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20th May 2018

This Irish Documentary About Learning To Play The Piano Is Ridiculously Heartwarming


Not gonna lie, when my girlfriend first asked me to see a movie about Irish people taking piano lessons, I wasn’t particularly excited to see it. In fact, I’d even contemplated making excuses to get out of it.

But a couple minutes into actually watching the documentary, all my misgivings went out the window.

On paper, the premise of Making The Grade might seem kinda boring: it follows piano students across Ireland as they take lessons to pass their piano exam and make it to their next grade.

Like I said, that sounds boring, but the whole thing is genuinely so entertaining and just plain lovely. 

It’s the unfolding of the relationships between the students and their teachers that makes it so appealing. These are all real people, not actors, but each and every one of them is such a character. You’ve got an aging heavy metal head, a kickboxing teenage boy, a super-confident child prodigy, a teacher who really likes the word “nuance” and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s a pleasure to see this diverse cast chase their goal of mastering the piano, each for their own unique reasons. God knows how many hours must’ve been spent finding all these colourful characters and then trawling through so much footage to find the jewel-like perfect moments that make up the documentary’s runtime of 87 minutes.

And it’s not just me lauding this film by the way, the reviews have been universally positive, receiving praise from the likes of The Irish Times and Irish Independent

Simply put, Making The Grade is an absolute joy to watch, so catch it in cinemas while you still can. I can almost guarantee you’ll walk out with a huge smile on your face.

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