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Autumn Term Music and Music Exams Thread

(389 Posts)
Wafflenose Mon 01-Sep-14 11:03:43

Hello everyone. My children went back to school today, so I decided it was time for an Autumn Term thread. Please jump right in!

I have DD1 (MiniWaffle) aged 8, who loves music but knows her own mind!! She is currently playing Grade 6 and 7 Recorder pieces and trying to get her Treble up to scratch. Her second instrument is Flute and she's been hovering around Grade 4 for a while. I have no idea when her next exams will be, or what grade, but none this term that I'm aware of. She is auditioning for the NCO in October though. DD1 also sings, tinkers with piano and ukulele, and has just started the Grade 3 Theory book. I tend to find this one the biggest jump, and if you can do this one, you can manage Grade 4 and 5 easily. Usually. I hope.

DD2 (BabyWaffle) is 6, enjoys music and is going at a completely average pace. I can say this with some confidence, as I have about 120 pupils of my own. She's been playing the recorder for about 18 months and the cello since March. She wants to do Grade 1 Recorder and Initial Grade Cello this term.

Looking forward to hearing about how everyone else is getting on.

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 01-Sep-14 13:05:47

Hello! Really welcome this thread and all the useful advice. We go back to school tomorrow and most of the music lessons don't start for another couple of weeks so am trying to keep the practice going! I don't have to nag but I do have to remind them!

DS1 (aged 12) is learning flute (grade 3), orchestral percussion (G2) and drum kit. He's come very late to music lessons compared to MiniWaffle and BabyWaffle but loves the social side of playing in bands. It sounds as though once he's done his grade 3 flute, I need to think about theory lessons as well!

DS2 (age 9) will be doing cello grade 1 this term if all goes to plan and possibly grade 2 piano the term after. He also likes to have a go on the mandolin! He plays in one string group, which he enjoys immensely, and is about to start in the school orchestra.

To add to all that, I am learning the piano - not taking exams but currently learning a mixture of pieces including a grade 3 piece that has taken me most of the summer to play with both hands, thank goodness it's slow! ('Jack is Sad' is the piece, very lovely when played well!) Would love to hear from any other mums who are learning!

Right, back to the name tags...

Wafflenose Mon 01-Sep-14 13:33:52

It's nice to hear about your DS1 and DS2, and it sounds like they are very keen. I try to start a new thread each term (although one of the old ones lasted for a couple of years!) So lovely to hear about you learning the piano as well!

I am doing theory with MiniWaffle. She's a bright girl, but it seems to be slow going compared to lots of other children I hear about. Yes, mine started playing very young, at mid-3 and late-4 respectively (younger one started at a later age due to being tiny, and not interested until then). BabyWaffle isn't going all that fast, just started a couple of years before her peers are/ will. MiniWaffle is a determined little madam and put in hours and hours of work when she was tiny, to get to where she is now.

We had battles over practice, but have tried to establish a routine over the summer. I'm not a morning person, but have resolved to get up at 6.45 on weekdays as of today, to get everything done, everyone ready, and supervise practice (2 instruments each) before school. It's done then, isn't it?

pigsinmud Mon 01-Sep-14 14:09:36

Mine are back on Wednesday and I don't want it all to start sad In the middle of an extension at the moment so have lost 2 downstairs room for a bit. The thought of homework and music practice going on in our one sitting room/dining room/music room panics me. Dd1 (10) might be doing grade 2 clarinet this term. Nothing for the other 2. Ds1(14) will spend a while preparing for grade 8 violin. Dd2(8) desperate to start grade 3 trumpet but her teeth are a right mess so everything is on hold for a while.

I feel so unenthusiastic about it all.

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 01-Sep-14 14:12:34

Sounds like MiniWaffle and BabyWaffle are both doing excellently! I love the sound of MiniWaffle's determination - she reminds me a bit of DS2. His elder brother is a more laid-back personality! The boys do music practice before using the computer or XBox, so it's worked quite well up to now. I will definitely give some thought to DS2 practising regularly before school, though. He did this before his piano exam and it helped a lot.

