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Probably a silly question about grades...

(17 Posts)
DeWe Tue 27-Aug-13 12:09:10

I would agree that the teacher shouldn't be saying that they're expecting merits/distinctions. It does depend on the examiner a bit anyway-dd1 had one examiner who was about 10-12 marks below what the teacher was expecting for everyone.
The teacher may well be away over the summer, I think if it's a teacher in school they generally wait until the next lesson, which is next term.

You'll get a breakdown of where the marks were, and comments, which can help next time, and see where he missed out on.

lljkk they used to not let you play brass instruments until your top teeth were settled (dh plays trumpet too) however that now isn't the case, dd2 is 9yo, started a year ago, and her whole year was taught a brass instrument as part of the curriculum this year.

Wafflenose Mon 26-Aug-13 12:57:03

If it's Associated Board, the average mark they give is 116-117. Many parents see that it's out of 150 and think that's not good, but it is. I agree that the teacher shouldn't have said what he/she was expecting. I always tell mine we are hoping for a pass, then they are happy when they get one, and a merit or more is an unexpected bonus.

DD has a friend who's just passed Grade 1 trumpet at age 8, incidentally.

Well done to your son!

Clobbered Sun 25-Aug-13 23:36:36

Tactical error by the teacher saying he/she was expecting your DS to get a merit or distinction, so now he's disappointed with a pass. The reality is that he may have only missed the merit by one mark, but examiners don't give that mark, they have to go up or down one mark so that you either just make the merit/distinction, or miss it by at least 2 marks.

RussianBlu Sun 25-Aug-13 23:26:43

Hi thanks to those who offered advice, I hadn't read this thread for a long time! Well, my son took his grade 1 exam. The teacher apparently expected him to get a distinction or a good merit, I am a little disappointed to hear that he was 2 marks away from a merit, so not sure what happened there. I have not seen the breakdown, his teacher did't bother to get in touch and let me know the grades, I had to call the exam place and find out myself after waiting for ages. I did email his teacher weeks ago but have heard nothing back.

We haven't done much practice at all over the holidays, I think he is fed up from all the weeks of just practising the same scales and pieces over and over again. Maybe grades are pointless if it takes the fun out of learning new and exciting pieces?

lljkk Thu 22-Aug-13 18:03:18

Brass instruments for children under 10 are controversial because of impact on teeth. I don't know what's best, but I would imagine Grade 1 is rare before 10yo. And 12-24 months for each grade thereafter.

SE13Mummy Fri 09-Aug-13 21:24:15

DD1 (aged 8, Y3) started playing the trumpet about 14 months ago. She took ABRSM grade 2 in July and heard today that she passed with distinction smile.

She's thrilled, we're thrilled and so is her trumpet teacher - she has group lessons at school (30 minutes, in a group of between 3 and 5). It's the first music exam she's ever taken so has been a positive start for her exam-wise.

In January her teacher had said he hoped to enter her for grade 1 but, on seeing how quickly she'd cracked the pieces and scales (approx 2 weeks) decided to enter her for grade 2. The others from her school who were entered for grade 2 by the same brass teacher have been playing for just short of 2 years, and are in Y5/Y6.

DD1 tends to practise her trumpet for 6 days out of 7 but also plays in the local music service wind band each week and elsewhere once a month. The practise she does at home is of varying quality but is a minimum of 10 minutes and always includes scales. DH and I are both reasonably musical so can 'help' with practice on a general level but as neither of us are brass players we're no use when it comes to technique.

DeWe Mon 22-Jul-13 11:21:04

Dd2 did her grade 1 trumpet after 3 terms and got quite a high distinction.
She wasn't a diligent practicer nor especially brilliant at it.
But until fairly recently (dh played the trumpet too) the brass instruments started grades at grade 3, so I'm assuming the early grades are relatively easier.
In comparison dd1 did her first grade piano after 6 terms and got a merit. She's a better practicer and very musical (full marks on aural).

Petruska Sun 21-Jul-13 11:36:34

For brass - generally 1 grade per year from starting is about normal. Possibly 18months from staring to grade 1, depends on age of child.

Re exam pieces, for the exam, they will need only 3 pieces, so other books/pieces should be used along side the exam material.

