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Starting to feel frustrated - poor dd

(22 Posts)
2stixoftwix Fri 09-Jan-15 21:29:05

My daughter is nearly 11 and has been learning ballet since the age of 3 (grade 3), modern and tap since the age of 6 (grade 3).

She plays the flute (nearly grade 2) and plays the piano (grade 2 in March)


She has been doing grade 3 modern for about 2 years , October half term last year half the class went for their grade 4 exam and went into their next class.
then a load of younger kids moved into her class but as she still had some of her old class with her (who are great dancers) I wasn't too concerned.

I take her to ballet this week (doing grade 3 for 2 years) and all the mums are buzzing as their children have been entered for the grade 3 ballet exam in March, but my dd hasn't, neither has it been mentioned to me.

I also then find out that the rest of the old group of children in my dd modern class have been entered for their grade 3 modern exam in feb, again mine hasn't.

My daughter took her grade 1 piano last March and therefore should have been taking her grade 2 this March . Her piano teacher is a friend and I'm not impressed with her teaching (separate post) throughout the Christmas holidays my dd practiced piano daily and can play 2 of her pieces - they need polishing and just needs to get the 3rd tune learn't and done.
She came out of her piano lesson yesterday and told me her 'teacher' doesn't think she is ready for her exam in March as it will be too much 'stress'
Even though she passed with a merit and loved the experience

her last tap exam she was entered into was sept 2012 (primary) she got a distinction
Modern exam (primary) Jan 2011 distinction

wasn't put in for grade 2 - no idea why not

ballet - her teacher originally left her out of the exam, but I questioned it, so she put her in July 2013 (grade 2) and she got a Merit.

My dd is starting to get really bored in dance because it's the same every week, the boredom is showing on her face and her manner
She loves dancing, but isn't the best dancer (I'm under no illusion here that she will have a career in the dance and I'm not being cruel to her, she isn't a natural like some kids) but they have been doing the same stuff every week for 2 years.

And now her piano, if she doesn't go in for her exam in March the next one will be July , I can't expect her to play the same 3 songs until then.

This sounds totally crazy but I'm getting totally pee'd off with all this.

Are these kids not allowed to be good enough to just 'pass' an exam.
When dance teachers won't put them in for whatever reason
Piano teachers spend half the year doing bugger all, then say she won't be ready cause the never started teaching scales etc until Sept

My daughter is getting frustrated as well, she wants to do exams and get certificates and medals like the other girls, but gets missed out , she takes exams without worrying about them, and always gets good marks when given a chance, but she is being denied the opportunity by dance teachers who are more interested than their reputation, but are happy to take £150 a term from me.

Sorry for the rant.
Believe it or not I'm not a pushy mum, my daughter is a quiet girl, she never gets chosen at school, it's the same kids every term up on stage.
even though she can deliver the goods when given the opportunity

I keep telling her "one day your star will shine" but I'm getting increasingly despondent that she is being stopped from achieving anything by 'teachers' who don't pick her.

What can I do to change this ridiculous situation, when I want to shout ' hey teacher look at her, don't ignore her - she doesn't need a distinction' sad sad

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 09-Jan-15 23:28:38

Fwiw, piano grade 1 last March doesn't automatically mean grade 2 this march, though not unreasonable to expect. If at level, she shouldn't just be doing exam pieces but lots of repertoire even if exam is later in the year. Doing more music wins out in the end to the extent that I encourage playing easy pieces.

But you're right, it doesn't feel good to be passed over.

WineWineWine Fri 09-Jan-15 23:54:18

This is what i hate most about extra curricular activities. Kids can't just do things for fun, there has to be a grade involved and if they can't make the grade they get stuck and get bored.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 10-Jan-15 00:10:49

This is so similar to the position dd was in at this age. She is 11 now and stopped dancing as she did music as well, everything started to clash so she had to make a decision what to continue.

What does your daughter think? Is she a carry on and quit under no circumstances as this can be difficult.
Not sure dd would have stopped for anything else only music.

Ask which she likes best and encourage this more. FWIW dd doesn't regret leaving dancing one bit, she has happy memories and the self discipline you gain from attending classes from early years will be a benefit through life.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 10-Jan-15 00:12:54

Sorry OP, I thought I read your dd was 9, still similar scenario grin

RandomMess Sat 10-Jan-15 00:18:18

Urgh the dance teacher would let dc move up a class without taking their exams so they could participate "for enjoyment" - as long as they behaved and participated in class she was happy!!!

I would certainly ask about her getting moved up a group tbh.

