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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!!

Wafflenose Tue 22-Apr-14 11:51:23

Er, how nice of the piano teacher to enter the girl for the theory, which you have to teach her?! I had this situation once, with parents who'd entered their child for Grade 5 Theory for the third time... they only agreed to four 1-hour lessons because "she 'only' failed by 7 and 9 marks and we don't want to throw money at it!" I assessed the girl, and had she been one of my regular pupils, she'd have been taking Grade 3 the following TERM, not Grade 5 that MONTH!

So, I gave her a LOT of homework. She had no clue about scales, key signatures, or even how to write ledger lines.

She passed!

I am now starting a new thread for the new term, because this one's getting a bit cumbersome! Come over and join me here.

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 22-Apr-14 10:55:20

So, I get a grade 3 theory entry next round, though her piano teacher has entered her for it already and I'm the one teaching her (go figure), and she's just taken grade 2 so has like a month to learn everything <ahem> (the girl's 15 though so can handle it I hope).

A handful of prep tests... not entering my fiddlers for them, unless one has learnt the stuff over the holidays (which is possible) - they'll probably do bronze instead and catch up with the pianists by the time they take grade 1 (one is younger so I might just keep her away from exam situation until she has more performing experience). Probably a grade 1 piano, maybe a grade 3 piano (really wants to do it but won't learn scales............. aaaaargh!). Oh, and my finally-copper-keyboard might be working for bronze, we'll see.

Also starting to think about local Eisteddfod in Nov.

Wafflenose Tue 22-Apr-14 09:52:05

Well done to everyone with recent results.

Shakyisles and NannyPeach yours are all doing amazingly. I am having to do theory with DD1 now, but it's going to take ages... she has just started the Grade 2 book.

Both have just started playing the piano for fun, but don't want lessons (DD1 did about 18 months with me when she was younger, and has just rediscovered it!)

I will be doing my entries very soon... fewer than usual this term. Grade 5 Recorder for DD1, Initial Recorder for DD2, and Grade 2 for one of my school pupils. Plus 11 Music Medals - a combination of Copper, Bronze and Silver this time.

NannyPeach Tue 22-Apr-14 07:45:15

I've posted before under a different name. Dd (10) will be taking grade 7 violin next school year sometime, assuming we can get through grade 5 theory in the summer confused.

Dd started cello in September and took grade 4 two weeks ago. We are ale siting patiently (and nervously) for the results!!

Ds (6) is working towards taking grade 2 violin in the summer term and I'm sure he will be very ready by then, so long as he can crack the sight reading!!

Shakyisles Mon 21-Apr-14 21:22:53

Things are ramping up in our home as miss 10 has grade 6 violin and miss 7 has grade 4 sax coming up. It's the first time they have both had a music exam in the same session. There have been tears already.

I've started teaching miss 7 her theory and she is doing really well, but now understands how her sister felt having to learn such a lot at a young age.

Soveryupset Sun 20-Apr-14 15:01:03

Ds1 got a distinction for his grade 1 piano, really proud of him. Still waiting for dds grade 3 violin results..

RaspberryLemonPavlova Fri 18-Apr-14 21:10:06

I would try and discuss it with the teacher though, because your feedback can be important in a final decision.

StuntNun Fri 18-Apr-14 20:32:43

Thanks for the feedback, lots to think about but ultimately it will of course be up to the teacher.

LilyBolero Fri 18-Apr-14 14:32:28

I would also say, listen to the teacher, because there is little worse as a teacher than a parent not listening!!!

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 18-Apr-14 13:14:58

I'd say wait, but also wouldn't have him playing just exam pieces all that time.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Fri 18-Apr-14 12:58:51

I have a Y6 child too. He also would be ready for Grade 5 trombone in June having also skipped Grade 3 but is music teacher is thinking about delaying until autumn as well, as June is so busy. Having a piece of paper will make no difference to which music groups he can join when he goes to secondary though, every child of a suitable standard plays in the junior groups and the senior ones are invitational based on playing standard not grade achieved.

DS also plays in a Youth Concert Band for approx Grade 4 up, despite not having his Grade 4 exam. They actually say they prefer children who have played lots of pieces as oppose to those who have learnt 3 pieces per grade. Amongst other things their sight reading skills tend to be better.

I can sympathise with wanting to get the Grade 5 at primary though, DS did G5 piano before Christmas, which was the highest anyone had done at his school and was the first to get a Grade 5. Incidentally his head failed Grade 5 and took no more exams after that, but is an amazing piano player.

LilyBolero Fri 18-Apr-14 10:21:08

Also, I'm sure any music teacher worth his salt would not prevent a boy 'taking gd5 this term' from joining a band etc.

LilyBolero Fri 18-Apr-14 10:20:00

well as a teacher, and musician, I would say wait, because the end of primary school will be full of other activities and excitement, trips etc, so he may well miss lots of lessons anyway. I can't really see the point in doing an exam knowing that you're not fully prepared, because music is all about performance, it's not about 'just about getting through' iyswim. If you went to a concert and the soloist said 'well you'd enjoy this a whole lot more if you came in 3 months' you wouldn't be very happy!

From a parent's point of view I can see the other side, that he doesn't necessarily want to be doing those same pieces at Christmas, but I think I would suggest that instead of really focussing on all of those now, why not learn lots of pieces off the syllabus (not just 3 set pieces), so he is not bored, and do the exam at Christmas.

