Music degree at Uni - how necessary Grade 8 before UCAS?

(36 Posts)
circular Sun 07-Jul-13 08:38:11

Bit early, as DD1 only just completed GCSEs, and sorted out 6th form, results dependant. Aware UCAS / CUKAS over a year away, but need to work out whether the grade issue is going to cause problems, while there is still time to address it.
(last posted on this board re A level choices - thanks everyone for help on that).

DD1 is Looking for a course with a yr abroad, heavier on the performance side, more likely to prefers a University to Conservatoire, but expects to go through both application processes.

She's a late starter, no proper lessons till age 10, decided age 12 that she wanted a music career.
First study instrument at Saturday music school. Second instrument at school (G5 standard, no grades taken). Piano more recently, has G3 hoping to take G5 next year.

Music school won't let her take G8 in December as think it will be too much for her starting AS at a new school. Agree there, March would be better, especially with no January AS modules now.
But teacher also saying they would prefer her not to do it all in yr12 - wait till yr13 if at all, but that may well be too late.
Instrumement teacher amazing but anti-grades. Music school like them to be way above standard before taking, had long fight to allow G6 last year, only grade taken through them in the 3 years she has been there.

Saying actual grade not important for Uni applications, although some requirements clearly state G8 distinction needed. Say for certain institutions, their recommendation, and playing to the standard will be good enough. If it isn't, they recommend she should consider taking a gap year or studying abroad - neither of which she wants to do.

Not a straight A student, but taking facilitating subjects, so hoping for RG or mid-range. Also wont be taking any essay based A level subjects, so hoping thats not a disadvantage. RG guide mentions it for music, but not seen anything in entry requirements.

Getting the impresson that she will narrow down choices by not having G8 when applying, and will be up against most applicants that do.

So do we try and convince teacher otherwise on this, possibly involve head of department?
Or roll over and accept that more courses will be unattainable?
Also find that DDs playing and attitude greatly improve when she has the challenge of working towards something - grade, performances, important audition.

titchy Sun 07-Jul-13 10:42:38

Would June next year be a compromise? I'm certain the music school knows what they're doing exams-wise and probably conservatoire-entry wise too, but doubt they have sufficient expertise in the nuances of university applications! No particular experience in music degree requirements though...

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 11:04:29

We were hoping for March next year because of AS exams.

There's a lot to be said for getting the grades out of the way by 12 or 13, but you can't turn the clock back. I was the one that never wanted her to start early (issues at school at the time), she did a lot on her own, and has done well to be at the stage she is at now.

Theas18 Sun 07-Jul-13 11:19:44

Hmm .if she does grade 8 Easter of AS year shell have the result for UCAS in the autumn won't she?

If the teacher is anti grades can she include a reference as part if the school reference? My kids do very few 1st instrument grades and for courses etc we've sent a teachers reference.

You sat she's taking " facilitating but not essay based subjects" I assume she's taking music though ?

Definitely take adv from school, or prefably your dd to check directly with the university about requirements- music school is unlikely to on top of how things work.

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 12:11:49

Even July would have result in time, but prefers March, before AS revision starts properly.

Definitely Music & Maths A levels.
Down for French & Physics - subject to results.(saying GCSE for both papers went far worse than expected, although would have to be seriously bad for her respective A/A* predictions to go below the B required for 1st choice school). If she does have to switch, Chemistry and Biology most likely.

merlincat Sun 07-Jul-13 16:58:42

There is a large hike between Gr 7 and 8 - I hope her music school prepare her properly for it. Music A level is so, so demanding; Dd's classmates went down like flies last year (AS level) there is now only one pupil left studying it. Does she have the option to do Music Tech at A level? Lots of RG places like it. Dd is in the same boat as yours btw, nightmare isn't it?

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 17:40:14

Merlincat - no plans to take grade 7, but already done some grade 8 pieces. Guess she is nearly grade 8 standard now, although wont have learnt the scales yet.
She's not really interested in music tech, prefers performance, classical and baroque. Although did her GCSE compositions on tech as found it easier (little imagination), but Goid at the theory behind it. Composition could be her downfall at A level if she has to use imagination.

