Piano Grade 1 Support needed for worried Mum!

(15 Posts)
Trary1 Sat 21-May-16 19:53:38

Hi, my ds age 7 is going to take his grade 1 in the summer. He practices most days but at the mo I'm worried I've done the wrong thing by doing the exam route. He is very badge/cert oriented which is why I did it.
He plays the two pieces ok, a bit slow, and the third is working on now.
Broken chords, contempory, scales are all ok, not necessarily all in time.
Sight reading good.
Rhythmic beating a little off sometimes, singing a bit weak.

His teacher says he'll be fine... But ...!

How strict are these exams? Can i stand in the room with him? Argh!

Wafflenose Sat 21-May-16 20:33:27

That is right on track. I told one of my pupils she had to be at this point when the entries went in a couple of weeks ago, in order to be OK by late June/ early July. She wasn't. Mum insisted she was entered anyway. I said she would fail. Mum insisted. Mum then came to watch a lesson, and the penny finally dropped. To cut a long story short, we are going to have fun with it for now, and try again in the autumn. Your DS, however, sounds just fine.

In terms of standard, yes they are strict, and they won't take age or anything else into account. Have a look on YouTube to get an idea of the standard required (the exam boards have their own example recordings) but a couple of little slips in each piece/ supporting test (assuming they are well known) would result in a pass, or maybe more. And no, you can't go into the exam room.

Fleurdelise Sat 21-May-16 22:21:57

Try not to stress as you will pass your nerves to your DS. I think in lots of instances the parents, myself included, are stressing more than the DCs.

DD took grade 1 piano last March (2015) and as it was all new experience for me I stressed quite badly. This March she took grade 3 piano and I felt better, or at least managed to hide my nerves better.

Examiners are strict in marking but they are trying to be nice and help the pupils feel relaxed, last year DD came out of exam really happy with how nice the examiner was. Saying that this year DD had a scary one who apparently didn't smile and by what DD said he was quite formal. This did put DD off and she got less marks than last year but nevertheless as long as the DCs are a good level they will pass, the difference will be the marks they'll get.

Good luck!

JemTheAngel Sat 21-May-16 22:37:21

I'm not a teacher, so I definitely defer to the poster above's comments. This is my experience though. My DS is working towards grade 1 in the autumn and I took my own grade 1 last year.

My exam was very strict and quite a traumatic experience. Not sure I've been so nervous about anything except my driving test. I went horribly wrong on one piece, and I mean really horribly so. And I did still pass.

My teacher also teaches DS and her policy is to put pupils in for their exam when she thinks they are good enough to get a high mark, not just when they are at pass standard. That way, if something goes wrong on the day, they still pass. That was exactly what happened to me.

Your DS sounds fine, except the one piece he's still working on. Is the teacher happy with that? How long until the exam? For our exam board, the exam window starts in a couple of weeks time. My DS can play all three of his pieces accurately but isn't strong on the dynamics yet, so we decided on balance he wouldn't sit until the autumn. But I guess it might depend on how your son's teacher works. If they work on a piece at a time, there's time for him to work on the final piece before the exam. My son is also lazy with practice and definitely isn't as strong on his scales as I was when I sat my grade 1.

I don't say that to worry you, but music exams are not a given. A friend's son recently failed grade 2 piano and was really upset by the experience, despite having passed other music exams.

My personal tip is that the scales were the first thing in the exam and I was very, very confident with those because I had practiced them to death. It meant they went well and it gave me a lot of confidence going into the pieces and then the sight reading and aural (I knew that was my weakness). Children seem to find them boring but make sure he keeps working on them so they are as good as possible.

onlymusic Sat 21-May-16 22:44:28

I would introduce a metronome when playing scales if there is a timing problem , it really helped in our case.

raspberryrippleicecream Sat 21-May-16 22:48:17

I'll add some practical advice. Make sure you know where the exam centre is, where you can park and how long it takes to get there. Concentrate on what is in your control. And make sure there is a treat afterwards. The work for an exam is always rewarded in this house, not the result!

