Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mozart Andante in C - What grade is that?

Dear Flute teachers,

So often there's a question in our flute discussion groups about what grade level a piece is, or what grade level a student is.
It can be very confusing as in Canada there are ten grades, in the United Kingdom there are exams that represent eight grades, Fluteworld and Alry grade their music from one to four, and the American Band System has grades from one to six.

It can make your head spin.
So I took my spinning head and made a serious/comedic recording of the ten grades of Canadian Flute Exams.
I used the well-known piece "Mozart's Andante in C" but I could have equally well used Bach's A minor Partita (as it was under discussion on Flutenet as having different grades for different movements.)

So...have a listen to GRADING MOZART, on mp3.

While I was making myself play "grade 2", "grade 4" etc, I felt like Victor Borge or perhaps Jascha Heifetz, trying to make typical student mistakes so to make the flute teachers out there laugh. :>) Hope you laugh! :>)

Below, I'll give a brief sketch of the pieces on the RCM syllabus for each grade, so you can get an idea of how the exam system would work here in Canada.
Enjoy this mp3.
There is also a chart online where all the grading systems are compared.
Jen on a Sunday evening.

Typical Flute repertoire for Royal Conservatory Exams in Canada.

An average flute student may take a year or more per exam in next even numbered grade. They must play 2-3 contrasting solos with piano, up to four etudes, extensive scales/arpeggios/chords. There's sightreading, eartraining and orchestral excerpts (mostly for later grades) for each grade as well as theory/history co-requisites:

RCM Repertoire:

Grade 2: Minuet from J.S. Bach's B-minor Suite no. 2/Minuet from Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Gluck/Schubert's Moment Musicale from "40 Little Pieces"/Dick's SunShower/Mendelssohn's Andante Espressivo/Ravel's Pavane pur une infante defunte.

Grade 4:Bouree or Rondo from J.S. Bach's B-minor Suite no. 2/Sonata in F Major by Vivaldi/ Purcell's Air and Hornpipe/Neilsen's The Children are Playing/Reger's Romance/Hindemith's Echo.

Grade 6: Sarabande from J.S. Bach's B-minor Suite no. 2/Handel's Sonata in F Major/ Faure's Sicilienne/Gaubert's Madrigal/Ibert's Aria/Woodall's Serenade/Pessard's Andalouse.

Grade 8: Mozart Andante in C/ Pergolesi's Concerto in G Major/Godard's Allegretto and Idylle/Schumann's Three Romances/Bloch's Suite Modale/Foote's Trois Pieces.

Grade 9: CPE Bach's Hamburger Sonata/Stamitz's Concerto in G Major/ Telemann Fantasias/Amirov's Six Pieces/ Genin's Carnival of Venice/Fukushima Mei/Ganne Andante and Scherzo/Honegger's Danse de la Chevre/Widor Suite Scherzo and Romance.

Grade 10: J.S. Bach's Sonata in A minor (Partita in Aminor)/Bozza Image/Hindemith Sonata/Milhaud Sonatine/Poulenc Sonata/ Griffes Poem/Taktakishvili Sonata/Mower's Sonata Latino etc.

Grade: Diploma/A.R.C.T.
CPE Bach Concerto in D minor/Ibert Concerto/Franck Sonata/Musczynski Sonata/ Molique Concerto/Prokofiev Sonata/ Widor Suite (entire)/Berio Sequenza/Dutilleux Sonatina/Ferneyhough's Cassandra's Dream Song etc.
Comments (11)
Blogger Joshua said...

This post has been removed by the author.