So is your DD yr11 taking AS early, or yr12 soon to apply to Uni?

titchy Sun 07-Jul-13 17:54:24

Just a thought - I guess the music school wants to preserve its 'all students we enter get distinction' type status, so suggest you enter her for the exam rather than them?

merlincat Sun 07-Jul-13 18:31:21

She's just done AS; Music, Music Tech and German. She also took up the piano late (12) and took Grade 7 this year, Grade 8 in Feb '14. She wanted to try for the conservatoires but fears she may be up against players who have been playing before they could walk. A lot of the RG unis we've visited want grade 8 but not all, they may be impressed by the two instruments at Grade 6? Dd is doing the Chetham Piano Summer School in August to fast-track her playing before the next grade exam. Could your Dd take a composition course? It's a big ask to do the 8 minute composition for A level but lots of practice is key.

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 18:52:40

Merlincat So your DD has gone from starting piano to grade 7 in 5 years - that's pretty impressive. Or is it grade 7 on 1st instrument?
So she will have grade 7 when applying and grade 6 on two other instruments, or have I read it wrong?

At the moment DD is keener on Uni than Conservatoire, but that could change. suspect she will apply for both.

merlincat Sun 07-Jul-13 19:04:13

God no, she's not that good! She only plays piano and has done those grades 1-7 in five years. She practices 3 to 4 hours a day on boring stuff like scales, so much so that she's given herself an RSI; something to watch out for btw. The Conservatoires just seem too daunting, I wouldn't want her to be one of the weaker players there - post-grad maybe but not yet.

Which unis are you looking at?

StrangeGlue Sun 07-Jul-13 19:14:31

It's really tough getting in to do music as you're up against a lot of competition. If a uni says they need g8 they mean it. The first soft is done by admin people checking against a list, if the list says g8 and its not on her form she won't get through the first hurdle. You are paying the music school so if you and she want her to sit g8 they should allow her or you should enter her yourself. You don't need the music school to give permission.

StrangeGlue Sun 07-Jul-13 19:14:52

Soft = sift

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 20:00:17

Merlincat Your DD sounds very determined, good luck!

Only just started looking at requirements, not even sure what level Uni she is aiming at until GCSE results. Has her heart set on a year in France, likes the 4 year course at Leeds, but they want G8 dustinction before applying?

Does your DD know where she will be applying to? Guess you are doing the open day rounds currently?

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 20:05:51

Strangeglue Yes, aware very competitive. Pretty much expected grade requirements would stand.
That's why trying to do her homework early to make sure not at a disadvantage if at all possible

Xenia Sun 07-Jul-13 20:38:23

Even mine who have not read music at university had 2 grade 8s or 3 or 4 in one case and grades 6 and 7 because you obtain UCAS points for grades 6 and 7 and 8 so you might as well do those in between if you have time. I am not saying that you have to have that many. I did grade 8 theory as well around that age. 3 of our children won music scholarships.

Mind you I have never had to check what they need if they do music as a career as none have so far planned that. She might if she also sings want to try for a choral scholarship at a Durham or Oxbridge college too.

No one can stop her taking grades earlier. You could enter her yourself if that would not ruin the relationship with the music school.

Actually I thin you want a more performance related course - this link seems to make no reference to grade 8s but that may be because it is a theoretical course. [[ http://www.music.ox.ac.uk/admissions/admissions_main.html]]

I did a lot of music at university although did not read it and most of those who I knew from the music faculty did have a couple of grade 8s to a high standard.

She could try the grade 8 and even if fails it can then sit it again.

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 21:48:10

Thanks Xenia useful link. and info.
Somehow never seen DD1 as Oxbridge material, maybe a slim chance if she improves greatly at AS. She only has B grade English Language and A grade Maths at GCSE, predictions for remaining are 1A* ( not music, and she thinks she's missed it), 4A and 2B. Seen as a highish achiever at an average comp where they consider B grades to be good. Changing schools for A levels.

Noticed on the Q&A for Oxford someone had asked the G8 question, but answer said not necessary to do any performance - so reading between the lines, seems would be necessary for performance modules.

Have discussed the option of her entering G8 either through me or through piano teacher (who used to be her first study teacher, before music school) but she thinks music school will have issues with it.

