

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