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January to March 2019 music thread (Title edited by MNHQ)

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CruCru Mon 14-Jan-19 09:46:20

Hi all

Here is the new music thread for January - I hope no one minds me starting it.

I am mum to a son (7) who is learning the piano and trumpet and a daughter (5) who is learning the piano and violin. I am having piano lessons and played the trumpet as a child.

Some of the people on these threads (and their children) are fantastic musicians. Some are more like me. All are welcome.

Thank you to Wafflenose for all the time she has spent managing these threads.

Mendingfences Mon 14-Jan-19 09:51:31

Here here to waffle and to you cru for admitting its actually january.....

catkind Mon 14-Jan-19 13:47:15

Yay, thanks crucru! And of course to waffle for starting such a lovely supportive space.

I have DD (6), violin and piano - currently preferring piano. She's enjoying playing in a little string orchestra though so hopefully that'll be enough to keep violin interest going. And DS who is 9 playing piano and horn. Currently having a good phase for practising and letting me help a bit, which probably means we're due a tantrum soon... And I'm an enthusiastic amateur string player, so am more help to DD than DS.

CruCru Mon 14-Jan-19 15:00:08

Well I had a piano lesson today and my teacher was pleased with my progress. So that’s something - I’ve moved onto a new book.

It’s a bit awkward because I recommended him to another mum at school who was looking for someone. They had an extremely friendly exchange of messages, her child was due to have his first lesson and then the mum completely vanished. I don’t think it is anything I need to get involved in (and, although she seems nice, I don’t actually know her all that well).

minisnowballs Mon 14-Jan-19 16:03:55

Thanks crucru for starting this.

I love these threads - they answer lots of my stupid questions.

I have DD1, 11, who plays violin and piano, to nothing like the standards of many of the children on this thread. She is preparing for her Grade 4 violin. However, she's really getting into music and is now in a local chamber orchestra, folk group and the school orchestra too. I'm proud of her, as it's not been a particularly easy journey so far and she has stuck with it. She's currently trying to learn 'the shaky hand thing' that everyone else does in her chamber orchestra - and will be so proud of herself when she gets it.

DD2, 9, plays flute and cello - just passed her grade 3 flute and takes grade 2 cello this term. She plays in a string ensemble at school and learns flute with CYM in London. That's been a learning curve for us all - and I feel a bit hopeless among all of the musician parents. Dd takes it all in her stride though and seems to really enjoy the whole thing. It's certainly a huge step up from school lessons.

I am grateful for all the help with my questions about practising, notation (I'm a ropey pianist with no theory knowledge) and many other musical things. Without you guys, I often have to resort to YouTube - as I did over Christmas when dd2 was given all three G2 cello pieces to learn in 2 weeks!

horseymum Mon 14-Jan-19 16:04:15

Thanks for new thread, I might try to keep up this year! I have Ds1 who plays piano, dd2 oboe, recorders and piano, and dd3, piano and recorder and ukulele! She is also desperately waiting to start bassoon! Lessons are only just getting going again, and oboe has had rather a long break, but DD quite self motivated so not so bad. She is definitely missing her teacher though. The run up to Christmas was busy but I think this term will just have one music festival class and that's it so far. I suspect the summer term might be busier. I also run a school recorder group and play in an orchestra. Love this thread, about the only area of MN that I bother with.

Wafflenose Mon 14-Jan-19 17:32:11

I am still reading, but busy with other stuff at the moment. Anyway, I have Goo (13) flute and piano, and Rara (10) clarinet and cello. Both are lapsed recorder players. We have Grade 5 clarinet coming up this term for Rara, and a few classes in the local festival. Goo doesn't want to know! We might have some Grade 4s happening this year too (possibly cello, recorder and piano - Goo was playing Chopin, Solfeggietto etc and highly motivated with the old teacher, and the new one has her plodding through ABRSM Grade 4 stuff very unmotivated-ly) but then again, maybe not! Both girls do NCO and SWMS, but Goo is leaving SWMS next term. We're looking for new flute and piano teachers for September, when she will be in Year 9.

horseymum Mon 14-Jan-19 19:18:43

I hope we don't have to look for a new teacher after the summer, the oboe teacher is actually a professional bassoonist and says she will need an oboe specific teacher by then . ( She is about grade 5/6 just now but not done any exams). I'm hoping he will agree to continue as we both like how he teaches. Maybe he will forget he said it!