Honkyponk Sat 21-May-16 22:56:42

Im not in any way qualified to say how he will do in the exam, but I would have thought daily practice would mean he is very well prepared and motivated, and should do as well as his talent allows! Good luck little guy!
As a child I had both piano and saxophone lessons to grade 8 standard, finishing the grades before I did my GCSEs. I found playing the same pieces over and over again really tedious, and really resented beating time in the corner and warbling my way through the singing bits. It was just grim!
If my daughters want to learn an instrument, I will try to find a teacher who will inspire them to find music they really enjoy playing, setting them up for a lifetime of music enjoyment. Unless my girls really insist on doing the exams I won't be putting them in for any, I had real performance anxiety myself and the memories bring me out in a sweat.
I suppose I am trying to read between the lines of your post though. Do you think he really enjoys all the preparation and is getting something out of it? or would he flourish outside of the rigidity of grade preparation? Maybe see how the summer goes and ask him what he would like to do. Good luck.

Greenleave Sat 21-May-16 23:00:01

Op: have you got a date yet. If the date isnt available he might have 3 weeks or more then I think he is in good shape
Only music: great tip we never use our "fancy"metronome(its a real pretty wooden metronome I found it in a music shop). Will check with our teacher how to use it especially with the scales.
Rasberry: hear!hear! I do that too, always a treat(pizza trip with a dessert) after

onlymusic Sat 21-May-16 23:19:16

Greenleave, from my experience there are two schools of thoughts regarding use of metronome, one is that it should come from within and the opposite one is to use the real thing. We only started to use metronome after grade 2 and it really improved her scales.

Fleurdelise Sun 22-May-16 08:25:58

Dd's teacher told us the metronome should be the last resort and only to check the things are right so check the scales are at the right speed, the pieces, before the exam but not to use it for practice because DD will end up sounding like being on autopilot without any personal input if that makes sense.

Raspberry same here regarding the treat I have a friend who promised her DC something she wished for if she was getting a distinction, I think if the child put in the effort and practiced that is what should be rewarded.

onlymusic Sun 22-May-16 10:26:18

I also reward my dd after exam, for trying hard, not the result smile

OldBeanbagz Mon 23-May-16 20:56:41

DS was a bundle of nerves for his Grade 1 and even had to restart playing one of his pieces but he still managed a merit. I think it was because it was his first exam and in a new place.

He took his Grade 2 at his teacher's house and was a lot less nervous this time around. Just waiting for the result smile

Madcats Tue 24-May-16 09:29:53

DD is doing grade 1 flute soon. I'm not sure what's around for piano but I was able to find some videos of adults ploughing through the grade 1 pieces.

DD is of an age where she believes just about anything on Youtube (we're working on that!), so has knuckled down to play the pieces a bit faster and knows that some bits ned to be louder/softer etc.

Good luck (and there would be no harm in practising a few non-exam pieces so that these sessions don't become too much of a drudge).

Wafflenose Tue 24-May-16 17:51:12

I've just started a new general music thread for anyone who would like to join.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/extra_curricular_activities/2645228-May-June-Music-and-Musicians-Thread

Ferguson Tue 24-May-16 19:51:50

The pieces at Grade 1 are obviously fairly simple, but they still need to be played as ACCURATELY as possible, in terms of correct notes, and correct timing.

And if there is scope for good EXPRESSION, observing correct phrasing, dynamics, and feeling the 'MOOD' of the music will all go towards impressing the examiner.

As someone else has said, if nearer the time, he is getting bored with the pieces, have a change and play completely different pieces of a similar, or harder, level for a while. Try and judge when he needs to come back to the exam pieces to give them the final 'polish' before the exam date.

At the exam, if can imagine he just wants to give the examiner a really enjoyable little 'concert', that may help calm his nerves.

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