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Guildhall School of Music

(19 Posts)
ChinaInYourHands Tue 23-Aug-11 13:03:39

Hi there. DS aged 7 is showing a definite talent for music, specifically piano but also guitar. I would like him to do the Guildhall School of Music course which runs on Saturdays but not being musical myself, I honestly don't know if he even has what it takes to be admitted. I have the brochure and it does say auditions are highly competitive but does anybody know just how competitive? At age 7 and having had just 30 half hour piano lessons at school, he's already half way through the Aaron series Grade 2 book, not that he's taken any exams yet. Any advice at all would be much appreciated. Thank you.

ImNotaCelebrity Tue 23-Aug-11 22:14:29

The prospectus says: As a rough guide, candidates will normally have attained a standard of about Grade 5 at the age of 10 and Grade 8 by the
age of 16. It is not necessary to have taken any grade examination before the audition.
You can do a consultation lesson for £65, which might be money well spent to give you an honest appraisal of his standard and potential.
My advice for now would be: provide as much music as possible for him to 'tinker' with and get his sight reading really good. (I'm assuming he hasn't just trawled through the Aaron books and nothing else?) Encourage him to improvise and compose, play by ear as well as with music. He needs as broad a musical grounding as possible.
Good luck - sounds like he's doing really well.

ChinaInYourHands Wed 24-Aug-11 00:55:50

ImNotaCelebrity, thanks so much for your reply. What confuses me about this information is that the Junior program starts at 8 years old so I don't know why they jump straight to age 10. But yes, you're probably right the consulation will be money well spent. How can I get his sight reading really good? (sorry I am really clueless blush)

stripeybump Wed 24-Aug-11 01:16:57

In all honesty, he wouldn't be accepted IMO. There is absolutely no rush at all for him to attend a junior conservatoire, none at all. He just needs regular lessons with a good teacher. Take him to one of their public concerts - he'll enjoy it and it'll give you a sense of perspective on the level required.

Sorry if I sound mean, but until your son has reached grade 5, I'd forget about it and even then, competition is fierce.

ChinaInYourHands Wed 24-Aug-11 08:37:58

Stripeybump, I fully accept that based on talent, he might not have what it takes to be accepted, ever. But the junior program starts from 8 years old so how could a grade 5 be expected? That's the bit that confuses me. In any case, the reason I was interested in something like this is because my son is a bit of an oddball and finds it very hard to gel with other children at school, in fact he has no friends at all despite being extremely lovely (I would say that, I know). He's highly academic but cannot play any sports so we are excited that he has shown an interest and a talent in music and are very keen to have him mix wit other children that are also into music. The Guildhall School of Music course runs on Saturdays so I thought it would be ideal to be 'inmeresed' in that environment once a week; the half hour piano lessons at school are not really that inspirational or rounded.

ChinaInYourHands Wed 24-Aug-11 08:38:46

Oh and you don't sound mean at all; it's what I suspect anyway but I don't want to just shy away from something without having all the facts...

stripeybump Wed 24-Aug-11 10:42:52

Look out for more local opportunities then, find out from the school what opportunities are available? Guildhall is really aimed at absolutely outstanding musicians - I and plenty of my friends are professional musicians who went to conservatoires to do Music degrees, but would still not have been accepted to their junior schools - they really are extremely competitive.

Perhaps encourage him to take up an orchestral instrument which would allow him to join lots of ensembles? That sounds like it would be really good for him. If you can find a good strings / brass / woodwind teacher, they will help with ensemble opportunities. There will be plenty available even for a 7yo - unfortunately piano by it's nature is a solitary pursuit.

Good luck - he sounds lovely smile

ImNotaCelebrity Thu 25-Aug-11 19:51:31

The junior department begins at 8 because they won't take children younger than that - it really is that simple. They have to be an age that can cope with the demands of a full day of musical training. However, those who do get a place at 8 would be exceptionally talented, and likely to be around grade 4-5 already. So while he might be making great progress at the moment, there's a long way to go.

I agree with stripey about learning an orchestral instrument. And there are far more opportunities to become 'immersed' in music with orchestral instruments. For example, when my son started violin aged 5.5, he started playing in the local beginner string group only a few weeks later. It's worked wonders on him - he really does love it, and has been on residential courses with them. There aren't those sorts of opportunities for beginner pianists.

Of course, Guildhall and the other conservertoires now run Saturday courses for beginner violinists, and many have mini bass courses too. Perhaps that's something you could think about?

ChinaInYourHands Sat 27-Aug-11 13:36:36

Thank you.
Learning an learning an orchestral instrument is something I hadn't considered because he's already doing piano and guitar, but it sounds like it might be a really positive thing for him to be involved in. What orchestral instrument would you recommend?

Tangle Sun 28-Aug-11 22:30:48

Has he shown a preference for any specific orchestral instruments? If he doesn't really want to take up another instrument, how about choral singing? If he has guitar lessons, does his teacher know of any guitar groups in the area that he might be able to join?

