Support group for parents of children taking music exams!

(1000 Posts)
Wafflenose Mon 14-Nov-11 22:03:28

Hello, I'm feeling excited, nervous and wobbly because my daughter is taking her first music exam in three weeks. I'm a music teacher and am very used to getting children through the exams, keeping the parents informed, helping to focus practice, etc, but this is my first experience with my own child doing an exam and for some reason it's more scary than putting other people's children in! I think she will be OK (and the other thirteen I have entered this term) but I'm not!! Any tips for the 'other side' (parents rather than music teachers) for how to keep us both calm on the day would be gratefully received! Does it get easier as they become more experienced? Am thinking not...

She is taking part in the local music festival tomorrow, to gain performance experience. She's wildly excited, and I've got the jitters!!

SexyDomesticatedDab Wed 23-Nov-11 16:08:18

Just as a note - our DS2 has gone through flute grades (now preparing for 7) and took up the piano too (as well as being self taught on guitar / bass). He took his grade ABSRM piano and the marking was somewhat off what we expected - and the mark score didn't help much. Just so you know you can complain - they don't remark but will credit if you win the appeal. Bit of a difficult process we (DW mainly) wrote letter to say why the marking scheme was poor - no feedback at the end of the sheet etc. DS2 did the pieces again at school so sent a recording and a letter from his school to say it was him. We won the appeal so at least next exam will be free. If you strongly disagree with the marking and feel it was to harsh or not good feedback then you can go through this process.

I can't play a thing but appreciate the music - DW and her sister / BIL are all very musical (BIL is in fact an examiner!!).

Wafflenose Wed 23-Nov-11 19:39:17

Wow, have been super busy at work this week, and the the thread has expanded a lot in my absence. So glad there are lots of us going through this!!! As I said, I'm experienced at putting other people's children through exams, but it's a new thing having my own child sit one!

Hope everyone's DCs do well. Can't wait to start hearing some results, although our exams are quite late - on Dec 6th, 8th and 13th!

FWIW, I didn't start piano until I was 15, when I discovered I'd need to for university, and managed to pass Grade 5 before I went, so it's certainly possible for a 13 yr old to get there in time! (Sorry, can't remember who posted about their DD now). Also, no matter how busy I am, I ring my pupils with their results as soon as they come in - I get so excited!

Feeling much better about own DD now. Having heard a few of my school pupils today, I'd say she is sounding more ready than some, and has also been performing lots lately. Poor thing was exhausted tonight though, after a full day at school, followed by orchestra and then a birthday party - she's in Year 1.

ByTheWay1 Wed 23-Nov-11 19:52:06

My youngest DD aged 9 is doing her Grade1 piano on Friday, so I have my fingers crossed for her... She is much more together than her sister was in March (fumbled one piece - restarted another from scratch and failed the Aural section spectacularly - but still got a pass at 111/150) so I am hoping youngest stays "together" for her exam.

Wafflenose Wed 23-Nov-11 19:56:28

That sounds positive, BTW. Let us know how she gets on!

ByTheWay1 Sat 26-Nov-11 09:38:48

Well, she said she enjoyed it - so I'm guessing it went well. This is my girl who talks herself down and doesn't really want to do piano any more.... hey ho, she's carrying on til Christmas for the "fun" stuff.... Jingle bells etc...

ImNotaCelebrity Sat 26-Nov-11 21:47:07

DS (7) got his piano grade 1 result yesterday - 126. About what I expected so really pleased. He got violin grade 1 distinction in the spring, and grade 2 merit in the summer. Exams and performing don't phase him at all, probably because he started young, so it's all 2nd nature. He always thinks he's done brilliantly and comes out telling me he thinks he's got a distinction! At least he's confident!!

SouthernandCross Sat 26-Nov-11 21:52:00

I'mNot- that's a great result. My girls both think they have go distinctions too but I'll be surprised if they do that well. When did he sit his?
I'm just happy if they pass but I know they will be a bit upset if they don't do as well as they think they have.

