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Music scholarship should be better avoided if you are serious about music

(71 Posts)
Kutik73 Wed 17-Jan-18 05:46:32

I wonder how many people agree with this.... Someone I know claims that if you are very serious about music, as in aiming for a successful performance career, should not be a music scholar at mainstream school.

Her point is, music scholarship is great for moderately serious musicians who enjoy performing and learning opportunities at school and whose main focus is academia rather than music. But if you are VERY serious, then scholars' commitments are simply too much and can be great burden, no worth sacrificing individual practice time which is far more important (for serious musicians).

She thinks too many young 'serious' musicians spend their precious time on school musical commitments as a scholar while they should really spend more time on honing their skills at home instead. You can join and enjoy school musical activities for fun and social reasons of course, but you can do so without being a scholar. It's much better to enjoy school musical life without duties on your shoulders, so you have freedom to decide how much to commit time to time and maintain your priority of personal requirements as a serious musician.

She is talking about classical string players who attend Saturday conservatoires, NCO or similar so already have opportunities to play in high standard orchestras/ensembles outside school. So I understand it would be a totally different story for other instruments/fields/circumstances - for instance, some instruments/fields require less individual practice time/disciplines, or no many orchestral opportunities available outside school.

Do you agree or disagree? Any opinion would be greatly appreciated.

TaggieOHara Wed 17-Jan-18 08:06:20

Hmmm - interesting one. I speak from my own experience as a child (music scholar at a big boarding school), and what I have gathered from starting to look at senior schools for my DS2, who is a keen violinist.

My opinion is that few mainstream schools provide the advanced level of individual, ensemble and orchestral opportunities to satisfy a very talented child, who wishes to make music their career. They can't be expected to, with only a tiny proportion of their pupils playing music at a high level. However, junior departments and nco can fill this gap.

In general, the most important thing is the teacher. Sadly, even very good schools do not necessarily have excellent instrumental teaching on all instruments.

Practice time can be a problem, but some schools will go to great lengths to accommodate talented musicians. It is worth asking quite specific questions about this before taking up a place.

Overall, I think it depends on your arrangements for supplementing school provision (jd, nco etc) and the individual school.

For us, we are not considering specialist music schools because we don't want DS2 to board. No judgement or advice there, just personal preference based on my own experiences.

hapsburg Wed 17-Jan-18 08:06:28

I don't think it it is possible to generalise - it depends very much on the school/music dept concerned.
When we were looking at schools for DD we found enormous difference from school to school concerning level of commitment expected to school activities and also (for us more importantly) flexibility to allow her to attend out of school teachers/orchestras/courses.
All is going well so far - much more time than I thought for individual practice, extra sessions with accompanists, lots of performance opportunities.
Having said that, she is not a string player - but I still think it is important to look carefully at the actual school/dept involved as they are certainly not all the same.

claraschu Wed 17-Jan-18 08:15:01

At some schools the music scholarship is not a serious commitment, so won't add much to a music scholar's work load. However I don't think any mainstream school can give any serious string player much help (if any). The lessons in school and the orchestra and chamber music will not be good enough for someone who is serious, and quite often the music department will not understand this (though individual teachers might).

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 08:19:02

Certainly if you are very serious individual practice time on your main instrument is top priority and not spreading yourself too thinly ( especially in ensembles which might be fun but aren't particularly challenging) This is also the advice of AYM which is why ds has dropped some out of school music commitments ( school ones all happen during the day so are fine if he doesn't mind missing assemblies and some lunch times )
Ds was having another stress the other night feeling that school work was taking away from his music time , I had another look at specialist schools but right now even with MDS money we just can't afford the fees so we will have to do our best though there is no way that ds will ever fit in the amount of practice that the pupils do there. His school are still being great about supporting him though and so like others have said I think it does depend on the individual school - though I will be going in sooner rather than later to discuss how ds is ever going to manage 11 GCSEs ( and he's in the top set so high expectations) alongside his music commitment.

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 08:20:21

Ds is at a state not private school as a scholar , but they do still expect quite a lot from him but that's because he's good, they love having him there and want to encourage him though at times he does have to step back from things that they would quite like him to do

stringchild Wed 17-Jan-18 08:51:59

Hard to generalise but dd was a scholar at prep (not onerous) and kid at senior school. Also at JD and nco. She has been given a mentor to support her incl to help her balance her commitments and development needs, and Jason her first term learnt to say no to invites. So all depends on the school - dd’s v much respect her musical journey and see music as s long term thing. Big reason why we chose it. However if she was really determined to be a performing musician long term, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion thsydoevialust School will be the ash to go at some point.

stringchild Wed 17-Jan-18 08:53:14

I should add dd School takes dame appriach to sport scholars - yes they need to play but they are supported to develop a long term healthy approach

