Music Junior Departments at Conservatoires

(96 Posts)
thekidsmom Thu 03-Feb-11 09:47:27

Does anyone have a DC at a junior department of a music conservatoire?

I'm deliberating hard over whether my DD should join in September or not (she will then be year 11 - so a possibility of 3 years there)

My decision points are around the amount of other stuff she'll necessarily have to give up to fit this in - all of her county music commitments for instance, but also about how much her music will 'crowd out' any other possiblities in her future career.

We are not yet decided on a music career - its between that and science (maybe medicine). We've had some good advice on the hardships of a music career from her teachers, so are up to speed on that, but I'm concerned that once we're on the JD track, there's no getitng off and she'sll just fall into music. And she wont have had the space in her timetable to gain all the work experience/volunteering she'd need to make a convinecing medicine/bio sciences application.

So if anyone has a DC who is at or did go to a JD and then did something different at uni, I'd be very grateful for input.

Colleger Sat 10-Dec-11 20:00:25

I didn't realise that Chets had a swimming pool. Things like that would have swayed my decision as I am seriously worried about the lack of sport. For now he will be a day boy so I can have as much input in his non-musical pursuits.

Trinite Wed 21-Dec-11 09:10:44

Have just come across this thread by accident ! I have to put in a word for Wells here. DD is in Yr 13 as a Specialist Musician so I have some experience. The music is fantastic, the academic support and teaching is outstanding, sport is mandatory and pastoral care is equally good. DD has just finished auditions for music college and has 4 places with several scholarships at London Conservatoires to chose from. You should consider it !

peardrops Wed 28-Dec-11 14:27:15

Thanks Trinite. We're going for the Wells entrance exams next month so it's good to hear your opinion. We were really impressed with Wells when we went to look at it.

Colleger Wed 28-Dec-11 16:24:53

The problem with wells is that you think you're getting the best of both worlds but the reality is that a specialist musician cannot take part in all the activities and ends up feeling as if they are missing out.

dejaview Wed 28-Dec-11 20:32:38

There is a sports centre just down the road with a pool from Purcell.

At Chethams every teacher is also a musician. On every level it is music focussed even though it is often higher in the private school league of top performing academic schools. It is for MUSIC!

Choir schools are not just for music although there is a huge amount of flexibility. My local Lincoln Minster (recommended kindly on here) who have a head of choir at Lincoln Cathedral who is also head of music at the school - no mean feat - is a great person and although they have a brand new purpose built music wing - essentially their main aim is to get students into junior conservatoires - which does finally underline the fact that their own resources are noticeably limited.

Wells school looks great but Wells itself I doubt is any active child's (or parent's) idea of a great place to live - unless you want to study tourism or agriculture ultimately. It is very out of the way and to be serious I think that may be a concern depending on the family and child.

(Although to be honest I like isolated country places.)

The intensity and enclosed nature of the private boarding school I think needs a huge out of school life available to be well balanced. Although obviously cities seem like an option one wants to avoid for children - for children who are seasoned public performers - it seems like a great plus. Even my 12 year old loves the city and it gives her and her friends a carefree life outside the pressure cooker school (potentially.)

dejaview Sat 31-Dec-11 11:41:51

This may be of interest to everyone concerned with music education in the future in the UK - if you have not already seen it.

https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/AllPublications/Page1/DFE-00086-2011

Colleger Sat 31-Dec-11 19:16:32

Too long for me to read tonight. I'm glad DS was a chorister before embarking on music school because I probably would have chosen Wells as it would have been sold to me as he best of both worlds when the reality is not the case. If choristers, with a lesser workload, miss out on so much then surely specialist musicians miss out on so much more. Pianists and string players are often expected to practice for 5 hours per day so it is impossible to fit in all the extra curric and social aspect of the rest of the school.

tern Wed 11-Jan-12 21:10:19

It's great when people are enthusiastic about schools but some of the statements made above just aren't true. Not every teacher at Chets is a musician, not even every instrumental teacher is a performer. The food is grim, stodgy, processed, limited in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables - it's sodehxo. Eating disorders and self-harming are endemic (maybe not surprising given the kind of student and teacher the place attracts) but they are a compelling argument for a much more informed and professional culture of pastoral care than the school in fact supports. Instrumental teachers do not as a matter of course have any training whatsoever in teaching (let alone pastoral care)- nor are they appointed because of their pedagogical ability. The assumption is if they can play to a certain standard - or if especially they have produced prize-winning pupils in the past - then they are fit to teach. Pupils or parents who complain about the incompetence and abuse that such a non-system inevitably produces are deemed to lack the requisite talent or backbone.

Colleger Wed 11-Jan-12 22:31:21

Interesting comment about the food. My son has started a spec music school and the food is dire. He wants to move towards packed lunches asap!

dejaview Sat 14-Jan-12 18:18:56

tern
I sympathise with your agitation - and I sometimes get like that actually over even minor things let alone the major issues you are concerned with. One such incidence would be alarming and I sympathise with any parent that faces that scenario but I am not sure this is the place to discuss it - so vaguely and generally. To suggest it is widespread - worse - 'endemic' - is not my experience of any school I have ever heard of - though I did home educate - let alone this excellent school. Such talk is not exaggeration - it is I have to say virtually libellous and very damaging and undermines a forum. If I am too positive then I hope I do try to be realistic. My daughter has not experienced anything like that - and she is extremely sociable with all ages - thats my only response.