Wafflenose Sat 26-Nov-11 21:53:26

Well done to LittleWay and MiniNotACelebrity! We still have over a week until the exam, but am feeling much more confident for her now. She has been going through all my music and has been playing quite a lot of Grade 2 stuff really well (!) so I suggested we miss that grade out and have lots of fun until she was ready for Grade 3 in the future. This horrified her - she wants a full set, but I don't particularly want to fork out for every single grade (and she started piano last month too - more expense!)

RaspberryLemonPavlova Sun 27-Nov-11 00:02:08

Well done to all your DCs

One bit of advice I've just remembered (because I am sure it wouldn't be relevant to you, Wafflenose when you asked the original question) is to check your DCs exam syllabus yourself and be certain each part has ben prepared for, even if like myself you are not musical.

I advise this because of DDs violin Grade 2 with Trinity Guildhall last summer. Two weeks before I was going through her scales with her, randomly calling out scales from her book, and asked her about the bowing exercise mentioned in the syllabus printed in the book. She confidently assured me that she didn't have to do that as she wasn't doing the studies. I read it differently and telephoned her teacher who assured me it wasn't part of the exam. Next lesson she said to DD perhaps she should just practice it in case, and a week before the exam said to DD oh by the way you do need to do a bowing exercise too.

No apologies.

This was a County Music teacher I have never been happy with. I would like to stress though, that I have had other County Music teachers that have been absolutely excellent and couldn't fault. DD did get a merit for her exam, changed schools over the summer and therefore teachers, and in fact switched to cello, sighs of relief all round.

ImNotaCelebrity Sun 27-Nov-11 14:29:06

Southern - results took 9 days to come through.

Wafflenose - don't blame you for thinking about skipping some grades. I have the advantage, at the moment, of teaching ds both instruments so have no lessons to pay for, so I don't object to the exam fees. Also, I can leave learning the pieces until the month before an exam as I know exactly how long it will take him to get something right. We don't get the boredom factor, which is great!

Wafflenose Sun 27-Nov-11 15:10:04

Raspberry - great advice. I've inherited no end of pupils who hadn't been taught the correct or complete syllabus, and some of the tales are shocking. I have had kids come to me with a Grade 3 certificate who can't sight read a thing, who don't know any of the note names, and even a couple who hadn't even learned to tongue at this level. One girl was entered for Grade 1 flute and was given the scales to learn from a sheet on the Wednesday before her Saturday exam - I am not exaggerating! Same exam: girl came out and said "I didn't know I had to do clapping and singing, Mummy" as aural had not been covered at all. She passed with 101 marks, then came to me and I found she didn't even know all the grade 1 notes. A year later - Grade 2 merit! It's not that hard to read the syllabus properly! smile

I'mNot - I usually know how long it will take to prepare them for exams, and for some it's longer than others. DD is confounding me though. She learned B, A, G and how to read them (with quavers, crotchets and minims) at her own request at 3.5, played in two concerts then did very little else until March 31st this year, aged 5.5. Suddenly wanted to take it up properly, absolutely INSISTED and was Grade 1 by July. She wanted to do the exam, I said no, she argued and argued with me and I finally said she could do it in the autumn term if she stopped arguing and practised every day. We did the festival for a bit of experience. Now she is virtually Grade 2 and can sight read anything within reason, and although as a teacher I can always point our areas for improvement, she does seem unusually fast compared to the children I teach at a very nice local fee-paying school (they start towards the end of year 1, and the ones that persevere end up taking Grade 1 in Year 3, 4 or 5). I wouldn't let DD pass Grade 1 and immediately start working on Grade 3 - I insist that ALL my pupils play hundreds of other things in between grades, and encourage them to do orchestras etc. So we will continue working at lots of fun music, gradually getting more complicated, but it seems that I do have a monster on my hands!! In the nicest possible way.

