Exams are not everybody's piece of cake. And the number of people with a 'grade 8' in their pocket and still having the feeling not to be able to 'play' the piano admittedly is large. So the use of exams, although parents love them, is a bit limited. But they do offer the children (and adults) a means of aspiring to something, for which reason I like my students so sit grade 5 and 8 at least.
To fill up the gaps I have designed a way to assess my students myself and every year at an official show evening the students receive their grade award. What I want to say with these certificates is: 'If you want to you can sit and pass this and this grade, you are at that level'
I have grade 'X' under my belt…
You can compare these awards with the coloured belts for Asian Sports and I will be using a likewise colour scheme. It also gave me the opportunity to redesign my route for technical scales and improvising, and this has worked out well.
My students have left an impressive record in their exams with ABRSM and Trinity College, but as a teacher I will promote especially the performance exams at grade 5 and grade 8 level. Twice a year I will assess my students and if successful give them an award.
The grades are equal in level of difficulty as the grades an ABRSM or Trinity College and the grade is an indication that a student awarded at a certain grade level can sit and pass the same grade level of an external exam board.
Grade level criteria
Grade 1 colour: white Three pieces at level 1
Scales over 1 octave C,G,D,A,E,B
Improvisation in any of above keys: In five finger position using six crotchets and one minim as rhythmic pattern. Play back by ear of a simple three note melody
Grade 2 colour: yellow Three pieces at level 2
Scales over 2 octaves C,G,D,A,E,B
Improvisation in any of above keys: In five finger position using crotchets, quavers and minims as rhythmic pattern. Play back by ear of a simple five note melody
Grade 3 colour: orange Three pieces at level 3
All major Scales over 2 octaves
Improvisation in any of above keys: Using all notes of the scale using crotchets, quavers and minims as rhythmic pattern. More complex left hand in tonic chord.Play back by ear of a simple melody in octave span
Grade 4 colour: green Three pieces at level 4
All major and melodic minor scales over 2 octaves
Improvisation in any of above major keys. Left hand uses tonic and dominant chords. Play back by ear of a simple melody in octave span.
Grade 5 colour: blue Three pieces at level 5
All major and melodic minor scales
over 3 octaves
Playing accompaniment using tonic sub-
dominant and dominant chords.
Grade 6 colour: brown Three pieces at level 6
All major and melodic and harmonic minor scales over 4 octaves
Playing a standard blues/boogie
Grade 7 colour: brown/black border
Three pieces at level 7
Playing a jazz standard from a fake book.
Grade 8 colour: black
Three pieces at level 8
Playing a jazz standard from a jazz-fake book