Perse Prep pupil strikes a chord to earn Grade 8 in piano
3 Dec 2020
Accomplished pianist Maito Shiode (Year 6) has hit the high notes after earning a distinction in his Grade 8 exam at the age of just 10.
Grade 8 is the highest level in the practical instrument grading system set by ABRSM, the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music.
The Perse Prep pupil scored a stunning 143 out of 150 in his online assessment, which featured performances of four pieces – Scarlatti’s Sonata in D, Kp. 214, L. 165, Beethoven’s Presto alla tedesca (from Sonata in G, Op. 79), Chaminade’s Scarf Dance, Op. 37 No. 3 and Chopin’s Etude Op. 25/1.
Maito said: “I feel overjoyed. I wasn’t really expecting it because I made some mistakes, but when the results came back, I was really happy.
“The examiner had some very positive comments which helped. They liked the sense of communication and characterisation of each piece, but they also suggested some technical things I should do when I next play the pieces, including the use of the soft pedals.”
To make Maito’s achievement even more impressive, he played all four works from memory without sheet music.
He said: “You’re allowed to have the sheet with you, but I find it sticks quite quickly when I’ve practised pieces very often because your fingers can just remember it.”
Maito, who also sings in the Prep choir and plays in the school percussion group, began playing piano while in Year 1 at the Pelican.
He has since gone on to perform at several charity concerts as well as winning awards at music competitions in both London and Cambridge, including winning the grand prize (Kathleen Freeman Trophy) and six other trophies at the Cambridge Competitive Music Festival earlier this year.
Maito, whose ambition is to play a piano concerto with an orchestra, has a number of different composers whose works he especially enjoys performing.
He said: “With Bach, I like the technique you need to move your fingers fast, and I like Mozart because I have a feeling he was a playful person with the way he plays around with the harmonies.
“I like the energetic movement of Beethoven and there are some scaly passages by Schubert that I really like playing. I also like playing Chopin’s Etudes because they’re quite fast and I like their harmony and tone.”
Maito added: “Grades help you to have an aim and make you feel confident about yourself, but the main thing with piano is just being happy to play the instrument and also make other people happy with your music.”