ImNotaCelebrity Mon 28-Nov-11 20:03:20

Waffle - she sounds great! What a lovely 'problem' to have.

Wafflenose Mon 28-Nov-11 21:36:36

She is lovely, but very headstrong. Extremely dedicated and determined, but most importantly, she loves it. It's all her choice.

LongAndTheShortOfIt Tue 29-Nov-11 09:05:30

My son is taking his grade 5 piano this afternoon and I am really nervous! Maybe it's the thought of paying out for more expensive lessons if he fails, but I think it's more likely memories of when I failed my grade 5 piano many years ago. I never did resit! Thankfully my son is unaware of my failure!
I hope I can keep things light and positive this afternoon. I don't want him to catch my nerves!
I really need to let go. I've done all I can and it's up to him now. I know this so why am I in such a state?

Wafflenose Tue 29-Nov-11 09:22:27

Good luck to your son!! Is he at school this morning? If he is, hopefully he won't catch your nerves. I'm sure you'll manage to be upbeat and positive for him later. I will be in a similar state this time next week.

LongAndTheShortOfIt Tue 29-Nov-11 10:47:01

Yes, he's at school this morning so hopefully that will take his mind off it. I'm picking him up at lunchtime so he can have a run through before I take him to his exam. Hoping that's the right thing to do!

Good luck to your son. I think it's worse for us than them sometimes!!!

maggiethecat Tue 29-Nov-11 10:57:53

Good luck Longandshort. I am an awful bag of nerves for my dd but I find it helps if I am very organised - music and everything packed ready, know where exam is etc. At her last exam she did not want to use the practice room to do scales or warm up and I insisted that she just ready her bow, do a scale and that was it. She just chatted away until called and I'm happy to let her do that. I realise that very little practice on the day or day before suits her and it probably suits me too bcos if she is not sounding great I don't have to worry about it!

LongAndTheShortOfIt Tue 29-Nov-11 11:52:58

Good advice maggiethecat! Think I will just encourage him to try and relax and just have a quick run through to warm up rather than have a proper practice at this late stage!
Thanks FivehoursSleep for the good wishes!

Yay- my daughters passed their Grade 1 and Grade 3. My 9 year old got 130 and my 8 year old got 127. I am especially pleased for DD2 as she can be very defeatist about piano sometimes, I'm hoping she'll see that she can do it now.

Wafflenose Wed 30-Nov-11 21:49:40

Well done to your clever girls! Those are fantastic marks!!

LongAndTheShortOfIt Thu 01-Dec-11 07:39:49

Well, we got through the exam. I think he did ok. We'll just have to wait and see. He did well with his pieces and scales but his sight reading was a disaster as usual. His teacher asked if he's dyslexic. He struggles reading music but can improvise and play by ear really well. Hoping the theory exam will help with this. Good luck to anyone who's going through exams at the moment!

Wafflenose Thu 01-Dec-11 09:26:11

That sounds promising! I found out a few years ago that half the marks for sight reading are awarded for rhythm, so even if they start with hands in the wrong place or notes are all wrong, they will still get some marks. Lowest mark I've ever seen for someone who had a sensible stab at the sight reading (not one of my pupils though) is about 10/21 - and those ten marks can make the difference between a pass and a fail. So I'm sure it's better than he thinks.

Longandshort
I did my grade 5 last year and absolutely bottled it. mucked up all three pieces, couldn't remember scales and was so choked with trying not to cry I couldn't sing for the aural bit. I did get full marks for the sight reading though and the examiner must have been feeling kind as she somehow found enough marks to let me pass by the skin of my teeth.
So on that basis, I'm sure your son will pass by what you've said.

CURIOUSMIND Thu 01-Dec-11 14:29:32

My Ds1 did Grade 5 piano today. At the waiting room, severl other kids with parents are talking about how nervous they are .One Dad looked so nervous .He even asked another kid: Are you shaking?
What that makes children feel? Just glad my Ds1 was in the exam room at that moment.

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