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Grade 1 Violin failure

(242 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?


onlymusic Sun 17-Jul-16 12:40:35

This is such an inspirational thread! It is all very well if everything goes smoothly, but to have such a difficult start and to stick to her dream at such a young age and persevere, your dd is such a little hero, OP, I wish her all the luck with her future dreams, I am sure she will achieve everything she wants! flowers

Wafflenose Fri 15-Jul-16 23:36:21

Grade 5, wow! Thanks for coming back to update us again.

80schild Fri 15-Jul-16 23:22:36

Just read this thread as I am.thinking about embarking on a journey to becoming a music teacher. I am using it as a list of not what to do. Pleased to hear your daughter loves it.

blearynweary Sun 24-Apr-16 07:50:09

Ha! I remember this! How brilliant. Thanks so much for the update and we'll done to your dd!

Noteventhebestdrummer Sun 24-Apr-16 07:44:56

Congratulations on the Grade 5, that's a wonderful level to reach. I've followed your story from the start and you made a difference to my teaching so thank you.

Greenleave Fri 22-Apr-16 15:14:23

Many times its important that we dont give up on them. Your story is truly heart warming, many congratulations to you both. Please keep updating!

LooseAtTheSeams Fri 22-Apr-16 15:00:04

What a lovely story! Congratulations to both of you! It's a really heart-warming thread.

ealingwestmum Fri 22-Apr-16 11:18:09

Just love this thread. Well done to your DD honey. Persevering with something that may not be at first, intuitive is such a great lesson in life. Both of you absolutely do deserve a pat on the back!

howabout Thu 21-Apr-16 14:30:55

This is a fantastic story Honey. It is so lovely to read about how well your DD is doing even after such an inauspicious start. I failed the school music aptitude test aged 7 and only got into lessons because my friend asked the teacher for me when someone else dropped out. I am still playing 40 years later and teach my own DDs who are the same age and standard as yours. Loads of really good points on this thread about what to look for in a teacher and how to prepare for the exams. I didn't put mine in for the lower grades and didn't teach to the syllabus. It was a huge ask for them to go in cold to grade 5 but we side stepped some of the issues of earlier grades with non instrument specialist examiners.

Having rtft I now realise my DDs are not actually that deprived having to put up with me for a teacher. Thank you flowers

Congratulations to your DD and please keep updating. smile

Icouldbeknitting Wed 20-Apr-16 11:24:34

I just read the thread (I wasn't here in 2011) and I'm so glad that everything worked out well in the end. Thank you for the update, I do love a happy ending.

HumphreyCobblers Tue 19-Apr-16 15:52:08

That is great! Well done to your DD!

I have been very entertained by this thread, having children who do the Suzuki method of playing, which has NO exams but still manages to produce lovely musicians.

HoneywithLemon Tue 19-Apr-16 15:28:10

I thought I would update this thread as I know it's been helpful to some.

DD (now 14) has now passed grade 5, just missing a merit by one mark! She's really enjoying her playing, is a member of a couple of ensembles at school (lots of opportunities for music at school generally) and plays with a local youth orchestra and a string group each week. She went to Germany on tour with the youth orchestra last year and loved it. As a non-musician myself I am really pleased with her progress and despite the blood, sweat, tears (mine) and money, I pat myself on the back for providing her with the opportunity and sticking with it through the hard times. I should add that she herself has never wanted to give up.

loomyviolin12 Sun 21-Dec-14 11:37:21

I find that failing is not such a big thing. Maybe it was stress or the first time he took an exam? the violin teacher should be switched if she is really bad and doesnt know her thing.

This is a violin school my kids learn from. Maybe they can help smile

coconut0 Wed 29-Oct-14 22:00:55

I've just read this entire thread and I am so pleased it all worked out in the end. My 8 year old DD has been learning the violin for a year and has just done her prep test. For anyone who doesn't know what this is (it didn't exist in my time) it is like a beginner's exam where the child learns 3 pieces off by heart, 2 pieces with music and does simple aural exercises. It isn't pass or fail and they get a certificate with detailed comments before leaving the room. Although it costs about £40 it gives them an idea of what it will be like in a real exam and has given DD extra confidence (she is fairly confident anyway) and has made her look forward to the next stages of her musical journey.

Wafflenose Tue 02-Sep-14 13:57:12

I remember this lovely thread! I'm so glad she is still playing and enjoying the violin, and congratulations to her on passing Grade 4!

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 02-Sep-14 13:16:14

Basically... if you can afford it, spend a minimum of £300-£400. An instrument in that price range will probably last up until grade 8 if correctly set up (I'm pretty sure I took my grade 8 before we upgraded).

Make sure you put on decent strings - if you've been using Astreas or equivalent, move to Dominants or equivalent (i.e. £50 strings not £20 strings).

To pick names out of a hat: Hidersine, Paesold, Gewa, or a luthier-named instrument.

If buying a bow separately, it should be 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of the instrument, which seems a bit crazy but makes a difference.

Ideally, you should actually go to a specialist violin shop and try a few out.

HoneywithLemon Tue 02-Sep-14 12:07:01

A solid pass at grade 4 smile DD has been promoted to the concert orchestra at our local authority Saturday morning music school as well so that should accelerate her progress. Practice is still problematic but overall she is much more organised. She's already written herself and her younger sister a schedule for homework and practice for the new term so fingers crossed! I now have to buy her a full-size instrument - any tips?

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!

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!

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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!

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