NeleusTheStatue Mon 14-Jan-19 21:30:48

Thanks for starting the new thread, CruCru.

I have a mini-violinist who is currently teacher-less. We can't even look for a new teacher. Trying to see the bright side of it but it doesn't seem to be promising. I feel some ups and downs are approaching!!


LooseAtTheSeams Mon 14-Jan-19 21:44:28

Thanks for new the thread CruCru and to Waffle as always!
I have DS1 (17) who plays bass guitar, guitar and drums. He is busy with music at school but A levels are taking up a lot of his time! DS2 (13) plays cello, piano and guitar. Piano grade 5 looms this term, theory in summer and grade 7 cello once he has the theory. So it's up to him!
My news is that I have decided not to take the grade 5 piano exam. The thought of doing it was too stressful and killing my enjoyment of piano, However, I am going to be working on some great pieces so will keep you posted!

bostik Mon 14-Jan-19 22:06:24

Hi Everyone, I love this thread and I'll try to keep up this time but I'm hopeless really! I have two DC. One is not musical - his primary love is Warhammer - but DD (10) plays violin, piano, sings and is currently struggling with THEORY. Hoping to take the exam in the summer...
Thank you cru and waffle for these threads.

busyspinning Tue 15-Jan-19 11:12:35

Thank you for the new thread !! I’ve name changed but have been around for a while !! smile
I have 2 dc ds who plays trumpet and piano and dd who sings and plays piano and cornet . Lots of changes ( and stress) last term but lots to look forward to this term with brass band, NCO plus the usual busy schedule of concerts and shows at the end of term . Oh and a grade 8 ( not sure that I’m looking forward to that one - but all is good I think )

busyspinning Tue 15-Jan-19 11:13:40

Bostick - the warhammer comment made me smile - sounds like our house smile

CruCru Tue 15-Jan-19 12:07:27

In my house it’s Minecraft.

littleladsdad Tue 15-Jan-19 13:57:11

Hi everyone - great that we are underway again! Thank you CruCru & Waffle.

DS is at specialist school & plays trumpet & piano. He attends JD in London and will be doing NCO Main Orch and NCBBGB this year. It's going to be a busy one!

Lotsofmilkonesugar Tue 15-Jan-19 14:15:53

Hello everybody, happy new year, glad the thread is back! We’re slowly getting back into the swing of term time again. We’ve been looking for a new teacher for DD 13 (flute) for a while and I’m hopeful we may have found the right person.. fingers crossed. She’s doing grade 8 this term so she has a lot to think about. Other DCs are pottering along nicely, DS1 doing piano grade 2 and DS2 doing clarinet grade 1 this time. Lots of chewed reeds but otherwise preparation going ok 🙂

squintsoftheworldunite Tue 15-Jan-19 14:21:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PaddingtonPaddington Tue 15-Jan-19 16:00:07

Thank you for the new thread. I’m also another name changer for 2019 but have been around a while.
DD plays violin and piano. As well as playing in the school orchestra she has just started at a new string group last Sunday and loved it. She’s the only one under 18 but said they were all very welcoming (and old!). She’s also had a change of violin teacher as 30 mins during school time just wasn’t working as she was missing work and tests and then had to catch up at lunchtime which then interfered with orchestra and choir. It was a hard decision as she’d had the same fantastic teacher for 7 years but we found a new one who lives less than a mile from our door (and we live in the absolute middle of nowhere). DDs now having an hour lesson and gets on really well with the new teacher.

