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Anybody's DC's at Royal Academy or Guildhall (Junior)?

(11 Posts)
cingolimama Thu 07-Dec-17 10:35:24

DD (12) wants to audition for both RA and Guildhall Junior conservatoires. First instrument is violin and she's about Grade 7 level. She's also recently started piano (just did a Grade 3 dist) and has her G5 theory, so she's doing well. It would be very interesting and helpful if any of you were willing to share your experiences.

DD, at the moment (which I know can change) is aiming for a career in music - not as a soloist but as something else (chamber musician, composer, conductor - who knows?) While I know either of the junior conservatoires would offer a fantastic rounded music education, I do have some reservations:

How do children who aren't prodigies cope? My DD is an accomplished, very musical and hard working musician. But she is NOT a prodigy. The junior conservatoires seem packed with these kinds of kids (and scary parents) and wonder about the effect it has. I had a similar worry about ProCorda, and she's thrived there. But I think RA/Guildhall is a whole other ball game.

Also, I had heard that the standard of teaching is not consistent - that there are of course some fantastic teachers but also not so great ones, and if you are assigned one who doesn't work, then it's very difficult to change teachers.

Any thoughts?

Floottoot Thu 07-Dec-17 11:00:08

My experience of JDs is my own so obviously goes back a good many years.
I went to the Guildhall JD from age 12 to 18, as did my twin sister. There was quite a broad range of students there; some were prodigies, most were not. Many did go on to full time music college but a fair few didn't.
I had a second study teacher I didn't particularly enjoy so I moved to a different one; I can't remember it being a problem but of course that may well be different now.

Personally, I loved my time there. The variety of opportunities, spending the whole day with people like was wonderful.
I'd say that if your DC wants to go and is offered a place, she'll get a huge amount out of it, prodigy or not.

cingolimama Thu 07-Dec-17 11:20:12

Thanks floot, nice to hear.

Trumpetboysmum Thu 07-Dec-17 16:07:09

Ds doesn't go ( does something else instead) but we know a few dcs who go / have been and they're all getting a lot out of it and like you say are doing well and are accomplished Young Muscicians without being prodigies . Ds may go at some point I think he'd get a lot out of it . We aren't going at the moment because it's a long journey each weekend ( I know others do this but he has a sister too and we need to make it work for everyone)

TRL Thu 07-Dec-17 18:31:14

One of my daughters (11) started Junior Guildhall this term. She absolutely loves every minute - the various musical activities she does through the day and the company of others with the same passion as her. She has an hour's instrumental lesson, an ensemble, a musical appreciation class and a choir. As she gets older, she'll join in more things.

We picked Guildhall over the other London Junior depts because the teacher we wanted teaches there. DD plays a rarer instrument so there are fewer teachers and it's a small world so easy to hear about the teaching style and kind of character that may suit. We had a look in advance at the teachers in the different depts and all of them offer a trial lesson at their own home. We'd have tried another one that way if we hadn't been so sure who would suit DD1. Certainly once you have a place at Guildhall, you can have trial lessons with a couple of teachers to see who may be a good fit. I'm sure it's the same at RAM. If the teacher doesn't think it's working, they'll hand the pupil onto another teacher who they think may suit better.

Last week's end of term concert featured as soloist in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, an 11 year old violinist who's played with professional orchestras all over the world - she is prodigy! DD1 is not, and although she's advanced for her age on her instrument, she's mainly super-keen, enthusiastic, practises hard and loves, loves, loves her music. The majority are like DD1, I think - they look good in comparison with normal school orchestra and look normal at Guildhall.

It's very friendly. Compared with RAM (have one small cellist there for lessons and ProCorda on Sats) it seems smaller, much uglier building and the food is Barbican prices rather than student union prices! All irrelevant to DD1 who simply loves going, loves her new friends and is currently practising every possible variety of dominant & diminished sevenths with whatever inversions she can, trying to compose some sort of piece with fugues/canons/something (or at least that what it sounds like). When your daughter's sitting at her instrument squealing and squeaking 'Ooo, did you hear that? Ooo, doesn't that sound pretty?!', you know someone or something is inspiring her greatly.

cingolimama Fri 08-Dec-17 08:34:52

Wow TRL, that sounds fantastic! It's just the kind of experience I'd like DD to have. Thank you - this is so helpful.

Floottoot Fri 08-Dec-17 14:03:15

TRL, your daughter's experience sounds just like mine - so lovely to hear she's enjoying her time there.
Is the prodigy violinist called Alma (think that's the name of the person I'm thinking of)?

Moominmammacat Mon 11-Dec-17 15:33:42

Both my DSs went to Academy; one loved it, one loathed. One had terrible teaching (wrong teacher for him), one wonderful. We chose it over Guildhall because it's a nicer building, has the Park and Marylebone High St. For them, (diplomas at 16, far from mega-talented) it was a pleasant diversion, good for friendships. Very expensive but everything is in one place and you can go off to said Marylebone if they are still at the stage where you are taking them in.

disorganisedmummy Wed 13-Dec-17 15:02:40

Cingolimama,my ds is 11 and a half and is looking to audition in the Spring for entry next September for Junior Guildhall. We picked Guildhall because it is the closest to us-we're in Essex.
He had a pre audition assessment this time last Year with the head of Junior Strings (ds plays violin). At the time he was grade 5 ish though doesn't do exams. HoS,William Bruce was absolutely lovely and said ds is definitely gifted (aurally,has perfect pitch). However he felt he needed to be doing more practice (up to an hour a day is required). He wanted him to audition this Spring but ds decided to leave it another year as he had the transition to senior school to deal with.
He is now about grade 6 standard but regularly plays grade 7/8 pieces. We have been persuaded by his violin tutor to apply in January. He is at a point where he needs to move on from his current Music school.
He did a trial day after his assessment and absolutely loved it but is worried about dealing with it on top of senior school homework.
Music is all he wants to do and wants to go to Guildhall for uni too.
I would love to hear from more parents who have kids at Guildhall especially.

disorganisedmummy Wed 13-Dec-17 15:04:57

Oh and also,he is gifted aurally but is certainly not a prodigy. I do worry that with violinists especially where they are 10 a penny how will he stand out from the crowd but I have explained to him that auditioning is a valuable experience regardless of the outcome.

SE13Mummy Tue 26-Dec-17 23:12:32

I know you've not asked about Trinity JD but my DD has just started her second year there, isn't a prodigy but is pretty good on her instrument, and is loving the experience. We didn't consider other JDs as although we're in London, we liked what Trinity had to offer as well as the fact that lots of the children there are from state schools- DD had been to a couple of unrelated brass workshops/days that were predominantly attended by children from fee-paying schools and felt quite strongly that she wanted to go to a JD that she felt had more in the way of 'people like her'.

I've been impressed by the teaching, the teaching of musicianship, the choirs each child sings in and the very pragmatic commitment to a stage-not-age approach to assigning pupils to ensembles. This year I've been especially pleased with the communication and responsiveness of those running the programme and DD is delighted to have been selected for an endangered species second study. She loves her Saturdays there even though her current plan isn't to become a professional musician... but she likes the idea of being able to earn money in the future by busking, teaching or becoming a wedding musician.

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