If you have a DC attending Saturday music conservatoire...?

(26 Posts)
ragtimer Fri 23-May-14 08:44:41

DS is considering applying for junior RCM and RAM. He is now in Year 7 so it would be auditioning in Yr 8 and starting in September of Yr 9. My only concern is that he attends a very academic school during the week where the pace of learning is incredibly fast and he is the responsible perfectionist type. On top of that he feels results are expected from him because he is a scholar. Already I feel he doesn't get enough rest and free time - of course that's largely due to music practice.
All Saturday doing music? Does that mean it will be all Sunday doing homework? No more family time/outings on a Sunday? How do your DC manage?

Hakluyt Fri 23-May-14 08:52:41

My dd's friend did this- he loved the music- but hated having no time for friends. As he got older, he very rarely went out on a Friday night, for example, because he had such an early start on the Saturday. It's a punishing routine-I'm not sure what he would say now at 18 if you asked him whether he would do it again.

Not helpful, I know- but I think you should make sure how incredibly demanding it is......

ragtimer Fri 23-May-14 09:12:12

Thanks I fear that hence my panic. ..

Theas18 Sat 24-May-14 22:29:46

Panic not. Able " busy" children do tend to fit it all in, get the results at school and have friends too!

There are lots of parents on here of committed kids. I've lurked a while. It doesn't seem to be a problem.

Mine have been/are choristers. That means 2-3 after school rehearsals/ services and a service on Sunday ( or even 2 on a bad day). They've also done Saturday morning orchestras etc as well as school stuff, and instrumental lessons... Youngest also doing d of e bronze!

Socially the older 2 have had a social life with regular parties/meeting mates from about year 11 up. DS has nearly put his on hold for A a levels - though he did see his girlfriend Wednesday , did orchestra fri, and is with mates watching footy today...

I can only tell you my experience, but the eldest is almost finished her undergrad degree. She has juggled studies , choral scholarship and a good social life and involvement in uni societies etc, and is so happy. I think she has developed the skills to achieve this through being busy long term.

Hakluyt Sat 24-May-14 23:29:43

I agree about able busy children fitting everything in. But I think conservatoire is different. It usually means travelling- so Saturday is devoted to music from early in the morning til bed time. After school is music lessons and practice- and the competitive pressure at conservatoire is incredible- so they want to practice even more..........

maggiethecat Mon 26-May-14 17:49:37

been thinking of it for dd but I do wonder about the very long day for her and for us as a family, meaning we would only really get time together on sundays. less concerned about the competitive environment - if she wants to be a career musician she will have to get used to that.
hope you won't have to agonise too much over decision.

circular Mon 26-May-14 22:34:57

DD1 16 does a full day Saturday music school with over an hour travel each way, so out from 7:45 till 17:30. Started in yr9' so in 4th year now. Not quite a conservatoire, and not as academic as your DS, but still a heavy schedule. Also has other instrument lessons and ensembles during the week, in and out of school.

She did well at GCSE, struggling now with AS as such a big jump rather than the time factors. Always had difficulty organising, but is at her most focused when busy - the more she has to do, the more she gets done.

Many her age are working part time alongside studies, which would not be possible with this kind of commitment. She socialises a bit, but not a party animal, tries to spread homework out during the week, a big chunk on Sundays but never any on Friday evening.

Absolutely loves it and has become all the more determined to study music since starting.

Good luck to your DS!

ragtimer Tue 27-May-14 10:07:15

Thank you for all answers
Maggie what worries me is to not even have Sunday as he would have to do his homework that day.
It won't really be my decision I guess. If he wants to do it we will have to find the time and of course the money too.

ragtimer I've been following your thread with interest as it's something that might well be in our future. What worries me (and the reason I've not suggested it to DS yet) is not the time taken up on Saturday but how much more extra time in the week would be taken up with practice.

ragtimer Wed 28-May-14 21:59:45

Hi Ishouldbeweaving
Not sure if practice time during the week would increase...? DS already practices quite a lot. But you're right, if that had to increase too then I don't really see it a possibility as school workload increases year after year...

Maybe those with DC in Saturday music schools could tell us if practice time during the week had to increase too. Or maybe it just became more efficient!

colleysmill Thu 29-May-14 08:59:10

Hi op. My dcs are too little for this but I went to our local conservatoire junior school in my youth many moons ago.