KittyOSullivanKrauss Tue 15-Jan-19 16:03:39

Hello, thanks for the new thread. I have a DS (9) who plays piano and added cello last term. He's just starting on ABRSM Grade 3 material with a view to doing the exam in the summer. He's getting on well with the cello. I have a younger DD who occasionally plonks on the piano but nothing formal yet. I can muddle through basic things on the piano and do simple duets. There are lots of knowledgable people on this thread which I find helpful as I'm learning as we go along.

Trufflethewuffle Tue 15-Jan-19 16:41:22

Hi everyone. Things are slightly less busy on the music front for me these days as they've got older.

DS1 enjoyed his first term at RAM studying organ. Christmas was a bit weird for us as he was whizzing around everywhere playing services so didn't jointhe family till Christmas afternoon. We had a late meal but it just didn't feel quite right so next year we are going to try having our Christmas Day on Boxing Day.

DS2 also started university in the autumn and is playing sax in the big band which he is enjoying. DS3 no longer takes lessons but potters on the piano when the feeling gets him.

DD is now in year 12, hoping to go to music college after A levels so is in the midst of open days etc. Planning on ARSM in the summer. She has an awful virus at the moment but hopefully after the worst.

I'm enjoying hearing about what they are doing without having to do the organising for them!

woolleybear Wed 16-Jan-19 18:15:01

Hello all, I have dd 12 who is preparing for grade 5 clarinet this term, and apparently grade 3 bassoon next term, I think she is just going by my rule of only one exam a term and just trying to put off grade 5 theory...

First practice of the clarinet quartet her teacher is putting together outside of school and she is beside herself that she is clarinet 3 rather than 4 despite being the youngest by a way.

Other than that just ticking along for a couple of months before exam time and concert season begin!

NeleusTheStatue Wed 16-Jan-19 22:16:56

I've just been informed DS would have two concerts next week. After having a worrying start this term, it's such a relief to see things are happening somehow (not sure how but anyway!). It's so so nice to see him on stage. I don't get that nervous about it. I actually enjoy seeing him performing.

But really, his school loves last minute decisions. Hopefully I can re-arrange my work schedule next week without much fuss...

CruCru Thu 17-Jan-19 11:35:52

That’s good news Neleus. I hope that you get to go. Will he be ready in time or does he already know the pieces he is to play?

Last night my son and I had sort of a falling out over practise. It doesn’t help that both children have both their music lessons today so Wednesday is the last day before the lesson. Plus I was a bit tired and ratty (and my son had had to do his prep beforehand as well). Hey ho, today is a new day. I don’t get them to practise on lesson days so it’ll just be spellings and reading tonight.

catkind Thu 17-Jan-19 15:57:29

That sounds really positive neleus, enjoy the concerts! (If you get to go?)

Crucru, falling out with DS over practice is a regular occurrence here. On the plus side he usually does excellent practice for a few days after before dropping back to normal - here's hoping you replicate that bit too! I'm rather lacking in sympathy this term, DS decided to take exams on both instruments, he was warned this means hard work.

CruCru Thu 17-Jan-19 18:22:21

Ah, glad to hear it isn't just me catkind. I have said to the kids that the point isn't that they do everything perfectly - the point of the lesson is to work on stuff that they aren't doing so well - but it must be obvious to the teacher that they have put some effort into practise (it's rude otherwise).

Today my son said that his trumpet teacher had said that it was the best lesson yet and he's moved onto a new book in piano. So that is positive.

NeleusTheStatue Thu 17-Jan-19 19:18:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeleusTheStatue Fri 18-Jan-19 11:13:10

Pardon me for my mumbling...

I contacted several cleaning companies for deep spring cleaning (our oven in particular needs a serious rescue...). One of them sent someone to visit me for more detailed quotation. A gentleman turned up and I took him for a (very short) tour while he was taking note, then he saw the piano. He asked me if I played so I told him it's my DS's. His eyes lightened up and told me he studied piano very seriously and becoming a pianist was his dream but he took a different path at 18. Recently he'd moved in his own place so been thinking of getting a piano so that he could go back to play again. He wiggled his fingers and said they were a bit rusty. He repeatedly told me music was his life, his everything, and he didn't want to give up piano. He checked every room and left with a big smile. Such a lovely man. Though, somehow this left me a bit of bitter sweet feeling. I wonder what happened to him when he was 18 and after. I didn't ask.

bostik Fri 18-Jan-19 11:36:59

Ah, Neleus that's really poignant... I hope he gets his piano and starts to play again.

catkind Fri 18-Jan-19 12:51:53

Aw, wishing that gentleman a lovely piano and much joy with it. I remember the happiness of being able to get a piano again when we finally had space, but how much worse if it's your main instrument. Those of us with portable instruments are lucky!

