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Doing more than one grade a year?

(28 Posts)
eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 19:20:29

DD's taking her violin G1 exam next week. Her teacher has asked me what my plans are for her. At first I didn't know what he meant by that, then he explained that many of his students' parents want their kids to just go through grade after grade (so sometimes it leads to doing like 2 grades a year or so), rather than spend a couple of months not preparing for exams and just playing for fun, before preparing for another exam.

I never knew any other way. When I was a child, I'd only do a grade exam a year, and spend a couple of months between exams not even preparing for exams and just playing other songs.

I didn't know it was as common as he made it sound to do more than a grade a year. I grew up in another country and never was given the option of doing more than one grade a year. DH, who is always keeping an eye on the finances, thinks it is a good idea to just rush through the grades. I'm not sure about that, partly because I'm not used to this plus I think I would be quite stressed out myself if I had to do it this way when I was young.

Any thoughts on this?

eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 19:22:23

Also, DD's violin teacher told me he himself was pushed through the grades quickly by his parents... He said he felt it was at a loss for him personally, as it was very stressful. But he wasn't trying to sway my opinion at all. He just said it all matter of factly. It is completely up to me.

WiIdfire Sat 11-Jul-15 19:25:41

Personally I used to do one grade exam then have some time off and just play some music, BUT, I would skip grades. So perhaps do Grade 1,3,5 etc. Best of both worlds?

BunnyPotter Sat 11-Jul-15 19:28:24

I was even more relaxed. I did Grade 5, maybe Grade 6 (can't remember) and then Grade 8. I got a distinction in G8, so not being on the exam treadmill clearly didn't affect me negatively! You don't have to do all the grades, but (unless it's changed) just Grade 5 theory in order to do grades 6,7 or 8. I played for 6 years, played in a schools regional orchestra, my school orchestra etc. I always had to do scales, arpeggios and studies, but the pieces were more widely chosen..well, as widely as they can be for oboe!

eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 19:35:13

I did mention skipping grades to him at the very first lesson. I started out as not even caring about grades and just wanting DD to play for fun. Eventually he said she should just do the Grade 1 because she may appreciate the challenge and it's a way to build confidence etc etc. I don't know how I'm suddenly in the exam treadmill now and being asked if I wish her to do Grade 2 or not right after. I will mention grade skipping to him again. I might be wrong about this but I get the impression he doesn't prefer grade skipping..

eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 19:43:45

Is it quite uncommon to grade skip? I'm just asking because DD's had 2 violin teachers so far (because we moved to the south last year) and both don't seem to even entertain the idea of grade skipping much when I raised the issue to them. I know that it is not really necessary to do all the grades and that Grade 5 is more important if wanting to go on to the higher grades.

teacherwith2kids Sat 11-Jul-15 20:03:36

I don't know whether it varies between instruments, e.g. whether stringed instruments have skills for each grade that are best learned step by step?

DS did Grade 5 clarinet as his first ever music exam, Grade 4 saxophone as his next. Think the plan is Grade 6 and then 8 clarinet, 6 and then 8 saxophone, aiming for both grade 8s by the time he leaves school? Maybe? May only do the Grade 8s and not bother with the 6s? it is up to him and his teacher. it is perfectly possible to progress - ie play better and better, with harder and harder pieces and wider and wider technique - without taking any exams at all.....

Ferguson Sat 11-Jul-15 20:18:43

I don't see any need, or pleasure, to "rush through Grades"!

You DON'T have to do Grades to learn and enjoy music! What are you hoping to achieve, and I don't think you have said age of DD.

I think it is quite, if not VERY COMMON, to skip a few Grades, as there is no need for an able, hard-working and well taught student to go through them all. Grade 5 Theory is essential to go on to higher playing Grades, and for Theory it is quite useful to learn, or have access, to piano or keyboard as that makes Theory more 'obvious' than does a stringed instrument.

Enjoyment in music is more important than 'collecting Grades'!

eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 20:27:40

DD is 8. No I totally agree it is not that fun to prepare for exams. Her teacher knows that. He gave me the choice but then also added that he himself and many students he tutors went through the grades as quickly as they can. I was curious about that and wanted to know if that is quite a common thing to do in this country, and how do people feel about it, that's all. In the country I grew up in, there is only one exam held a year so it was not possible to do more than a grade a year, so I didn't know anybody who did more than a grade a year.

eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 20:30:32

I've told her teacher we'd prefer not to go for another exam so soon. He agreed, and bought a repertoire book for her to work on after the exam, so we're definitely taking a break from it for now. I'd prefer if she did a grade a year maximum, if she wants to that is.

TheRachel Sat 11-Jul-15 20:38:04

My dc aged 8 and 11 do suzuki violin, so have a great repertoire to work through and grades go along side this.

Dd (11) took grades 2, 4, 5 and 7 over the past 6 years.
Ds (8) has done grades 2 and 3 so far and is working in grade 4 to take in the autumn term.

They play suzuki pieces that are at a much higher level than the grade pieces they are working on. During lessons Ds usually spends a short time on scales, exam pieces and suzuki repertoire and it works well for us.

eliphant Sat 11-Jul-15 20:55:54

DD had Suzuki lessons for half a year before switching to a teacher who doesn't teach Suzuki (because there are no Suzuki violin teachers near where we live currently). I have to say the Suzuki book has some great songs. DD still plays them sometimes at home for fun.

