In the words of Granny Weatherwax, “I aten’t dead.” I have, though, been rather neglectful of dragonharp.com. That said, I have news!
Shortly after my last post here (in October 2012!), I made the decision to step away from the harp for a while. I was feeling frustrated that every time I came to practice, or go for a lesson, I’d become befuddled by all the dots and lines on the page. Any progress I made on the instrument itself was hampered by my growing irritation at not being able to read music. I was finding it harder and harder each time. And so, I decided to separate the two and see if that made any difference.
Concentrating solely on music theory, I attended regular lessons with Denise, and slowly things began to click — so much so that in November 2013, I did something I never thought I would be able to do: I sat my ABRSM Grade 1 Music Theory exam. It lasted 90 minutes, and I remember feeling so out of place in the room, as I was one of only three adults there and the other two were sitting for Grade 6 and above. Everyone else was under 16. Eeep.
That said, I took the paper, and answered it to the best of my ability. It wasn’t as scary as I had thought and I was fairly certain I’d passed, just not sure how well. Cue an anxious wait of four weeks or so, and then the results were published (first online, and then, a few weeks later, in print).
Yes! I passed — and, as shown in the photo to the right, I passed with Distinction. I couldn’t believe it, and I was thrilled. I was so thankful to Denise and to my husband, Andrew, both of whom had kept me on the calm side beforehand. Once the exam was over, only then did I feel I could tell others that I had taken it and was officially on the ABRSM exam pathway — I was so nervous before this first exam, I didn’t want to jinx it! Obviously, I needn’t have worried.
Since then, my studies have continued avidly and I have been working my way though the ABRSM Grade 2 Music Theory workbook and related reference material. Where Grade 1 is all about basic notation, major keys (specifically those of C, G, D and F) and the time signatures of 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4, Grade 2 takes this deeper and we expand out into 2/2, 3/2, 4/2 and 3/8. More major keys are introduced (A, B-flat, E-flat) and both harmonic and melodic minors (just A, E, and D) are begun. Triplets provide all kinds of fun and there’s yet more Italian performance directions to learn.
And so, this (left) is where I am at the moment — in the latter stages of revising for my Grade 2 Music Theory exam, which is later today. I’m a little more nervous about this one, but for different reasons to the first — while I know what to expect now, and how the paper will look and the sorts of questions asked, there’s so much more to remember! Especially all the Italian terms, with all their subtleties; I can’t seem to keep them all straight in my head…
That said, I am looking forward to it, though, in some odd way; after all, it’s another step forwards in making a dream come true.