NeleusTheStatue Fri 18-Jan-19 19:35:23

It wasn't the first time of meeting someone who expressed a regret of giving up music and interestingly they were all men (in my experience). I am sure there are plenty grownup women who share the same regret or sadness but, am I being a sexist to think male musicians may tend to give up and take a different path for financial reasons, perhaps more than female musicians? I might be thinking too much!

CruCru Fri 18-Jan-19 19:55:30

I know a couple of female musicians who’ve done far less once they had children. Having said that, they usually do a lot of music with the children so perhaps their regret is not so great.

NeleusTheStatue Fri 18-Jan-19 20:00:43

Yes I know a few female musicians who cut down their work as a musician or changed profession after having children. But what I meat was those men who I met made the decision at the time of going to uni/college. There may be more parental involvement for the decision...? So it's a bit different...

CruCru Fri 18-Jan-19 20:47:07

In fairness, the female musicians that I knew weren’t well paid (and had had a lot of help from their families). Super famous musicians might earn a lot but most don’t (bit like acting I suppose).

catkind Fri 18-Jan-19 22:23:00

I can think of two people I know who wish they'd gone for performing as a career. One male one female. Both were pushed into more career oriented courses at uni by their parents. (To be fair, one of them I seriously doubt would have got into music college, the other was easily good enough.)

Performing musicians who are trying to find a more settled career to fit round families are a source of excellent teachers IME!

Josamac Sat 19-Jan-19 07:40:36

Hi all,
My first time on this thread but I’ve been on the NCO thread for the last couple of years. I’m after some advice....
My DD is 10 and taking viola G5 this term and singing/flute G4 next term. She is in NCO U11’S this year having loved the U10’s last year. Clearly her grades are lower than some others on here and in NCO but playing viola can help open doors sometimes. Not that she chose it for that but that’s another story!
She is in a quartet locally and school orchestra etc. Until recently she just loved it all. At the moment though she is really off it all. The world has started to revolve around netball & hockey. This is from the girl who at age 6 announced she wanted to try to get a music scholarship to senior school. It seems to have come at the same time as she has got into the regional youth orchestra which is an excellent one. She has only been once and found the music very very hard. The average age is 15ish there so she isn’t with her friends.
She was so pleased when she got in but there were tears last night to say the least. I’m not sure whether to just push her on or pull her back. She is so sociable as a character and NCO is so good as it is all children of the same age. I don’t want her to go off music altogether. And she has her work cut out for her exam this term too. She’s a calm child so her being so upset is out of character....
Have any of you been through similar? Any advice?
Thank you!

busyspinning Sat 19-Jan-19 08:05:49

I would encourage her to go to NCO as she enjoys it - it’s ages away anyway so she might be back in love with music by then. Remind her how much she loves being with her friends
Maybe give another youth orchestra rehearsal a try but if she hates it I would talk to staff but potentially pull out - there’s no point in feeling unhappy. Some children don’t mind being the youngest and feeling a bit out of their depth some hate it . She can always join again when she’s older .
Similar with the grade 5 ( apart from losing the fees!?!) if it’s putting her off does she have to do it now ?
Children often change their minds about what they’re really into ( well mine do) but I reckon she’s more likely to stick with it long term if it’s not stressing her out . Having said that I wouldn’t necessarily tell her that not doing the exam is an option just see how it goes ?
My 2 don’t like doing exams ( for different reasons) both love to perform . Ds is doing his grade 8 for a specific reason I think and to get it out of the way , dd has announced she’s doing 2 grade 3s in the summer term - we’ll see but it’s up to her I certainly don’t want to see her upset ( as often happens !!)