My dd has just done gd5 on her 1st instrument, she is Y6 so the same stage as your son, we were thinking of gd5 piano this term, but I want her to be able to enjoy the end of Y6, and there are no prizes for getting there faster!!!

StuntNun Fri 18-Apr-14 09:25:47

I would like some feedback on when to put my DS1 in for an exam. I haven't discussed it with his teacher yet and obviously she has the final say but I wanted to get my thoughts straight before speaking to her about it.

DS1 got a merit at grade 2 trumpet and a pass (one mark off a merit) at grade 3 trumpet. He has since switched to cornet and is preparing for his grade 5. He decided he wanted to skip grade 4 and while his teacher wasn't keen at first it has been a success as his playing has jumped up drastically, I think he has risen to the challenge admirably. He knows his scales and pieces reasonably well but would need a bit more work to get them exam ready.

My question is should he be put in for the June exams and likely have to work his socks off and probably achieve a pass. Or should he aim for the November exams, have plenty of time to prepare and stand a better chance of a merit or distinction?

It would definitely be a challenge to have him ready for June but he is practicing for a minimum of 20 minutes a day so I definitely think he would pass but a merit might be beyond him. I'm concerned that practicing the same scales and pieces for another six months for the November exams would get a bit boring and while he would probably get a better result it might not be in the best interests of his development as a musician iyswim. Another factor is that he is coming to the end of primary school so there would be less work pressure on him in May/June than in October/November when he will be coming to grips with high school. He has ASD and ADHD and I'm worried that starting high school would be a big challenge for him. He has said before that he would like to do his grade 5 while at primary school because the highest grade anyone at his school has got to before was grade 4 so he likes the idea of setting a school record. I had also thought that going in to high school with grade 5 cornet under his belt might help him to build up a network of friends as he would be able to join the brass band and orchestra.

Ultimately the decision lies with DS1's teacher but she will only judge his readiness from a musical perspective, she can't really take the big picture into account.

Wafflenose Wed 16-Apr-14 09:18:13

I should say that she was 16!

Wafflenose Wed 16-Apr-14 09:17:53

Well done!

I used to do pretty much the same - I was unsure of the standard, and my first candidate got 128 for Grade 1. I try to get them to a merit level now, to allow for problems on the day, and at least half do get merits. A few get surprise distinctions and the rest usually pass. I did have a girl at Christmas who failed - she simply wasn't work enough, and had been warned. Her parents thought it would be good for her either way, and she has since said that it was a useful wake-up call.

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 15-Apr-14 23:37:03

My first exam students for something like eight years, during which time I wasn't teaching. And I'd only entered one prior to that. Of course I was going to worry! They would both have been happy with 101, but I didn't want to risk entering them until I was confident of good marks, just in case I was completely wrong about the marking. We've been working towards the distinction criteria, knowing that it wasn't quite being met but aiming towards it (rather than towards the pass mark). As it is, I now feel more confident in my judgement.

Wafflenose Tue 15-Apr-14 19:34:31

I worry. I know it's not my sole responsibility, but I'm the one who puts the entry in. I don't wait until they are sure-fire distinctions; I put them in when the exam is going to challenge them to work hard and improve. This Spring, none of mine were ready by the half term holiday, but happily they all came on well after that and passed!

My DDs have been dabbling with the piano today. The little one is using the big one's old tutor book, and reached page 14. The big one had to get in on the act, so played through a lot of her old stuff. When she stopped playing 2 years ago, she was good for her age. She's not now! Anyway, I am not going to push, or pay out for lessons - they both do enough. A bit of piano will probably help DD2 with the bass clef for cello, and DD1 with bass clef for theory, but it's not going to bother me if they pack it in next week.

schilke Tue 15-Apr-14 19:24:56

Dh worries about exam results - usually just the pupils whose parents have insisted they do the exam despite the fact dh says they're not ready and to wait a term.

Ishouldbeweaving Tue 15-Apr-14 19:22:50

I'd never really thought that music teachers must worry about exam results too. I'd only ever seen it from the anxious parent's point of view seeing as that's what I am. At least I only have the one to fret over, not five or six at a time.

Wafflenose Tue 15-Apr-14 16:09:33

Wow! Well done to you, and them.

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 15-Apr-14 14:49:20

Well, I needn't have worried - two merits at grade 1 and I'm very pleased with that. smile

Wafflenose Tue 15-Apr-14 09:26:14

DD1 is working on both Practical Musicianship and Theory, and will do both. I'm not sure which she'll manage to do first.

She got a 100 on her last Grade 1 Theory paper (it was revision though) so we are starting the Grade 2 book today.

Noteventhebestdrummer Tue 15-Apr-14 08:30:12


DS did Prac Mus grades 5&6 because his flute teacher really likes them! He enjoyed them loads and got a Distinction for the Gd 6.

singinggirl Mon 14-Apr-14 14:15:30

My two students who turned up for/ completed their piano exams passed with 118/117 respectively. The 118 was mark for mark what I had predicted in my mock exam (Grade 1) so nice to know I'm judging accurately. The 117 Grade 4 unfortunately had a breakdown and restart on her last piece (her best) which knocked her down from the merit she should have had, but at least they're through! DS1 has just told me he's not bothered about trying for a distinction in his Grade 5 violin in the summer though, since apparently 'Three grade 5 merits in a school year sounds cool'. Another excuse not to practice!

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