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Battle with teacher over grades needed for Music at Uni

(102 Posts)
circular Sun 07-Jul-13 09:11:58

Posted here on Higher Ed.

I know quite a few music teachers and very knowledgeable parents post here, so would be interested on their views.

Basically, DD1's teacher quite anti grades. Amazing teacher, gets her playing pieces across all time periods, teaching her much around her playing and over and above school musc studies.

She has a task on her hands convincing she needs to have grade 8 before UCAS/CUKAS applications in just over a year. Being told not necessary, just need the playing standard.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 08-Jul-13 14:22:06

pictures notwilliam Going back a few years, not that many, even, ABRSM didn't offer exams in Circular's DD's first study instrument. They are still running to catch up now, really.

NotWilliamBoyd Mon 08-Jul-13 14:25:21

Russians - sorry I was sort of thinking aloud onto the keyboard, was not intended to sound as if I was minimising your Dd's skills!

Anyway, I hope things work out for her ok.

NotWilliamBoyd Mon 08-Jul-13 14:25:56

Sorry sorry I do know that it is circular's Dd!

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 14:29:01

Yes - s

circular Mon 08-Jul-13 14:29:28

From what I've seen so far, Kings college London prefer ABRSM as fits in with their teaching?
TG G6 was a huge jump from ABRSM G5 for her.

Russians Do you know the best way to find out which courses allow it for first study?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 14:31:00

Some instruments were only offered in the higher grades too

ABRSM got a bit stuck in a time warp at one point and trinity really came to the fore.

There were some wonderful instrumentalists at she's conservatoire who hadn't done traditional grades

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 14:32:39

At dh's conservatoire. Sorry am on phone at work

They were lots of less usual instruments too.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 08-Jul-13 14:49:55

Circular We are a year behind you so not done a huge amount of research but pretty plugged in anyway because of who teaches DD and NYRO and other people we know etc.

First study conservatoires for sure - RCM, Guildhall, Wales, Birmingham.

Universities - no idea other than Warwick. And joint degrees with the RCM (and possibly guiildhall) from other London unis. But need to look into that - but since she is only 15...and she does have other potential first studies, too...

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 15:01:18

Birmingham Uni (shares some instrumental teachers with Birmingham Cobservatoire)?

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 08-Jul-13 15:34:07

pictures I guess so. Although I suppose not necessarily. The same might also be true of Cardiff Uni.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 15:49:17

Some I'd the tutors used to be the same at Birmingham. Not all of course. And I guess a lot has changed since dh's day.

What about York?

Moominmammacat Mon 08-Jul-13 16:01:07

There is a lot of mis-information here. First of all, without wishing to sound harsh, you jolly well should be post-Grade 8 standard ... whether you've done the exam or not ... if you are thinking of music at university. Secondly, ABRSM and Trinity exams are considered equal ... some people will prefer one, some the other. As for a Trinity G8 being equal to ABRSM G5, astonishing, seen as both Grade 8 lists have several of the same pieces and in terms of UCAS points (which are only accepted by lower ranking universities anyway) they are identical. Grade 8 theory, as picturesinthefirelight suggested, is not a soft option for those who can't cope with A levels. It is infinitely harder than A level music. Liverpool, for example, accepts G7 theory instead of A level and most of the best unis accept G8 theory instead of A level, while others recommend taking it alongside. Finally, getting a university offer is going to be a lot easier if you have a qualification on paper, rather than saying "I'm Grade 8 standard". Few universities interview and I suspect some will simply make an offer to the person with the qualifications rather than going through the interview/audition procedure. Good luck to circular's daughter though ... personally, I'd shove her through the exam and be done with it.

Bramshott Mon 08-Jul-13 16:06:15

Circular - whilst of course your DD's teacher is correct that it's the standard and not the qualification which counts, Gr 8 distinction is a useful shorthand for busy admissions tutors which means "ready for advanced study". The danger is that without it, your DD could get overlooked on a busy day with not enough time to look through the applications (unless there's a policy of auditioning everyone, which may be the case for conservatoires but not unis I think?).