QueenMabby Sat 19-Jan-19 11:44:15

Hi. Can I join in with this thread? I have 2 DCs. DS not musical. Did guitar for a few years but never wanted to practice so gave it up.
DD is (just) 10 and plays piano and cello. Didn’t start doing lessons until she was nearly 8 (piano) and picked up the cello about a year ago (group lesson) with individual lessons starting last Easter. She has lessons for both at school. She loves music and also sings in a chapel choir. She’s just taken her G1 in the cello (took it before school broke up for Christmas hols but STILL no result!) and is taking G3 in the piano at Easter and then G2 on the cello in the summer.
She does a piano duet “club” at school and plays her cello in the school strings group and is in a cello ensemble. I’m really proud of her as she practises really hard and is doing very well despite her late start!
Anybody else waiting on pre-Christmas exam results still?

Luckyfab Sat 19-Jan-19 14:45:56

Hi, my Ds is 10 and grade 5 in cello.
She enjoys playing cello but seems stuck. Since she started school again in September she seems not to have make any improvement. Her teacher always complains about bowing and posture. She has told her 100 times and spend entire lessons on bowing.
I think she should know by now but it's not like that and she keeps doing the same mistake. Really don't know what to do to make her understand that these things are important. Hopefully she will one day.. soon

NeleusTheStatue Sat 19-Jan-19 17:12:15

Luckyfab, your DD probably understands in her head but her body can't follow it, just yet? It doesn't mean she is not improving - she seems stuck but lots things may be happening inside? Bowing and posture are hard to master, and breaking old habits is even trickier... I would give her time and support her with patience. Do you play cello? I don't play my DS's instruments but I had a go and that experience taught me how hard stuff kids were doing!

catkind Sat 19-Jan-19 18:41:29

Hi josamac, viola high five (I play too)! Hope you can find a level of music commitment that feels comfortable for her. 10 is very young to do such a lot. New orchestras are always hard though, specially if she's sat at the back of the section - much harder than sitting in the middle - and when you're reading new music; so you might want to encourage her to try a whole term before deciding.

Hi Queenmabby, sounds like your DD is really taking to it, what fun!

And hi luckyfab! I have still spent whole lessons working on bowing and posture as a grade 8+ adult, so I can sympathise. Good that her teacher is paying attention to technique. Though I think it can be a bit of a balance between having some fun and working on technical stuff. We have made some steps forward with DD and bowing recently by doing brief exercises but then also finding some music that she enjoys but is very easy so she can just think about her bow. And having a checklist to go through before starting rather than try to correct after the fact. I'm probably teaching granny to suck eggs here though, DD's at a much earlier stage!

I have just realise I need to knuckle down to piano practice if I'm going to accompany DS's exam this term. It would seem an awful waste of 10 years of piano lessons if I can't!

Luckyfab Sat 19-Jan-19 18:47:34

@Neleus and @catkind, thank you so much for your words.

NeleusTheStatue Sun 20-Jan-19 09:54:54

Scales are great for bowing practice as there is no complexity to take your focus away from what you like to work on. Some simple and easy pieces are good too.

NeleusTheStatue Sun 20-Jan-19 10:20:56

DS has gone to play football this morning. He came back with a finger injury from football last month. Luckily it was on the first day of the winter holiday so he had plenty time to let it get healed. However, he has two performances coming up this week. I told him to be careful, in which he replied 'but how?'. That's true... When it happens it happens, doesn't it? He also swims twice at weekends. It's much more stress free!

Lotsofmilkonesugar Sun 20-Jan-19 13:00:49

Hope he’s ok neleus it is a bit of a worry! my DS split his lip playing rugby the day before his horn exam after I’d told him to be careful! He also said how can he play without tackling people which I suppose is true. He still managed a merit, they are suprisingly resilient..

NeleusTheStatue Sun 20-Jan-19 15:51:58

Playing horn with split lip! Well done to him for getting through it and securing a merit!