She only sings opinion school choirs, sings in tune, understands harmonies well, but doesn't have an amazing voice. Watch this space for DD2, 6 school years behind her lol.

Theas18 Sun 07-Jul-13 22:11:23

circular if you ever want info re choral scholarships compatible with university courses let me know. It's an illusion that it's just Oxbridge/Durham that do them DD1 has one at Nottingham that she adores ( she's not reading music) and DS is looking to match his course choices with singing ( and bursary) opportunities as her experience as been so good (they are touring to Umbria 1st week august for instance). Bit more difficult with his choice of course but not impossible.

merlincat Sun 07-Jul-13 22:28:25

We are indeed. She won't consider anywhere north of Watford unfortunately so we've looked at Trinity (an outside chance but her teacher thinks it's worth a shot), Surrey, Goldsmiths, City and Brunel. Surrey and Royal Holloway have amazing music departments but the wrong vibe for Dd; she might not get AAB which they both require. Brunel has a nice progressive feel to its course and is highly regarded in the music industry. Goldsmiths seems ok but we haven't thoroughly checked it out (not too keen on shy, fragile Dd in Deptford). City was lovely; great facilities and teachers and a tie-in with the Guildhall whereby you get 20 hrs 1 to 1 tuition per term with a Guildhall teacher.

circular Sun 07-Jul-13 22:55:51

Merlincat Have you looked at Kings College London? IIRC their music tuition is at the Royal Academy.

Trinity was on DDs radar as they do a year abroad.

Seen a lot recently about Kent & Sussex too for music.

Does she want to be in/near Lindon or just not North?

Southampton looks like it asks for slightly lower grades - but a long way from London. Someone also mentioned Chicester to DD.

merlincat Sun 07-Jul-13 23:06:07

Kings looks great but not sure if she'll make the grades. Sussex also nice but too close to home as we live in Brighton. Kent sounds promising; will look into it, thanks. She wants to be in or near to London as she loves it and wants to be close-ish to home but not actually here. She's a frail little thing and has mild Aspergers so it has to be the right 'feel' for her.

She will (we hope) get something like AAb/ABB.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 07-Jul-13 23:25:34

Hello OP.

I have known many musicians and leading professors/educators who never took a grade in their life. They all went to university to study music.
As far as the grades are concerned if you want your dd to do them you can enter her yourself, you don't need to be a teacher.
You need to apply for a candidate number which you can do online through the boards website. I presume your dd is currently doing ABRSM exams? I am not 100% sure of other boards, but believe the admin is similar.

circular Mon 08-Jul-13 08:11:47

Merlincat Problem with London Unis if not commutable is the accommodation costs. I've heard Royal Holloway is quite small, but good for the lacking in confidence type. Also that it empties out at weekends as many go home.

morethan Already have ABRSM candidate number as entered her myself for G5 theory. Last exam (G6) on first study was TG, not sure which she intends to take G8 on.

Hi Merlin, have PM'd you! smile

antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 00:25:08

I hope it is OK to ask my questions re: choosing degree course on this thread
my dd who is in y10 is thinking of studying music
She has passed G6 in percussion instruments and will sit g7 in Dec
g4 in piano and g7 in musical theatre singing - also doing her g8 in Dec and will carry on to a Diploma
her piano teacher said she should be able to pass g5 in March next year as she should do the g5 theory first

she feels she isn#t as good as a couple of her friends from percussion group she used to attend and who both are at uni studying music - one in Manchester, one in Guldhall and the third one in Royal College. I would chat to her percussion teacher about it next time I see him to understand whas he thinks she needs to do tu up her confidence

both her piano and percussion instruments teachers say that she is more than capable of becoming a musician as she is hard working and very musical, she is also quite academic, hoping to do Music, English, maths and perhaps History

how do you choose between universities?
what to look out for?
I would welcome any suggestions as to where we should start

does it make sense to do a mix course of music and say English Lit?

circular Fri 12-Jul-13 13:59:42

antimatter Im the originalposter, no problem with your question on the thread. But it's been quiet for a few days, so you may get more response with a new post. I also started a thread on Extra Currricular with link to this one which had some great responses. Also quite a bit of discussion re ABRSM vs TG for grades - Im guessing your DD is not doing ABRSM if she has not taken grade 5 theory yet?

