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Music conservatoires

(26 Posts)
helenawalsh1 Tue 10-Sep-13 23:23:06

Hi there, my daughter originally did musical lessons for a hobby, but her teacher suggested auditioning for the JRNCM, she didn't get in the first time, so in December she moved to a new piano teacher who teaches at the JRNCM, then she auditioned again next year. she was very close to getting in but didn't quite. Then she auditioned for the junior birmingham conservatoire, and got in. She is due to start in 2 weeks, but we are realising that she can't carry on with her piano teacher. She has been preparing for an exam, and doesn't think she will do as well if she moves again. Her options are to 1 - join the junior birmingham conservatoire, 2 - stay with her current teacher and try and get into the JRNCM next year.

Another thing I am wondering is which is best? Junior birmingham conservatoire or JRNCM?
Feedback would be greatly appreciated

animatori Wed 11-Sep-13 08:59:30

Hi there,
my daughter is also about to start at a junior conservatoire although none of the two you mentioned. I am also anxious about a move of teachers, especially as they are the reason I think my DD1 has done so advice would be to give it a go, that's what I am doing. I am sticking with it for a year and if it's not beneficial we will revert back to original teacher. You could do the same and apply to RNCM the following year? Did she get any feedback as to why she didn't get in?

When I read the RNCM requirements for their juniors I felt they were much higher than the conservatoire my DD is going for, I think they have hugely high expectations!

animatori Wed 11-Sep-13 09:00:41

PS I think it was grade 5 distinction from age 8, which I think it's pretty high especially when many children don't start learning an instrument until 7 or 8 anyway!!

Moominmammacat Wed 11-Sep-13 13:03:41

G5 distinction is high for piano at 8 ... not particularly so for string instruments for the good ones. Royal Northern is generally better rated than B'ham but 1) it depends so much on teachers and 2) what the child wants. Look at what else is on offer there ... orchestras/ musicianship/aural/choirs etc. And what's easier for you, travel-wise. My DSs didn't go to junior conservatoire 'til they were 14 and that worked for us because they could go on their own. What age and what grade is she?

helenawalsh1 Wed 11-Sep-13 17:36:31

The reason was, she was very nervous, and they thought that maybe she wasn't ready, however they did say that she played her pieces expressively, particularly her Chopin piece, then they said to apply next year. I can tell that she would rather go there, I'm concerned that her heart isn't fully in Birmingham, but the risk is that she turns down Birmingham, and then RNCM don't offer her a place after. Thanks for your suggestion, that is a good idea, my daughter is 14 I'm December, so maybe when she is thinking about sixth form, she could audition at RNCM?
Where is your daughter going to?

noteventhebestdrummer Wed 11-Sep-13 17:41:44

Ask Karen at JRNCM what her opinion is, she is very honest and kind. Also ask your current teacher. Getting a place at any junior conservatoire is a great achievement so I think turning down the Birmingham place would be a mistake. Why would it matter if she postponed doing the exam anyway?

helenawalsh1 Wed 11-Sep-13 17:42:38

She will be starting on grade 7 on piano, it depends on what the teachers at Birmingham thinks she should do, going on to grade 4 cello, and working towards her grade 5 voice. She hasn't done any exams yet on cello and voice, she started cello 10 months ago

animatori Wed 11-Sep-13 20:58:47

I am glad you are going to give Birmingham a try, we looked at both JRNCM and the one where she ended up auditioning but the only reason we didn't go for JRNCM was that it was further away and that (mainly) they wanted grade 5 distinction, which she doesn't have.

We looked at the timetables for the day and they were pretty much identical, so I think there isn't much difference from that point of view. I would say that it will be very much down to whether she clicks with the teacher, something I am very nervous about too to be honest!!!