ClearlyMoo Sat 10-Jan-15 00:34:39

I got held back in ballet and ended up being the tallest and fattest in my class performing a stupid clumpy dance whilst all my friends in the class above were China dolls in a show. I then got kicked out of the ballet school as I wasn't progressing. I'm now 35 and this happened when I was 11. Take your child out of ballet.

Mistigri Sat 10-Jan-15 09:20:06

I think you are getting hung up on exams as being the reason to do lessons.

You say your daughter isn't a naturally good dancer ... in which case she's never going to need the exams - so would it be possible to find a class which is less exam-oriented? My daughter did contemporary dance for 7 years and modern classical for 2 without ever going near an exam syllabus.

Ditto with music. Exams aren't compulsory and even if you do them, I have no idea why anyone needs to do all of them. To much exam focus reduces the time available to play other, more rewarding repertoire. It's perfectly possible to skip grade 2 altogether, and go straight to grade 3 in a year or so. Or just not do any exams at all! My daughter has yet to sit a formal music exam and she is a good musician considering a career in a music-related field (she might have to sit exams before uni entrance - we'll see in a couple of years).

pigsinmud Sat 10-Jan-15 09:29:16

No advice I'm afraid, but this happened to dd1. She took the primary ballet exam. They all moved up a group to do grade 1. They were all entered for grade 1 and then suddenly we were told dd1 wasn't ready and she could do it next term. Cue huge dent in dd1's confidence - she wasn't the most graceful ballet dancer, but she enjoyed it.

Next term all her friends had moved up. She was then told that the syllabus had changed and it would be a year before she would be ready for the exam. I asked if she could skip it and just join her friends and was told no sad She then left as for her it was fun with friends and without it wasn't .

Dh is a musician and music teacher so I understand that lots of children want to do exams, but he has a few pupils that don't want to go down that route and that is fine. It's very sad when activities that should be fun become far from it. Dd1 just wanted to do ballet with friends not worry about exams.

pigsinmud Sat 10-Jan-15 09:36:08

Just to add re the piano. Exams are not necessarily a year apart. Your dd should be playing a lot more than the 3 exam pieces. Dh gives a high turnover of pieces alongside the possibly slightly harder exam pieces. Some teachers become far too focussed on the exam music. Perhaps the teacher thinks the other sections, eg. Sight reading, need more practice and she isn't quite ready. You need to ask the teacher.

Fadingmemory Sat 10-Jan-15 09:40:06

DD was taught piano by a woman who said, 'Mrs Fading, I do not teach children to pass exams, I teach them to play the piano'

Why can't some children just learn for fun, rather than a fistful of certificates?

42bunnytails Sat 10-Jan-15 09:42:46

Perhaps try something else?

DD1 will never play an instrument very well, but she's a good singer.

DD2 is much better at recreational gymnastics and trampolining than she was a ballet.

They have friends who, find far more for filament from swimming, running and drama groups than they did from dance.

evangela Sat 10-Jan-15 11:38:15

On the other hand I have experience of children not ready for the grade, though usually on account of being absent so much, being allowed to skip the exam and join in. This can hold back the people who are ready and doing well. Though I don't think your situation sounds quite like that and I would be speaking to the teacher. She will be bored doing the same exercises, with no end goal in clear sight, and with the impact having been passed over, every single week.

Does she want a career in dance? Perhaps then ask for private lessons and/or an extra ballet class.

evangela Sat 10-Jan-15 11:48:47

There is nothing wrong with a merit, though I know of too many schools nowadays who are reluctant to put children in for exams unless they are likely to get a distinction. Silly really, when most children entered do achieve a merit, followed by distinction, then pass. Perhaps find a school who will let her progress. But I would be speaking to the teacher first.

taxi4ballet Sat 10-Jan-15 13:05:25

If your dd is bored and frustrated in her dance classes, then she won't be progressing anyway.

My dd was in exactly the same position with modern a few years ago, the teacher wouldn't let her take the exam, nor would she let her move up a class either, until she improved. The trouble was, she was fed up to the back teeth of doing the same thing every week and bored out of her skull, and consequently wasn't trying. Catch-22 situation really.

I would talk to the teacher and ask when she thinks your dd will be ready for the exams. Explain how frustrated she is getting, and that she is miserable seeing her friends move on leaving her behind, and see what the teacher says.

Another option would be to change dance schools.

2stixoftwix Sat 10-Jan-15 15:07:00

Thanks for all the comments

RE Piano, no progress has been made in one year, it looks increasingly unlikely that she won't be doing her exam in March, I don't have a problem with that, I do have a problem that in 1 year she has not even managed to get 3 tunes under her belt, whereas in 1 term in flute she has managed to play about 15 different songs, but this is due to a bad teacher (yet another problem !!!)