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 09:01:14

That sounds really good string . I'm hoping that we can come to some arrangement with school re balancing everything ( I'm sure they rather he stayed then left) but yes I feel the same thing about specialist school hoping we can hold off till 6 th form Ds did ask a young and doing very well trumpet player about this the other week. He went to specialist school but did say that there were other routes to becoming professional and that it wouldn't suit everyone

foundoutyet Wed 17-Jan-18 09:13:37

dc not planning a music career, so for us her music scholarship is just for fun and (money!).
However it hasn't stopped some of the other older children from a music career. Depends on school as ours would accommodate extra time for practice, whether it's sport or music. eg less subjects for GCSE to enable them to spend more time on music

Floottoot Wed 17-Jan-18 09:14:51

My own experience is that I went to a mainstream school until 18, also attending a JD from 12. I was a member of our county wind orchestra and various county chamber ensembles, but not NCO/NYO etc.
At 18, I went to music college as an undergraduate and did a post graduate at a different music college.

The reality is that the vast majority of musicians won't become soloists, so experience in ensemble playing is important. Of course you need to practise technique, tone etc but to focus solely on that at such a young age would be a mistake, IMO.
I can honestly say that it was only at 18 that practice became the main focus, and even then, students were expected to take part in a variety of ensembles.

DS is a year 7 music scholar (cello) and plays in 3 ensembles at school, plus choir, and a county orchestra. He has cello lessons from a private teacher, not at school.
The improvement in his playing as a result of playing with other people is noticeable; his sightreading has improved hugely, among other things.

I honestly think it's more important to be a well-rounded musician than to spend hours locked in a room, practising. Of course, child prodigies are the exception...but they are so few and far between, I can't imagine this topic is even relevant to that scenario.

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 09:59:28

Floot is think you are right about most not becoming soloists and ds is totally realistic about this ( and would rather he says play with others) I think AYMs point was that lots of dcs like ours because they love music so much ( and if they are music scholars perhaps because school expect s them to) play in lots and lots of ensembles. But with ds it had got to the point where much as it was enjoyable he would get more out of spending 1 extra night a week on practice. He still plays in lots of ensembles it's about making sure they find a balance ( and currently at least ds gets no time at school to practice )

Floottoot Wed 17-Jan-18 10:11:29

Trumpet, it absolutely is about finding a balance. Obviously, only playing and not practising is too far the other way, so it's important to pick ensembles that bring out the best in a child's playing. Hopefully, any school that offers a music scholarship considers music to be important and enriching, so you'd expect it to be a decent standard, as a rule.
I just get very twitchy when I read suggestions of school-age children needing to practise for hours a day; my experience tells me it isn't necessary or healthy.

drummersmum Wed 17-Jan-18 11:02:27

whose main focus is academia rather than music
mmmm. Do not agree on it affecting the academic side of things. If the school is academic they will expect results from everyone regardless if they are first violin at NCO or gold medallist in junior olympics. If the school is flexible re results, then that's a different story. So I'd say choosing the right school re academic expectations is number one.
In our case, we couldn't have afforded all the individual instrumental tuition that DS received and still receives (though one of the studies is now at jd) thanks to his scholarship. Without it, he wouldn't be considering music as a career and would not have passed the jd audition. So in his case, yes, his music scholarship was life changing. Secondary schools have me registered as insane as the first thing I asked on open days was: do you have a marimba?
Commitments? Yes, many. Clash with life and academics? Insane level, but coping. DS still in top sets for everything. So not impossible. (he has not dropped a single school music group after joining jd, so he has doubled his activities). Difficult to say no to commitments? Difficult for DS, very easy for others! So it depends on the child's attitude. Feels a special part of department, feels appreciated, member of a team? Definitely. Has had chances he wouldn't have had if not a scholar? Yes. Were scholarship offers a boost to his confidence? Yes. Would he be better at his instruments if he did less extracurriculars and less academic work? Alas, yes, no doubt. But life is long. Making a career as a musician in the future will require other skill besides perfect arpeggios. He's learning those skills everyday.

cuttingcarbonemissions Wed 17-Jan-18 11:04:20

It depends on the child and the school and what you mean by serious about music.

No mainstream school will rival the musical education you get at the Yehudi Menhuin school. But that education is very narrow and only suited to those who aim at becoming performance artists.

The big public schools offer an excellent musical education with a range of performance opportunities alongside other broader academic and extra curricular opportunities. They will also encourage gifted musicians to participate in NYO etc. Many professional musicians follow the cathedral chorister major public school, Oxbridge music scholar route.

Others enter public schools as music scholars at 13 (think G8 on first instrument and G5 plus on a second) and then decide they want to become medics or physicists. These schools allow them to do this.

Other private schools will offer a decent musical education alongside broader academics etc. But they may not offer enough to fully develop a young musician and their demands might limit opportunities outside school.

I think there is a big element of market forces in this. Most young people who are going to make a career performing on an orchestral instrument are already well developed at 13. If you are still on G4 violin at that stage you are unlikely to make it as a professional performer - and you are also unlikely to be offered a music scholarship at a major public school. So a music scholarship to a smaller school might be a good deal for you.

