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To think that the school should pay the cost of my son doing GCSE music

(43 Posts)
ReallyTired Wed 19-Oct-16 11:02:40

My son is doing GCSE music at a state school. We are expected to pay for him to learn an instrument. I don't have a problem with this I knew at the outset. (£200 a term)

The school has now dropped the bomb shell that we now have to pay for music theory lessons as my son does not have grade 5 theory. I feel that the music theory that a child needs for GCSE should be covered in the school lessons. It's another £60 a term I did not budget for.

We aren't entitled to free music lessons. Why should I be paying £260 pounds a term for preparation for a GCSE in a state school. I feel the school should provide the music theory classes for free.

Cherryskypie Wed 19-Oct-16 11:04:41

I thought you had to be a certain grade in two instruments to be allowed to do music GCSE? confused

Tomorrowillbeachicken Wed 19-Oct-16 11:05:25

I have to agree that the theory is unfair.

dogworld Wed 19-Oct-16 11:06:07

At DS's school they like you to be expected to reach grade 5 by the end of year 11

LIZS Wed 19-Oct-16 11:06:20

Didn't think you needed G5 theory for gcse although many would have it as a matter of course.

Mirandawest Wed 19-Oct-16 11:07:48

Which board is he sitting GCSE music through? When I did it very few people had grade 5 theory - is this the school's requirement or the exam boards?

doodlejump1980 Wed 19-Oct-16 11:07:57

In Scotland if you're using your instrument to do an approved SQA course then you get your lessons for free. Seems unfair that if any other pupil was using a classroom instrument (keyboard guitar etc) that they don't have to pay.

Mirandawest Wed 19-Oct-16 11:08:39

(I did have it, but I don't see it as being a pre requisite for the course)

MollyRedskirts Wed 19-Oct-16 11:09:23

It's been years since I did GCSE music and took instrument lessons, but it was never the case that Grade 5 theory was needed to take GCSE music. It WAS needed in order to progress further in my instrumental grades, which were paid for privately.

Are you sure you're not getting muddled between the two?

mintthins Wed 19-Oct-16 11:10:57

The theory bit is ridiculous, and certainly not the case at DDs school. We had to pay for a GCSE she did in the evenings, but all day time courses are covered, and I'd certainly expect theory to be part of (if not mainly) what they cover in class! There must have been at least 60 DC at DDs school who did GCSE music, and very very few of them would be G5 theory (though I think you do need that for A Level). In fact many of them who got good passes wouldn't even be G5 practical. Most were only competent on one instrument, and voice counted for the second, or in DDs case piano but no where near G5. DD has never done any theory exams, and got an A*.

Aftershock15 Wed 19-Oct-16 11:11:53

You have to be a certain grade standard - not actually have that grade - so quite possible to play at the required level but not have taken the exams and therefore have no need to have the theory exam.

I would question them as to how many children don't have grade 5 theory. If it's lots of them then they need to cover the material in lessons. If you can't afford it then tell them you just can't pay. Also suggest in future years they make it clear that grade 5 theory is expected so people know at the outset.

musicmomma Wed 19-Oct-16 11:13:00

I'm a music teacher and you need grade 5 theory in order to progress to a level but not for GCSE. Learning to play an instrument is always expensive though, confused

rosesandcashmere Wed 19-Oct-16 11:15:37

I did GCSE music (granted was 15 years ago) however, as a current qualified piano teacher I can confidently say that your son will not need Grade 5 music theory to pass the GCSE, nor will he need to learn an instrument. He will need to show willing and learn the syllabus but I've had plenty of grade 2 students pass the GCSE including practical exams without holding a theory qualification.

rosesandcashmere Wed 19-Oct-16 11:16:40

YY to needing for A Level though - although it isn't compulsory! If he's naturally good at music I would buy him some self learn theory books on Amazon and see how he gets on.

