How many marks do you think those grade 8 violin holders (Distinction) got?

October 30, 2010 at 03:46 PM ·

There're 3 pieces that are played for grade 8 distinction. /30 , /30 , /30. How many marks do you think those distinction-ers got?

Replies (39)

October 30, 2010 at 05:12 PM ·

No idea. BUT - a famous London violin teacher said when asked about a pupil doing Associated Board exams  "I don't do Associated Board - I do violin."

Associated Board exams are a waste of time.

October 30, 2010 at 08:11 PM ·

 In any ABRSM grade there are 3 pieces, each out of 30. I've had 4 grade distinctions before and as an overall mark you have to get above 130 marks out of 150. In terms of the 3 chosen pieces, it is 27 and above out of 30 in order to achieve a distinction. 

I think it is 20 or 21 for a pass on the pieces. It says at the side though. And 14 out of 20 to pass sight reading. I can't remember what the aurals are or scales etc are. 

Hope this helps :)

October 30, 2010 at 09:32 PM ·


I realise you are a young student and love the violin and doing exams has probably worked for you.

My comment was made (a bit tongue in cheek as well) because people and particularly parents just want their of offspring to get the bits of paper to put up on their walls to impress other parents.

I'm sure this is not true in your case.

We all know that an exam is a snapshot taken on a certain day, and that unless the student continues to build on that, then in 6 months time their level may have dropped back a grade or two. This is true of concert performances too, we have to drag ourselves back up the the standard of our last good concert and try and go beyond that.

I do have other issues with the grade exams in Britain as well, but I won't go into those just now!

October 31, 2010 at 04:03 AM ·

Lots of ABRSM Grade 8 holders with distinction grade, weren't really a distinction player in my book.

Examinations like ABRSM are a good way to make the kids practice, though. But that's about it, they don't really mean much. It's the matter of one can play, or can't.

October 31, 2010 at 06:06 AM ·

I think we're missing the point here. In any field, graded exams are a way for people who are not knowledgeable about the subject to be able to have a basic grasp of what the ability level of a person involved in that area represents.

For example, in the United States, tennis players are commonly rated on a 1.0 to 7.0 scale in the NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program), ostensibly so players of similar level can find others to play against and also recognize what skills are required for development before they can move up. Obviously, all top professionals are considered 7.0 but there is a world of difference between say, Rafael Nadal/Roger Federer compared to the people ranked 100 below them.

While it serves very little use for a professional and teacher who has conservatory-bound students at twelve years of age playing at a level far beyond the most advanced "level" that such a system attempts to categorize, it can be quite placating for non-musical parents who have put thousands of dollars a year into musical training for their child to see some kind of marker as to their progress.

October 31, 2010 at 08:06 AM ·

First of all to answer your question distinction players wil normallyl score 27 and above out of 30.However the sum total of the three pieces is 90 and the pass mark is 100 out of a total of 150. The other aspects of the exam are the scales scoring 21 in total,. the sightreading also 21 and the aural tests which have a total of 18 points.If a brillant player fails on the other aspects of the exam he /she may end up with a mediocre pass. In order to get a distinction the camdidate needs to score a total of 130 and above.The other tests are examining general musicianship and understanding rather than virtuosity and are equally important in producing a well rounded musicnan.

October 31, 2010 at 09:14 AM ·


I agree with your post and I think there is some benefits for those parents who need some sort of measure to see how their money has been spent and how well their offspring are doing.

I do have issues though with the system in the UK. It could well be that similar systems are much better in the US.

Here we have examiners who are trained to be supposedly all the same. I know lots of very fine musicians and excellent teachers who fail this system and do not become examiners. On the other hand certain examiners who pass are fairly run of the mill, but they fit the criteria which is very generalised.

The other problem is that we have pianists examing violinists, brass players examing pianists, and general theoretical musicians doing the same. I'm told that these examiners all look for the same things, whatever the instrument.

However, I think we all know that string players being examined have certain abilities which may not be obvious to a non string player, or they may get penalised for something which is actually a plus, but the examiner sees it as a problem. The same with string players examining singers, or pianists, or percussion players.