As you point out there are lots of opportunities in other musical fields, disciplines etc which require less early development.

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 11:28:29

Drummers whenever ds is struggling to balance everything I remember your ds and tell myself that it will be ok and that he can cope smile ( I hope) not that he's a music scholar we can't really afford private school - even with a scholarship plus AYM and NCO etc so as his school is really good with excellent music support ( though obviously not at the level of a top private school with music scholars ) it seemed to make sense to do it this way . The issue at present being that the school really is catering for everyone and so dropping the odd lesson for in school practice time etc isn't the norm - but after a great solo at Christmas he's definitely on everyone's radar now so I will just have to take a deep breath and ask if not for now for in the future

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 11:40:48

Cuttingcarbons I agree there are definitely different levels of being serious about music . Ds would no doubt fit into a specialist school and would love it , but money aside we have avoided so that he does have a choice later on - he's not yet 13 , but would probably be around the right sort of standard to apply for music scholarships at top end schools - he'd just fail all the other entrance exams grin as he's not been to prep school and hasn't had the right type of education. His music education has also been quite unconventional though I'm working hard in the background to try and make sure he's filled in the gaps He's definitely in the minority though at NCO etc being non privately educated , hopefully we aren't making it too difficult for him by the decisions we took about our dcs education early on- before he had even picked up a trumpetsmile

Kutik73 Wed 17-Jan-18 11:44:49

Thank you for sharing your views. I agree with everything mentioned here. It is hard to generalise too - it depends on the school and also the child.

Kutik73 Wed 17-Jan-18 11:54:55

Trumpet, interesting you mentioned being state educated is an odd one at NCO. The other day I had a brief chat with a parent at DS's JD. We chatted about secondary school, and he so assumed DS would go to a private school. As you know we have an option to send DS to a state secondary and we still keep the option open. I told him so and he was very surprised... Not sure if we are an odd ball at JD. I didn't think like that until I chatted with him!

drummersmum Wed 17-Jan-18 11:58:03

trumpet your DS school sounds great and perfect for him. But to anyone who says they're not able to afford private school I would remind you that there are bursaries and schools are giving more and more of those because they see inclusivity as a plus for everyone.

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 12:07:21

Thank you drummers I'm sure you're right but I am also going to keep a close eye on things this year we will probably leave it till 6 th form but might look again at bursaries then

drummersmum Wed 17-Jan-18 12:08:46

Ah trumpet thanks it's nice to know DS inspires others although I should say I don't know how well he would be coping without his personal assistant, admin person, manager, loving mum in other words his own Pepper Potts after boast gives herself a pat in the back and a gintonic

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 12:16:02

Kutik in the music world that our dcs inhabit a dc going to state school is very much in the monitory. I've had similar conversations at NCO including with someone who works for NCO who does a lot of outreach work and is looking to promote NCO in state schools. We had a really interesting discussion and she said that the problem for NCO is that the majority of state school pupils don't start playing soon enough to get to the required standard . So most children end up being ones who go to private schools and I guess that would be the same for the younger years at least at JDs ? Certainly where we live schools tend not to offer music lessons until year 4 and so unless you are then introduced to you "perfect" instrument and pick it up very quickly as ds did you are unlikely to be good enough. I guess for a whole load of reasons, money, priorities, seeing the value in music or other extra curricular activities for scholarships etc many children who go to state primaries just haven't had the right sort of music education. AYM seems to attract more of a mix which is good but most students are older than ds.

Trumpetboysmum Wed 17-Jan-18 12:17:43

Drummers that's me too - this week as well as being taxi service I am playing maths tutor as it seems he's missed some lessons due to ( in school I might add) music commitments and has exams coming up so I am trying to help him revise efficiently smile

reallyanotherone Wed 17-Jan-18 12:18:29

I agree.

Not quite the same but we turned down several sports scholarships for dd.

She is gb squad for her sport. Scholarships were easy to come by. But having looked into it further a scholarship in many schools means engagement with school sport, extra curriculars etc.

The kid is training 20 hours a week outside school. Plus matches, gb camps, training days... last thing she needs is more sport at school.

Also she had a friend a year older who did take the scholarship. As you’d expect from a sporty kid she turned out good at a variety of sports, so ended up on the school hockey team, basketball team, swim team. All this actually took time away from her training. As the scholarship required participation, she ended up quitting her specialist sport in favour of keeping up with all the school stuff.

I can see how it would be the same in music. If you have your lessons, practice, conservatoires etc outside school, then having to drop some of those to take part in school music activities that perhaps aren’t at the same high level, is going to be at the detriment overall.

If it’s fun and they have the time to do school activities, fine. But scholarships often require it, which impacts on the practice outside school.

Dd is at a non sports school. As such they recognise they can’t meet her needs in school and she is allowed to miss PE and other non-core subjects to add in extra training. It works very well.

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