Battle with teacher over grades needed for Music at Uni(101 Posts)
Posted here on Higher Ed.
I know quite a few music teachers and very knowledgeable parents post here, so would be interested on their views.
Basically, DD1's teacher quite anti grades. Amazing teacher, gets her playing pieces across all time periods, teaching her much around her playing and over and above school musc studies.
She has a task on her hands convincing she needs to have grade 8 before UCAS/CUKAS applications in just over a year. Being told not necessary, just need the playing standard.
Looking at your other post, then you seem to be saying that she will narrow down the range of possible courses because grade 8 performance is a requirement at some (though not all).
You have to show the teacher this, in writing, from reputable sources. If she won't budge - find another teacher.
Also, has DD passed grade 5 theory or higher? If not, that's the urgent task.
BTW, the teacher is right that playing standard will be more important. The snag is that if you need to pieces of paper to get into the frame for consideration, then you're stuck. Unless she actually has any proven routes for those without grades - does she?
Yes, has G5 Theory distinction. Not sure of her plans for more theory grades.
Get the feeling that if we produce a list of several institutions that require G8 on application, he will show us just as many that do not - but we really don't want to lose options early on if it vp can be avoided.
The careers person at (hopefully) new 6th form is quite knowledgeable on music applications, both UKAS/CUKAS too, but expect will be busy with yr13s next term.
Changing music schools not an option for next year as auditions in April. Toyed with the idea of entering her independently (did for theory) or via piano teacher, but doubt music school would be best pleased.
If she is capable of preparing her pieces herself, or if her teacher will do it competently (even if with bad grace), an independent entry is probably the way to go.
You don't need theory beyond grade 5 to be eligible to enter grade 8, so that's one fewer thing to grapple with.
Should have said, Music school favour Trinity for her instrument, so took G6 (distinction) before G5 theory result.
It also looks like some Unis (Kings London) favour ABRSM, so may have a double battle.
Not sure what you meant about proven routes without grades?
I think there is one Conservatoire that the music school reference would be highly regarded for -according to teachers experience.
I based it on what one friend told me - the DC is highly talented and has been taught by a professional musician rather than a music teacher. They've never done grades. Once at audition, the DC shines, and has won orchestra places and a competitive financial award. The teacher knew how to portray this DC's talents so that the audition was forthcoming, even without the easy marker of 'grade X at age Y'. I was assuming that, in a world where a lot of people know each other, there would be ways and means. But I have no idea if there is such flexibility when it comes to stated UCAS requirements.
Yes, I think that is where her teacher is coming from to some extent.
It the institutions they have connections with may not be where she wants to go.
Its exactly the UCAS route requirements we are worried about, as they look quite rigid.
Shame to cut out options when it could be avoided with a bit of forward planning.
curcular Honestly, a Uni that says it prefers ABRSM for her instrument isn't worth considering. The places that have any sort of track record prefer trinity guildhall because until very recently trinity guildhall was the only show in town so the real specialists all did trinity guildhall themselves.
circular where is she thinking of applying? You do know that options are limited anyway because not everywhere accepts it as first study?
Russians - Yes, knew that but very difficult to get that info from websites. Is there any easy wayto find out, or is it just a case of calling admissions? As far as I now only 4 of the Conservatoires accept it.
She likes the look of the 4yr course at Leeds with year abroad, which does require G8 on application. Unless possible to switch from the 3yr course that doesn't.
Also likes the look of Kings London, but not sure how achievable AAA would be at the early stage.
Much will also depend on whether she can tear herself away from home lol
She doesn't need Grade 8 for uni applications just to be playing at that standard.
Some conservatories will accept Grade 8 practical and theory in lieu of an a level for those who aren't very academic and haven't got enough Ucas points from their a levels.
For most courses she will have to audition and they will go entirely in her performance on the day.
What is her instrument circular? Dh is conservatoire trained and a teacher.
Leeds college if music state candidates have to dem
Have to demo strate RHROUGH AUDITION that they are ABRSM grade 7 standard or equivalent for their classical/jazz degree course.