I laso have a problem with the fact that the exam systems here are run as profit making businesses, and profit is the main motive. We all know that the musical and technical standards (particularly in the highest grades) have fallen over the last 30 years (as have general school exams). The examining bodies are keen that everyone passes, even though we know occasionally people do fail the exams as well.

A distinction in Grade VIII (UK) can be meaningless now, in my opinion. I saw a pupil (not mine I hasten to add) who has apparently passed grade VIII on the violin,. but struggled to play a G major scales slowly in 3 octaves, not making the top octave at all. (I was just asking her to play on a fiddle I was interested in hearing from further away.) She had a good bow arm which I pointed out to her, but a dreadful left hand, which I just mentioned as needing attention.

October 31, 2010 at 11:56 AM ·

My gripe against the "Grade System" is that pupils are just taught to pass the exams instead of being taught to play the violin. All too often, the pupils learn the next exam pieces by rote, and if they pick up any technique in the process, that's a lucky by-product. I know I'm generalising. I only taught at a local music school for a short while and managed to get fired because I didn't subscribe to this mentality - I wanted to teach my pupils the necessary technique for the pieces they would be playing, and THEN look at the pieces, so that they wouldn't have to spend weeks/months learning them note by note, and maybe maintain some sort of freshness and interest in the pieces. This didn't impress the powers that be!

October 31, 2010 at 12:28 PM ·

Malcolm - it never does impress them because they are in the grip of the exam boards who have a Mafia like control over all levels of attainment - and as you say, you want to teach the violin, and all the scools want is to say "look at our list of passes and distintions in each grade."

Even some of the higher level institutions are quite keen on this too - promoting the exams as proof of success. I'm also quite surprised at the poor level of string playing which still enables students to get accepted at some of the colleges here in London, although I also know of students who have reached a high level of attainment too. (For example students playing the Walton and Bartok viola concerti extremely well and getting good teachers then at the best institutions).

October 31, 2010 at 12:49 PM ·

In my teens my cello teacher resolutely refused to teach for exams, or even for competitions. He said he wanted to produce musicians, not "exam-fodder" – this was a man who had turned down the offer of principal in the BBC SO because he wished to be free-lance all his life.  He'd also get instruments for his pupils. Every few months he'd go to auctions in London and bring back a cello or two, or perhaps a viola (he was also a professional violist), set them up, which he was well skilled in, and sell them to his pupils at the auction price.  I still play the mid-19th c French cello he got for me.

Later on in my teens my mother, who had been a professional piano and violin teacher before the War thought it would be a very good idea for me to get grade 8 in cello, so she put me under another teacher just for that purpose for a couple of years.  I got that grade 8 and then when back to my first teacher until I left school.  I was glad to be rid of music exams at that point because I was up to my eyes in A-level school-leaving exams, and just didn't have the time to go beyond grade 8.  

October 31, 2010 at 01:06 PM ·

 Hi Peter, 

I understand your concerns with the grade systems. I did up to grade 5 and I haven't had lessons for almost 2 years now due to several reasons... I've just kept myself at the grade 8 standard that I got up to. 

By no means are my parents those pushy types. I hate it when parents really are like that. It makes me feel sorry for the kids behind all of that because they are pushed into things they just don't want to do. I actually do most of my music off my own back without them asking me to practice or anything - I just enjoy it and do it. 

I think there are quite a few negative aspects to graded exams and I also have my own concerns over them. In my case however, they have pushed me to work hard and I enjoy 'Getting that piece of paper' myself just to read what feedback has been given. However, I understand that this is only a snapshot in time and things can change quickly, but it also shows what it was like for a person at that particular stage when they took the exam. 

I know many people who are brilliant musicians and yet maybe scraped passes on exams they did. I think it is fair to say they proved their examiners wrong! And yet I know people who have had brilliant exam results and they actually have great technique on their instrument, yet they lack in everything else - musicality, enthusiasm etc. And I wouldn't call them a distinction level person (even though I can't talk about being a distinction level at grade 8, can I?)

