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Education by a private music tutor vs music school

(10 Posts)
Frogusha Wed 22-Mar-17 13:58:12

For those who experienced both - would you say that education in a music school (Guildhall, Royal College of Music, or a smaller private school) is superior to a good tutor? The school I'm looking at will cost me much more than a tutor would but I'm wondering whether I'd be able to get better education for my daughter as the teachers have been vetted by the school and, as I don't have any personal recommendations, would be of higher standard as anybody who can advertise on a tutor board (in my experience it might be an amazing musician but a rubbish teacher). If I knew a brilliant tutor, it'd be a different discussion. So, would you say, broadly speaking, a music school should take her further (provided she studies and takes exams) than a tutor? Is it worth the extra cash (as, of course, the school takes premium for the administration)?

claraschu Wed 22-Mar-17 14:07:13

Are you talking about a Saturday music programme which includes lots of other classes, theory, orchestra, chamber music, performance classes, etc?

In my experience, my children's best teachers have taught privately, but we took a lot of trouble finding the right ones (we are both musicians). The teachers at the RCM or similar will vary a great deal, though they will all be well qualified and most will be very experienced.

The Saturday programmes can be very good for some children, especially because they provide opportunities to perform and to get to know like-minded children. Not everyone loves these programmes, though.

How old and how advanced is your daughter?

(Also, I see you mention exams, and I just want to say that they are not necessary or always great for everyone, I don't think.)

stringchild Wed 22-Mar-17 14:21:14

we have done both and found the sat jd has suited our dd much better - partly because it is full of children like her, and as a non musical family it makes she get has a balanced programme (aural, theory, chamber, orchestras etc) and all on one day which suits us. The teaching has been exceptional - all dd's teachers are performers and teach privately as well as at jd. The performance element does mean that sometimes they can't teach as they are 'elsewhere', but lessons are always made up. You might want to consider whether you want this type of programme anyway, irrespective of the teacher question - if you don't, i am not sure i would make the commitment to access the teachers alone as mostly you can access them directly outside of a saturday

Frogusha Thu 23-Mar-17 14:43:28

Thank you both, great insight!

My DD will only turn 6 for the next academic year and this is when I'm looking to start school (if we decide to go down this route or have a tutor). She, of course, hasn't taken any exams yet, just thinking about the future and what is best for her.

Do your DC in Saturday schools do a lot of other extra-currcular? It sounds like schools are the way to go but she already does so much other stuff and is completely not willging to give up her ballet etc. And that school will be 4 hours weekly (2 hours during the week of instrument and 2 more hours on Sunday). How would she manage, as she'd need to practice as well during the week? Maybe other children are bit older when they start?

I went to a music school since I was 6 too but I didn't have many other hobbies and not as much homework as she gets already...

claraschu Fri 24-Mar-17 14:47:28

If she is only just turning 6 I would find her a good private teacher to give her a weekly 30-45 minute lesson. Ask around...

I think a 6 year old is too little to practise alone, but should be practising a little bit (10' to start with) on most days, with help from a parent. I also think the parent should check in with the teacher for at least few minutes of each lesson to make sure they know what the child is working on. I also think it is extremely important for the parent and child to enjoy almost all of these practice sessions. Keep the atmosphere fun and encouraging; play duets; listen for 2 or 3 minutes to other kids playing on YouTube; stop one minute before the child is fed up.

This investment of time is already significant, but will help your daughter to know if she really enjoys the violin. If she is really enthusiastic then it might make sense to make the huge commitment of a Saturday programme.

Sorry to add all that advice, but it is exciting that you are starting on this journey, and I can't help giving you my two cents...

Frogusha Mon 27-Mar-17 10:44:36

claraschu, thank you for all the advice, it is really valuable. I already started teaching her and I think I was overdoing, i.e. I was sitting down with her once a week (on a w/e) but for an hour, and this has not been enjoyable. I will try now to do it 10 mins on most days (what's more challenging is making it not a drag). Great idea watching other kids playing too! We went to see the music school I considered this w/e and TBH I was not impressed. The positive is that students do play amazingly well but there is a total lack of organisation - nobody turned up for our appointment / audition, we auditioned with the administrator. Then we waited outside on a windy day for the director for an hour (as inside they had classes), she still failed to turn up, were told to come back in 1.5 hours. Came back to observe the choir session. The kids seemed bored, it was the last lesson of 2nd term, end of class, and they were still singing do-re-mi, no songs (I expect the session to start with it, not for an hour). I kept asking for the timetable of classes, and even the administrator didn't know the times of anything. I wouldn't want to spend half of Sunday hanging around the school, waiting. So I'm thinking it's probably best at this stage to find a good teacher to teach at home, and hopefully at some point I'll find a local kids choir too. I was keen on a school as I like the idea of concerts now and again, to build up her general confidence, she is super shy. It's one thing you don't get with a tutor...

claraschu Mon 27-Mar-17 13:45:25

Oh I am glad you have a better idea of what will work for you. That's great-

At her age, your daughter can do little performances which are just as good (or better) than formal ones in a music school, which can often feel either a bit dreary or a bit high-pressure (sometimes both).

My kids used to enjoy making a little handwritten programme, a few tickets, some snacks, and inviting perhaps 4 or 5 kindly old neighbours, grandparents, etc, to hear a 10 minute concert in our living room. They also played in school for their class (again for about 5 minutes), in our local church for a special daffodil Sunday (we are not religious), on the street to raise money for Greenpeace when they were a bit older, etc. There are opportunities to perform, if you have time to look around. The most important thing is to keep it light hearted, very short, and fun.

claraschu Mon 27-Mar-17 13:52:50

You can try little tricks to make it not a drag when you practise. For example, get an old tin box and put ideas for practising in it on little slips of paper. For example: play each open string four times either loudly or softly; show the cat your very best bow hold; make up a song with short and long notes in it; get mum to play an open string and you say which one it is without looking; eat one smartie (or carrot stick); play your hardest piece 3 times through, making each time better than the last; go back and play the easiest piece in your book, and notice how well you can do it now; make a video of yourself and mum playing together, etc.

Every few days, get her to pick ideas out of the box and do them. It makes practising more exciting at her age.

Frogusha Tue 28-Mar-17 10:44:30

claraschu , you are brilliant!! I'm going to print out all your ideas! I know my DD will love them. Yesterday I showed her youtube videos of young children playing and then she was really keen on playing a guessing game (I have a pile of carton squares with notes written on them for her to guess).

claraschu Tue 28-Mar-17 10:50:50

Aww! It sounds like you are having fun! That's great-

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