Have to demo strate RHROUGH AUDITION that they are ABRSM grade 7 standard or equivalent for their classical/jazz degree course.
We heard the complete opposite and both Chets, RNCM have said they prefer ABRSM.
A trinity grade 8 used to be considered as equiv to ABRSM grade 5
I think they make it up to suit tbh.
The 4 yr Bmus with yr abroad at Leeds says G8 distinction needed. think that is at time of application.
Trinity used to be seen as the poor relation but in recent years they have upped their game and are now highly regarded in terms of grades.
Hmm I'm going back a few years here (erm, lots actually) but when I was still in practice ( three G8s) then noone did Trinity as it was seen as the 'easy option'
Same here notwilliam - but things have changed.
Very unusual criteria - wonder how they desk with international applicants - but it also says further up that applicants with non standard qualifications may be interviewed.
Seems very short sighted to me. They could be missing out on some amazing talent.
morethan But you don't know what I'm talking about. So perhaps better not to make wild posts about something you don't know about.
Pictures For circular's DD's instrument, ABRSM is the poor relation.
Recorder? An early music instrument?
Dh swooped over to Trinity for singing as he felt the rep list was far more appropriate especially for older beginners and those wanting to ding other styles. Also the viva tests.
Or classical guitar?
pictures notwilliam Going back a few years, not that many, even, ABRSM didn't offer exams in Circular's DD's first study instrument. They are still running to catch up now, really.
Russians - sorry I was sort of thinking aloud onto the keyboard, was not intended to sound as if I was minimising your Dd's skills!
Anyway, I hope things work out for her ok.
Sorry sorry I do know that it is circular's Dd!
From what I've seen so far, Kings college London prefer ABRSM as fits in with their teaching?
TG G6 was a huge jump from ABRSM G5 for her.
Russians Do you know the best way to find out which courses allow it for first study?
Some instruments were only offered in the higher grades too
ABRSM got a bit stuck in a time warp at one point and trinity really came to the fore.
There were some wonderful instrumentalists at she's conservatoire who hadn't done traditional grades
At dh's conservatoire. Sorry am on phone at work
They were lots of less usual instruments too.
Circular We are a year behind you so not done a huge amount of research but pretty plugged in anyway because of who teaches DD and NYRO and other people we know etc.
First study conservatoires for sure - RCM, Guildhall, Wales, Birmingham.
Universities - no idea other than Warwick. And joint degrees with the RCM (and possibly guiildhall) from other London unis. But need to look into that - but since she is only 15...and she does have other potential first studies, too...
Birmingham Uni (shares some instrumental teachers with Birmingham Cobservatoire)?
pictures I guess so. Although I suppose not necessarily. The same might also be true of Cardiff Uni.
Some I'd the tutors used to be the same at Birmingham. Not all of course. And I guess a lot has changed since dh's day.
What about York?
There is a lot of mis-information here. First of all, without wishing to sound harsh, you jolly well should be post-Grade 8 standard ... whether you've done the exam or not ... if you are thinking of music at university. Secondly, ABRSM and Trinity exams are considered equal ... some people will prefer one, some the other. As for a Trinity G8 being equal to ABRSM G5, astonishing, seen as both Grade 8 lists have several of the same pieces and in terms of UCAS points (which are only accepted by lower ranking universities anyway) they are identical. Grade 8 theory, as picturesinthefirelight suggested, is not a soft option for those who can't cope with A levels. It is infinitely harder than A level music. Liverpool, for example, accepts G7 theory instead of A level and most of the best unis accept G8 theory instead of A level, while others recommend taking it alongside. Finally, getting a university offer is going to be a lot easier if you have a qualification on paper, rather than saying "I'm Grade 8 standard". Few universities interview and I suspect some will simply make an offer to the person with the qualifications rather than going through the interview/audition procedure. Good luck to circular's daughter though ... personally, I'd shove her through the exam and be done with it.
