Monday, 17 February 2014

Me and my Piano Diploma

This is a story of slow education.

I started learning the piano in 1975. Mum and I were never in a rush for me to get my grades and so, with various breaks for O'levels, A'levels, a degree, various jobs, travelling abroad, buying a house and marriage, I finally passed my Grade 8 in 1998.

After another break of 10 years, while I was busy as a working mum with a small child, and spurred on by my daughter's young friends wishing to learn the piano, I decided to return to piano education and try for a DipABRSM in piano teaching. It took me another year to get the prerequisite Grade 6 Music Theory and in February 2010 I started studying for the diploma. I didn't know it was going to take me four years to do it, but I am quite a busy working mum so I think it's quite understandable.

The first year was spent reading books, making notes and working on my Written Submission. Years two to three were spent working on the Grade 6 pieces I needed to teach, collecting relevant tutor books, working on answers to possible questions and producing a set of hand-out notes for each of the grades.

The day of the exam was a very strange day as I felt very far out of my comfort zone. The Viva Voce was one of the hardest exams I've done, I thought it would be like an interview, but I now know that it is far more objective than that. I received my first set of results in February 2013 and was pleased with my Written Submission result, they'd given me a distinction, relieved I'd got through the Viva Voce and not too disappointed that I'd failed the Quick Study, as, looking back, I hadn't really given this part of the exam enough time or thought.

I decided not to retake the Quick Study straight away but spend a lot of 2013 improving my piano playing with the help of my music teacher and working out what was required in the Quick Study. I had a good day, the day of the Quick Study retake, although I didn't like the piece they'd given me to play. I had a feeling I'd done enough to pass, but they are very strict when it comes to the DipABRSM so I wasn't sure.

I was really happy, February 2014, when I received the big white envelope with my DipABRSM certificate inside it and the letter saying I was now entitled to append the letters DipABRSM to my name.

The best thing about playing the piano is playing the piano, regardless of what exams you manage to pass. It has been a source of comfort and joy to me in my life and I'm glad I could pass that enjoyment on to a few of my daughter's friends. For the record, my daughter is not into the piano, she likes singing.

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