Friday 28 July 2017

Harry and his piano

Harry has been learning the piano for over a year now, ever since we bought our fab digital piano. At first he progressed very quickly, speeding through the books and picking it up no problems. Then a few months in he reached the point at which it started to become a little more difficult, and that was when he really had to work on his practice. He's used to learning things without much effort, which is one of the reasons that we wanted him to have piano lessons - to give him something more challenging that he couldn't do straightaway.

Because of the way the exam system works, we missed the deadline to enter him for the Prep Test, something new since I had lessons. It's an exam but there is no pass or fail, it's a chance for the candidate to get some exam practice without any pressure. Because we would have ended up waiting months we made the decision to push him straight towards the Grade 1, and again because of the way the system works we had a choice of waiting either a couple of months or over six months.

So we decided to enter him for the next exam period, and we prepared for a couple of months of hard work. And he really did work very hard. I sat down with him every day to go through his pieces, we went after school to play on the closest 'real' piano that we have access to, and his teacher also worked very hard with him, giving us lots to improve on, and fitting in some extra lessons.

When the day of the exam came I must admit that I wasn't completely confident. He could play his pieces beautifully once he was warmed up, but he still made frequent mistakes that would throw him off completely. I wasn't sure how he would react to the exam conditions as it was the first time he'd done anything like it. I think I was much more nervous than he was!

Before the exam itself he had plenty of time to warm up in the waiting room, and we chose an order for him to play his pieces. We started with the one that he could play easily, followed by the one he found most challenging, finishing with the piece that sounded the most impressive. He was taken away and I waited for him to come back, with no idea how he was getting on. When he came out he seemed very confident, although I think a large part of that was the relief that it was all over!

We had to wait a couple of weeks for the result. Results come by e-mail, and although I didn't tell Harry I knew the first day that the result might appear and I was glued to my phone all day. I was desperately hoping that he would pass, I knew that it would be a massive dent to his confidence if he didn't. So we were all delighted to find out that not only did he pass - he managed to pass with a distinction! He lost a few marks on his pieces but did brilliantly in the other parts of the exam (the scales, sight reading and aural tests) and the written notes from the exam are full of praise.

Child with Grade 1 Piano certificate

We are so proud of him and he's very proud of himself. Since the exam he's been playing the piano a lot, playing his exam pieces again and starting some new pieces, and after the slog of playing the same three pieces over and over for weeks he's enjoying the freedom to play what he wants to for a bit. We will be entering him for his Grade 2 but not straight away, we'll let him enjoy the piano for a bit first!


  1. Well done Harry, that's brilliant!

  2. Wow, that is amazing! Congratulations, Harry! My kids are not what you'd call musical, but all play an instrument and hardly ever practise! Also, the teaching they had at primary school wasn't great, so having started in year 3, my two violinists took their Grade 1 in year 6 and my guitarist took his Grade 1 in year 7!


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