Circular - whilst of course your DD's teacher is correct that it's the standard and not the qualification which counts, Gr 8 distinction is a useful shorthand for busy admissions tutors which means "ready for advanced study". The danger is that without it, your DD could get overlooked on a busy day with not enough time to look through the applications (unless there's a policy of auditioning everyone, which may be the case for conservatoires but not unis I think?).
Can you explain to the teacher that whilst it may not be strictly necessary for everywhere, you'd like your DD to keep her options open, and to adopt a "belt and braces" approach by having the actual qualification.
Have they gone as far as to say exactly WHY they think it's a bad idea to take Grade 8 in March of Y12? Is it just that they feel she'd get a higher mark by waiting?
Also meant to say, that saying "you don't need the actual exam at Grade 8 to study music at university" is a bit like saying "you don't need to go to music college/uni in order to pursue music as a career".
One the one hand it's perfectly, unequivocably true, and there are lots of examples to prove it. On the other - well why make it harder for yourself by going down the "non-traditional" route if there's no good reason!
It's not non traditional to not have the grade certificate in music, if you are going to a conservatoire. Many of the conservatoire saturday schools, for example (junior exhibitioners they used to be called) not only didn't put their kids through the exams they forbade them from doing the exams. In those days all conservatoires auditioned. I think they still do.
The big difference from 30+ years ago is that now a university (other than Oxbridge which was always OK) is seen as a valid place to go to do music even if you are not looking for an academic career. This wasn't the case back in the day. It is now. That is what has driven the change. But you can't categorise the new way of dealing with mass applications by demading proof of hoops already jumped through and trusting somebody else's judgement (the grade examiner) over your own (the prospective tutor) as the traditional way. Because it just isn't.
That having said I think many universities do still audition.
I didn't say it was a soft option music wise. But a gifted musician such as my dh who flew through grade 8 theory and beyond (do they still do keighly harmony) but who struggled in subjects such as English. & maths could use it in lieu.
Conservatories go hugely on audition. It may have changed now but the academic requirements used to be grade 8 distinction standard (demonstrated at audition) and 2 e grades at a level.
He has also very recently taught students who have gone on to places such as the royal academy & guildhall who have not taken grade exams as they wernt encouraged through the music service he used to work for. Because of financial reasons.
pictures Exactly. It costs a fortune to do those exams.
My dd is only 9 but all the conservatoires and several unis have said that my dd who is H.ed and may not take academic/formal quals would be given the same options as everybody else when it came down to it.
If you are a good enough musician who is obviously going to make it your career, its surprising what they will waiver.
They weren't suggesting that you would get in without ucas points but that they would accept them from many other forms than a traditional route.
I was going to say everything that Moomin said...
circulars dd come to brum! the conservatoire is the place :-)
dd2 Sat group is run by a graduate from there, and some of the current undergrads have done concerts locally. they are v good.
Moomin So are you saying that a yr11 who is not quite G8 standard yet doesn't have a hope of getting in to a decent music course?
I understand for the Cinservatoires she would be competing against others that were at the standard before DD even started lessons.
But honestly thought that the Uni courses, even those heavily performance based, were not like that if you had reasonable A levels too.
Infersting what you say about the G8 theory vs A level, heard the same for G5 theory vs GCSE, but DD found the theory far easier.
Thea18 Have been told that elsewhere, will PM you
Brum is very good. Both Dd1s teachers are from there. But, there are other good places too. Several NYRO people at the RCM event the other week. And one of the new tutors there is a member of athe Royal Wind Music.
My comment about Trinity v ABRSM was mentioned to make the point that at one time this is how it was considered. I know because a girl fell foul at audition I attended. Of course they are now equal, there was also the same problem with Victoria. This point was made because somebody else had said that Trinity was considered the better. It is subject to what suits your needs best imo. I also know that Rockschool is just as well recognised.
I will agree about the mis information though. Another one is that you need gr5 theory to progress to gr6 with ABRSM, I know of 2 alternatives and if you contact them they say they do take other alternatives.
Trinity is considered the better for Circular's DDs instrument. That is a fact. ABRSM has years of looking down its nose at the instrument to stone for.
