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Old 11-08-2013, 01:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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chris_mills's Avatar
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Default Should I do Grades?

I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now and I'm at a level where I could quite easily pass the first couple of grades. I never really wanted to do them because I saw no use of them, and thought it would just take the fun out of playing guitar. Also, I have a lot of GCSE exams coming up and don't wanna add more pressure and work to my list.

Can you tell me the advantages of doing grades?
If anyone has done them before tell me how useful/not useful they have been or will be.
Any other tips? Thanks

^Dream Band
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey chris_mills!

Remember, grades are just an acknowledgement of your talent.
I quit playing guitar after 3 years because my teacher focused on teaching me stuff for the first grade.
Here in Austria we've got 3 grades. As you said, it took all the fun out.

However, I did the first and second grade for piano and recorder. To be honest, the audit program wasn't so challenging, though... Teachers tend to build up pressure and offer criticism - You'll end up believing if you don't retract their words.
Keep in mind you're fully committed to playing the guitar!

I'm sure you'll do fine if you get yourself to do those grades, but don't take the result too seriously or stress yourself out by over-practicing. Of course, it's another experience and you might get advices on improving your guitar-playing from another teacher or professional but there's a limit to everything.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If I was you I would do grades! The sheer anxiety of an exam takes the level of your playing up! I'm an adult now, but I had viola lessons up until 18, where I managed to pass grade 7. I learnt the piano, guitar, drums and bass for fun until last year, when I realised I wanted to teach and needed a piece of paper. So far I passed grade 5 on drums and guitar. Failed grade 8 bass, but I'll retake that. I will also do grade 7 piano.
In summary I would say you never know who you are competing against, so best to have a piece of paper behind you!
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Old 01-26-2014, 07:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think that grades are useful if you want to go into teaching, classical playing [such as with an orchestra], possibly jazz [because learning fiendishly complicated theory would be advantageous] and math rock or tech-core for the same reasons. Grades might also be useful if you wish to compose for soundtracks or adverts, because a. you might be working with a whole bunch of instruments and a sound foundation of theoretical knowledge could prove extremely helpful, and b. the kind of corporate people who employ you for this sort of thing are likely to value what's written on a piece of paper.

However, for most other genres, contemporary, and recreational playing, I'd say that grades are unnecessary. They are, after all, just a label for your talent, not your talent itself. With guitar especially over any other instrument, it is entirely possible to learn everything you need via a bit of online research and plenty of personal persistence. I know very few guitarists with gradings [excepting the odd music teacher] and I've never been in a band where members have even asked about, let alone expected guitarists to have gradings - not because they weren't good enough, but because it simply seems to be uncommon/ unnecessary.

Since you currently have GCSEs coming up, I'd recommend waiting until the Summer if you do decide to take gradings, because frankly you'll have little enough free time as it is, and you want your guitar playing currently to be an escape from studying, not a return to it - that's just my opinion of course. Longer term, whether you grade or not depends what you want from your music, I'd say. It's not like you have a deadline though, after all - you can try for grades whenever you decide to do so.
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