I try my best with what I have at the moment really. I like to expand my experience, my repertoire, knowledge and much more with my music, and I know half the time I really lack in confidence. Being on this site however, has opened up my eyes to so much more and I'm proud to say I'm starting to believe in myself more. Anyway, I've gone completely off-topic. 

Basically what I was trying to say in my first post was the way the examiners look at it - in the black and white. There are certain marks examiners go by (at least for the ABRSM system) and I was underlining what marks are achieved to get a distinction level on a grade. I didn't intend to rule out any other aspects though, but then again, I didn't mention anything else. Grade 8 distinctions are passed with so many marks out of 30. It doesn't mean that if you achieved a pass or merit that you're not at a distinction level because lots of things change situations. 

October 31, 2010 at 05:16 PM ·


You are speaking a lot of sense and you definitely have the right attitudes. I wish I had been so intelligent and well thought out at your age.

Don't let anyone tell you any different, and keep at it, as you will be rewarded by such thoughtful ideas. Good luck, and I'm quite certain you are a most sensitive and musical violinist.

October 31, 2010 at 10:29 PM ·

 Thank you for your compliments, Peter. 

I am extremely passionate about the violin and I think that all sorts of different techniques benefit different people. but don't get me started on the Suzuki series as I think this is worse than grades in many ways! 

Anyway, I don't think that grades just come with negatives attached to them. It can be extremely helpful for many people (me being one of them) and it can actually help establish what sort of standard people are at with their playing too!  I agree with a LOT of your pointers and opinions about the UK system and grade examinations though! 

November 1, 2010 at 08:26 AM ·


Once again I'm agreeing with you regarding Sazuki. I've known a few Sazuki teachers and I'm not impressed. But we ara in danger of getting ourselves a bad name on here and I'm sure we are going to be shouted down!  I would never suggest that a pupil uses the Sazuki method, but that's my personal view and I don't think it will change.

November 2, 2010 at 11:07 AM ·

I couldn't agree more that the ABRSM grade system is far too over-rated in the UK, in fact it is so over-rated that when people ask me 'how good are you on the violin' the only way I can give them an idea of what I can do is tell them 'I am about grade X', or maybe that is the only way I can tell them? or both....

As an adult learner (41yrs in 2 days from now) it was entirely my choice to take any exams and I took so far grade 1 and 5.  I am thinking of taking grade 8 when I am 'good enough' to do so, but I know I definitely one day I want to go for a fellowhip (yes I aim high I know!).

I have asked myself many times 'why' do I want to do this?  and I think it's because I like the fact that a 'total stranger' who is also an experienced musician gives an opinion of my playing ability.

It is true they may not be a string player, but I think I am quite happy anyway that they are experienced (well at least more than me) musicians.

But I do go for exams in a relaxed way, I am not in the 'race mill' and I certainly do not like just learning/playing through grade pieces and do nothing else with my time.

Right now with my teacher we are doing what we like and he will tell me if and when I am 'ready' to go for grade 8 rather then 'I am preparing for grade 8' if I make any sense!

November 2, 2010 at 11:47 AM ·


I find that on hearing someone is Grade X - I automatically consider they must be at a certain level, and often get a shock when I find they are not what I expected.

My wife teaches piano at all sorts of levels and works in an institution that has many young musicians that are at varying levels. If she has a visiting piano student who she tells me is Grade VIII on the violin as well as the piano, I have certain expectations, but I often find that I'm rather dissapointed at the so called Grade VIII level when I actually hear them play the violin.

I find that some who have Grade VIII can be very good and quite advanced, whereas others are pretty bad.

She also finds that on a course teaching piano teachers how to teach, where the minimum standard for the teachers is supposed to be Grade VIII, that some are really not very good. And THEY are teaching people up to Grade VIII standard ...

November 2, 2010 at 03:48 PM ·

I see Peter, but then, how do you explain to anyone at what level you are with your playing? if you are in a coffe shop, do you take out your violin and play so that they know?