Its a bit stereotypical, but some instruments do seem to attract different character types - trumpeters tend to be show-off extroverts (who can count lots of bars of rest and then come in at the top of a very loud chord), oboists are a bit more introverted, violins (especially 1sts) and flutes will have quite a lot of exposed passages, cellists tend to be happy in a more supporting role (which is me - I love having mainly harmonies with occasional tunes, and the thought of a trumpet or piccolo solo would have me trembling in fear!)

Its also a question of what he feels comfortable holding - I play the cello, which works quite well with my long arms, but violins just feel like toys (although that's possibly because I've been playing a cello for >25 years). I can get a tune out of a flute, but nothing out of anything with a reed on it. Trombones are fun, brass with valves just gets me confused blush.

It might be worth talking to your county music service and seeing if they offer or are aware of any days where children can go and find out about different instruments and maybe give some a try. IIRC the orchestra doing Peter and the Wolf at the Barbican last Xmas had a couple of free sessions where you could do exactly that - so worth keeping your eyes open. If he likes the idea of brass then I understand the Salvation Army bands can be really welcoming and helpful.

I hope you can find something that inspires him, or a way to make his existing music more sociable. I wasn't the most extrovert child and music was a way for me to get out, join in a group activity and feel part of a team smile

noteventhebestdrummer Sun 28-Aug-11 22:36:58

Guildhall also offers a wonderful Saturday string training programme - have you looked at this? The Kodaly aspect is especially brilliant!

lindamoore Tue 30-Aug-11 11:05:27

Hi Chinainyourhands !

Your son sounds wonderful ! I can understand your confusion about what instrument he ideally needs. I just want to give you a good tip. Make sure he studies his music theory with a good tutor who can and will inspire him and make it fun because this will be invaluable for his progress and development. My children have had a great tutor to help them understand this subject which in turn has opened up doors for them. If you want the details of the tutor I have used please just let me know. Good luck !!

redheadbedhead Tue 30-Aug-11 11:12:17

Having been to a junior department (RCM) as a kid from the age of 11, I would say that you really don't need to be thinking about this yet. The only little kids I knew there were prodigies. Most were my age and about my level (Grade6-7) There will definitely be a few 8yr olds that will be grade 4-5 out there. It's also very hard work on top of school, and I didn't really fully appreciate it as a kid - wasn't that fun for a little one. Was more fun and more useful when I was a teenager.

Let him just get on with things for a bit and see how he goes... I second the orchestral instrument as well - that was the best bit for me (violinist) If he starts an instrument now then when he's older he can do 2 instruments at once on the junior program if he wants.

ChinaInYourHands Tue 30-Aug-11 11:37:57

Thank you everyone for all your comments; they're really very very helpful.
Lindamoore, you'll notice my utter ignorance here with this question, but is music theory the same as reading music? Isn't this done alongside the piano lesson or does this require a tutor and a slot separately? I would be interested in details of a good tutor, please kindly pm me if you can.

JobCarHouseNoBaby Tue 30-Aug-11 11:44:22

I went to a saturday morning music college in my hometown. We did aural (listening and singing, vital for doing graded exams), music theory (vital for doing graded exams and poss GCSE/A level music), instrument lessons and ensembles (e.g. jazz group, orchestra and brass group).

It was the best thing my parents could have done for me, although I didn't start going until I was circa grade 5 on my instrument - any earlier and I think (unless you're a child prodigy) you would be severely overwhelmed and out of your depth.

Guidhall music is a conservatoire for gifted musicians, for whom the local offerings are not sufficient. I had a friend who went. They work you really hard, the fees are huge, and there is a lot of pressure.

If your DC is only grade 2, I'd suggest looking at local music services (your council can advise) as there are many saturday morning music schools around. If they then show a particular flair or expertise, consider Guildhall.

The musical world can be pretty snobby and elitist - it would be shame to kill off any early enthusiasm your DC has just because they are not quite ready just yet.

JobCarHouseNoBaby Tue 30-Aug-11 11:49:14

tangle I love your characterisation of the instruments! So true!

If you are interested in brass instruments, I highly reccommend google-ing local brass bands. They usually have instruments they own which they loan out to new musicians and it's a great environment to learn to play (I was taught cornet then trumpet at my local band).

lindamoore Wed 31-Aug-11 22:18:10

Hi Chinainyourhands

Of course I will give you the details of the teacher who helped my children. I will see if I can explain what is what first. There are 5 grades of music theory. Reading music is something you become better at by studying music theory with a good teacher. Here you learn to read rhythms, note values, key signatures, sight singing etc. Not all instrumental teachers have the time in their half hour lesson to also teach this. My children have studied it separately and have really loved it ! We have used a Danish teacher called Louise. You can contact her on 0207 561 97 57. She also has a website which is

She is very good at tailoring her lessons to the individual student. She will not push your son too fast but will give him the language for him to be good at playing his pieces with his instrumental teacher. At some point he will need to sit the exams but Louise will know when. All my children got really good exams because they loved the subject and understood it well.

I hope this has been helpful. Good luck. A pleasure to recommend great teacher.

Colleger Tue 13-Sep-11 17:00:27

For piano and violin they would be looking at close to grade 5 at age 8 because the competition in these instruments are fierce. Guitar is also not viewed as a good instrument to offer as they will want an orchestral instrument.

ChinaInYourHands Thu 15-Sep-11 15:38:14

Thank you so much!

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