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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 Wed 10-Jul-13 12:27:30

Moomin - yes, I was thinking make a good fist, not perfection! grin

puffinnuffin Wed 10-Jul-13 21:54:34

This was about 20 years ago but I needed to have Grade 8 in my first instrument, Grade 6 in my second and Grade 5 theory. This was for a Music course at Uni. Things might have changed.

circular Wed 10-Jul-13 22:10:57

Russians / Moomin DD is convinced the sight reading is 2 grades below, and is confident she can manage grade 6 near perfect. Scales are her weakest, but teachers insisted she stick with them rather than go for the study last time.

Puffin We've not (yet) come across any entry reqirements that ask for a second instrument, other than Grade 5 piano or keyboards when not first study. Maybe if planning a second study it needs to be at least grade 6?

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 10-Jul-13 22:20:16

circular DD1 has two teachers. Both teach at conservatories. They reckon you should be able to sight read (make a fair fist of) grade 8 pieces to be grade 8 standard. They are very not exam focussed, both believing it's much more about repertoire building at an appropriate level (actually, all the way through after grade 4). This view is the same as the one i encountered when i was a student, and i know it's also espoused by my teacher friends around the country. I know you disagree. I can only speak from my own experience.

PiratePanda Wed 10-Jul-13 22:27:51

Not wanting to out myself, but I really do know what I'm talking about on this one, and for most university courses these days (not including conservatoires and specialist performance programmes), there are no interviews and no auditions; it's all down to your on-paper qualifications and predicted grades. That means for competitive and popular places you really do need grade 8 if they say grade 8 required and your DDs teacher is an idiot who is going to cost her if you don't stand your ground .

As for Trinity/ABRSM - for heaven's sake, email (NOT phone) the department admissions tutor. They will be able to tell you whether or not they care one way or another.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 10-Jul-13 22:41:03

Pirate I think Circular's DD does want to do a performance programme though.

circular Wed 10-Jul-13 22:43:40

Russians I really don't disagree with you and value your advice.
My DD needs to build her repertoire AND get the piece of paper to keep as many options open as possible. By not getting the grade before UCAS she will be closing doors, and that's what we need to convince the teacher.

Also, knowing her as I do, she works better and is more focused when she has something clear to work towards.

PiratePanda Wed 10-Jul-13 23:00:57

Russians, at least one of the places she's mentioned she's especially interested in neither interviews nor auditions. I actually agree with her teacher that grades aren't everything, it's the standard that counts....but not when it comes to jumping through the hoops of university entrance. It's so competitive now that if the institution say something is "required", it's required.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 10-Jul-13 23:06:51

pirate I'm not disputing that smile I personally think, if it was me, I'd be guided by my teacher if I thout the teacher knew what they were talking about, and I'd limit my applications to the places that do audition or are prepared to accept teacher's evaluation. If I thought the teacher didn't know what they were talking about I'd change teacher - close to London there are many options - and I'd work damn hard to get the piece of paper. I don't see what other options there are, really. I'm sure that circulars DD will be able to achieve the required standard, in terms of passing the exam. She just needs to make sure she does the repertoire building as well because some of the places she is interested in do audition.

circular Thu 11-Jul-13 09:13:38

Russians 'I"ve said previously, teacher is amazing, no issue with them knowing what they are talking about with regards to DDs playing and musical ability. Just that they are not clued up on Uni entry requirements.

And they don't know her as well from a personal point of view, and at the moment she feels the Conservatoire environment full time isn't for her. She feels it would be too insular. Would prefer a Uni environment with instrument lessons at a Conservatoire.

Many of the kids at her music school go on to Conservatoires, more to Uni for non-music , not many to read music at Uni. But apart from the grade issue she is happy there, and they are happy with her.

Bramshott Thu 11-Jul-13 09:57:51

Sounds like your DD is doing all the right things in preparing the pieces over the summer and working towards Grade 8, regardless of what her teacher thinks. She should also start working on the scales if that's her weak point.