I can tell you what pieces I am working on with my teacher, how I think I am doing with them but then I could have a rather pessimistic or optimist view of my abilities, how do we 'judge' how we are doing?

how do we know?

one could say 'do you NEED to know?' well, for many 'humans' there seems to be this 'need' to know, it's like when we are children we need our parents to tell us they love us, when we grow up we just know!  when we learn the violin we (at least I DO) need something or our teachers to tell us how we are doing like a constant affirmation/gauge that 'it's ok' we're on track and this is roughly the point we're are at on the line....and so on

at least I feel I 'need' to know, I feel rather lost and panicky not knowing :(

how do I know?

November 2, 2010 at 04:22 PM ·


Well, I'm not in coffee shops that often.

But if I had to say, I suppose I would say ex-professional - but that also means nothing!!

If I was to say what pieces I'm doing - well that would be Beethoven Archduke Trio - Saint Sains, Introduction and Rondo Cappriccioso (but only looking at and playing through a bit - I doubt I will really learn it, too lazy) - D minor Unac. Bach Sonata - Mozart Duos (G major mostly) and Mendelssohn Op 44 No 1 in D, string quartet.

The only pieces I'm doing seriously for possible performances are the Beethoven Archduke, the Mendelssohn quartet, and I forgot, maybe the Schubert Rosamunde A minor string quartet. This would be next year anyway as I'm away for a while soon.

Well, now I've come clean - tell me what you are doing. And BE optimistic. I didn't tell you those pieces to impress, and for all you know I can't play them, or if I can it might well be pretty bad!

My last concert was pretty bad about 3 weeks ago. I came in a bar early in the first movement of a Mozart Piano trio, and had to apologise to the other two players afterwards. I must have had a bad attack of dead brain. I can't think of anything else to blame, as I was not even suffereing from nerves. (That happened earlier in the day).

So in the end we do the best we can, and hope to get better next time. And I don't even have a teacher anymore - sob, sob ...

November 2, 2010 at 07:33 PM ·

Yesterday we were sight-reading one of the Shostakovich quartets and then the second violin called a halt half-way through the first movement on account of a lighting problem over her copy. I, the cellist, said I thought I had missed a bar two or three lines back and so was a bar out when we stopped, and had anyone noticed?  No, no-one had :-)
  Later on we tackled one of the fugues from Bach's Art of Fugue – now that music really is tricky, miss an entry by half a beat and the whole edifice promptly collapses.  After 15 minutes of stop and restart we decided this wasn't for sight-reading and prior woodshedding was therefore indicated. A Bach fugue is of course quite unlike a movement from a classical quartet, where if you fall over you can usually rejoin the hunt a few bars later. 
  And then to one of the Haydn quartets where we felt much more comfortable.



November 2, 2010 at 11:18 PM ·

 Jo, I totally agree with your points here. 

It seems that no matter where you go, there is an immediate thing that everyone jumps at - the question of 'What grade are you?' For me it is kind of tricky. I got up to grade 6 (I was doing some of the pieces along side some grade 7 and 8 pieces just for my own enjoyment) and then stopped having lessons. Since then I've (gradually) built myself up to a grade 8 standard, which of course, when the question comes of 'What grade are you?' and I reply with 'about grade 8' they are impressed. 

It seems to be the measurement that people use now. Whether you're good or not, if the person you're speaking to hasn't heard you play and you're on a high grade, they are impressed. The disappointment comes, of course, if you cannot meet the expectations that we all automatically place down in our minds. 

I just find it easier to say 'I'm grade X' now. It stops the unneeded hassle of attempting to explain what pieces I can play, only to find the person doesn't recognise them or cannot think about what standard that might be at. 

(By the way, just in case I've given the impression that I have only ever worked towards grades in my other posts, I haven't. My teacher used to do all sorts of pieces in between each grade in order to learn new techniques and add some interest and variation in my playing and repertoire. I really enjoyed doing these too, because it was a time for learning fun things that I could just reel off if anyone asked me to play! I remember thinking when I was preparing for my first grade with my first teacher that I was going to choose pieces because I enjoyed them, not because they were easy. I've done that with every grade I've taken and got good results so far! )

November 3, 2010 at 12:12 AM ·

Grades are used for multiple purposes but too often (IMO) they are a tool for the untalented to claim credibility.  I've already had superiority attacks from people who have passed their 8th grade - and play very fast - yet out of tune.  Still, during the learning years grades still serve a function when you want to get together and play chamber music since neither advanced nor beginner players really want to waste each other's time.  Beyond that, well, you just have develop a name for yourself and work into the chamber cirtuit.