Can you explain to the teacher that whilst it may not be strictly necessary for everywhere, you'd like your DD to keep her options open, and to adopt a "belt and braces" approach by having the actual qualification.

Have they gone as far as to say exactly WHY they think it's a bad idea to take Grade 8 in March of Y12? Is it just that they feel she'd get a higher mark by waiting?

Bramshott Mon 08-Jul-13 16:08:23

Also meant to say, that saying "you don't need the actual exam at Grade 8 to study music at university" is a bit like saying "you don't need to go to music college/uni in order to pursue music as a career".

One the one hand it's perfectly, unequivocably true, and there are lots of examples to prove it. On the other - well why make it harder for yourself by going down the "non-traditional" route if there's no good reason!

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 08-Jul-13 16:14:08

It's not non traditional to not have the grade certificate in music, if you are going to a conservatoire. Many of the conservatoire saturday schools, for example (junior exhibitioners they used to be called) not only didn't put their kids through the exams they forbade them from doing the exams. In those days all conservatoires auditioned. I think they still do.

The big difference from 30+ years ago is that now a university (other than Oxbridge which was always OK) is seen as a valid place to go to do music even if you are not looking for an academic career. This wasn't the case back in the day. It is now. That is what has driven the change. But you can't categorise the new way of dealing with mass applications by demading proof of hoops already jumped through and trusting somebody else's judgement (the grade examiner) over your own (the prospective tutor) as the traditional way. Because it just isn't.

That having said I think many universities do still audition.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 16:40:00

I didn't say it was a soft option music wise. But a gifted musician such as my dh who flew through grade 8 theory and beyond (do they still do keighly harmony) but who struggled in subjects such as English. & maths could use it in lieu.

Conservatories go hugely on audition. It may have changed now but the academic requirements used to be grade 8 distinction standard (demonstrated at audition) and 2 e grades at a level.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Jul-13 16:42:42

He has also very recently taught students who have gone on to places such as the royal academy & guildhall who have not taken grade exams as they wernt encouraged through the music service he used to work for. Because of financial reasons.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 08-Jul-13 17:05:29

pictures Exactly. It costs a fortune to do those exams.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Jul-13 20:36:45

My dd is only 9 but all the conservatoires and several unis have said that my dd who is H.ed and may not take academic/formal quals would be given the same options as everybody else when it came down to it.
If you are a good enough musician who is obviously going to make it your career, its surprising what they will waiver.
They weren't suggesting that you would get in without ucas points but that they would accept them from many other forms than a traditional route.

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 08-Jul-13 20:42:19

I was going to say everything that Moomin said...

Theas18 Mon 08-Jul-13 20:54:15

circulars dd come to brum! the conservatoire is the place :-)

dd2 Sat group is run by a graduate from there, and some of the current undergrads have done concerts locally. they are v good.

circular Mon 08-Jul-13 20:58:15

Moomin So are you saying that a yr11 who is not quite G8 standard yet doesn't have a hope of getting in to a decent music course?

I understand for the Cinservatoires she would be competing against others that were at the standard before DD even started lessons.

But honestly thought that the Uni courses, even those heavily performance based, were not like that if you had reasonable A levels too.

Infersting what you say about the G8 theory vs A level, heard the same for G5 theory vs GCSE, but DD found the theory far easier.

circular Mon 08-Jul-13 21:01:27

Thea18 Have been told that elsewhere, will PM you

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 08-Jul-13 21:03:06

Brum is very good. Both Dd1s teachers are from there. But, there are other good places too. Several NYRO people at the RCM event the other week. And one of the new tutors there is a member of athe Royal Wind Music.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Jul-13 21:06:08


My comment about Trinity v ABRSM was mentioned to make the point that at one time this is how it was considered. I know because a girl fell foul at audition I attended. Of course they are now equal, there was also the same problem with Victoria. This point was made because somebody else had said that Trinity was considered the better. It is subject to what suits your needs best imo. I also know that Rockschool is just as well recognised.
I will agree about the mis information though. Another one is that you need gr5 theory to progress to gr6 with ABRSM, I know of 2 alternatives and if you contact them they say they do take other alternatives.

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