I admire you for getting up at 6.45 and getting everything done before school. I'm not sure we can do it all (too early for the drums, we live in a terrace!) but it certainly would help to do some! There are days where I feel as though I've spent so much time supervising other people's practice, that I have forgotten to spend time on my own! My next lesson is Saturday, though, and I have scales to learn, so no excuses for me!

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 01-Sep-14 14:16:44

Schilke, I just saw your post, and I really feel for you - apart from the piano, the instruments are all banished upstairs in our house but we have had our share of practice/homework battles! Good luck with the extension! flowers

singinggirl Mon 01-Sep-14 14:45:48

Good to see a new thread Wafflenose!

I have DS1 who is thirteen who has got through three grade 5's in the last year - piano, theory and violin. He wants to do Grade 6 piano this term but I'm not sure - and as his piano teacher my opinion counts! He also starts three GCSE courses (that he will finish in Year 10) so I think a term to get used to that might be helpful. He has played a lot over the summer, but most of it towards getting a band going with three friends. So we'll see about that Grade 6....

DS2 is eleven, he may do Grade 2 clarinet this term but I'm not sure - he is also starting at Grammar School, and I think the homework may be hard going till he gets in the swing of it. He has also decided to drop piano after narrowly failing Grade 2 jazz piano in the summer (mainly due to taking it straight after getting back from a weeks' residential - so very tired and no practice!). He has dropped it in favour of drumming - which apparently he has always wanted to do , but never told us - he has Aspergers, so doesn't always communicate everything to us. He is adoring the drumming so far though, I am just on the look out for a second hand electric kit now. Does he win the prize for most instruments learnt to Grade 1/2 standard - so far he has dropped violin, viola and now piano!

I have around fifty piano students as well, can't say at the moment how many may be doing exams this term, depends on who has touched a piano over the summer!

Ishouldbeweaving Mon 01-Sep-14 16:01:31

We still have a week of holiday left, I've got tomorrow set aside for finding all the kit that's hidden itself, seeing what is too small/lost and buying replacements. Theory lessons started a couple of weeks ago and DS had a lesson with his peri teacher last week. He's started playing trombone again after years away and I needed someone else to tell him that he wasn't always in tune. I can't tell you whether it's sharp or flat but I can tell you when it's wrong.

He starts his GCSEs this year, I assume they get the talk when they go back about how it's serious now etc etc and I'm hoping to get him to sign up to homework and practice as soon as he comes in rather than the teen slacker "later, whenever" approach that he's had. He's kept up with daily practice through the holidays so that's a big improvement but it's easier when you have more time. I have no idea what this term will bring, too early for diploma on first instrument, no idea where he'll start with trombone (he wants to do exams, I was rather enjoying being exam free) and his G5 theory papers vary wildly between practically full marks and being written by chimps.

He's away for a few nights with a County ensemble in October half term and he's thinking about a contest in November. No doubt everything else will crystallise in due course. I'm assuming we'll be looking at buying a trombone this side of Christmas to go with the sprays and grease and cleaning things and the stand that's coming this week. We're lucky that we can have one on loan from the bandroom cupboard but I'd be happier with it going backwards and forwards to school on the bus if it were ours.

Wafflenose Mon 01-Sep-14 19:54:29

I probably have 12-18 pupils doing exams this term, but as singinggirl says, it just depends!

I need to start thinking about Music Medals again too, but there were so many disasters, group changes and timetable clashes at work today that I need to sort all that out first.

AriaBanjo Mon 01-Sep-14 22:47:07

Recent name change, but have been on the music exam threads before.

I have dd (10) who is taking grade 7 violin this year. She recently enjoyed a week away with NCO Under 11s and is now desperate to get in to the under 12 orchestra next year. She is auditioning in October and I am going to keep my fingers firmly crossed! She started cello at school last September and took grade 4 cello in April and achieved an excellent distinction. She is likely to take grade 5 cello sometime this school year. We also have to fit grade 5 theory in before the grade 7 violin, which is not going to be much fun.

