Am I being too laid back?(8 Posts)
My DD1 is 11, year 6 , and will sit her grade 5 piano this year, along with grade 3 double bass and grade 4 theory.
Our teacher is very old fashioned, quite strict, very keen on good hand and finger positions, has them working through the Hanons etc and has a list of nice,popular 'in between' pieces she likes them to learn before they move on to the next grade. We have been pretty happy with her although she only teaches up to grade 5 and DD1 will have to go somewhere else after her next exam if she wants to continue taking grades- she might not, and that's fine with us.
DD had a friend around this weekend who is the same year and has just sat( and passed) her grade 5 piano, after doing grade 3 last year. She is booked in to sit Grade 6 in June and her mother wants her to do her Grade 7 and Grade 8 by this time next year. She's just passed her Grade 5 theory as well.
Thats quite a quick progression isn't it? She played for us and she was good, but there wasn't much feeling to her pieces, iykwim. She doesn't get to play any other pieces that aren't exam pieces. Am I wrong in thinking that some in between pieces are quite desirable or should I be pushing my daughter to sit her exams more rapidly as well?
I guess some teachers are pushier than others too?
I'd say you're doing it perfectly. Pushing to do exams just sucks the joy out of playing, it's not just about numbers after all.
I think people can lose track of what music is actually about. Perhaps the parents of your dd's friend are aiming for some kind of scholarship or have some other plan in mind for which grade 8 at 12 would be pivotal. I presume it will be something to do with a school application and the need to prove a certain level of attainment.
My personal opinion is that music is an expression of beauty (for the most part) and so this needs to be conveyed. Technical brilliance is impressive to see but you need emotional expression as well and it has to sound like music, otherwise what really is the point in doing it?
I know a little girl who is 10 I think and very good. She plays mechanically IMO but with skill. She was pushed from the age of 3 and has acquired good proficiency. When she plays, she is very concentrated and therefore looks very serious. You cannot see (or hear) any joy in the playing. However, I expect that for now she is concentrating very hard on mastering the mechanics of it and perhaps with maturity, she will start to develop a feeling for the music itself so she looks and sounds like someone who enjoys music. Atm there is no expression and no interpretation, it is a bit like a gymnastics performance on the violin IYSWIM. Nevertheless it is an impressive achievement in one so young. I feel she started too young and was pushed too hard.
Unfortunately standards are so high and competition so fierce in classical music that a dc who is going to become a solo performer will have to go down that track I expect.
My DD's friend has already got a place in a selective independant for Year 7, which isn't dependent on her musical ability, so I don't think it's to do with school places.
I don't think her parents want her to go down the musical route career wise either, but her mum is quite Tiger mumish and does like her to be the best at everything, so I think it's coming from the mother to quite a degree.
yes, I am sure it comes from the parents. You get this in all areas - schoolwork, music, sport. I suppose it is just motivated by love in the end and wanting the best for your dc, wanting to see a lot of measurable progress. It seems to me misguided with music where perhaps it makes more sense to have this attitude with sport. This is a danger with reading schemes, grades, certificates, exams and so on, you get one and then feel the need to get them all quickly, so the list is ticked. Then on to the next list.
I doubt that if your friend's DD just passed her G5 she will do G8 this time next year. As you go up the grades ladder, the jumps between them get higher and higher. I much prefer your teacher's approach..
I think your friend is in for a bit of shock. The average progression is a grade a year, an exceptional student may manage to skip a grade a year. Not only do the grades get more difficult in larger increments, the marking criteria and expectations also change - what is acceptable at grade 5 just isn't at grade 6.
I also think it's sad as this child will end up by being able to play 3 pieces at each level but not have explored the vast repertoire that's available. I seriously doubt that she will be a true grade 8 pianist, just one who can play 3 pieces at grade 8 level. And what is the point? I feel it's all about the parent and not about the child.
And I think the teacher is misguided too - grades are not a curriculum. Too many children are pushed through the grade treadmill and not allowed to experience proper musiciality - they play like robots and don't provide a musical experience to their audience.
I am surprised that a teacher would allow this to happen. Most teachers I know would never do this and wouldn't be forced into this position either.
As for progression, it depends on the child really. My DD took nearly a year to grade 1 but did all the grade 2 curriculum in 2 months - and that's not just the 3 pieces, that's a whole separate book plus all the grade 2 book and all the scales, arpeggios, etc, plus she is in 2 orchestras.
I also find it odd that the girls' mum would predict her daughter's progress - surely it is up to the teacher to say when a child is ready for the next exam and surely children progress at different rates throughout? For example although my DD1 did her grade 2 in 2 months I fully expect she could take up to a year to take grade 3. Wouldn't like to set a schedule - as others' said, that's not what music is about...
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