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Grade 1 Violin failure

(244 Posts)
Honeymum Mon 04-Apr-11 18:41:39

I've just had a text from my DD's violin teacher to say she's failed grade 1.

She has been with him for almost 2 years and has practiced regularly, particularly since we've been preparing for the exam (since last September). To my untrained ear the pieces sounded fine. After the exam the teacher (who accompanied her on the piano) said she had done well and he was pleased.

The scales and sight reading are done with the examiner only so he didn't hear these.

By text he said she talked through the pieces but I will get full story tomorrow.

I wanted to know how common it is to fail grade 1? Is it DD or the teacher? Should I try to switch?


HoneyWithLemon Fri 06-Jul-12 05:21:41

Dunlurking it is a great thread, isn't it? It helped me enormously and I'm glad it's helping others smile

vlntrix Sun 12-Aug-12 14:28:45

This thread has been going on some time, right? Wonder if DD still plays? How did you overcome the "bump in the road"?

BeehavingBaby Sun 12-Aug-12 22:04:29

Lovely thread! Just looking for a teacher for DD1 and have read this all the way through.

loveyouradvice Sat 16-Mar-13 18:47:22

Amazing thread.... and what an impressive DD you have! Great news and hope Grade 3 passed with flying colours???

Learnt a lot ... I never did grades and my DD is about to start... hadnt realised there was so much to them!!!!

morethanpotatoprints Mon 18-Mar-13 22:59:34

I would be looking for a new teacher.

Firstly the teacher should have known her ability and assessed her as not being ready. He/she should never have entered your dd for the exam. After 2 years of dedicated practice, of doing what the teacher suggested grade 1 should have been achievable. If the teacher was any good.
Finally, the teacher hasn't prepared your dd correctly for the exam.

This is awful, your poor dd. Tell her its not her fault and praise her for trying so hard.
Get the examiners remarks and question these with the teacher.
My dd is 9 and doing grade 3 in summer, has been playing about 2 years. Her teacher wouldn't put her in for this exam until she was nearly ready for grade 4 so she was sure of a good mark.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 18-Mar-13 23:03:06

Sorry. This is twice this old thread has only shown me part of the story. Please excuse the last post.
I'm hiding it now

HoneywithLemon Sat 23-Mar-13 22:37:52

Hello! I'm the OP (name change).

Just spotted this thread again!

DD is doing grade 3 on Monday smile.

We were hoping she'd sit it last Christmas but her teacher (and me) decided to hold off til Spring in the end.

Will let you know how she gets on. I am really happy with our current teacher. She is excellent. DD is much improved though she is struggling with memorizing the scales and arpeggios. Her teacher thinks it might be a problem with how she learns. She did say her own daughter had the same problem with scales, and interesting maths, for a while, before things clicked. DD has recently improved vastly at maths, having been slightly below where she should be. She's a level 4b, after going up a whole level (that's three sub levels) in two terms. So maybe the violin teacher is right, IDK.

ZZZenAgain Mon 25-Mar-13 13:10:58

does learning visually help her? If so maybe try it with cards.

Don't know which scales she has to learn but you can have a card with the name of the scale on the front (G major) and, on the back say F# . Another card with the name of the scale on the front, the arpeggios on the back. And so on. She can just look at the cover and try and remember the rest, flip it over to check.

Once she knows for instance that G major runs from G-G in full notes and the only thing that is different is F#, it is not too difficult. If you have a keyboard, she can see this but if not you make a cardboard keyboard with the keys named. That might help her too.

I am sure there is some free site online for practising this kind of thing but I don't know of it, maybe someone else does.

In any case, exam today huh? Fingers crossed. Let us know how it went.

HoneywithLemon Mon 25-Mar-13 17:05:46

ZZZenAgain that's really good advice. I think we've been banging on about her needing to learn the scales without really thinking through how best she might learn them. It's interesting that I have kind of come to the flashcard idea (I think I'm a visual learner myself) over the last couple of days but too late to make a difference this time.

I'll make sure we are right on it with flashcards for grade 4, thank you.

As for the exam, I think DD was pleased overall. She came out of the exam smiling! Her teacher said her worst piece was her best on the day IYKWIM, but that's the sort of thing that can happen in the exam and I think overall she will have performed as expected in the pieces, ie solid passes but maybe not creeping into the merit bracket. We'll see how she got in the scales when we get the results but fingers crossed she's done enough to pass overall.

ZZZenAgain Mon 25-Mar-13 18:13:23

she's coming along so well on the violin now. You wouldn't have thought when you started the thread that she'd be learning for grade 4 at this time, would you? She's doing very well. I am sure she passed.

HoneywithLemon Tue 26-Mar-13 09:51:55

No, you are right. Studying for grade 4 seems a long way from failing grade 1!

maggiethecat Wed 27-Mar-13 09:44:22

Honey, well done to your dd and to you for your huge efforts - I remember the original post and thinking how supportive you are.

Have you considered not rushing the exams? I know they can be a good focus but I've realised that especially as you go up the grades the jumps can be bigger. There is so much technique to learn but also a lot more music that the child can enjoy. Our piano teacher was saying recently that sadly some children only learn 3 pieces between each exam.

I'm not saying that's the case with your dd but wonder if she is having the time to enjoy a wider repertoire than exam material?

Sheplaysmusic Tue 30-Apr-13 09:47:07

This is so inspirational and wonderful! Please continue to update us with her progress, I have enjoyed reading about her efforts in learning the violin, thanks.