What is the mystery instrument?
It's not a mystery instrument! I expect most people know and in fact it's quite obvs from the thread but it's not for me to give out information about circular's DD. I'm sure she will be along soon.
Snork! I guess those of us who do know have been careful not to mention as circular hasn't done so.
Sorry, no real mystery - recorders, all sizes including crumhorns lol
Aiming for grade 5 piano too, also plays violin, no grades taken, but plays in ensemble where everyone else g5/6, and school orchestra.
theas It's not like if they searched on our names they wouldn't find out easily enough is it!
Should have added, no intention of doing a 2nd study instrument at Uni, but would be nice if good enough for ensemble.
Circular you don't have to give house room to crumhorns do you? If so you have my sympathies.
They are of the devil.
It's OK -DH is an electrical guitarist, so there's always the volume control
Just be checking out TG entry details, and they need school / teacher info. So an independent entry won't be possible, unless she does ABRSM.
What a pain! is her academic school not an examination centre? Ours is ( as is DH school and they'd take externals onto their list as you have to have so many people to get an examiner into school) so maybe you could piggyback somewhere>?
That's only so it can be addressed correctly entered on the certificate.
Ive entered Trinity drama candidates and the certificate reads x of y school has passed etc.
I'm sure you can enter Trinity yourself ... Have done so for my children. .ring them up they are very helpful. Crumhorns are great!
They are of the devil. I'm just sayin'. Of. The. Devil.
you don't like crumhorns do you russians lol.
at least it's not shawms. note there is an out for instrument that needs a large battlefield !
Thea Changing school for sixth form. First choice is an ABRSM centre, other boards at discretion of instrument centre.
Would have a problem getting accompanist if we had to commute to main centre, even if we could do independent entry for TG.
DD happy for me to speak to Music school, so will try.
She thinks they want her to be able to sight read Gr8 pieces before they will let her enter - sounds a bit much.
instrument teacher, not centre - but doesn't help as she won't be doing recorders at school.
circular I don't actually think that is a bit much, to be honest...
Russians I'm surprised as sight reading in the exams seems to be two grades lower, so thought being able to sight read a grade lower would be enough to take the exam. She generally does very well on her pieces, full marks have been known.
The last exam she took was Grade 6, yes? There is a massive increase in standard. But it's not just that. It's about the difference between being able to play and being drilled in pieces.
I think you (well, your Dd really) needs to at least consider the possibility that the teacher is right and she isn't ready yet, just purely because she hasn't had enough time.
You're absolutely right - she isn't ready yet.
But she wants to work on being ready for March which is 8 months away.
And she can't start working why? I just don't understand really what the problem is at this stage. The teacher doesn't think she's ready - so she proves the teacher wrong. It sounds like she doesn't have a plan B and perhaps she should have one (my Dd1 has plans B and C because you've always got to have a plan B, as a minimum - she's got no intention of ever following them but just having them removes one slight potential stress) but at the end of the day, your DD hasn't started 6th form yet. So she has time. But I really do think you are losing sight of the forest for the trees. It's not about the exam. It's about developing as a player. And if she does that, the exam will follow. It will.
The problem is that her teacher is anti-grades, and thinks she should be looking more at the types of courses that don't need them on paper.
Of course she can start working towards the grade - she has - but she needs the teacher on side.
She does have a plan B, which would be to go for the same goal by a longer / different route.
Her plan C is a totally different career, which is completely impractical for her.
Well, if I recall correctly, for a DipABRSM you have to sight-read a Grade 6 piece so while it is unrealistic to expect her to have three Grade 8 pieces to perfection on first reading, she should be able to bash her way through them. I'd really get on with learning the G8 pieces and worry about it nearer the time. If she turns up in September pretty well able to play her pieces, her teacher won't have many legs to stand on. Having had DSs who have done things the unconventional way, through indecision, it's much easier to follow the well-trodden path ... and that means taking the exam. My younger DS was a fantastic organist at 12 ... playing Grade 8 pieces, improvising. Never did an exam, dropped it totally at 14. Now he's 19 and no-one believes he can/could play whereas if he'd done the exam ...