Good luck and let us know where she goes!!!

helenawalsh1 Wed 11-Sep-13 22:35:43

We have decided that Birmingham is the right answer, as the environment is friendlier than JRNCM, and I think she will feel more relaxed. We have discussed the matter with her teacher, and her teacher has said that she can have lessons with her in the holidays. And I think she will postpone her exam, as when it is her very first term, they don't do exams anyway. I think maybe when she is ready to be 'pushed' more, we will audition for JRNCM, so if she is lucky, she can get in for year 11/ sixth form.
Thanks everyone for your help :-)

morethanpotatoprints Fri 13-Sep-13 17:49:02

I don't think the grade 5 at age 8 is that important tbh, well not at JRNCM anyway.
This is the standard they look for but having passed the exam is not important as they are looking for many other things including musicianship and ability to sustain a full day of intensive study.
I have known several to be admitted without having passed one music exam.

chauffeurmummy Fri 13-Sep-13 21:32:00

Isn't 8 very young for grade 5 - even for a very talented musician?? Don't most children start at 7 or 8? My daughter started piano at 6.5 and will taking her grade 1 after 2 terms when she'll be just 7. How can anyone jump from Grade 1 - 5 in a year??

I am not saying my dd is super talented by the way - I am just thinking about exactly what a child would have to achieve to be at that level by that age??

morethanpotatoprints Sat 14-Sep-13 18:04:28


Conservatoires only take very gifted musicians and/or those who demonstrate potential to be professional musicians.
The competition can be very stiff, depending on a particular year.
The Grade 5 is used as a benchmark for standard, not just having passed an exam at that standard.
The potential element is showing confidence at sight reading, Aural tests and of course the way you come across during questioning.
It is wrong that some people assume that a Grade 5 is required and this is it.
Finally, it is obviously more about the student than the college itself. There are some fine players who don't wish/don't pass the audition and of course everybody develops at their own speed, not at a defined given time.
I hope this makes it a bit clearer. My knowledge comes from my dh who is a Musician/educator who prepares children/older students for entry. He also provides Masterclasses at most of them, and has colleagues and friends who teach there.

musicalfamily Sat 14-Sep-13 20:32:05


but surely putting on your website that the minimum requirement at age 8 is grade 5 distinction puts off anyone who say is grade 3 at 8...

I think this is a mistake, as a child could be very gifted but have started at 7 or 8, hence still at the beginning of their path but being able to demonstrate a lot of potential.

Are you saying that even if a child is say at grade 2 or 3 level they will still consider them? It doesn't make that clear at all and I wonder why that is?

chauffeurmummy Sat 14-Sep-13 22:24:55

I think that's my point - that however talented a child may be, in order to achieve grade 5 by age 8 then they have to have started very, very young. Even the most talented of children still have to go through the learning process!

I appreciate they only want to take the best of the best but bearing in mind most children don't seem to start an instrument until age 7 or 8 - it seems they would be excluding a lot of potentially very talented young people!

Or maybe I don't live in the real world of music!!!!

morethanpotatoprints Sat 14-Sep-13 23:06:07


Is think it depends on which conservatoire you are applying to, what year, what instrument, progression to date, potential, supporting tests, how well you do on the day, and maybe several other factors I can't think of or don't know.
The grade 5 distinction is not necessary to gain an audition or a place. Perhaps certain popular instruments in a particularly popular year will entail most of those gaining a place having a distinction at grade 5, but that's different to saying it is compulsory.
Perhaps the website you refer to could word it better, it does sound misleading.
Some people don't start playing until much later, some instruments are not played by 8 year olds, especially at that standard. In these cases the dc wait until they are older to apply and usually only have the same grade 5 as others have gained younger on a different instrument.
There are many factors that determine who gains a place and it isn't always so cut and dried. My advice would be to audition, you get good feedback, valuable in itself whether you gain a place or not.

duchesse Sat 14-Sep-13 23:19:37

DD2 hadn't begun her instrument (French Horn) by 8. In fact she was 9.5 before she started. She's now 16 and approaching grade 7. Can't see how any serious musical set-up would require grade 5 by age 8. They have to be more flexible than that, surely?

duchesse Sat 14-Sep-13 23:23:34

In fact the junior college web site says roughly grade 5 by age 11, not 8. And also acknowledges that this is not achievable for come instruments.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 14-Sep-13 23:31:00

The RNCM says its at a rough guide that grade 5 would be expected.