Does your DD know what would be her first study instrument?
Is it music or musical theatre she is interested in?
Has she any idea where abouts in the country she would prefer or want to avoid?
Does she want more of a performance or academic course?
How academic is she - Oxbridge material?
Does she favour University or Conservatoire?

There are so many courses, than answers to at least some of the above could narrow done where to start looking at.

My DD is in yr11 and is not yet sure what she is looking for, but has narrowed it down to Music (rather than technology) with plenty of performance. Not sure where, but suspect anything more than a couple of hours away will be ruled out. Hopefully have more idea what she is capable of after GCSE results, and get to some open days next year. Then more idea after AS results on what's realistic.

Any idea what your daughter wants to do afterwards?

It really is a bit of a "piece of string" kind of question - as circular says, see if you can focus (get her to focus) on what it is she wants.

If she wants to work as a musician then a performance-focussed course is probably more use, whether conservatoire or university.

If she really isn't decided then academic music or music&other at a "good" university may be more general use to her, as it is then a degree like any other if the music becomes more of a hobby thing.

No matter how good she is there will always be others she plays with who seem so much better, pick it up so much more easily, etc, etc, etc. It can just be a matter of thinking - "Well, I'm good enough to get these grades and qualify, and it's what I want to do so I'm going for it"

antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 14:57:07

* AMumInScotland* - you are right - she just says - music is my life but is aware that she is unlikely to become performance musician
I was told that music as a degree is considered to be a good choice representing various aspects of student's abilities
English is her strongest subject - again to study it on its own is of a likely unpredictable future as music smile

I think I will ask her to start reading on various courses and their content to get her focussed on what questions she should be asking herself of.

Yes if she reads through the courses she's likely to start thinking "Ooh that sounds good" or "Yuck how dull", which starts to make it clearer.

DS has always stuck to his plan to do music, study music, etc, despite us checking from time to time that he knows how hard it is to make a living by performing (We weren't trying to put him off exactly, just making sure he wasn't being totally impractical). He's now halfway through a degree course. When he started looking at the websites and prospectuses it started to settle out quite quickly into ones which he liked the sound of and ones which either had entry requirements he wouldn't have (Grade 5 piano, MFL) or were all so academic he wouldn't have enjoyed them.

For him, a performance degree, but at a university, was the best fit, but it's horses for courses.

antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 16:18:24

my daughter is academic and is good at learning fast, she can read books quickly etc so i think she would like the rigour of an academic degree with some performance included.
What do you think your son will do after his uni's course is finished?

it just occured to me that carrying her Marimba to another city won' be doable LOL

What he wants is to play with an orchestra. How realistic that is I just don't know, but we'll see.

Percussion isn't the easiest to carry around for lessons etc - presumably courses which have a lot of performance would make some sort of provision for storing and practicing? I guess it will vary from place to place so she might want to see what they say about that...

antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 16:31:55

I expect unis making those available - she has a set of sticks suitable for various instruments.
What instrument does your son play?
My daughter enjoys composition - again who knows if that is a skill one can count on smile

Violin, which is a lot more portable!

It's hard to know if anything in music will allow for a stable job, certainly not in the 'one job paying all the bills and lasting for many years' category. But I'd sooner let him try than push him to become an accountant grin

antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 16:46:56

lol at accountant#s

one can become an accountant at any stage of one's life

I think a good musician must also be a shrewd businessman - trying to market their skills and learn to make the best of every opportunity

Ithink it is important to enjoy university degree, they can then go and do postgrad course if they want to change direction

circular Fri 12-Jul-13 19:27:56

Funny you should say that, Leeds have a new course starting 2014 - Music with Enterprise. not much info I'm it yet, aimed at students interested in music and entrepreneurship.

antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 22:03:21

I think musicians as a many of other artists could spend their lifetime whilst donating their time and energies to charitable causes/interesting projects.... but what to put on the table at the end of it?

one has to learn what makes sense and how and where to draw a line

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