DS's main sports are swimming, tennis and football. All of them are a lot safer than, say, rugby. But you never know what happens especially when you have a child clumsy enough to get hurt even by just walking on a flat surface!

I've managed to make myself free to go to both concerts DS will be in next week. Yay!

Lotsofmilkonesugar Sun 20-Jan-19 17:05:04

Glad you can go neleus !

disorganisedmummy Sun 20-Jan-19 17:56:49

Hi everyone and a belated happy new year to you all. My ds is 12 and a half and plays violin. He is around G6 level but is now playing G7 pieces. I'm hoping that this year is going to be better for him. He had a horrendous year last year which has really shot his confidence to bits. I won't go into it all now as some of you know much of what's happened and it's very long!!

After a struggle to find "the" teacher, we've finally found someone who can hopefully get ds to his dream of Conservatoire at 18. He auditioned for JGSMD in October but didn't get in and it really upset him. He's decided to leave it until he's done his G8 and he'll see how he feels then but he doesn't want to leave his teacher. She is amazing and I'm so glad we've found her. Ds has Aspergers which really complicates things. His teacher is working on building his confidence back up and getting his theory back upto scratch as he's fallen behind with it due to all the upheaval last year. He's going to spend this year working on his technique- he needs to be more disciplined with his bowing and finger patterns. He also needs to mature a fair bit emotionally too to help achieve all that.

He has a few courses planned with the County Orchestra he's in and will be auditioning for the top orchestra in the summer which is G7 and above. His aim is to get his G8 by the time he goes into year 10 in September 2020. 🤞🏻🙏🏻.

In the meantime if anyone knows of any ways to help build confidence in a young musician,please let me know.

Sorry it's so long!!

catkind Sun 20-Jan-19 21:51:22

Hi disorganised, he sounds very mature thinking ahead like that - sure I wasn't thinking beyond the next concert at that age!

For confidence - sounds like he's well on track clocking up experience and orchestral playing. Does he get to lead a section in any of his orchestras? If not might be worth staying in the lower county orchestra for an extra year if it meant he could lead. (I'd send him to audition for the senior one anyway then discuss options.) Chamber music is great for confidence too as you just get used to having to hold your own independently, anything going on that front?

disorganisedmummy Sun 20-Jan-19 22:27:24

Hi Catkind,ds is currently the lead in the County Orchestra and our local youth orchestra plus he also leads a chamber orchestra and did up until Christmas lead a string quartet but the quartet tutor is now on maternity leave so not sure when they will start back up. He also leads the second violins in the other local symphony orchestra that he's in so he's getting lots of experience. He sings in the school choir and in their A Capella group (he has perfect pitch). My concern is that he doesn't seem to follow the bowing and fingerings that his teacher and he agree on. I'm not sure whether it's because he gets so carried away when he's playing that he forgets or what it is but it does have an impact on his sound (from what I'm told,I'm not v musical). I'm not sure how to get him to be more disciplined without ending up in an argument with him 😬. I absolutely do not want to kill his passion and musicality.

catkind Sun 20-Jan-19 22:49:24

Wow, all that and he's still not feeling confident?! Bowing and fingering - higher standard of orchestra should help with bowing at least as they won't let him get away with not matching. One option would be to give him harder music so wrong fingering will make it impossible to play I guess? (That's DC's piano teacher's solution to kids who ignore her fingerings anyway!) Another would be giving him music that is easy in other respects so all he needs to think about is say bowing patterns. I'm sure teacher will have seen it before though, do you need to input anything at this stage or can you just leave them to get on with it? Sounds like he has a lot of momentum going.

