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November Music Thread

(765 Posts)
Wafflenose Wed 01-Nov-17 21:58:34

New month, new thread! This is a place for musicians and parents of musicians, from complete beginners to experienced and everything in between, to talk about everything to do with music! Previous threads have covered exams, practice, scales, instrument hire and purchase, theory, composition, aural woes, auditions, scholarship preparation and much more.

I started these threads when my 12 year old daughter Goo was 6 and preparing for Grade 1. I never thought we'd still be going, 6 years later! I appreciated all the advice I was given back then, and try to repay that when I can.

Goo plays the flute and piano (she has been learning the piano for 18 months but has yet to perform - ever) and has no exams lined up at the moment. I also have Rara who is 9, and working towards her third Grade 3, on the clarinet. The other two were on the cello and recorder. She's more interested in art and reading, and currently swims five times a week.

I am a teacher of woodwind, and Wednesday is my day from you-know-where... full-on from 6.30 am until 10 pm, and about to get worse!!

onlymusic Wed 01-Nov-17 22:21:08

I have not been here for ages, I shall try my come back smile

I have dd9 who is playing violin grade 6ish, and piano grade 4ish - all exams are put on hold even though she has her grade 5 theory done.

Ds6 is also playing violin (working towards grade 2) and piano (no exams yet).

It is nice to have both of them playing, but I struggle with managing all the practicing.... This is not to mention other activities they have sad

Both children take part in music festival this month.

Mistigri Thu 02-Nov-17 06:26:55

Thank you waffle.

I have DD16 who plays piano and is in the third cycle (post grade 8) of the French conservatoire system. She also plays guitar and sings. Unfortunately she is also preparing for her French baccalauréat and higher ed admissions, so she doesn't have as much time this year!

DS14 started playing guitar in August and is still progressing very fast, as you do if you play almost every waking hour that you are not at school. He has lessons with a jazz guitarist but he is mainly interested in playing rock music. Unlikely to do any exams but I've downloaded him some Rock school grade 5 materials for him to take a look at.

Trumpetboysmum Thu 02-Nov-17 06:41:24

Hi thanks for the new thread. I have a ds 12 who plays trumpet ( sort of working towards grade 8 but unlikely to do any exams anytime soon) and piano which he started just over a year ago . He also sings and I was quite shocked when he started practicing as he has a full on tenor voice !! But that's going well. He has recently re auditioned for NCO and is a member of Aldeburgh Young Muscucians and plays in far too many bands and orchestras really - I'm not sure how he ( we) fits it all in!! I also have a dd 10 who sings and plays a bit of piano . She also chose to continue with the cornet this year ( at first she said that she didn't want to learn and follow in her brothers footsteps) and it's going really well now she's decided to do a bit of practice!! She also got a ukelele for her birthday and is enjoying singing as she plays

Musicdoc Thu 02-Nov-17 07:16:39

Thanks waffle... I always try and keep track of these threads but sometimes miss a few days and they move on so fast! A great way to support fellow music parents...

I have DD(10) who plays violin and DS(12) who play the cello - despite being very different in character (and musicianship) they are both musically achieving to a similar standard - both working towards Grade 8 on their instruments, both auditioned last month for NCO for the 4th time (although less hopeful this time round - the 3rd year they got associate membership but both also got places as full members when others dropped out before the residentials) and they both all auditioned for NCCO for the first time.

October was pretty exciting for them as Nicola Benedetti and Leonard Elsenbroich came to their music group and did workshops with them, and my son played with the Chineke! junior orchestra, accompanying Guy Johnston & Sheku Kanneh-Mason.... so November will be a bit more mundane with G5 theory (DS) and G4 piano (DD)..... very difficult to motivate them to prepare, I just hope we don't have to do the theory paper again!!

AlexandraLeaving Thu 02-Nov-17 08:19:40

Thanks for the new thread waffle - am determined not to get left behind this month!

The Boy is 14 and has NO EXAMS THIS TERM, a source of much rejoicing all round. He plays clarinet, saxophone, piano - and football. Most of his concerts fall in December but School autumn concert is tonight and one of the two jazz bands he plays with has a gig at a local(ish) jazz club at the end of the month, which we’re alllopkong forward to. He’s also been helping out at the junior jazz group at the Borough’s Saturday music centre, which he enjoys greatly. Fitting in sufficient practice as well as making a vague effort on academics and obviously serious Xbox activity is proving a bit of a challenge....

Looking forward to catching up properly with everyone’s news.

stringchild Thu 02-Nov-17 09:02:07

Thank you waffle! Dd is yr 7 and plays cello (passed g8’in summer term) and taking g7!clairnet in spring. Just auditioned for much hoped for 5th yr in NCO. Music scholar and choirester, and v torn between music and maths/science. No rush to decide thankfully.

Kutik73 Thu 02-Nov-17 09:46:10

Thank you Waffle for the new thread!

DS (10) plays violin and piano. NO exam experience with violin though he regards it's his most important instrument and chose to study violin at jd while happy to keep studying piano outside. Both were similar standard before but piano has been hugely neglected these days, hence violin seems to be progressing more.

