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Support group for parents of children taking music exams!

(1000 Posts)
Wafflenose Mon 14-Nov-11 22:03:28

Hello, I'm feeling excited, nervous and wobbly because my daughter is taking her first music exam in three weeks. I'm a music teacher and am very used to getting children through the exams, keeping the parents informed, helping to focus practice, etc, but this is my first experience with my own child doing an exam and for some reason it's more scary than putting other people's children in! I think she will be OK (and the other thirteen I have entered this term) but I'm not!! Any tips for the 'other side' (parents rather than music teachers) for how to keep us both calm on the day would be gratefully received! Does it get easier as they become more experienced? Am thinking not...

She is taking part in the local music festival tomorrow, to gain performance experience. She's wildly excited, and I've got the jitters!!

circular Thu 17-Jan-13 21:44:21

Just had a look at the 2012 OCR spec out of curiousity. It is different in that there is the 'Creative Task' which looks like a performance of their own composition, worth 20% of the GCSE, and the listeng exam being the remaining 20%. That's as well as the two compsitions and two performances.

The EDEXCEL also has the two compositions and two performances, but the listening paper carries 40%.

Viewofthehills Thu 17-Jan-13 22:59:22

But it also looked to me as if the creative task can just be written down and not performed.
I am so glad the teacher is so good, because I find it a bit confusing. blush

Roisin Sun 10-Mar-13 19:46:59

Good grief, ds2 has piano exam tomorrow and just did his last practice really badly! He kept starting one piece way too fast, then stumbling and making a hash of it. But wouldn't listen to my advice or suggestions! Hmm...

I'm glad dh is taking him tomorrow, not me!

OldBeanbagz Mon 11-Mar-13 11:20:14

Grade 3 guitar for my DD on Wednesday and she's been had a temperature/not been sleeping great since Saturday sad

Wafflenose Mon 11-Mar-13 20:51:46

Oh no!! I hope Roisin's ds2 plays better tomorrow, and that Bean's dd makes a swift recovery!

Two of my pupils have exams tomorrow - a Grade 1 Recorder and a Grade 6 Clarinet. Both will be fine, but I just messed up the clarinet accompaniment in front of the girl's dad, on our last run through before the exam. blush It is really hard, but I've been practising it for months! I hope it goes much better tomorrow.

DD1 has Grade 1 Flute next week. Her lesson was cancelled last week (completely unavoidably) but I'm quite relaxed about it all! It's her 5th music exam and she should get it easily - she's turning into a bit of a pro at the age of 7. At least I won't have to accompany her this time!!

richmal Tue 12-Mar-13 08:12:27

After 4 years of learning the cello, dd, 9, is about to scrape through her grade 2. She is adamant that she wants to keep playing and she does practise, but it seems so much time is spent pesuading her to do so. Never once has she picked it up herself.
Would you let her take her grade 2 and then call it a day?

changejustforyou Tue 12-Mar-13 11:27:06

dd has her piano gr 1 exam on Friday and I'm more nervous than her. She still makes lots of mistakes, can't hear whether it's 2/4 or 3/4.....Oh, and I think I will use earplugs during the eam...

Wafflenose Tue 12-Mar-13 11:28:48

At the age of 9, It would be encouraging but firm. I would tell my child that I was happy to keep paying, as long as she took responsibility for practising X times a week for Y minutes. If you are having to tell her to practise every single time, I would say that the interest probably isn't there.

Wafflenose Tue 12-Mar-13 11:29:22

Oh and good luck, mini change!

richmal Tue 12-Mar-13 21:52:33

Thanks for your reply Wafflenose. I think I'm going to stop lessons after grade 2. If she wants to pactise I'll find her something on the web.
I can't help thinking that over 4 years to reach grade 2 is a long time. It is not making things easier when she sees others her age getting better grades. She is now in a rut of thinking she cannot play, so why bother practising?

CloudsAway Wed 13-Mar-13 07:04:58

I'm not sure four years is that long for the cello - I think string instruments take longer to get to the same level at the beginning as some of the other instruments where you can progress quite quickly to start with, so maybe she's feeling demotivated because others are improving faster on those instruments. I wouldn't recommend her trying to learn without lessons as it's easy to develop very bad habits and techniques. Perhaps she could join a holiday orchestra or children's string group or something to play with others, which is much more fun, and also show her that others aren't necessarily better than her on string instruments. I enjoyed playing but also didn't want to practice much at times - but having a fixed time (I did it before school) and knowing exactly what I was supposed to be doing in it helped - one of my teachers was more specific, which helped.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 13-Mar-13 20:48:33

DS1 is also taking a long time. Routine is key to practising, I think. We gave incentive by letting him "earn" screen time when he practised, for about a term, but now he doesn't need it any more. And knowing exactly what to do helps too - DS1's teacher writes in a little book what he needs to practise for the week. For me, as long as the child wants to continue I'll continue the lessons.

richmal Wed 13-Mar-13 21:15:50

Thank you for your replies. She is in a small orchestra and really loves it there. Another option I've thought about is putting her lessons to once a fortnight. I'm home educating her a the moment and everything else seems so easy to teach; she just gets on with it and enjoys learning.
She quite likes computer games, so I may take your advice of earning screen time.

