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Music exams and memorising?

(21 Posts)
PetraDelphiki Fri 12-Jun-15 19:06:43

Do you get more credit for playing pieces without music? (Grade 1 piano fwiw)

Getting conflicting answers from different teachers!!!

Ferguson Fri 12-Jun-15 20:00:39

As a TA I taught 'informal' music in schools for twenty years, but was not experienced or qualified regarding exams. Our DS played several instruments, eventually Grade 8 saxophone.

Grade 1 is only just the VERY START of learning anything about music, so I can't really imagine why you would consider taking an exam without music!

Two possible scenarios occur to me: ONE - the pupil's mind goes blank, and he is unable to complete the pieces. TWO - freed of having to look at the 'dots' he can put more expression and creativity into the piece; but they are only going to be very simple pieces at Grade 1, and the scope for expression will be limited.

He will, of course, have to do a sight reading test, aural, scales etc.

A Distinction should be perfectly possible for a well prepared, excellent performance, using the printed music.

Sometime, I'd be interested to know why you would consider it 'sans music'!

PetraDelphiki Fri 12-Jun-15 20:41:15

I wouldn't! But bloody child has got it in her head that she will get more marks without music, so I'd quite like to be able to tell her that is rubbish. TBH she already knows them back to front and inside out (bit bored of them to be honest), so will probably be playing without really looking at the music much anyway! But if having it there will make no difference to the marks I'm going to insist!

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Fri 12-Jun-15 20:47:59

No, that's rubbish - the marking scheme doesn't include anything for playing without the music in front of them

RaspberryLemonPavlova Fri 12-Jun-15 20:51:23

I have never ever heard it suggested you get extra marks for not having the music, or have marks deducted for using music. You can look at the syllabus yourself for whichever exam board it is.

My Dc have done a variety of grades on a variety of instruments, with a variety of results, including a Distinction at Grade 1 piano, with the music.

I think its different for singing though, you do have to memorise.

Good luck to your DC

chauffeurmummy Fri 12-Jun-15 20:55:48

My daughters piano teacher gets cross with her for not reading the music and just playing from memory all the time!

Ilovewheelychairs Fri 12-Jun-15 20:57:36

No extra marks are given for playing from memory I'm afraid. I have a copy of the mark scheme and have attended several ABRSM workshops on exams. I guess it's a toss up between feeling confident she can do it without and losing a fair number of marks if she forgets the music! I encourage my students to take the music in with them and have it on the stand even if they intend on playing it from memory. That way they have the back up.

Mistigri Fri 12-Jun-15 23:13:23

My daughter always plays two of her instruments from memory (except when she is initially learning the piece) and tbh I think it is a bad habit to get into. I definitely think it has limited her ability to sight read on piano. (On the plus side, it does mean she listens very carefully to what she's playing).

I would definitely insist on your daughter having the music in front of her!

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 12-Jun-15 23:53:12

No extras credit at all. Except singing, where it's required. In real performance I often have the music these days, but I am not glued to it. The same goes for exams - the piece should be well known and played in a communicative way.

Worriedandlost Sat 13-Jun-15 00:36:59

One of the teachers suggested a trick - to point at some bar and child should play from there. Unless they remember the music from each bar, they have to look at music and try to play from there and not from memory, at least a bit.

RunAwayHome Sat 13-Jun-15 09:06:20

the exam board I used as a child (abroad) certainly had marks for performing with memory (and for the higher grades, it was expected, and marks lost for performing without). You could still have the music nearby, I think, in case of disaster.

I still find that I'm more likely to give a musical performance without music, and I'd want to have the pieces memorised before exam time anyway, but since I don't need to have it by memory in the UK, I quite like having the music around just in case I want to glance at it.

buggerthebotox Sat 13-Jun-15 10:05:50

Personally, if your dc can do it without the music, I'd go for it. It will free him from the need to look at those dots and use his energy creatively to really express the piece. He'll have plenty of musical knowledge and understanding to draw on, and, personally, I think being without music will give him the opportunity too to turn his offering into more of a "performance" which will mark his playing out as being different.

Good luck to him whatever he decides.

What's he playing, btw?(nosy....)

buggerthebotox Sat 13-Jun-15 10:08:14

Sorry: SHE.

I'd second having a copy of the music to hand as well.

PetraDelphiki Sat 13-Jun-15 12:29:22

She's doing Arietta (along with the rest of the world I think), Lovet Faller (was going to be Dance of the Hours but she JUST CAN'T get it!) and Cuckoo...

buggerthebotox Sat 13-Jun-15 14:00:06

Cuckoo? That the Eben piece?

As she's doing Arietta along with squillions of others, it may be an ideal opportunity to really take ownership of it and put her own stamp on. Personally, I believe that playing without music frees up a student to really concentrate on the sound that's being produced. All to the good, ime.

1805 Sat 13-Jun-15 19:16:11

no extra points.
my advice?? Put the music up there just in case…..and a few quick glances up to keep your place in the music.

Can she sight read ok?

Ferguson Sat 13-Jun-15 23:22:24

It's a bit unfortunate that she has done the pieces for so long that she has become bored (pissed off?) with them, and I hope that doesn't reflect in her performance. I think some teachers relax practise of the pieces for a while, having a final blast prior to the exam.

I don't think you have said how old she is, which could have some bearing on the decision.

If you can be certain she can perform under the stress of the exam WITHOUT music, then give it a go, but some kids can cave-in under exam conditions.

We wish her well, either way.

PetraDelphiki Sun 14-Jun-15 19:25:03

I know...next time I am going to make sure that the pieces don't get looked at until the start of the term for the planned exam. If she's not at a standard where she can learn them in a term she's not good enough to be doing the exam (talking about grade 2/3 here).

She's 8, but has had all her little friends bragging about how they have done all their pieces without music so she thinks its something that matters! I expect her to fall to pieces (ouch, bad pun) without music - but I've got a practice exam arranged with someone she doesn't know so we shall see!

MomOfTwoGirls2 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:49:59

Tell her to watch the music for the dynamic. Very good dynamics will help her score...
So while she is concentrating on great cresendos, etc, she will still be keeping an eye on the music.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Sun 14-Jun-15 22:21:54

No extra marks for performing from memory, as others have said. Even if a candidate chooses to play from memory, they should take the music into the exam. In the case of lower grade piano exams, the examiner probably knows the pieces inside out, but often won't know the pieces for some other instruments. They need to be able to refer to the music so need it in the room.

Singsongsung Sun 14-Jun-15 22:44:15

There is absolutely no credit for playing without music and actually, of nerves get the better of her, it could be a recipe for disaster.

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