Harp Grade Levels

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    Olivia on #221470

    Can anyone explain to me the grade levels of harp music? I’ve heard other harpists mention grade levels they’ve accomplished. Is there some type of ranking system?

    David Kitamura on #221476

    I believe this means the ABRSM exam levels, of which they have eight exams and thus passing grades for a variety of instruments, including pedal and non-pedal harp. https://gb.abrsm.org/en/our-exams/harp-exams/

    emma-graham on #221479

    There are other boards that offer harp exams as well as the ABRSM. Trinity College London and London College of Music for example. Here in the UK, there has recently been quite a lot of social media discussion among harp teachers about our increasing frustration with the ABRSM syllabuses and exams. Many of us are increasingly moving over to Trinity.
    The trinity syllabus can be found here.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #221533

    There is also the Royal Conservatory of Music. Here’s the link to the Harp Syllabus.
    plus the errata list

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #232148

    There is no one set system of levels. Publishers have their own systems, too. I have often wondered if it would help to have one set system. Many of them use five levels, but ten seems more accurate. It’s somewhat arbitrary assigning levels. I believe the American Harp Society has some sort of system for its competitions, unless it is up to whoever is doing the organizing. You certainly have Beginners, Advanced Beginners, Beginning Intermediate, Intermediate, Advanced Intermediate, Advanced; then you diverge into collegiate or conservatory tracks, Young Professional, and one can go on to Professional and Artist. But from Advanced on, the repertoire might all be the same. One thing I strongly disagree with is categorizing people by age. It discriminates against those who start later. I think how long one has studied is more relevant. As for assigning music, it depends if you are baby-stepping progress or allowing for big steps, or both. But generally speaking, one can assign a general valuation to most pieces. How it is used is another matter. And then, there are editions of the Sonata by CPE Bach that range from somewhat difficult to very difficult, and the same for the Handel Concerto. There is a base level of musical challenge that remains regardless of edition. I think it would probably be worthwhile to establish a committee to assign levels to music to have a consistent point of reference. But, then, there are musical difficulties and technical difficulties, two completely different animals. Not an easy task.

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