RE dance, if all her friends go up and she doesn't she will pull out, she does it for the social aspect, exercise, fun - not for any career aim, she's not a natural performer, though does really well when given a chance and takes it all in her stride.
She is bored, I can see it in her face and body language, and I'm sure that the dance teacher doesn't really care, she is interested in her reputation.
She knows my dd isn't achieving in class, though is still happy to take my payment off me.

My dd is off to the local comp in September, I think things might change them as there are loads of after school activities that hopefully might interest her.

Unfortunately we live in a small town, where the only other alternative is street dance, there are no other dance schools around.

Crazy isn't it how I used to once worry that I couldn't get her to burp properly when she was a baby !!!!!

taxi4ballet Sat 10-Jan-15 17:42:11

You do get some dance teachers like that - what a shame. You all pay the same in fees, so they should all get the same level of care and attention whether they are the next Darcey Bussell or not!

If the dance teacher is interested in her reputation, then perhaps she ought to care a bit more about having happier customers...

Whyjustwhyagain Tue 13-Jan-15 17:26:10

Have you spoken to the teacher and explained how your dd feels, and asked why she isn't being put in for the exam?
If it were me, I would contact the teacher after lessons are finished, during the day perhaps, and have a quiet chat with her.
Alternatively, have a look at local drama groups. Very sociable and often include some dance especially if you go for somewhere like stagecoach

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 14-Jan-15 14:25:00

the dance school my girl go to holds them back from taking exams (the whole class) if they aren't ready or some aren't ready but their level of readiness should really be their level of likelihood to get distinction as all dance school seem to want everyone to get distinctions now (or equivalent).

In the lower grades then yes an exam a year seems to be what I have noticed but as they get higher up it slows down I think especially if they are only doing 1 class a week or whatever.

In your position I would speak to the teacher. there should be two options, one would be to have extra lessons to give her the push to get through the exam (with whatever grade she can get) or two would be to be allowed to just dance for fun and not take the exams. Unfortunately if her body language shows she is losing interest then it will be hard to make her seem enthusiastic about it and convince the teacher but it isn't undoable.

I have to ask though is she particularly small? I have noticed that older ones who are quite little in a mixed class often get overlooked because it is assumed that they are younger than they are. the teacher might just need reminding that she is part of the old group.

SomewhereIBelong Fri 16-Jan-15 08:34:14

sounds like she is doing too much..

my DD does piano and finds it hard to fit in the amount of practise she needs along with going out with friends and family and doing homework and taking care of the dog etc..

- let alone doing flute and 2 or 3 types of dance to exam standard on top. Maybe she needs to drop something if she wants to be focused enough to do exams.

Piano itself needs the 3 pieces, scales, aural and sight reading to all be of a high standard - just for the exams - that takes a lot of practise outside of class. Especially if they want to play fun stuff to a good standard too... lessons should not just be about the exam, they should be about learning to play...

Seeline Fri 16-Jan-15 09:10:01

My DD (10) does ballet, tap and modern, as well as piano. She also fits in several school clubs and Guides each week, so not necessarily doing too much. Her dance school works on a 2 year programme with a massive show taking up about 6 months, and exam work the rest of the time. She is about to take Grade 3 modern, is working for Grade 3 ballet and Grade 2 tap. She last took exams in all 3 about a year ago. I understand Grade 3 ballet to be quite a step up so not expecting the exam for that for a while.
I would ask the teacher for reasons why your DD hasn't been entered for exams and ask when she will be taking them. Tell her that she is not enjoying it as much as she used to because she is missing her friends, and is getting bored with the same stuff for 2 years plus. Do they not do any shows or anything to relieve the boredom?
With regard to the piano, DD is working towards Grade 3 having passed grade 2 last Easter. Her teacher thinks she should go for it this Easter - I on the other hand don't think she will be ready. We've been doing a lot of 11+ work this past two terms so practice has taken a back seat. Even with that she has played lots of other stuff since taking her Grade 2, as well as her 3 Grade 3 pieces. They are not nearly up to 'polishing standard' hence my concern, but I think the entries have to be in in the next week or so....
I would change piano teachers if she really has only looked at 3 pieces in a year.
PS not stealth boasting, just trying to compare like with like although I am extremely proud of DDs achievements

dancestomyowntune Fri 16-Jan-15 14:09:25

Talk to the teacher. My Dd1 started ballet age 2. She is now 12 (just) and taking her Grade 6 exam in March. She took Inter foundation in November. She does dance a lot. We are talking every day, but we have children who were two or three grades behind her a few years ago who are now in her exam classes. She is grade 5 for Modern, grade 4 for tap.

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