Mendingfences Mon 21-Jan-19 05:29:21

Hi disorganised
Dd1 is also a violin player and a similar age to your ds. Wrt to bowings and fingerings i simply point out that her teacher knows what shes doing, and its much harder when you have to relearn things because you were sloppy first time round.

disorganisedmummy Mon 21-Jan-19 06:53:46

Catkind, when I said in my original post that he'd had a bad year last year, one of the things that happened was that he had a teacher for around 3 months who basically ripped him apart and I'm not sure he's recovered from that. His current teacher who he's had for around 6 months is amazing and is working very hard on building his confidence back up. I'd like to think that the directors of the orchestras that he's in wouldn't give him the lead position if they didn't feel he was good enough? He's also had some snotty comments from a parent who's child plays violin and is about to do G7 but didn't get offered the lead in either of the 2 orchestras ds is in. They left one and has now moved up to the top orchestra (County) in the other. All this has added to his feelings of not being good enough.

If I get involved in practice,he just clams up and refuses to do it. It's so hard. It's almost like he is demand avoidant.i keep trying to say to him that he will not progress unless he sticks to fingerings/bowings. 😩.

busyspinning Mon 21-Jan-19 07:31:09

That’s tricky disorganised . I think building up his confidence is the way to go plus if he does what he’s supposed to be doing with the bowing etc point out how great it sounds
My only concern would be if he really wants to do this in the future working on him being less rigid in how he likes to do things ( difficult I know and a long term goal I think)
Ds s old teacher always said - and he often pulled apart technique- that he didn’t want to send him to music college and have someone pull his playing apart - so it does happen ( in fact I happens a lot) even when they get older and somehow your ds needs to get to a point where he’ll feel that that’s ok- this isn’t going to happen overnight though and it sounds like his current teacher will be more likely to get him there than one who will just destroy his confidence

disorganisedmummy Mon 21-Jan-19 07:49:05

Busyspinning, Love your username by the way!! We are doing exactly that with ds- telling him how great it sounds when he does do it correctly though I'm not musical enough to know when he does if you get me. It all sounds the same to me 😟. Interestingly though,when I went up to kiss him goodnight the other night and he'd done some awesome practice, I said well done to him and that it sounded great and he replied "no it didn't,it was awful." I tried to find out why he thought that but he didn't want to talk anymore 😢.

On a really positive note though, the director/conductor of the local Youth Orchestra he's in gave him a solo on Friday night. He was so chuffed. It's from Jesus Christ Superstar. It's only a few bars long but looks bloody hard to me. I'm so pleased that they gave it to him as surely they must think he's good enough? Otherwise they would have got the whole section to play it? However,I'm slightly terrified that he won't follow fingerings/bowings and it won't sound good 😬. He's determined to do it without his teacher's guidance 😩🔫. Where do you go from here??

Mendingfences Mon 21-Jan-19 08:11:30

Dd1s teacher has talked to her about things getting pulled apart at a later stage even for very good players. That made some impression.
Is your ds at all competetive disorganised ? He sounds like he has really solid well thought out goals but does he also want to be 'best' or care about where others are? It sounds like there are some pretty overinvested parents around if they are making comments about other kids playing. I can see that that would add a lot of self doubt.

TaggieOHara Mon 21-Jan-19 08:20:09

Disorganised - being consistent with Bowing and fingering is crucial for the learning process. If DS is constantly chopping and changing, he will be much more likely to develop mental blocks and/or fall apart in performance. So it is really important. However, the exact bowing and fingering is less important than being consistent. If he wants to play his own bowing/fingering, that is probably ok, but he needs to stick to it. I would suggest discussing this with the teacher, with the idea that they will together agree and commit to bowing/fingering he is happy with.

Then he needs to practice very very slowly always with the agreed bowing/fingering for a week or two. Once that learning process is complete, he will feel much more comfortable and consistent.

On less technical matters... very sorry to hear he is still struggling with confidence. He has had a rough year. The top county orchestra might be mainly teenagers, and so maybe he would be better to hold back a year or two, and move up with his friends from his current orchestra? Even if he is of the appropriate standard for the top orchestra. The best thing for now might to be to focus on enjoyment and social opportunities? Sympathies. It is tough.

disorganisedmummy Mon 21-Jan-19 08:41:54

Taggie Wrt the top County Orchestra there are quite a few kids that are younger teenagers. Ds will be 13 in June. I do get what you're saying though. I've had a couple of emails from other orchestras asking for ds to audition for them including the Britten Sinfonia Academy but although he's at standard and it's an amazing opportunity his teacher and I do feel that he needs to spend this year building confidence and improving technique. I'd love for him to audition but I have to think of him.