Ds (6) took grade 2 violin last week and is hoping for a high mark. He is extremely musical and seems to have a natural talent. He might start the guitar at school soon...

DD (3) is going to be starting violin or cello soon!

RaspberryLemonPavlova Tue 02-Sep-14 11:45:01

Back to school tomorrow here. DS2 is at a chorister training day today, though so it feels like we are back to it!

DS1 (16) plays trombone and tuba, plus piano just for fun these days with an occasional piano lesson. He is hoping to do Grade 8 trombone in spring, it will be his last chance if he wants it on his personal statement. He plays in many school groups, music service concert band and a community concert band.

DD (14) plays bari and alto sax, piano and cello. She also may do Grade 8 alto sax next spring. She too plays in lots of groups in school and out. She no longer has cello lessons but still plays in youth orchestra.

DS2 (11) plays piano, trombone, clarinet and is a Cathedral chorister. He has taken Grade 5 piano. His piano teacher is his theory teacher, he is also working at Grade 5 theory, hoping to finish that this term and work on past papers until Spring and take the exam then. As he is going to do ABRSM Grade 6 (she likes the pieces better) this has slowed him down exam wise although obviously the learning will still go on.

He is changing teachers for trombone this term, moving from primary school lessons with the peri to a specialist teacher. The teacher knows him, he has had a termly 'masterclass' with him to keep him on track until secondary age, he may do Grade 5 this term or wait. Clarinet is also a bit of an unknown quantity as he will be having lessons at his new secondary school.

He will also be joining new school music groups.

Looks like a quiet term for once in the pavlova household. I will enjoy it looks like next term will be busy with exams, and our local Music Festival.

ealingwestmum Tue 02-Sep-14 11:58:57

Hope you all had refreshing Summer breaks - back to school tomorrow here also.

Only 1 DD - entering Y6 (nearly 11). Plays violin G7 level, piano G5 aiming to be sat in Spring.

Mostly academic term here with prep for common entrance exams in Jan 15, in addition to learning pieces for music scholarship auditions (violin only). DD is good, though not exceptional so chances are slim, but she is up for trying!

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 02-Sep-14 13:25:37

Most of my students are having a break from exam stuff this term as I refuse to go from one syllabus to the next. However, we have the local Eisteddfod to look forward to. I'm trying to encourage as many as possible to participate, with no thought whatsoever about the competition aspect of it.

It's really funny, locally, that the music teachers are all into getting everyone to just perform, while the dance schools are super competitive.

I have one lad due to take grade 3, delayed from the summer as he was ill for over a month, and a few who may start to work on things for Easter or Trinity terms.

Meanwhile... I'm training for Stringbabies (well, I teach piano to 3yos so why not violin?) and have a vague aim of finally doing my performance diploma next summer. Tempted to enter the Eisteddfod myself just as a reason to bring pieces up to standard and because I never perform any more!

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 02-Sep-14 13:27:01

Oh, and all my Wunderkeys children are starting school, so we now have a whole string of mini Mozarts, with a handful of new students joining. I'm excited to have changed my 'studio syllabus' for the older ones, too, and to have found some great teaching materials for violin.

Wafflenose Tue 02-Sep-14 13:53:05

BabyWaffle did Stringbabies initially (and played at their 10th birthday party). She still uses the book from time to time, but has outgrown some of it (she was nearly 6 when she started). It's great fun, and very cute.

troutsprout Tue 02-Sep-14 14:25:22

Hi everyone,
Dd (11)plays clarinet. It is her first day at secondary today and she went off very happily :-)

AriaBanjo Tue 02-Sep-14 16:26:36

I haven't heard of stringbabies. Mine started violin at 3yo with suzuki method and it's amazing what such little children can do!