Sunday, March 25, 2007 8:57:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Actually, I'm often quite taken aback when I have a 17 yr. old auditioner who wants to enter a Music Performance program but only performs at a grade 4 level. I've quite frequently heard Andante in C played at these lower levels especially by students from small towns who didn't realize that they needed to take private lessons if they are serious about going into music in University. It's almost impossible for them to practice enough or learn quickly enough to improve from grade 4 to approx. grade 9 during the first year of Music in College.
That's why I recommend at least three years of private lessons, and a minimum of grade 9 for first year University students who wish to go into music.
I think that anyone who plays in highschool band, (no matter how high in the band they're placed)that if they wish to take music in University, should seriously travel to private lessons starting at age 13 or so.
If they discovered too late that they wanted to go into music, they should take 1-2 years off between highschool and college and study privately, devoting 4-6 hours a day to practice, harmony/theory, piano and twice weekly private flute lessons before applying to University Music Programs. Trying to do the catch-up work while IN first year University is extremely difficult, and probably can't be accomplished.
Just my thoughts on preparedness.
Best, Jen

Monday, March 26, 2007 10:15:00 AM

Blogger Cindy said...

Thank you for the demonstration, Jen. I really didn't have an understanding of the RCM levels and how they compared to the US system. Then again, in the US the rating system seems to focus on the difficulty of the music, rather than the ability of a student to perform it.


Monday, March 26, 2007 1:29:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Thanks for your comment, Cindy.
I have noticed that wherever there is no grading system or music exams that there can arise the sticky problem of younger students playing music that's too hard for them.
One of the things that happens when inexperienced intermediate flute students teach slightly younger novice students is that they might just give the youngster pieces that they have just recently played themselves (!)
The intermediate student "teacher" doesn't recall exactly what steps they took in order to play that particular piece well, and just love it so much they want to share it.
Instead they should be consulting their own private teacher and getting advice on "how to teach".
(I know you know this, but I need to say it. :>)
Hopefully, when flute students can avail themselves of various graded repertoire lists they can pick pieces that progress in a skill-based sequence, so they don't overwhelm themselves.
Interesting thought: the frustration with these kinds of problems undoubtedly led to the creation of grades, exams and syllabussssesssss. :>)

Monday, March 26, 2007 2:03:00 PM

Anonymous Sheila said...

I find it very interesting that the US has not established a concrete system. Wouldn't that be to their own benefit?

Thank you for demonstrating the differences. It's very interesting to see the vast differences between what a Grade 2 student can do with a Grade 8 piece, and what a Grade 8 student can do with a Grade 8 piece. This is a very important tidbit of information I must remember! Also, thank you for the laugh. What a contrast between your 'Grade 2' playing and 'Diploma' playing!!!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007 8:29:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Hi Sheila,
I did find on the internet a list of U.S. flute solos for "solo & ensemble" competitions, that rated the solos from 1 to 7. As I had suggested to you, the piece called "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" (grade 8 RCM) was rated "4" in the U.S. system, whereas a much more difficult piece to my mind; "Morceau de Concours" by Faure, was rated as a grade "3".
I guess that happens in alot of graded lists; we all find different pieces difficult for different reasons.
But you may find this particular list interesting:
Florida Bandmasters Assoc:

For other U.S. lists I would click on some of these other state's associations, and see what they grade certain pieces as:

However, yes, as you say, there seems to be no unified system in the U.S. for grading music and rating musical proficiency.

Interesting points.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 11:35:00 PM

Anonymous Ericka said...

Hey, Jen
I have just started to play band at my school. I've only been playing for about a day and i know eight notes. B, A, G, C, D, F, bE, and bB. would that at all help me know what level i am?

Sunday, September 07, 2008 4:22:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Ericka,
Your flute teacher will let you know when you're more than "a beginner".
There's also a chart here: if you'd like to see where you're eventually going to be.

Sunday, September 07, 2008 6:53:00 PM

Blogger bellaswanharrypotter said...

What about jazz fflute exams?

Monday, November 24, 2008 11:42:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

The jazz exams they have in England (U.K.) might be of use to you in learning more.
Check out the syllabus of flute pieces/scales/jazz studies at ABRSM.
I'll go find the link and put it up for you. Jen

Monday, November 24, 2008 1:30:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

ABRSM Flute Jazz syllabus (graded pieces and technique):

All graded ABRSM flute syllabus:

Monday, November 24, 2008 1:33:00 PM


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