Failing exams at the earlier grades can happen, but examiners are generally encouraging and helpful!! Higher grades will be failed if the student is not up to scratch.

I would highly recommend doing group playing - this is the aspect that makes learning an instrument most fun for most children (and adults). It also help enormously with the pupils playing ability.

Good luck and enjoy!!!

RussianBlu Fri 19-Jul-13 21:32:41

hello, thank you all again for your comments and useful advice! I know it depends on lots of things like practice, interest, a good teacher, how musical the family is and so on. I hope your son did well in his exam sittinginthesun! The most important things is for them to enjoy playing and not get stressed/bored constantly practicing the same tunes over and over. A break between exams is probably a good thing!

sittinginthesun Fri 19-Jul-13 21:13:58

My DS has just done grade 1 piano. I was initially fairly relaxed about the idea of grades (although I had grade 8 on a woodwind instrument as a teenager). I just wanted him to enjoy it.

DS, on the other hand, took matters into his own hands, told his teacher he wanted to do grade 1 this summer, so she put him in for it. He really went for it - and consequently enjoyed his piano far more than before. (He's 9, btw, and had been playing for approximate 20 months).

Guess it depends on your child, and how they react to exams etc.

ShellingPeas Fri 19-Jul-13 21:05:30

Distinction are achievable but only if the student has a well rounded musical grsounding and wants to practice all of the aspects of the exam. So, for example, you could have a student who plays all their pieces to distinction level but hasn't spent their time on scales or aural or sight-reading. Hopefully a good teacher will ensure that the supporting tests are at a similar level to their playing.

Exams are useful, up to a point. They can focus a student, so that they practice effectively (or actually practice). However the aspects of playing that they examine can be quite narrow and you might gain more from exploring additional repertoire and techniques and from the teacher providing other performance opportunities (e.g. student recitals or entering students for music festivals). Again it depends on the child and their enthusiasm for their instrument.

And the examiners aren't looking to fail students - wherever possible they would rather pass than fail. However a distinction does require excellence judged at the level be it grade 1 or grade 8.

RussianBlu Fri 19-Jul-13 20:47:44

Thank you earlybirdie... 2 exams in one year, that is impressive! Is it really difficult to get a distinction (another silly question again I'm sure!). I just wonder if there is a grade that the majority of children tend to get...and also if many children fail?

RussianBlu Fri 19-Jul-13 20:45:36

Hello, thank you for the advice. Its for a brass instrument actually. No particular musical background other than a keen interest to learn.

Earlybirdie Fri 19-Jul-13 20:43:31

My experience: Depends on the child and how long and how effective they practise. Non-musical parent, but has a very hard and smart working child, so very small sample size.

So far DD only did one exam last year and two this year. She spent about four months preparing this year's exams. I think she has had a great sense of achievement when she sees her playing gets better all the time. But for another 8-month of the year, she plays a wide range of pieces.

I used to be against exam, but kind of pushed by one of her teachers to let her take one last year. Exam certainly means that DD has to be focused and her techniques have improved a lot because of exam pressure given she really really wants a distinction. But exam is very stressful. DD put lots of pressure on herself regardless of what I say. There are lots of debates about for or against exam. I think ultimately it depends on the child

ShellingPeas Fri 19-Jul-13 20:27:58

Well it depends on many factors:

What instrument?
How old where they went they started?
What's their musical background?

To give a rough idea from my students and my children then:

piano - 18 months to 2 years from starting (if no prior musical knowledge and a child)

flute - 12 - 18 months

cello - 12 - 18 months

guitar - 12 - 18 months.

But some take less, some take longer, it's variable. Piano tends to be longer as you have 2 clefs to deal with plus co-ordination issues. Single clef, especially wind instruments less time, especially if the child has a physiological affinity with the instrument (eg mouth shape or embouchure, ability to control breathing etc).

DancesWithWoolEnPointe Fri 19-Jul-13 20:12:29

Is this piano OP? I think they are roughly about 8.

RussianBlu Fri 19-Jul-13 20:07:25

Hi, I appreciate this is probably a 'how long is a piece of string' question but I just wondered approximately how old a child tends to be (or how long they have been learning their instrument for) when they take their grade one exam? Also, do you find that practicing for the exam actually takes the fun away from practicing as you are focusing on the same couple of pieces over and over again?

Many thanks in advance!

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