I was older than your ds (started at 16 so went for two years during my a level years) and it was entirely my choice to do so (my parents didn't even know I'd even auditioned as initially I just wanted to prove to myself I was good enough to get in)

Practice wise I remember really increasing my practice time although my a level 6th form timetable was flexible to do this and it did help significantly with my music a level (although this is well over 15 years ago!)

I actually wanted to practice more because there was a very competitive element there (but I suspect it's a bit like revising for exams - everyone pretended they didn't practice but secretly did) and naturally everyone wanted to be the best. I guess though because I was older I was able to make that choice and I never resented it. Part of me wishes that I'd gone earlier and I often wonder if I had whether I would have pursued a music career.

Of my year about half went on to study music at undergraduate level and half went into other careers (myself included) I still play now although I am nowhere near the standard I was once sadly.

Soveryupset Thu 29-May-14 09:10:25

Hi, my dd1 has been this year and although she has absolutely loved it I am removing her for next year...she is 9. Here are some of my reasons:
1- family time became very difficult, as she has siblings and long days at school, then homework and practice. We stopped having family days out etc
2- she never had any downtime.
3- one of the teachers was very weak and we didn't manage to get a change of teacher
4 - overall I felt the commitment in time and money wasn't worth it.
I think if your child is 14-15 and wants to go to conservatoire then it's a good introduction.. Otherwise I would say no..

ragtimer Thu 29-May-14 17:31:29

Thank you soveryupset and colleysmill.
I just talked to someone whose son attended a Saturday music school and told his parents he wanted to stop to be able to have some downtime. He is still pursuing music now but less intensively. He felt under a lot of stress time wise.
A real dilemma.

maggiethecat Fri 30-May-14 00:07:46

how bad would it be to start and stop if it didn't work out?

ragtimer Sun 01-Jun-14 14:56:37

maggiethecat:
not bad of course but far from ideal. He would've left both present teachers at school so he'd probably have to start with new ones again and not sure how that would affect scholarship apart from the lack of continuity. Plus DS has this thing: he never quits. If he starts something, he sticks to it like glue. So I can't imagine him stopping. I just imagine us all - including him - struggling, like I said.

maggiethecat Mon 02-Jun-14 00:39:02

especially if his current teachers are good, I can understand the concern.
speak to other parents who attend the Saturday school and see how things are. although each family/circumstances are different there is probably a certain amount of like-mindedness on various levels.

you will know your child and whether the commitment is the right thing.

Soveryupset Mon 02-Jun-14 22:21:23

My dd1 never quits anything, so it has been a battle to pull her out. I feel guilty but sometimes needs must...

3littlewomen Mon 02-Jun-14 22:37:16

Hi, DS1 is taught piano in the top Conservatoire where we live (non-UK). He loves it, and like many of the kids there he is very academic and really thrives on the high standards.

Based on our experience the amount of practise needed is huge - even though he is now on summer holidays he is expected to spend a few hours infront of the piano per day and the pressure before exams is enormous!! The teacher he has is phenomenal, has the experience to know how hard to push him and really has honed his technique to something really beautiful.

Each year the pressure really racks up a notch. He has high pressured internal exams and his current standard is very much that of someone who wants to do this professionally - but actually he wants to study maths and play piano really well as a hobby etc. he is however loving the pressure and has no desire to move to more local training (sadly).

I think for it to work as they get older, the DC has to be so committed and really naturally talented. It is also a huge sacrifice for the family. We have 5 children and this boy is the eldest. We also live 2.5 hours from the academy.

Best of luck with your decision. I have not regretted it for a moment - I have even been known to shed a tear as I sit outside his lesson amazed my dippy, disorganised teenage son is capable of such beautiful music.

ragtimer Tue 03-Jun-14 11:44:46

Soveryupset it sounds like it has been a really hard decision for you and her, brave of you. I can imagine the upset and that's why I am asking all these questions beforehand. Stopping something like this once started is never easy.
3littlewomen thank you your DS sounds very driven, he has what it takes. Mine responds fine to slight pressure but not too much pushing, he has in the past shown signs of stress like nervous tics etc so I have to watch out. I want a happy, mentally healthy boy which is why I want family time, holidays and downtime for him, time when he doesn't have to be working at something or "improving" at something and he can just be.
I am gearing towards not applying yet unless it came out of him with a passion.