Do you think they would actually refuse to enter her if you set it out plainly in the terms you have here, i.e. "DD really wants to keep her options open WRT Uni as well as Conservatoire, and many have a requirement of Grade 8 actually achieved. She's prepared X and Y over the summer and would really like to be entered for it in March, before her exams get in the way". Alternatively, if she's well-prepared in advance, doing it in June might not be the end of the world? Is she going on a summer school this summer?

titchy Thu 11-Jul-13 10:08:05

Worst case scenario you could always enter her for ABRSM - I know TG is better for her instrument, but at least you can enter ABRSM yourself, assuming you can organise an accompanist.

I do think you need to argue discuss firmly with the music school though.

circular Thu 11-Jul-13 13:36:00

Bramshot The first bit is pretty much what I want to out to them before the summer. She was hoping for some input on choice of pieces to prepare - there the difficulty lies.

March still preferred, with June convince for retake.
Hoping prepared piece(s) can also be used for AS.

circular Thu 11-Jul-13 13:39:06

Convince should have read contingency - bloody autocorrect

Bramshott Thu 11-Jul-13 14:09:56

Do think about a summer school - might do her good to get some more external input? Not sure where you're based, but the courses at Woodhouse in Surrey are very good.

circular Thu 11-Jul-13 15:12:25

Thanks - Had looked at those, she's not 16 yet, and think they clash with family holiday.

Junior course a possibility. Did an NYTO day this year also, but couldn't audition for summer as that clashed with holiday too.

Also gets plenty of input from an ensemble she plays with at another music school, and volunteers there during term time.

Theas18 Fri 19-Jul-13 15:49:02

any update circ?

circular Tue 23-Jul-13 15:30:45

Meant to speak to HOD at music school on last day of term, but she left early so never got the chance.
DD plans to learn at least all the G7 scales over the summer, perfect a G8 piece she had already been working, and possibly choose a second piece to start. That's on top of all the non grade related pieces her teacher has asked her to do. And familiarising with AS set works.
So plan is to tackle teachers in September once she has shown them how hard she has worked through the summer.
Still hoping to take G8 in March....

Moominmammacat Tue 23-Jul-13 16:19:41

This is a bit similar to one of my DSs needing two Grade 5s for secondary school applications. Teachers were anti as he was only 9 but I entered him for singing, vln teacher did her bit and he got them. In retrospect, it's no big deal but if unis say Grade 8 for applics, I would jolly well do it because if you don't there'll be plenty of others who will have done it. That said, music at university isn't super-competitive ... just look at the UCAS website so see where places are still available. Not totally top tier, but plenty of choice. Best conservatoires a different kettle of fish.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 09-Sep-13 13:02:19

Have you got this resolved yet, circular?

circular Tue 10-Sep-13 21:35:33

Russians Not yet, need to wait till music school starts again.
Reasonably confident on her pieces now, yet to learn the new scales.

DD not keen on entering independently though, as would prefer music school name on certificate.

Moominmammacat Wed 11-Sep-13 13:04:44

What is says on the certificate really doesn't matter ... she just needs it!

circular Wed 11-Sep-13 21:15:49

I think she's just worried that she might get asked awkward questions when her music school is mentioned on her personal statement, and the certificate doesn't match.

Yes she just needs it - but it would make life easier to do it with music school on side.

circular Tue 24-Sep-13 19:48:25

Just a quick update with DD having spoken to her teacher and we met with HOF.

Neither over the moon about her wanting to take the grade, BUT if it's essential for the Unis she intends to apply to, then it will be allowed. They don't like it, because they feel grades just disrupt what they are generally teaching, rather than it being her not up to standard.

Not exactly sure how that will work, as will have best idea of her intentions after AS results. Best time for her to take grade 8 would be March, before AS revision kicks in. They did suggest July after exams, saying 2 or 3 weeks preparation would be plenty.

Meanwhile, busy trying to decide on AS pieces.

Theas18 Tue 08-Oct-13 23:12:16

Good luck mini circulair! Agree plenty of time in the summer post AS tbh. Also AS practical significantly before written exams.

Have fun choosing AS pieces.dS made eldest come home from uni to duet with him for the ensemble piece smile. He got the highest marks in school by a country mile for practical despite some remarks that he interpreted as snide "dissing my instrument" immediately after, so it is perfectly possible to wow them! Mind you I do think the AS/A2 examiners have a big challenge assessing everything from rap to sitar to our instruments !

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