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Low pass grade 1 piano-daft mother needs help getting a grip and helping dc!

(58 Posts)
BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 19:13:11

Dd, year 4, has just done piano grade 1. She's had funny moments preparing and at times declared she wasn't doing it, or piano, any more. She was playing beautifully just before the exam. She said she made mistakes and that, plus being nervous made me feel she'd possibly get a merit. But I was surprised that she got 105, and her teacher said she thought she'd do better too.
My head knows this matters not a jot, that any music exam is an achievement, and that even if turns she isn't an exams girl then all will be well.
A bit of me wishes she could have the extra cherry on the cake of getting a merit or distinction and also fears that a couple of her friends who did grade I last year might be a bit rubbish about it.
And a little bit of me just wishes she was super amazing musical. There-I'm a dreadful mother.
Anything you can share to help me say the right thing to dd and to feel encouraged that she might be okay at this music thing?

AnotherEmma Wed 08-Apr-15 19:21:03

You sound extremely pushy. I feel very sorry for you daughter. How old is she, 8?! The most likely explanation is that she was feeling the pressure, got nervous, and didn't do as well as she could have done. So what?! There is no point her doing music (or anything extra) unless she's enjoying it. She can still learn music, enjoy it and be a good musician without doing any exams. You need to encourage and support her, not put pressure on.

I play the piano and did grades (up to grade 8) and didn't do as well as I could have. I've always been a nervous performer. But the most important thing is that I love playing piano, my parents supported me and didn't pressure me. Who cares what I got in my exams?

chocolatemartini Wed 08-Apr-15 19:25:02

You don't sound pushy to me. Do you have the mark sheet? It might be that she can improve on specific areas ie sight reading or aural, or that she didn't memorise the scales well enough. These things can bring the marks down to a pass even with beautiful playing in the three pieces

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 19:35:59

I don't think I'm pushy, beyond making sure practice happens. She was the one to say she wanted to do the exam a d we changed teachers last year because the one she was with was very very exam and festival focused and rather rigid when it came to moving on from pieces that didn't suit or interest. Most of the 5 or 6 pianists in dd's class who were with that teacher did grade one last year and I didn't want dd to feel pressurised. I am being very honest about how I feel though, and I also know that dd knows about merits and distinctions and would have loved to get one. She's by no means a super high level musician, but she does play musically and so that's why I'm a bit surprised. I remembered struggling through grades 7 and 8 (on different instrument) and being amazed to pass, but that was hardly knowing my scales and being wobbly on pretty much everything. Anyway, I will say, as I did before the exam, that I'm very proud of her, she worked really hard and that she plays nicely. And a good measure of exams being unable to measure how much we or she enjoy her playing, and that the achievement of any exam is the work and progress, not the mark on a paper.
Only question really is, without being silly, if she struggled a little with grade one, might she warm up to the exam process and do better at others? With all the caveats of it not mattering either way.

Ishouldbeweaving Wed 08-Apr-15 19:36:33

She's very young yet, she passed and that's something to celebrate. Lots of people (including me) can't play piano AT ALL so she can do something that I can't. I'd celebrate the pass and see if the mark sheet gives any clues as to what happened on the day.

IrenetheQuaint Wed 08-Apr-15 19:39:47

Some examiners are harsher than others. And it really doesn't matter, you know! Developing a knowledge and love of music is the important thing.

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 19:43:57

Just checking (nagging bit of me just won't shut up!) - doesn't mean we should lock the piano for good?! Can you be good at playing but not so much at exams? I was the other way round - pulled it out of the bag for exams but a very nervous performer and not great at sight reading and picking things up quickly in ensembles. I know which is better for enjoyment!

DinkyDye Wed 08-Apr-15 19:47:46

Let your dd enjoy playing. Dont ruin it for her with this rubbish. She passed! Lighten up smile

Ferguson Wed 08-Apr-15 19:48:16

How long has she been playing? And do you play yourself, or know enough about music to help her?

Was it her choice in the first place to start piano, or was it something YOU wanted her to do?

As a TA I was involved in introducing primary children to music for fifteen years - Keyboard, Recorder, and Percussion clubs, but it was always 'informal' music so no emphasis on 'reading dots', except for a few who wanted to, and children only did music because they enjoyed it.

So I think you need to examine your own motives, and have an honest discussion with DD to work out the next move (for both of you).

Ferguson Wed 08-Apr-15 19:53:07

OP - Sorry; you have explained things while I was doing my reply, which may now be irrelevant. I'll digest, and come back sometime.

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 19:57:27

I think there's a mixture of motives, I asked dd if she wanted piano lessons and she said she did, no arm twisting, and is not reluctant to practise, apart from a few moments when she's spooked by something she's found tricky. And I didn't suggest the exam. Also, she started piano in year two (so two and a half years of playing) then asked to do clarinet as well-not even a suggestion from me. She doesn't practise clarinet but did choose to join the school orchestra. So I think she enjoys playing but the whole grades and levels and being perceived as doing better or worse than others isn't really a highlight.
By tomorrow morning this hand wringing will cease-just working it through and I will, like so many other posts, look back and wonder why I even worried!