Moomin - yes, I was thinking make a good fist, not perfection!
This was about 20 years ago but I needed to have Grade 8 in my first instrument, Grade 6 in my second and Grade 5 theory. This was for a Music course at Uni. Things might have changed.
Russians / Moomin DD is convinced the sight reading is 2 grades below, and is confident she can manage grade 6 near perfect. Scales are her weakest, but teachers insisted she stick with them rather than go for the study last time.
Puffin We've not (yet) come across any entry reqirements that ask for a second instrument, other than Grade 5 piano or keyboards when not first study. Maybe if planning a second study it needs to be at least grade 6?
circular DD1 has two teachers. Both teach at conservatories. They reckon you should be able to sight read (make a fair fist of) grade 8 pieces to be grade 8 standard. They are very not exam focussed, both believing it's much more about repertoire building at an appropriate level (actually, all the way through after grade 4). This view is the same as the one i encountered when i was a student, and i know it's also espoused by my teacher friends around the country. I know you disagree. I can only speak from my own experience.
Not wanting to out myself, but I really do know what I'm talking about on this one, and for most university courses these days (not including conservatoires and specialist performance programmes), there are no interviews and no auditions; it's all down to your on-paper qualifications and predicted grades. That means for competitive and popular places you really do need grade 8 if they say grade 8 required
and your DDs teacher is an idiot who is going to cost her if you don't stand your ground .
As for Trinity/ABRSM - for heaven's sake, email (NOT phone) the department admissions tutor. They will be able to tell you whether or not they care one way or another.
Pirate I think Circular's DD does want to do a performance programme though.
Russians I really don't disagree with you and value your advice.
My DD needs to build her repertoire AND get the piece of paper to keep as many options open as possible. By not getting the grade before UCAS she will be closing doors, and that's what we need to convince the teacher.
Also, knowing her as I do, she works better and is more focused when she has something clear to work towards.
Russians, at least one of the places she's mentioned she's especially interested in neither interviews nor auditions. I actually agree with her teacher that grades aren't everything, it's the standard that counts....but not when it comes to jumping through the hoops of university entrance. It's so competitive now that if the institution say something is "required", it's required.
pirate I'm not disputing that I personally think, if it was me, I'd be guided by my teacher if I thout the teacher knew what they were talking about, and I'd limit my applications to the places that do audition or are prepared to accept teacher's evaluation. If I thought the teacher didn't know what they were talking about I'd change teacher - close to London there are many options - and I'd work damn hard to get the piece of paper. I don't see what other options there are, really. I'm sure that circulars DD will be able to achieve the required standard, in terms of passing the exam. She just needs to make sure she does the repertoire building as well because some of the places she is interested in do audition.
Russians 'I"ve said previously, teacher is amazing, no issue with them knowing what they are talking about with regards to DDs playing and musical ability. Just that they are not clued up on Uni entry requirements.
And they don't know her as well from a personal point of view, and at the moment she feels the Conservatoire environment full time isn't for her. She feels it would be too insular. Would prefer a Uni environment with instrument lessons at a Conservatoire.
Many of the kids at her music school go on to Conservatoires, more to Uni for non-music , not many to read music at Uni. But apart from the grade issue she is happy there, and they are happy with her.
Sounds like your DD is doing all the right things in preparing the pieces over the summer and working towards Grade 8, regardless of what her teacher thinks. She should also start working on the scales if that's her weak point.
Do you think they would actually refuse to enter her if you set it out plainly in the terms you have here, i.e. "DD really wants to keep her options open WRT Uni as well as Conservatoire, and many have a requirement of Grade 8 actually achieved. She's prepared X and Y over the summer and would really like to be entered for it in March, before her exams get in the way". Alternatively, if she's well-prepared in advance, doing it in June might not be the end of the world? Is she going on a summer school this summer?
Worst case scenario you could always enter her for ABRSM - I know TG is better for her instrument, but at least you can enter ABRSM yourself, assuming you can organise an accompanist.
