What level am I?

What level am I?

You might never have taken exam. You might have taken an exam years ago and are now unsure of your current level. You may not live in the UK and are unfamiliar with our grading system. Below is a rough guide to our course categories. We hope you find it useful!

It’s not, however, always a simple decision or quite as prescriptive when it comes to choosing a course. If in doubt, please contact Jenny our Assistant Course Director to discuss further.

The Beginner

…has just begun! We haven’t as yet had a complete beginner on a course but David Hall welcomes the challenge. We usually suggest the following for guests to get the most out of a weekend course:

  • To have been playing for around 6 months
  • And/ or be having regular piano lessons
  • Or have had some form of tuition as a child
  • And/ or to understand or recognise the very basics of notation
  • To be between grades 0-2 (see example of music below)

Pre-grade 1

Different exam boards offer different pre-grade 1 tests. The ABRSM offers the Prep Test, Trinity offers the Intial exam and the LCM the Pre-Preparatory and Steps 1 & 2. See what skills are involved in a pre-grade 1 exam and listen to the playing level of an Initial piano player in Trinity exam board’s helpful video!

Grade 1

Bach’s Aria in F major was on the 2017-2018 grade 1 syllabus for the ABRSM. Click on the link to see the score!

Or watch a Trinity Grade 1 exam below:

The Lower Intermediate

Our Lower Intermediate courses are aimed at pianists playing to roughly grades 2-4. They may be further along their learning as an adult or be picking up a childhood hobby from (quite) a break!

Grade 2

If you’re working towards grade 2 level and experience a lot of nerves whilst playing, you might feel more comfortable in the Beginner course. You may however want to stretch yourself and go for the Lower Intermediate course!

The LCM’s 2018-2020 grade 2 syllabus includes Couperin’s Fanfare. You can see an excerpt from the beginning here

…or watch a very competent performance on YouTube below. Do bear in mind that these videos are of people showing off their best and are a guide only. You don’t have to play a piece flawlessly (an impossibility in itself!) to come on a course.

Grade 3

Samples of the ABRSM’s grade 3 repertoire can be found in this link and an excerpt of Mozart’s grade level Minuet in F, below.

Minuet in F K.5 found here

The Lower Intermediate – Intermediate

Grade 4

This level of playing is at the very top of a Lower Intermediate course, and comfortably classed as an Intermediate level also.

A full summary and performance of the 2019-2020 ABRSM grade 4 repertoire can be found below. Again, the playing is a goal not a pre-requisite!

And here, an excerpt from Trinity’s grade 4 piece by Burgmüller, Barcarolle Op.100 No.2:

The Intermediate

Singing at the piano

Grade 5

A link to Haydn’s Presto from his Piano Sonata in D major, offers a copyright-free source of a piece from the LCM’s grade 5 repertoire. If this is something you could work towards, you’ve found your level!

The Upper Intermediate

Our Upper Intermediate courses are for confident grades 5 up to and including grade 8.

Grade 6

One of Chopin’s easiest works is on the LCM’s grade 6 syllabus. A copyright-free version of his Cantabile in Bb can be found here, with an excerpt below.

Grade 7

Fanny Mendelssohn’s Juli from Das Jahr features in the LCM grade 7 repertoire. It can be sourced here for free!


Depending on your experience, confidence and where you are in your playing journey, grade 8 players often attend our Advanced courses. It is an advanced grade after all! Many are also working towards a diploma, are looking for CPD following an undergraduate course or for a boost later on in their playing career (professional or passion).

Saturday recital

Grade 8

Rachmaninoff’s Elegie Op.3 No.1 finds itself in the LCM grade 8 syllabus. Click on the picture below to view the full score!

Diploma and beyond

A firm favourite here at Finchcocks, is Brahms’ Intermezzo in A major. Our tutor Graham Fitch delivers a fascinating lecture recital on what he interprets as a musical love letter to Clara Schumann. Staff have since fallen under its spell, and odd snatches and passages can often be heard ringing out through the building. It features in Trinity’s repertoire list for their ATCL diploma. You can listen and follow the score below (although we far prefer Graham’s version!).

Ability level is ultimately a guide only. Our tutors are highly experienced and will differentiate tuition to each guest’s needs, in individual lessons as well as workshops and performance master classes. The most important thing is to find the course which will benefit you the most, getting the important balance between challenging and inspiring you!

If in doubt, please contact Jenny our Assistant Course Director to discuss further.