How Many Piano Grades Are There? See Details

How Many Piano Grades Are There

Learning the piano is a rewarding experience that involves mastering various skills and techniques. Piano grades are a structured framework to assess a student’s progress and proficiency in playing the instrument.

One common question for aspiring pianists is: how many piano grades are there?

Let’s examine the details of piano grades and what each entails.

What are Piano Grades?

Piano grades are a standardized way to evaluate a student’s performance and understanding of musical concepts. These grades typically follow a numbered system, often designated by Roman numerals or other symbols.

The most widely recognized piano grading system is established by renowned music examination boards, such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity College London.

How Many Piano Grades Are There?

In the United Kingdom, piano grades are classified into three categories. Exams must be passed in order because that is how they were designed. You should first pass the Initial Grade, then Grade 1, then Grade 2, and so on.

However, you are not limited and may take the exam for any grade level you are comfortable with.

Initial Grade

The Initial Grade is a starting point for determining your skills right away. You are assessed for your aural skills (pitch recognition test) and sight-reading abilities, and you must perform a few scales, melodies, and three piano pieces from a carefully chosen repertoire.

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This grade has a maximum score of 150 points. A straight pass requires 100 points, passing with merit requires 120 points, and passing with distinction requires more than 130 points.

Basic Piano Grades

  • Piano Grade 1 – Scales such as C major, A minor, and G major must be learned.
  • Piano Grade 2 – Aural assessments and more knowledge of melodies and scales are included in Piano Grade 2.
  • Piano Grade 3 – Students must practice scales in opposite motion (such as E-major) and similar motion (such as A majors).

Intermediate Piano Grades

  • Piano Grade 4 – Non-instrumental criteria are analyzed and focused on the musical outcome.
  • Piano Grade 5 – entails mastery of all previous levels at an advanced level.

Advanced Piano Grades

  • Piano Grade 6 – A greater emphasis is placed on aural tests and advanced music.
  • Piano Grade 7 – Aural tests must be passed, and three piano compositions must be performed flawlessly. Precision and fine-tuning are to be expected.
  • Piano Grade 8 – You must be proficient in broken chords, melodies, and scales.

Why Take Piano Exams?

Here are some reasons you should take piano exams:

Structured Learning

Graded systems provide a clear roadmap for skill development, outlining specific goals and repertoire at each level. This structure can be helpful for both students and teachers, ensuring a focused and organized learning experience.

Technical Proficiency

The technical requirements of graded exams typically push students to develop essential skills like scales, melodies, sight-reading, and coordination. This can lead to a strong foundation and improved technical fluency.

Performance Confidence

Preparing for and taking exams requires overcoming nerves and performing publicly. This can build confidence and stage presence, valuable skills for aspiring musicians and artists.

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Motivation and Recognition

Good grades can provide a sense of accomplishment and validate progress, fueling motivation to continue learning.

Artists like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo are good with the Piano and have gained recognition in the music industry.

Also, Certificates and awards obtained through graded exams can be recognized by schools and institutions, potentially providing advantages in academic or musical pathways.

International Standardization

For students wanting to study music internationally, certain graded systems (e.g., ABRSM or TCL) provide standardized levels that schools worldwide recognize.

Do You Need a Private Teacher to Take Piano Exams?

It’s important to note that having a private teacher is not mandatory for individuals interested in taking piano exams. While many musicians work with a private instructor to receive personalized guidance, instruction, and feedback, it is possible to prepare for piano exams independently.

Self-directed learners can leverage a variety of resources to facilitate their exam preparation. Online platforms offer tutorials, instructional videos, and practice materials tailored to specific piano grades.

Additionally, numerous books and music sheets outline the requirements and repertoire for each grade level.

FAQs on How Many Piano Grades Are There

How many levels are there in piano grades?

Nine levels
There are nine total piano grades under the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) system.

How good is a Grade 8 pianist?

A grade 8 certification is only roughly equivalent to an ‘O’ or ‘AO’ level in music.

Can I learn piano in 1 year?

Most students start piano lessons with no musical experience, but by the end of one year, they’re playing music.

What Is The ABRSM?

ABRSM is short for The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

Can I skip piano grades?

If you want, you can skip one or two levels when studying ABRSM piano grades. However, it is not advised.

How long does it take to reach Grade 8 piano?

Most people take 5 to 6 years to reach Grade 8 piano, with constant practice.


The grading system determines the number of piano grades, with ABRSM and Trinity College London being the most widely recognized.

Piano grades, regardless of system, play an important role in guiding students through a progressive musical journey, ensuring a well-rounded development of their piano skills.

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