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 20:00:00

Thank you all for answering kindly-it really does help!

littlehouseinthebigwoods Wed 08-Apr-15 20:15:06

I wouldn't worry. The exam process can be very daunting if you haven't experienced it before. That, plus nerves, a few mistakes and possibly a quite harsh examiner may have resulted in the low mark. It's understandable to be disappointed but it isn't any real indicator of her musicianship at this stage. As someone else said, have a detailed look through her mark sheet and a chat with her teacher about how to improve next time!

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 20:20:05

Thanks, little house. And as an aside, I love your name! I was and am a serious Laura Ingalls Wilder fan smile

littlehouseinthebigwoods Wed 08-Apr-15 20:26:06

Yay, thanks!
Also congratulations to your dd. Getting to grade 1 piano is such an achievement. I hope she feels proud.

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 20:32:28

I am a bit in awe of her, tbh. Bonkers to say it-she's no prodigy, but piano grade one seems more demanding than I remember my grade 1 brass to be, plus I was 12 and in secondary school. I soooo want to get her past "but so and so got a distinction in year 3" and without swelling her head or giving her a false perception of her ability, make her see how great it is. What words convey that?!

AnnieMoor Wed 08-Apr-15 20:37:05

Music exams are tough - my dcs find them the hardest and most nerve wracking thing they do. I did violin (thanks, parents) up to grade 6 and hated every exam.

View grade 1 as an experience and nothing else. After the next one, you will be able to better judge her future direction.

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 20:38:49

Yes-I think two might give a better pattern unless she's very clear she doesn't want to. I do want her to get the satisfaction of practising and getting better-but there must be ways of getting that without exams.

NakedBaby Wed 08-Apr-15 20:42:00

What does the mark sheet say?

IME examiners see their role as an extension of the teachers - and try hard to be very explicit about what marked you up/down on the day.

AnotherEmma Wed 08-Apr-15 20:57:55

You could see if she's interested in joining a music group (in or outside school) so she can learn and play with others, then it's more a team activity and collective achievement rather than being competitive over who got what grade. It's also more fun.

I would also encourage her to perform, whether it's in public, at school, or just at home to immediate family, and give her lots and lots of praise. IMO it's more important to boost her confidence and get her used to playing in front of others. Not much point being an amazing musician - or a musician with Grade 8 distinction - if you can't play well in front of anyone other than a teacher or examiner.

I speak from experience!! Might have pursued music very seriously if I had been a better, more relaxed performer. As it is I play beautiful when I'm by myself (!) - bit of a waste really.

AnotherEmma Wed 08-Apr-15 20:59:23


Mistigri Wed 08-Apr-15 22:04:18

I think it's normal to want your child to be a talented musician - after all, you want to feel that there is some point in forking out for lessons! - and there does seem (based on threads on here) to be a lot of social pressure to have children sit music exams and do well. So I don't blame you for being disappointed.

But take a step back and ask yourself - who is ever going to care whether she got a pass or distinction at grade 1? Plus, the exam only assesses what she did on the day, not whether she's actually musical. And maybe she isn't that musical, but so what?

I went through the period of mild disappointment when I realised that my beloved firstborn was not, actually, that gifted a recorder player. She was perfectly competent but didn't care enough or practice enough. It was only much later that her musical ability found another outlet and we discovered what she was capable of (which doesn't, incidentally, involve exams at all).

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 08-Apr-15 23:15:01

Totally true, mistigri-and I think whatever happens, enjoyment is key. And unless she adores the piano, it might well be that the social side of ensembles is what she enjoys. She definitely feels good when she's performed.
Don't know whether this is a terrible idea or not-would welcome opinions-but I'm just going to tell dd that she passed for now. No mark. I think if her teacher thinks it critical, the mark would be better alongside the comments, which we don't have yet.
It is ultimately irrelevant, but also something a nine year old worked at for quite a few months and I don't want her to get hung up about the mark.
Anyway, another experience as a parent chalked up and trying to learn to do it better.

chauffeurmummy Wed 08-Apr-15 23:47:32

Well I'd just like to applaud your honesty!! It may be "frowned upon" and you'll be given a tonne of advice about how it's "not important" - but the reality is that for every mother who believes they don't care, there will be at least 10 who feel exactly as you do. They just daren't come out and say!!

BigBirthdayGloom Thu 09-Apr-15 00:13:02

Ha-naturally I won't be quite so open in real life! I think my minding a bit comes from the right place-with a teensy weensy bit of wanting dd to be really rather good at something! And I feel ever so slightly guilty (misplaced since I agreed to rather than suggested the exam) for letting her do it-but hey, she learnt three lovely pieces and stuck with them in a way she wouldn't have if there hadnt been an exam.

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