momb Tue 03-Jun-14 12:01:56

Based on our experience I'd say let him apply when he wants to. He's in Y7 now but a lot changes between Y7 and 11 and he will become more aware of his own limitations and at some point he may want to cut back to allow more focus on specific interests. It's good to let them choose, I think.
ED is just finishing her second year with County Orchestra. It has involved midweek rehearsal, saturday afternoon rehearsal, performances. Plus she also continued with Saturday morning Music/performing arts and two sets of music lessons every week. Her social life for the last few months has been a date every 2 or three weeks, Guides and Facebook. She starts Y10 in September and has decided to drop the County Orchestra and Sat Morning PA groups, freeing up about 15 hours a week incl practice, to concentrate on her music lessons/school music/GCSE plus she's going to audition for county Theatre group instead, as she coudn't fit Drama GCSE into her options. She's going to be hours better off each week....and she worked this out for herself. It's part of growing up to take that kind of responsibility.

Soveryupset Tue 03-Jun-14 17:45:57

My dd1 never quits anything, so it has been a battle to pull her out. I feel guilty but sometimes needs must...

Soveryupset Wed 04-Jun-14 08:57:04

ragtimer not sure why I posted that twice, it must be my phone playing up!!

Yes it was difficult, also she had made some lovely friends, nice atmosphere and lots of very inspirational professionals. One of the problems I did find, which not many people warned me of or liked to talk about, is that your child may not get on with their main instrument teacher and this can cause a problem. In our case it was sadly more the fact that the teacher was really quite poor and very inexperienced, which I thought was strange in such a setting. It was very hard to change, in fact the change never happened but they blamed my DD1 in the end rather than have a serious look at the teacher in question (typical).

So this really made us look again - some people who had the same teacher had additional tuition in the week for that instrument to compensate, which I thought was absurd!

My DD1 still wanted to stay and was sad to leave but when I looked at the pros and cons and how much it was costing in both time and effort versus what she was getting out of it it wasn't worth it.

For those who say their children do lots of other activities, it isn't the same. My DD1 has always done 4 hours dancing every week, county orchestra, two instruments, etc but going there was an entirely different experience. It isn't the same as adding a few hours of activities, because not only it adds workload in the week but it takes out a whole day at the weekend.

Finally, I know some children who are very good/successful musicians for their age (think grade 7 age 9/10), who have not attended such places and still are doing incredibly well, so it isn't a pre-requisite to doing well as a musician if that's important to you.

Cleebourg Wed 04-Jun-14 20:49:35

Has he shadowed someone at the two JDs to see what it's like? Both are approachable and I'm pretty sure JRCM is actually keen on potential applicants doing that. They'd also be very open to the kind of questions you are asking - apart from the parents of prodigies (maybe even them), these are questions all parents ask.

There isn't a bad decision, just what feels right at the moment. To balance experiences above, I have no regrets over DC attending a JD though I recognise some of the wobbles above, it takes time to settle sometimes, and not everyone enjoys it. But for those who do, it can be amazing and not just because their playing grows: the impact on DC's enjoyment of music was huge, and that was arguably the biggest gain.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 18-Jun-14 12:47:45

We decided against conservatoire for the reasons that dd has good teachers already and taught the teachers who would be teaching at the conservatoire.
You are not really allowed time off so any other musical commitments and concerts would be out of the question, even though travel was only an hour or so.
Its putting all your eggs in one basket and if you have a teacher you don't gel with you are basically stuck with them.
The one we looked at used students/undergrads to cover teaching.
We didn't find this acceptable.
An advantage would be the savings made from several individual tutors we already use.

Cleebourg Wed 18-Jun-14 14:06:21

You have to weigh things up - and maybe even ignore that and go with your gut instinct of what is right for you. If you have doubts, you're probably right to not go that route. A current good teacher is hard to leave and it might be a disaster to do so, agreed.

Morethan, I don't recognise some of the negatives, but we were maybe lucky. I WOULD take slight issue with the 'time off' and total commitment points you make. I expect that's what it says about attendance in the information but the reality might be different (and could be annoying to be honest - a quartet that regularly only had 3 players until peer pressure was brought to bear on the culprit). DC managed to keep up county commitments and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, I wouldn't say completely without grief (mostly mine!), and wasn't the only one by far. JDs are not a prison and in our experience the people who run them are human, dedicated and lovely. But the DC has to be committed, I would never underplay that, and has to learn to practise long and effectively, it's not for the faint-hearted.

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