147! Is this a record?

jessica_g1pno_formI’ve been teaching for many years now and have had plenty of decent results along the way. But I have to take my hat off to Jessica Horsfield who has achieved the staggering mark of 147 for her latest music exam, Grade One Piano. This is the highest mark I’ve come across in all my time of teaching – and examining. It is all the more remarkable, considering the fact that the Associated Board in its wisdom does not allow examiners to award marks of 149 and 150.

So, how is such a result possible? Can others realistically expect someting similar? Probably not, but there is some background to this which is worth mentioning.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the ABRSM has dumbed down in recent years; just compare, for example, present day sight reading with that of  a generation, or even a few years, ago. Now, examiners now have to express a reservation even when awarding a 29/30 mark whereas not long ago, examiners could award 28 with no reservation expressed at all. The implication is that 28 could previously have been seen as flawless, whereas now 29 is not, so a flawless performance now has to attact the maximum mark.

What about Jessica herself? I have been teaching her for some years; she has also passed both Grade Five Flute and Grade Five Theory, so she is clearly experienced. With the more advanced knowledge she obviously possesses, compared with your average Grade One learner, it is hardly surprising that she has been able to deal with the lower Grade authoritatively and confidently.  Her lessons, too, are considerably longer than the average because of her doing three musical subjects. All this, especially the Theory, goes to increase the level of musical understanding.

She also exhibits a mature attitude to learning. There are never Jessica 1 arguments about the way I teach and what she has to learn; she doesn’t try to waste time by fiddling about or chit-chatting. That means all the time is spent on the music and little else. And, like most people of her age, she has to juggle various school commitments, so I dare say she has a good system of time management to enable the practice to be done.

We draw inspiration from the endeavours and achievements of others and it can come from unexpected places, too; not just the Murrays and Wiggos of this world. Simply by knuckling down to hard work and having a positive and grown-up attitude, we can go a long way to reaching our goals, however fanciful others may think they are.


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