As said, many posts back, the only 'grade' that really matters is to pull out the instrument and play. 


November 3, 2010 at 12:39 AM ·

 In the symphony orchestras I've played in we've occasionally had Grade-8s join who clearly have had no experience of orchestral playing or any ensemble playing, apart from playing with a piano accompanist for their Grade music.  Some of them couldn't take the hurly-burly and hard work of orchestral playing and sight-reading, and quit after a couple of rehearsals; others put in the effort and became good orchestral players.

November 3, 2010 at 07:42 AM ·

Yes, like Eloise says I find it MUCH easier just to say I am grade X standard, especially as 99% of the time it's non musical people asking me where I am at with my violin playing, non musical people who know about grades as their children play an instrument or their friend does or their friend's child and so on.  If I mention the pieces most of these people do NOT know them by a long shot!

I only ever found one person who did, she asked me 'So what do you play?' I said 'Well, if I told you about violin classical music, would you know what I am talking about?' she said 'Yeah, I have a fair idea' (this is a colleague at work I've known for years I had no clue she knows about violin repertoire) and indeed she knew them all!

Peter I can tell you I passed grade 5 with merit in March this year but you said there is people at each end of the scale who pass grades and I could be the really 'bad' or really 'good' one, since March with my teacher I have done:

Bach air on G adaptation by Wilhemji

Meditation from Thais

Schubert sonatina in D (only part I)

now doing Schindler's List Theme

now learning double stops in 6ths/3rds/octaves and so VERY SLOWLY doing the wieniavski legende op 17, but very slowly, I can play not very well the first page, second page I play VERY SLOWLY and I stop in between each double stop

do I play the above pieces well? I honestly cannot give a good opinion of my playing as I have some deep emotional problems at present with my confidence and violin playing, I don't have a confidence problem AT ALL in any aspect of my life but I have developed an enormous one with violin and I have convinced myself I cannot ever play well, I am not talking about what everyone says that we are never 'satisfied' of our own playing, I pick up the violin and I am convinced I will make dozens of mistakes and when I make one I tense up and tell myself 'there! just like you said you would!' then tense up more and expect a dozen more to crop up.  I have started hypnotherapy lessons to get rid of my self destructive behavior as it's slowing me down and I can't practice productively anymore and it makes me cry in my lessons!

so no I don't think I play the above pieces well is my opinion.

But my teacher tells me I play my technical exercises/scales/octaves/double stops well and he was pleased with the meditation and air on G string, not sure about the schindler as we are working on that one at present.

November 3, 2010 at 10:30 AM ·

Jo: I'm going for Grade 5 I think for just before Easter next year. It is a measuring device, a form of validation by a 3rd party. After that, I think my trajectory will probably be very similar to yours. Maybe as the local orchestra seems to require Grade 6 then I might look at a further exam. But speaking as someone who had his confidence knocked all those years ago, the value of the piece of paper is not to be underrated.

November 3, 2010 at 12:10 PM ·

Wow. This British grade thing is utterly bizarre. Nothing even remotely like it in the U.S. Suzuki doesn't count because it is far from universally accepted and generally not interesting to older students.


If someone wants to know how good you are, there is only one answer: "you'll have to hear for yourself sometime."

November 3, 2010 at 03:29 PM ·

We have the RCM here in Canada too.  Britain has always tried to establish national standards - there was good reason too because (years ago) it permitted talented youngsters from the non-upper classes a chance to get higher education.  I saw (and benefited) from the tail end of that program where University applications were anonymous - based entirely on your qualifications.   

So how are students graded in the US for music?  Is there a national standard?

November 3, 2010 at 07:22 PM ·


I think you should play the violin for one reason only - and that is because you love doing it.