We've just sorted state secondary school by going through selective entries, and now are thinking whether he should still try private schools (registered at two schools). The exams/auditions are in January so we still have time to think. Regulars on this thread may have already noticed that I am a slow thinker...

Floottoot Thu 02-Nov-17 09:54:42

Newby here.
We have DD, just turned 14, who has just started singing lessons to go with her interest in drama. She has ADHD with associated SEN, so we felt learning an instrument may be a stepping too far for now.
DS is 11 and has been playing cello for almost 3 years. He's just started piano lessons and is a music scholar at a cathedral school. He's had a break from exams, due to a change of teacher and some technique issues as a result of hypermobility, but will be taking grade 5 cello and theory next term. He auditioned for NCO last week, but we know he hasn't got a chance of getting a place; it was more for experience, really.

DH and I are both professional orchestral musicians and teachers - I'm a flautist and he's a percussionist, and we met while both working for an opera company.

Wafflenose Thu 02-Nov-17 10:02:07

Welcome Floottoot. Why doesn't he have a chance with NCO? Did he not feel that he played very well? It's all good experience anyway... Goo had a couple of NCO cello friends who were both Grade 5 at 11. We bumped into them again at her audition (we're in the south west) so if he doesn't get in, it won't be to do with his grade. They claim that they don't take any notice of grades...

Nigglenotes Thu 02-Nov-17 10:22:53


DD is in Y5 and plays violin and piano. G5 theory next week and G5 violin in Dec. Waiting for NCO results and county ensemble results. Must get back to piano after the theory exam!

Younger DD is in Y2 and playing violin at home for now, no formal lessons, as she is a little temperamental. We are on Violin Star Two and working towards g1 pieces by Christmas, and not having a mini meltdown each home session. The melt down is not because she doesn't want to play, but because it has to be perfect. She has been playing a whole month now, and doesn't understand why she doesn't sound like her sister. I have pointed out that she is on a 1/4 size standard violin and her sister is playing a 3/4 antique instrument so there is going to be a difference.

Minimusiciansmama Thu 02-Nov-17 12:18:05

Hi all! Since the start of the last thread, my monkey has turned 8. We have G3 piano this term. She's working at G4 clarinet stuff but not sitting it, with her G5 being the plan for summer term. We've had a change of teachers as shes joined our version of JD this term. It's also brought a change of exam board so we're working on her aural etc. She's on a bit of a mission this half term with her theory. December will bring lots of concerts, plus her exam (on the same day as one of her concerts, she'll have to leave the concert midway through for it). She's also a busy dancer so there's a lot of juggling between the two. This term especially with ballet exams, showcase and masterclasses all bringing clashes with music. It would help if she sucked at one of them, but she doesn't!

stringchild Thu 02-Nov-17 12:25:25

Floor - Waffle is right; my dd didn’t take many exams as her teachers really didn’t care for them (went from g 5 to g 8) so was be hard to judge where she was by paper; is still g5!clarinet technically but doesn’t mean much. Many NCO. Holder. Are the same and don’t do many exams, somenone at all. Sounds like your boy is v talented and with a NCO tutor as his teacher they would have been a v good judge of whether he should audition.

gillybeanz Thu 02-Nov-17 12:30:52

Hello all, can't believe its Nov already.

I have dd 13 at specialist music school.
She doesn't really do exams as they seem to put them to the back whilst concentrating on other things. There may be a couple this year but not sure yet.
She plays Sopranino, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bari and now bass saxes, and owns clari and flute grin Piano and Voice.
She enjoys Jazz/Classical and is working towards conservatoire entrance when older.
Most concerts are at school but next month is "An evening with John Rutter" which she is really looking forward to.

I love hearing about what other peoples children are up to as I hardly have any input or influence in my dd music making since she started the school. I/We were quite involved in her music making prior to this and it was a bit of a shock to begin with.

Floottoot Thu 02-Nov-17 13:23:46

Hi Waffle and Stringchild,
I'm probably being unduly negative about the NCO thing. It's just that it feels like the other applicants I've heard about have all been much more advanced, and while I know NCO doesn't base their selection on grades, children who have been playing longer naturally have more experience and knowledge than children that have only been playing a couple of years; DS is good for his ability IYKWIM, but obviously hasn't had tons of performing experience. He was happy with his audition, although he was panicking and flapping about sightreading in the week leading up to it, so who knows how that went!! I tread the fine line between mum and musician; I think he's got loads of potential and natural musicality, but that could be the rose-tinted mummy spectacles...
It's a funny position to be, being a musician myself, as I was saying in reply to Drummer on the other thread. I am trying hard not to be a tiger mum about things, while still encouraging him to do something he's good at...a VERY fine line!

gillybeanz Thu 02-Nov-17 14:15:05

Hi Floottoot.

I can sympathise with not wanting to be a tiger mum, it's hard sometimes getting the fine line right.