My experience so far IS very positive. I have minor concerns - one of which I voiced. DD told me that most of the staff - all she said - apart from the gym teacher (and chef who teaches cooking) are musicians on some level. The biology teacher confirmed that but obviously it cannot be absolutely true. Staff change etc. The spirt of what I suggest is true I think but rather a minor point literally.

The Chetham's chef just won an award for cheff-ery I understand. I did cook at home entirely organic following Whole Earth nutritional guidelines I picked up in Brighton for over 10 years but pennilessness means I now fall rather short of that and I have always been concerned since they went to school my children had been introduced to less healthy eating habits - but I still try to educate on that level and its a struggle. Pringles rule it seems. The meals and variety of fruit/grains/meats/pulses etc at the school seems very good. Its 280 that are being cooked for not 1250. I have eaten there.

Teaching qualifications? I taught at art colleges. I disliked teaching and did not have a teaching qualification. Artists who do have a PGCE and those that do not? - I would tend to go with the nots really if you could divide them so divisively. I get your point - but you almost suggest the psycho staff are attracting pshyco pupils. It sounds more like the League of Gentlemen than Chethams.

I miss my daughter so much that my feelings sometimes boil over idiotically. She herself is getting on fine and I hope her joy is never tarnished by false alarm or back biting or negativity. Chethams just gave her a huge award to buy her dream instrument after several other trusts chipped in. I had to do 30 trust applications but it was worth it. I have to feel very positive about music education and creativity for children in the UK. Any worries I had about the privileged few benefiting at the expense of so many others I hope is addressed by the MDS's new plan for music eduction.

Finally you slip in the word 'abuse.' I hope my own reply is accurate and measured and more so in the future.

dejaview Sat 14-Jan-12 19:17:20

http://www.chethams.com/news/sodexo-success

sodexo is not a promising name but I did like the food myself.. much prefer organic salmon fillets with hummous..!

tern Sun 22-Jan-12 00:49:55

Well, that's me told. I can back up everything I write but to do so involves revealing personal details which would damage children at Chets. Of course there are children who have good experiences at Chets - and I hope your daughter is one of them - but there are plenty who don't and the reasons they don't are to a great extent institutional and (in my view) alterable. The award the Chets chef won was an in-house sodexo one (i.e. a PR gambit) and sodexo is a pretty nasty company (google it; check out the LRB blog). As a school Chets is certainly not in the same league - there are some wonderful individuals there among the academic and music staff which is why my kids are still there - but like sodexo all schools are in the PR business. Sometimes that can be more important than the welfare and education of individual children. Specialist music and dance schools are the only independent schools in the country to enjoy a high level of guaranteed government funding. This means they are not regulated by the market as other private schools are, but at the same time they are exempt from the regulation and scrutiny (eg. parent governors, Ofsted, FoI legislation) that applies to the state sector.

Colleger Sun 22-Jan-12 13:22:35

Tern, your posts sound almost word for word identical to a teacher who worked at Purcell and is now slating that on other forums!

tern Sun 22-Jan-12 19:07:30

Well I'm not a teacher and I have nothing to do with the Purcell School - although I have seen Norman Lebrecht's blog on the school's troubles and certainly agree with some of the comments made - i.e. that there are cultural/institutional reasons why things go wrong at music schools. It's not a matter of slagging schools off but being truthful and realistic - and also pointing to ways they could be better. Of course it's easier all round to agree with the PR and believe everything in the garden is rosy - especially if one has left one's child there - and to believe when things go wrong, it's down to the odd bad apple on the staff or kid who couldn't cope.

Colleger Sun 22-Jan-12 19:21:42

You insult most parents who are all too well aware of the flaws in a school - there are flaws in every school.

tern Sun 22-Jan-12 19:43:57

I don't mean to insult parents - why should I? But these schools are not like every school - they are specialist schools that stand outside the normal rules /system / market and cater for "special" children. The flaws are unique too, and I would argue tolerated precisely because the schools and their pupils are seen as sui generis. I'm not saying they shouldn't exist - just that they could be a lot better - in terms of the musical education and the pastoral care they provide. Why is it taboo to say so?

mecindylewis Fri 16-Nov-12 11:06:36

thank you Colleger this is help full information

mummysmellsofsick Mon 19-Nov-12 22:05:25

This is so interesting as I've studied/ taught at Purcell, RCM, RAM & Trinity Laban. Also have many friends who were at Chets. I've never seen it all from auditioning parents' perspectives before.

diamondsinthesand Sun 10-Feb-13 23:59:16

Well - this is an old post- but I think all these schools are amazing, actually - Wells, Purcell, Chets- I don't think there is much going on thats more of a problem in these schools than in any other school, state or private. Maybe less sport, but the same or more than in state sector.

Plus, their intake is much wider demographically (or was when I went there). There is no perfect school. I was happy there and so were most of my friends -very friendly school.

Fanstastic music - expert teaching. If your dc wants to do music it will cost time - nothing to do with the school, just what music demands if fufilling ability is important.

diamondsinthesand Mon 11-Feb-13 00:05:35

Also - having just read post again- many Uni's have a foundation year for science students who might need it. Thats a good option for ex-music specialist and many will bring superb concentration, dedication and memorizing ability to a science course after studying music because thats what music trains you in.

TheWave Mon 11-Feb-13 10:48:03

What do parents think about the Andrade scandal in the papers this weekend? Abuse to teenagers by teachers taking advantage of teenagers in their care in conservatoires such as Chethams coming to light etc. Hopefully you can be reassured that things have changed?

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