Forget all about grades, getting to a certain level. Just do it, and find a way that is easy and free of tension, and you will be on cloud nine.

I play because tomoorow i may die, and today I can try and make music. It does not matter what you play, but how you play it. Do it for love of yourself and your own self respect.

November 3, 2010 at 09:36 PM ·

hahaha, thank you Peter, that's sweet of you to try and bring me back down to earth.

although I do aim high with the violin (ie would love to achieve a level where I play as well as those who are 'worthy of a fellowship') I do play it for the joy it gives me, but I love playing it 'well', I think that is my personality trait anyway, anything I do I have to do 'well', I get really into it, the more I know something the more I want to know it the more I understand it the more I want to dig deeper into it and know every corner and every inch there is to know and have to understand all there is to understand, that is me anyway! I don't like leaving stones unturned!

is it perfectionist the word for one of those people? I think I might be one of those :( I try  really hard not to be too much of an obsessed perfectionist but I have a tendency to be like that!

November 6, 2010 at 07:51 AM ·

I like Peter Charles' comment. I think that you should play because you love the instrument, and not necessarily for a piece of paper that ranks you with others!

I have a different side to all of this, being an American living and working in Kenya. I was hired as Director of Music at an international school here with British roots. I had no idea what ABRSM was (and unfortunately for some of you, I was a Suzuki teacher), and my only experience with teaching was primarily with Suzuki. The school explained to me that they entered students each year in the ABRSM, and because I did not really know what this all was, I decided to go for the violin grade 8 to get a better picture. It was dead easy for me and was a really good experience for learning what to teach for the exams. Last year I took the Diploma and got a distinction, and again, found that very easy as well. I am planning on taking the LRSM this year depending on how much time I have to practice.

One thing I found with ABRSM is that you have to be very careful that you are not JUST doing ABRSM. When I came into this school, I was appalled that several students had only learned their three pieces for the exam and nothing else. They were not building on their repertoire or technique in their instrument and had very little knowledge of anything outside of the exam itself. I came in and basically had to start over with many students. I primarily teach the Suzuki method to the string students and they do the ABRSM exams on the side. I find that with this method, they do quite well in the exams. The more advanced students (grades 5-8) will learn the basic Vivaldi, Seitz, Mozart, etc. concertos and the younger ones will learn a mixture of Suzuki and other repertoire. All of my students also study their orchestral repertoire and ensemble pieces in lessons. They are only entered for an exam if they are definitely at the level or beyond the level required to pass the exam. I have entered students from grade 1 to diploma level.

Granted, the exams are not for everyone! I do not enter many students for the exam unless I feel they understand everything above and beyond what the exam requirements are. Some students, although they play at a high level, will mostly likely never do the exams because they do not need them. I find that many students are motivated by moving on to another grade, and some are not.

I do have to say that before I came to Kenya, no one ever asked me what level I was at. If anyone ever asked I'm not sure I would have known how to respond! They would usually ask what I played and leave it at that. A very interesting topic, and one I never would have had a chance to discuss if I had not come to Kenya and been introduced to ABRSM!

November 6, 2010 at 08:28 AM ·


Your experience is very interesting.

A long time ago in the UK when I was a student at school and at music college (before the discovery of electricity!) the grade exams of the ABRSM were common currency - and still are - in judging the level of playing. But now I do not think they are really a good barometer, even though their use is still a judgement as minimum entry into music college and other courses. (Usually a distinction in Grade VIII is required).

I think as with other exams that they have become easier and therefore the standards have dropped.

I'm not saying that the level of performance of those leaving music college has dropped, in fact I think it has remained about the same in the last 50 years.

The other more advanced exams you have mentioned are probably a better barometer of a persons ability.

November 6, 2010 at 04:04 PM ·

Distinction in Grade VIII - damn, I wouldn't get in! I scraped a pass when I did mine.

Jo - if you're working on the Meditation and the Legende, they're way above grade V. I did the Legende for my Grade VIII (and played it appallingly) - that's my main gripe. That you play difficult pieces badly to pass, and get the impression that it's an acceptable standard. There doesn't seem to be a requirement to play the music - just to get somewhere near the notes.