WiIdfire Sat 11-Jul-15 23:04:22

I did three instruments. One, I took grade 5 only. One I took grades 5 and 7, and one I didnt do any exams, but worked through the skills and pieces up to grade 7 standard. I also did Grade 5 theory. So you can be pretty flexible.

Ishouldbeweaving Sun 12-Jul-15 13:44:29

Don't be pushed onto the exam treadmill if you don't want to do that, it is not necessary to take every exam (or indeed ANY exam). If you want her to do no more than one exam a year then there's nothing wrong with that, if it happens to be G3 rather than G2 then that's fine too. There are no bonus points for collecting a full set of certificates. I suppose it might be parents like to see progress and exams are a good way of demonstrating that.

We skipped several - DS took whatever exam he was ready for when his teacher was putting the exam list together. For most of the year he'd play whatever pieces she thought would reinforce the technique she was trying to improve then I'd notice that she was introducing pieces from the syllabus. He'd have a few weeks playing pieces from the list for two grades and then one of them would fall away so we knew ahead of time that he was coming up to an exam and we knew which one it would be.

Best wishes for the exam next week, I hope that she comes out smiling.

schilke Sun 12-Jul-15 13:58:20

Do whatever you want. My dc like to work through the grades. Dh teaches brass and he finds most parents are very keen to push through the grades as fast as possible. He likes to keep up a high turnover of pieces - I know some teachers concentrate solely on exam pieces, which is just rubbish. He does, however, have a handful of parents who say, at the beginning, they don't care about's a breath of fresh air!

If your dd enjoys the grade 1 experience, she might want to do them all. If it's a source of stress, then it's not worth it!

eliphant Sun 12-Jul-15 14:25:58

Thanks Ishouldbeweaving! I've been thinking about it and the teacher assured me before he is no "exam mill" and he only thought she might benefit in confidence and experience from doing an exam now. Perhaps the teacher wants to see how she fares in an exam type of setting. I don't know. If she does well at the exam, he would be happy for her to skip grades. He told me she is ready for G2 already. She already plays in the local youth orchestra and she loves playing in an orchestra so much I even considered letting her audition for the NCO (but on second thoughts, I don't really think we would be able to afford scrapped the idea). She started preparing for the exam pieces 3 months ago. She really enjoyed the exam pieces for the first month but then kind of got bored of doing them at every lesson for the past 2 months. If this is how it is like every time she has an exam coming up, I can see why it would put her off. So I think it would be better to space out the exams, maybe even skip grades.

eliphant Sun 12-Jul-15 14:27:24

Meant to say I think "Perhaps if she does well at the exam, he would be happy for her to skip grades.".

Emochild Sun 12-Jul-15 14:38:26

Dd is skipping grades -she's done 1&3 and will do 5 in the autumn

Her teacher only gives her exam pieces 4 weeks prior to the exam to avoid the pieces getting stale

She does a lot if sight reading and music from different genres

She's says it's to produce working musicians rather than children who know how to pass exams -in fact she only does exams as entry to various ensembles and orchestras is based on what grade you are

claraschu Sun 12-Jul-15 14:44:22

You don't have to do exams to get into orchestras. A note from a teacher saying our kids were "grade 8 standard" was fine

Only do grades if it is really the right thing for your particular child. Often it is just a trouble saver for teachers and not the best way to learn music and enjoy performing.

eliphant Sun 12-Jul-15 15:27:48

We didn't need grades to get into the local orchestra. My DD got in before gaining her G1. They thought she was at a suitable and so let her in. I think I remember reading from the NCO page that they don't really require grades but want people of a suitable standard.

eliphant Sun 12-Jul-15 15:34:28

I think that's what been happening with DD Emochild. The pieces are going stale. She played them beautifully a month or two before, but the playing seems to have gotten worse and there is a certain nonchalance now I don't worry she will fail her exam though. I think she will pass, but after this experience I think changes will have to be made.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 12-Jul-15 15:37:23

I don't think exams are so important unless your child is planning on applying for a scholarship for school tbh.
Sometimes they are good as motivation for children, but one has to ask if they need to be motivated through exams are they making the best choice with music.
i have always found that a child led approach is best, let them decide if they want to do an exam or not.
Many will chose this route anyway if left to their own devices, others will go for a more fun approach and enjoy playing lots of different levels of music rather than working towards being able to play the prescribed pieces and scales.
I'd say let her play lots of different pieces and aim for one exam unless she wants to do more.

eliphant Sun 12-Jul-15 16:14:49

DD chose to attempt the exam this time and after this one she told me she wouldn't like to have to prepare for G2 exam immediately... That really helped us make the decision for her. Glad she will be working on repertoire next.. She gets bored quickly which is another reason why she won't persist with any piece for very long.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Sun 12-Jul-15 21:04:40

Another one with DC who skip Grades. Especially with multi-instrument playing DC it gets very tedious.

Fleurdelise Mon 13-Jul-15 08:26:16

We go with the flow, or rather with what my dd's piano teacher thinks is best for dd.

Dd took grade 1 in March and her teacher said she was ready for grade 2 level but as she doesn't want her to move from one exam to another but also play other pieces decided that her next exam will be grade 3.

Meanwhile she is playing pieces around grade 2-3 standard outside the syllabus and only started an ABRSM grade 3 piece last week. She learnt the grade 2 scales and is half way through the grade 3 scales.

She always has 2-3 pieces on the go, now is one exam piece and 2 other repertoire pieces.

As I trust the teacher seeing that she is not exam oriented but rather does the exam when the child is at that level I am happy with the teacher's choices.

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