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 03-Sep-14 10:36:06


Stringbabies works differently because it teaches note-reading skills from the start, by simple association, in a similar way to the piano course I use. It's a framework, not a course, so I'll be mixing things I've learnt from this training with ideas pilfered from pre-Twinkle Suzuki teachers and with elements of Dalcroze and Kodaly.

Suzuki as a package just doesn't seem to suit my personality, but I love some of the ideas teachers have shared.

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 03-Sep-14 10:36:48

Also, tres impressed by my 3 and 4yo pianists so far. smile

Wafflenose Wed 03-Sep-14 13:12:34

I have had one problem after another with lessons so far this week... Firstly, one parent threatened to pull her DC out of lessons if I didn't move them for social reasons hmm then another dumped her DC's music bag at my house at 8am on Monday morning saying, "she doesn't want to do it any more. YOU make her do it!", to which I replied, "OK, I'll give her an amazing time!" - which I did!! Then I was told I couldn't take anyone from a certain year group on a certain day, and have had to move EVERYTHING, text 28 families and re-do all my admin for that school! Now, I'm trying to rearrange the time for my (new) Senior School recorder ensemble, so that an over-committed and absolutely brilliant child will be able to attend!

BabyWaffle went back to cello last night, and her teacher was absolutely amazed with her, and says she plays and thinks like a much older child. I wondered if she was really talking about my 6 year old who is very immature, swings on her chair, pretends not to listen, and gets angry when she can't do get it right! Teacher said, "Initial Grade is really going to be very easy for you," and DD replied, "I've worked so hard on my scales and sight reading that I want to do it anyway". OK then!

Flute lessons start tomorrow, and I have my children in some of my school groups too. DD1 helps with my beginners, and plays in my A-Team (broadly Grade 2, but it's ensemble experience for her) and DD2 will be in with some of my average-to-plodding older ones.

Ishouldbeweaving Wed 03-Sep-14 15:59:45

Waffle - I wonder whether you'd be messed about quite so much if you were a sports coach. Some extra curricular activities seem to carry more weight than others in our school. (I had a long rant about excellence in sport vs music which I've written and deleted twice). School don't seem to tell the peri teachers anything, whether it's strike days, whole school events, year group activities or snow closures.

I've just unpacked the next weapon against practice slacking. Over the summer I had a clearance downstairs, I finally got rid of the toybox and all the accumulated rubbish that was in/on top of/behind it. I moved some furniture about and then herded all the musical stuff into the new space. The result is that the music stand can stop up all of the time and visitors no longer have to pass through a cornet and euphonium chicane to get into the living room. Today's delivery was a trombone stand, my hope is that if it's just standing there, with the music ready on the stand, then there's more chance of a quick practice. We shall see (I'm delusional aren't I?)

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 03-Sep-14 17:19:02


Leaving stuff out works for me. As in myself, no idea about students!


I've decided to work on the Wieniawski Legende as a possible entry piece in the adult section of the local Eisteddfod. That gives me a deadline of mid-November to have the piece up to scratch. It's challenging enough to require practice if I want to play it well, with the whole middle section being double stopped (in tune enough to create overtones, please!) and a need for a mature interpretation... and consequently good control of bow and vibrato... and 1-3 fingered octaves with double trills (which a lot of the recordings seem to omit... I wonder why?!?!?!).

Wafflenose Wed 03-Sep-14 19:44:37

Yep, leaving stuff out works for me and my students!

And too right, about schools not telling peris anything!! The reason for the change of days is totally unavoidable, and involves the whole class being out for the lunch hour and beyond, but I'm sure someone must have known this before Monday? I also didn't know about Wind Band at School 2. The stuff with the two parents was just ridiculous, but it'll work out in the end!

LOL at the cornet/ euphonium/ trombone chicane!

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 03-Sep-14 22:10:18

I usually get school notices third hand. Only one school thus far, though.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Wed 03-Sep-14 23:46:44

I had a deal with DS2's peri teacher that I texted her direct when I knew there was a school trip, otherwise she would turn up at school to find them not there!

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