Successful candidates need to demonstrate that they possess a combination of basic musicality, commitment and potential sufficient to indicate a realistic promise of a career in music.
Present attainment of successful applicants will depend on such factors as age and length of study, but as a rough guide...... on principle study instrument from our younger applicants.

FAQ. Am I good enough.....

One of the key things we look for in potential students is the ability to cope with, and thrive in, an intense, but rewarding environment.

chauffeurmummy Sun 15-Sep-13 00:19:14

Well that makes more sense! Around Grade 5 by age 11 - less if younger, higher if older! Not that it's likely to be applicable to us, but I can sleep easier now tonight knowing that the world hasn't actually gone completely mad!!

pianomama Mon 16-Sep-13 12:15:33

DS is starting his second year in JD - not the ones you mentioned.
What we found is that piano and violin are the most competitive instruments, in our JD they are the only 2 where you have to go through 2 auditions.
The fact is , a lot of kids there will have done G5 Distinction much earlier then 11 but this is not a deciding factor at all. There are pianists there who never took any grades at all. I think G5 Distinction is roughly a standard from where the teachers would be happy to take them on (as they don't want to teach basics). What they look at in audition is musicality. Much more then accuracy, finger velocity etc. If they invited your DD to apply next year, I would consider it seriously as it is a very good JD.

FionaCR Thu 03-Oct-13 13:38:53

Could someone advise? Just starting to wonder about whether it is ridiculous to consider applying to a Junior department. Trinity Laban in SE London would be the most convenient for us. My daughter is Y6, and got G5 distinction descant recorder in the summer (end of Y5) and G4 distinction cello (plus has a pass on G4 piano a year ago (G5 next term we think)) so is better than average but no child prodigy.
She is however desperate to 'do music' long term (I don't think even she knows in what capacity yet). She loves all the orchestras / ensemble playing and has done 3 summer music camps. I had just assumed her enthusiasm would wane as it all got harder but it hasn't, and it sounds like a lot of these junior departments have programs which start from secondary school which is what she will embark on in September.
Is it worth a go, or should she already have G5 cello under her belt? (I doubt it would be til Summer next year she takes it so after the auditions). And if she didn't get a distinction, would it all be over so to speak? Or if she applied next year, would she be expected to be at G6 standard?
So many questions.....
Thank you.

Moominmammacat Thu 03-Oct-13 14:28:18

I'd have a go. My DSs both did it ... one loved/one loathed. It's a good day out, keeps them off the streets, nice friends/social life/well-structured/plenty to do. As for standards, I wouldn't worry too much about grades ... just go in and have a look/ask for a consultation lesson. Good luck! Costs an arm and a leg, by the way ...

FionaCR Fri 04-Oct-13 09:43:49

Thank you Moominmammacat. There is a music festival / exhibition coming up in conjunction with them so think we might go along and see if we can talk to someone. Yes, I had noticed the fees were rather high....!

Wafflenose Fri 04-Oct-13 11:43:41

We don't have a JC nearby, but does anyone have any experience of the South West Music School?

DD is nearly 8, and Grade 5 Recorder (descant, and slightly lower on treble/ sopranino), Grade 2 Flute, and also sings and plays a bit of piano and ukulele. We pay for the flute lessons but she has to do the rest with me when we can fit it in, because we can't afford multiple lessons (& 2 DCs learning). I am looking at this as an option for the future - I don't think she would get in yet - but has anyone actually done it?

morethanpotatoprints Tue 08-Oct-13 22:54:53

As for costs, saw Moomin.. post

You can apply for funding from your LEA and also they attract the gov Music Drama Dance? whatever its called award.
I think most specialist Arts schools are accessible to all, unless I'm mistaken. Obviously means tested but certainly an improvement to how it was in my day.

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