JoJoSM2 Wed 19-Oct-16 11:16:58

Are schools legally required to provide GCSE music classes? If they are, then they shouldn't be charging. However, if the school doesn't normally offer the subject, then they need to get someone in/work extra hours to provide the classes - so they'll pass on the cost to you. It tends to be like that with a lot of languages, e.g. Russian, Chinese, Arabic etc. The school will pay for the exam only and any classes and preparation needs to be paid for by the parents. I just don't know if music provision and GCSE are part of statutory provision for all or if they have a similar status to most of the languages... It's worth investigating.

Marynary Wed 19-Oct-16 11:18:07

Dd is doing GCSE music and although she has grade 5 theory (she needed it to progress with piano) it certainly isn't a requirement for the GCSE.
It may vary by exam board though and regardless he is probably less likely to pass the GCSE if he isn't up to that standard of theory. When I was at school we did grade 5 theory during music lessons in year 9 so all those doing GCSE music would have had it.

Marynary Wed 19-Oct-16 11:21:21

Are schools legally required to provide GCSE music classes? If they are, then they shouldn't be charging.

Nobody has to do the GCSE though. Also, strictly speaking you don't have to learn an instrument if you do GCSE. It would be very difficult to reach the standard required to pass though.

Butteredpars1ps Wed 19-Oct-16 11:23:51

Not sure if this is relevant, but 30 odd years ago you, I seem to remember I had to pass grade 5 theory in order to progress to the higher grades in piano and violin. Is this still the case?

I would say that the theory should be covered within the instrument lessons, but that it isn't part of the GCSE syllabus.

Have you got the red book, something like rudiments of music theory? I'm not sure That £60 term of additional tutoring is necessary, but it would depend upon how much knowledge DS needs to get through the exam.

ReallyTired Wed 19-Oct-16 11:26:44

My son is doing GCSE music during the normal school day. The music theory class would be after school. A lot of the people in his class already have grade 5 theory. The teacher doesn't want to waste her time going over stuff the other children already know.

I feel that the more able children who already have grade 5 music theory should suck it up and the necessary material should be covered in class. Or alternatively the school should pay for the music theory class of those who don't have the qualification.

LIZS Wed 19-Oct-16 11:28:36

Butterd it depends on the board. Trinity don't seem to require it.

JoJoSM2 Wed 19-Oct-16 11:34:06

But is your son's standard good enough to be in a GCSE music class in the first place? Or is it a case of the school either refusing for him to be in the class or offering the after school tuition to catch up?

Butteredpars1ps Wed 19-Oct-16 11:40:32

Thanks LIZS smile. That makes sense. I wasn't even sure if I'd remembered correctly. It is rather a long time ago.

ReallyTired Wed 19-Oct-16 11:43:13

Ds already has grade 4 guitar. He is preparing towards grade 5 trinity guitar. He also sings as well. I naively thought that was an ok standard for someone choosing GCSE music. Ds would have no problem passing the music practical.

No one has to GCSE music anymore than they have to any other no core GCSE.

It's sad that GCSE music is the preserve of the rich.

velourvoyageur Wed 19-Oct-16 11:43:18

He doesn't need to be taught theory by someone else. The ABRSM books and workbooks are excellent. They won't turn him away at school if he struggles with one or two things and needs to check with someone who understands it.
Also, most private music teachers worth anything will not separate theory/instrument. It's practically impossible to properly learn an instrument separated from the theory. All the teachers I've had (10 years of piano lessons) combined the two during the 45 mins - 1hr. I would ask his current teacher why he's not being taught theory, if he really isn't.

I did have theory lessons in but found it very hard to concentrate during any music lessons so just crammed for the exam by myself. Find theory so, so hard but the books were really good. Anyone who writes a book that gets me to pass a theory exam should win a Nobel!!

Could he get together a couple of others in the class and have a few theory study sessions?

TLDR - you don't need to pay for a teacher if he spends a few hours a week with the right books.

FlapsTie Wed 19-Oct-16 11:44:35

When I did a music GCSE a hundred years ago, I was the only one in my class of seven who even played an instrument, let alone had grade five theory (I had grade 5 piano at that point).

It certainly wasn't required back then.

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