IroningBoredDaily Mon 18-Mar-13 18:47:30

Hello smile

Dd1 (9) is due to take her grade 5 violin exam tomorrow afternoon. She has worked so hard and is aiming high...

Disaster has struck today as she was sent home from school with a stomach ache and bad head. We tried to do some last minute practice but she just isn't well enough. She has now been terribly sick sad.

I will ring her teacher in a bit, but does anyone know what are options are if she is too ill to do the exam? Her brother had this at the weekend and it only lasted 24, so hopefully she'll be better by the morning (fingers crossed).


CURIOUSMIND Mon 18-Mar-13 22:03:58

So sorry about your Dd1, hopefully it's only little bug, quick come quick go please!
My two boys have exams tomorrow and we have been looking forward to it for long long time. Can't wait to start new season pieces.

IroningBoredDaily Mon 18-Mar-13 22:31:01

Ooh exciting day for you too! What grades and instruments are they doing?

I managed speak to dd's teacher this evening & it all looks positive that she will be able to do the exam at a different date soon. Dd is not at all well, but when I talked to her about the options she said she wants to do it tomorrow as she's been looking forward to it! confused.

We were also looking forward to saying goodbye to these grade pieces!

CloudsAway Tue 19-Mar-13 07:23:43

I've heard of people who have just swapped for a couple of days later in the same exam session, or who have gone to a nearby centre/school session and fit into a cancellation there - maybe if the teacher knows other teachers who are organising a session or entering pupils they might know of cancellations? Would be a shame to have to wait until the summer.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 19-Mar-13 07:50:48

DS has a clarinet exam on Thursday. I'm not that confident to be honest. We shall see. The girls have been doing the music festival in the last week - singing and playing. Lots of trophies, but the competition isn't exactly fierce in most classes. Dd1 did very well yesterday in the advanced baroque class though - excellent marks and comments from the adjudicator (who is proper famous in recorder circles) but most impressively, she played all 4 movements of her sonata from memory.

Next year she is going to do the open woodwind class. Or the concerto class. Or both.

Wafflenose Tue 19-Mar-13 09:35:31

I hope Ironing's DD is much better today. One of my pupils turned up for Grade 3 Flute once, having had an awful sickness bug and not really eaten for days... she did pass, but looked a bit grim!

DD has Grade 1 Flute today. I don't know why I feel nervous, because it's her 5th music exam. Maybe because it's a different instrument, different venue (although she has performed there before) and I'm not accompanying her, so feel out of control?! She is a bit jittery, but excited, and has gone to school. I'm picking her up at 11.

CURIOUSMIND Tue 19-Mar-13 11:13:45

We went to the venue early today to get a chance to try the piano before examiner arrived. My boys were the first two today anyway.
I was so glad we did this. We found the piano was such a crap! Dynamic range was so limited. Ds1's pieces need it go from ppp to fff. We made a last minute change to one of the piece, with the help of a teacher we know very well happened to be there today.
Finally it all went very well.

IroningBoredDaily Tue 19-Mar-13 12:22:34

Thank you all.

Dd Is feeling much better today and will be going ahead with the exam! We both really want to get it done, so she can move on through the suzuki books and on to the festival pieces for May. We are going to spend the next few hours resting and doing bits of practise before setting off at 3...

Roisin Tue 19-Mar-13 16:02:44

I think that's the right move Ironingbored. ds2 did a piano exam last week, despite being really ill. He's got a hideous chest infection and is on a full 7-day course of antibiotics. But there's no way we wanted to delay it! It didn't go brilliantly, but he will certainly not have failed; and it's just to get it out of the way and move on.

Curiousmind - good move on trying out the piano: it's so touch on pianists and some of the instruments provided by exam centres are pretty rubbish. ds2 said one of his pp chords just didn't sound at all, but I guess the examiner will be aware of the piano's limitations. [His teacher had suggested going to a different centre, because of the piano at this one, but it would have been a 70 mile round trip (we're rural), plus the extra travelling time I would have had to take off work!]

IroningBoredDaily Tue 19-Mar-13 18:41:48

Oh dear sad poor dd is very upset that she messed up on some parts of the exam.

She's confident pieces went well. (In previous exams, she has always got around 28 for each piece, so hope she manages this again.)

Overall scales may have been ok, but she was upset she really messed up one scale she normally plays fine sad. She was happy with sightreading and most of the aural.

She was really upset by the 'which period is this music from' bit. She is usually good at saying which period it is, but she said the piece she heard didn't sound like baroque, romantic or 20th century... She said 'romantic' & forgot most of what we had learnt about the reasons.

I'm hoping she is overthinking the negatives & it will turn out ok.

Roisin Tue 19-Mar-13 19:47:49

Oh dear, sorry she's disappointed that she hasn't done as well as she'd hoped to. Maybe she'll be surprised by the results.

I think aural is marked by an 'overall assessment' of musicality, rather than a strict - 5 marks for this and 7 marks for that. So if you're great in all the aural, but make a stupid mistake in one bit, you can still score very highly.

Has she done her gr5 theory already? So can plough on with the next challenge.

IroningBoredDaily Tue 19-Mar-13 20:14:53

Thanks Roisin. I hope you're right. Sadly, she will be disappointed if she doesn't get a distinction, no matter what we say. She probably made lots of mistakes in previous exams, but may have been less aware of them!

No theory yet - that's the next thing on the list!

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