My dh is a pro musician and I was an entertainer, we both met working together also grin

I may be asking for your insight into Opera as we know very little and dd is mad on opera. I'm learning all the time, but quite often come unstuck with something.
We attend as many as we can together, but she mostly goes with school now sad
Good luck to your ds thanks

SunsetBoulevard Thu 02-Nov-17 14:21:31

Floottoot, we're in an almost identical situation to you in that DS (9) auditioned for NCO for the first time this year too, also on cello. He would be aiming for under 10's and I have to say, reading these threads has really helped as we kept being told by people we met at various orchestras and workshops that all the cellists in under 10's are all at grade 7+! If it wasn't for this forum making me aware that this actually wasn't the case I wouldn't have even put him in for audition as there's no way he could compete with that! On the day DS played two grade 4 exam pieces. He doesn't think he did well enough and I have no idea as I wasn't in the room and couldn't hear through the doors but whether he gets in or not, he had a lovely time and came out of the audition buzzing so I can't ask more than that!
Would be really interested to know what you have been doing to help with your son's hypermobility as my DS has the same problem and recently his little finger keeps locking out straight but with the tip bent over (if you see what I mean) when he plays faster pieces or forward extensions and he has to physically stop and use his right hand to bend the finger back as it just won't unlock on it's own!

Kutik73 Thu 02-Nov-17 14:34:41

DS is the one who doesn't do exams at all. grin It would have been easy for me to see where he was if he had taken them, but I think the non-exam route really suits him as he can just get on with things without ticking every box for passing exams.

Welcome, Floot! Just a quick question if I'm allowed. So both you and your DH are an orchestral musician, which means I assume you both tend to be busy in the evening? I was wondering how you manage the family life if you are both working in the evening? A totally nosy question, sorry. I am curious as my DS is currently fantasising to be a musician, and I am not sure if the profession really suites to his personality...

Floottoot Thu 02-Nov-17 15:14:18

Gillybeanz I'm more than happy to try to answer any opera questions you have. You must miss being hands on with your DD' s music, but how fantastic that she's at a school where she can do what she loves 24/7. :-)

Sunset DS has been through physio and OT. He was given all sorts of hand/finger exercises and also some theraputty with beads in it to pick out, to help with his fine motor skills. In actual fact, his hypermobility is lessening with age, fortunately, although he still has to work hard to play on his fingertips, as opposed to flat fingers, so his teacher has purposely kept him on a cello that is slightly too small for him.

Kutik thanks for the welcome. :-)
Good question! We both worked for a touring opera company until DD was 2 and I was pregnant with DS. We used to take DD and my mum on tour with us, so it worked really well, but got more difficult when she got to school age. We tried various things - splitting work between us etc - but in the end, neither of us was happy, so I stepped down from performing mostly and now do more teaching. DH still tours away and we have no family to help out, so it Is the only real option for us. In the event, I was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition a few years ago and my DD was diagnosed with ADHD, so it has been the right choice, although I miss working with DH.

Mendingfences Thu 02-Nov-17 17:06:11

Mine dont do exams either! Dd1 is nearly 12 and plays violin and since september also piano - first piano concert tomorrow eek. Dd2 is 9 and plays flute and wants to start double bass double eek. Ds is 7 and plays drums and piano.

Doubleup Thu 02-Nov-17 19:34:03

Thanks for the new thread Waffle!

I have DD1 (14) who plays oboe and alto sax and is a music scholar at her school. Grade 6 sax exam in December and potentially Grade 7 oboe in the spring session. DD2 (10) plays bassoon and guitar. She did Grade 7 bassoon in July and was in NCO for the last two years. She auditioned again this year, so we are waiting for the results. Not entirely sure how it went - mixed, I think. Hoping there will be no exams for her for a while, but we have school auditions coming up in January.

LooseAtTheSeams Thu 02-Nov-17 20:52:50

Thank you to Waffle for the thread.
DS1 is nearly 16 and is doing a music performance diploma in bass guitar in the hopefully quite distant future. He should also be doing grade 6 percussion and refuses to do an exam in drum kit but has a fantastic teacher and is learning a lot.
DS2 is 12 and has g5 cello, piano and theory looming on the horizon but has discovered electric guitar and is doing very well at it! I suggested they did a nice duet so I could video it for you and they informed me the history of brothers in bands is not good so no they won’t.
We are definitely the family hat lowers the tone of this thread!smile

gillybeanz Thu 02-Nov-17 21:05:11


You could never lower any tone my love thanks
At least they are honest about not wanting to play together, sometimes it works well, but most kids I've known it's been a recipe for disaster[ grin]. I knew twin teens once who put one another in A&E because even though they loved each other they'd fight to the end.
One day they had a musical disagreement and that was it.
Their parents were mortified as they really were lovely lads, from a good background, they just saw red.

Nigglenotes Thu 02-Nov-17 22:00:30

Damn, that makes me think twice about persuading DD to play along with younger DD on some easier violin duets. I had it all planned in my head, but now I can see that it could end in tears.

Not saying I'm not going to try though!

Doubleup Fri 03-Nov-17 00:56:38

Both dc do talk about doing oboe/bassoon duets from time to time. Might think about our local festival - either a wind duet or family class. Never done any festivals before though. I did raise the possibility of doing the festival with DD1 the other day and was amazed when she didn't immediately run in horror. smile

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