Sheplaysmusic Tue 30-Apr-13 09:49:51

Also, I was wondering what have you noticed are the big differences between both teachers? And is she still practicing 10-15 minutes per day 5 days per week? I am having difficulty trying to find a good practice schedule for the long term, and I'm not sure what is too much and what is too little to make good progress.

mumsy27 Fri 31-Jan-14 02:32:07

I'm curious how's your DD doing now,keep us updated.
sorry to revive the thread(curiousity killed the cat)

landrover Tue 04-Feb-14 23:47:40


landrover Mon 10-Feb-14 21:00:03

Mmmm hope you don't mind me reviving this thread so see how it is going?

Salicus Wed 02-Apr-14 00:37:58

Hello, I'd love to know how she did at Grade 3 too and what she is doing now! I was so sorry to hear she had such a knock back. I'm not a mum but I do teach a lot of children singing and piano so just wanted to pass on some tips/ideas.

1) Most of the work takes place outside the lesson.
As teachers we might have 30 or 45 minutes a week to get our point across. We then expect the pupil to work on the things we flag. Extra lessons a week before the exam are not the answer and any good teacher will tell you this.

2) No child is unteachable.

3) Invest in a notebook. This keeps communication between teacher and parent open and shows what you have worked on in lessons.

4) The teacher is not a monster. Ask how you can support your child. Some children will need supervision to work outside of lessons.

5) Practice must be effective. Spending an hour playing your favourite piece is not practising effectively. A good session includes a bit of everything-scales, sight reading and pieces. Regular breaks will be needed to shift attention and keep good concentration levels overall.

I hope this helps. So glad your daughter was settled with the new teacher!

Chloerose75 Wed 02-Apr-14 01:15:22

Just read the whole thread and so impressed with the dd! Good on her for persevering. Impressive attitude and I'm glad she did progress in the end.

jem1980 Tue 29-Apr-14 15:04:16

Wow, read all 9 pages - lovely thread - regardless of exam results it is great to hear how you and DD persevered, and also about her enjoyment of the violin. Well done! It would be lovely to hear how it is going now if poss.

allyfe Wed 07-May-14 10:02:12

This made me cry :D I love that your DD wanted to keep going. And that she is doing so well. I love your support, and everyone elses. I agree it would be lovely to know how she is doing, if she is still playing. I hope so smile

HoneywithLemon Thu 08-May-14 13:26:21


Sorry for being rubbish and not checking this thread in aeons.

Well, DD got 113/150 at grade 3, and she's going to be taking grade 4 in July. To my ears she sounds like she will be ready, and I think her teacher is happy with her progress at the moment. She's been preparing for a while but she did play other pieces for a couple of terms, including a couple of her own choosing, before embarking on grade 4.

Getting her to do her practice can still be a struggle. We aim for 5 or 6 times a week and average 5, I would say. Often the sessions are 30 mins, but I often find myself shouting upstairs to her to carry on for a bit longer. There is a lot of nagging from time to time on my part, and now and again DH gets stuck in and threatens to stop the lessons! DD is not very good with her own company, and sometimes I pop in and listen and ask her to play for me, which helps. DD2 by contrast is currently working towards gr.2 on the piano and is better at settling down to play by herself. She's more of an introvert and gets lost in things quite easily whereas DD1 has a very busy restless sort of mind IYKWIM.

But, we had a conversation just last night about whether it's easier and more fun to practice now that DD1 is so much better, and she agreed it is. I hope that this continues. The music that she is making now is so much improved, I really enjoy hearing her play.

She started secondary school last September and it's a VERY music-oriented school (particularly for a state school). There is so much going on and the standard is very high. All kids are encouraged to join groups and ensembles which meet at lunchtime. We went to a recent concert and I enjoyed various ensembles/orchestras etc and then DD1 appeared with her string group and she was sat with her friend who is grade 1 standard playing the same part. I tackled her afterwards and she explained that she'd missed the sign up for orchestra and joined the string group instead and she didn't realised the standard was lower (!). She cried and said she thought orchestra would be too difficult so I've had a word with her music teacher who is going to make sure she joins the orchestra next term. DD isn't very happy pushing herself and I think doesn't always appreciate how much she can do. I'm hoping that as time goes on, if she keeps up her playing at school (she also gets to play in her music lessons) she will keep on improving.

Someone asked what the difference was between her two teachers. I think teacher number #2 is much more experiences than teacher #1, even though they are roughly the same age. I think teacher #2 has had so many pupils over such a long time, as well as two children herself who are excellent musicians, that it really helps her adjust to different children's learning styles. Beyond that I can't really say much more. I am not a musician, it's difficult for me to tell.

Once again, apologies for going AWOL. I am so glad that people have found this thread helpful. It was tremendously helpful for me at the time and it's lovely to have it to look back on, so a big, big thank you to everyone who has contributed. thanks thanks thanks

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 09-May-14 00:14:35

One suggestion - If your DD is not doing so well with the 30min practise on her own, maybe breaking it down into two 15min slots might be easier on her? Provided that doesn't disrupt the regularity!

maggthecat Fri 09-May-14 13:01:27

Glad you came back to share with us and to hear that dd has continued.
Music making can bring children so much joy (and of course pain) that I think it's worth sticking with it if possible.
You've done so well to support and encourage her - well done to you both!

HoneywithLemon Wed 14-May-14 22:29:17

Thanks Maggcat! It can be a slog at times. But it's something I really wanted to do for my DDs. It's not really something you can pick up in later life....(Though once I've finished paying for their lessons I might start myself!). And thank you JulieMichelle - all tips gratefully received!

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