I do think you need to
argue discuss firmly with the music school though.
Bramshot The first bit is pretty much what I want to out to them before the summer. She was hoping for some input on choice of pieces to prepare - there the difficulty lies.
March still preferred, with June convince for retake.
Hoping prepared piece(s) can also be used for AS.
Convince should have read contingency - bloody autocorrect
Do think about a summer school - might do her good to get some more external input? Not sure where you're based, but the courses at Woodhouse in Surrey are very good.
Thanks - Had looked at those, she's not 16 yet, and think they clash with family holiday.
Junior course a possibility. Did an NYTO day this year also, but couldn't audition for summer as that clashed with holiday too.
Also gets plenty of input from an ensemble she plays with at another music school, and volunteers there during term time.
Meant to speak to HOD at music school on last day of term, but she left early so never got the chance.
DD plans to learn at least all the G7 scales over the summer, perfect a G8 piece she had already been working, and possibly choose a second piece to start. That's on top of all the non grade related pieces her teacher has asked her to do. And familiarising with AS set works.
So plan is to tackle teachers in September once she has shown them how hard she has worked through the summer.
Still hoping to take G8 in March....
This is a bit similar to one of my DSs needing two Grade 5s for secondary school applications. Teachers were anti as he was only 9 but I entered him for singing, vln teacher did her bit and he got them. In retrospect, it's no big deal but if unis say Grade 8 for applics, I would jolly well do it because if you don't there'll be plenty of others who will have done it. That said, music at university isn't super-competitive ... just look at the UCAS website so see where places are still available. Not totally top tier, but plenty of choice. Best conservatoires a different kettle of fish.
Have you got this resolved yet, circular?
Russians Not yet, need to wait till music school starts again.
Reasonably confident on her pieces now, yet to learn the new scales.
DD not keen on entering independently though, as would prefer music school name on certificate.
What is says on the certificate really doesn't matter ... she just needs it!
I think she's just worried that she might get asked awkward questions when her music school is mentioned on her personal statement, and the certificate doesn't match.
Yes she just needs it - but it would make life easier to do it with music school on side.
Just a quick update with DD having spoken to her teacher and we met with HOF.
Neither over the moon about her wanting to take the grade, BUT if it's essential for the Unis she intends to apply to, then it will be allowed. They don't like it, because they feel grades just disrupt what they are generally teaching, rather than it being her not up to standard.
Not exactly sure how that will work, as will have best idea of her intentions after AS results. Best time for her to take grade 8 would be March, before AS revision kicks in. They did suggest July after exams, saying 2 or 3 weeks preparation would be plenty.
Meanwhile, busy trying to decide on AS pieces.
Good luck mini circulair! Agree plenty of time in the summer post AS tbh. Also AS practical significantly before written exams.
Have fun choosing AS pieces.dS made eldest come home from uni to duet with him for the ensemble piece . He got the highest marks in school by a country mile for practical despite some remarks that he interpreted as snide "dissing my instrument" immediately after, so it is perfectly possible to wow them! Mind you I do think the AS/A2 examiners have a big challenge assessing everything from rap to sitar to our instruments !
Thanks Theas18, only just came back to this thread.
Congrats to your DS for his AS performances. IIRC correctly he is doing OCR which is outside examiners, so a bit different. How is he finding A2?
Great when the dissed instrument can get the highest marks. DD1 felt the same as got highest in school for GCSE music.
For DD1s (Edexcel) AS, the school want pieces prepared before Xmas for a mock, and if good enough, the recording can be used for the real thing.
No ensemble, just 6 minute recital, so she will do 2 contrasting pieces. has 2 G6 pieces in reserve. As only one extra mark up for grabs between G6 and G7 standard, school suggest they all do G6.
Her instrument teacher wants her to work through most of the G7 repertoire, which she is currently doing, so if there is anything they find suitable in the next few weeks, she will play those.
she had already chosen G8 pieces, but the teacher doesn't like one of them for her, so may change. but plenty of time for that.
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