November 6, 2010 at 04:18 PM ·

I can tell you of a true story of a young lady who was a pupil of someone i know (can't think who now) - who was put in for Grade VIII twice - deliberately within about 1 week - and had two different examiners. One just gave her a pass. The other a distinction. And she was consistently good and reliable, that's why they did it, to prove the same performances could result in very different marks.

November 6, 2010 at 05:22 PM ·

 I know Malcolm,

all the pieces I am doing and have done with my teacher since passing my grade V in March are grade VII and grade VIII pieces, Meditation, Air on G adapted by WIlhemji, Schubert sonatina in D, Schindler's List, Wieniavski Legende.

But I would never 'dare' to say to anyone I am 'grade 7' in ability, again, if we go back to the 'subject' of what do we tell people if we want to quickly give them an idea of our standard of playing and they don't know any violin music, 'just grades'.  I'd be more inclined to say grade 6-ish even though I can play those pieces (though in MY opinion not so well), except I cannot play the Legende yet, that is work in progress and will stay so for a few months I think.

My teacher and I enjoy doing these things, we always do half hour technique half hour music in my lesson and we do what we like and what 'he thinks I need to develop further in my journey technique wise' and perfection what I know already, I do a lot of sevcik/kreutzer etc plus theory with him.

Technique wise as well I am not anywhere near ready to be a 'grade 8' just yet, I can do all the things for grade 8 (including the 'dreaded scales in 3rds) but can't do the 3 octave scale in one bow smoothly enough (I have very high standards and to me either it's very well done or it's not good!) and my fast notes staccato in one bow need to better and on and on, I can find many more things to improve to add to the list :)

November 7, 2010 at 01:18 AM ·

Jo, I wouldn't worry about upbow staccato too much. I still can't do it, and guess what - I've never really needed it!. I'm not going to be attempting Vieuxtemps 5 any year soon, and I've never seen it in an orchestral part. Never been asked for a 3-octave scale in 1 bow either.


November 7, 2010 at 10:41 AM ·


I may be wrong about this, and anyone please correct me, but I thought Grade VIII of the ABRSM had 3 octave scales in one bow!!

Correction! I'm am right (have you ever known me to be wrong? ... Don't answer that!).

I've just looked at the syllabus and its major and minor scales in 3 octaves in one bow or two octaves where the scales are thus. (i.e. the ones that start higher up and run off the top of the frostbite area of the fingerboard).(Mind you don't poke yourself in the eye!!)

But this isn't that hard as they have to be fast and most examiners won't notice any tiny blemish. In other words, they are easy to fake. Much harder doing them slowly with one octave to the bow where even some examiners might notice intonation or even a wrong note!! (Examiners: please ignore these remarks as it is important to have a sense of humour about examiners, conductors, singers ...)(etc., etc.)

November 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM ·

CORRECTION: I should have said 3 octaves in one bow UP and three octaves in one bow DOWN - so not quite so fast. I was thinking the whole scale in 3 octaves UP and DOWN in one bow, which has got to get a bit more of a move on.

But nevertheless doing one octave to a bow and slower is more telling for notes and intonation. Even Todd would agree with me on that one I think!!

November 7, 2010 at 01:21 PM ·

Peter, when I said I'd never been asked for these scales - I meant in real life!

November 7, 2010 at 01:38 PM ·

My cello teacher got me doing 4 octaves up on one bow and 4 back down on another bow, admittedly easier than on the violin as far as fingering is concerned (at the 4th octave C you're still north of the end of the cello fingerboard), and 4-octave chromatics on one bow really are fun. I've yet to find a concerto or what-have-you that requires a 4-octave run. Not that I have been searching all that hard ;-)

Peter, I shall think about 4 octaves up and 4 octaves down all on one bow – and then have a lie-down until the thought goes away.

November 7, 2010 at 10:22 PM ·

 My teacher just emailed me that he would like me to learn the Vivaldi 4 seasons (all four!) and allegro by Fiocco next, am off to order the sheet music, any edition that's better than any others? (sorry if a bit off topic, but whilst we were talking about pieces :))

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