Hertsessex Mon 21-Jan-19 12:03:01

Disorganisedmummy - my DS joined Britten Sinfonia Academy for recent course including rehearsals with Sir Mark Elder last weekend which was a great experience (us lucky parents got to watch him in action rehearsing as well). Hard to know but there seemed to be quite a few 13/14 year olds although average age was probably more like 16/17. Also quite a friendly supportive group so he would be ok.

disorganisedmummy Mon 21-Jan-19 13:17:46

Thanks Hertsessex,that's really good to hear. My worry is that the first stage auditions are Walt March and I'm not sure he could get his pieces upto audition standard by then?😬.

How many of the workshops has your ds done?

busyspinning Mon 21-Jan-19 15:04:30

Disorganised ds knows lots of those in britten sinfonia this year . They all love it , though most are older . It’s 8 workshops a year as they are spread out geographically . I can’t work out if they just rehearse for a day or if they stay over ? Or if we’re expected to collect them. I’ll ask, or get ds to.
Ds isn’t auditioning this year as March is too busy and he just couldn’t get his head round that . He’ll says he’ll audition for year 11
It’s very good though

Hertsessex Mon 21-Jan-19 15:31:19

Busy - it is not residential, well at least not most of the time. The recent Christmas course was 4-5 days rehearsal over 3 weeks in 3 different locations - central Cambridge, just outside and then Saffron Walden. I think sometimes also in Norwich so yes quite spread out. The joys of wide-open East Anglia.

busyspinning Mon 21-Jan-19 16:02:46

So do you have to stay around all day to take them home ?

busyspinning Mon 21-Jan-19 16:03:08

I just need to know what I’m letting myself in for grin

Hertsessex Mon 21-Jan-19 16:18:45

Busy not sure what you mean. They are supervised all day so you don't have to hang around although but yes they need to be picked up at the end of the day (so yes unless you live fairly close either have a lot of driving or have a day to kill say in Cambridge)

busyspinning Mon 21-Jan-19 16:53:04

Hanging around for a day is fine , but the literature made it sound like the courses lasted for a whole weekend so if that’s the case we would have to factor in overnight stays too
No I never hang around , don’t mind dropping him off for a day - everything is a long drive for us !!

Luckyfab Wed 23-Jan-19 07:43:49

I have a question, is it possible that some children struggle because their music theory is not at the same level of their practical ability?

Luckyfab Wed 23-Jan-19 07:46:39

Theory lower than practical ability

catkind Wed 23-Jan-19 08:03:48

From the point of view of exams lucky do you mean? Just don't take exams, they're not important. (Or do different exams that don't require it.) Or from the point of view of learning to play new music? I guess it might slow things down slightly as they'd be less independent of the teacher but mostly people play the same pieces long enough it's not a major issue.

Mendingfences Wed 23-Jan-19 08:41:47

luckyfab i think it depends what you mean with theory level. If they have enough 'theory' to understand the music (note value, key signatures, etc.) Then i dont think there is really a problem.

Lotsofmilkonesugar Wed 23-Jan-19 09:15:21

I’m not sure the theory has made that much difference to DDs practical learning. It definitely does help with the aural tests in the later grades though and also with her GCSE music work

NeleusTheStatue Wed 23-Jan-19 09:30:27

I don't think it'll cause significant struggles - obviously it depends on where you are musically, but the theory side tend to be behind for many children anyway.

But I do think good theoretical understanding can contribute to more rapid and deeper progress. For instance, memorising pieces, recognising patterns and appropriate phrasing, etc, can be a lot easier if you have theoretical approaches.

I think learning theory is like learning language. It can be done without proper study - you can learn some from just playing many pieces anyway. But it cannot be mastered properly without deliberate study with good effort. And the solid understanding in theory is a great asset.

Luckyfab Wed 23-Jan-19 09:31:36

Sorry for not being very clear, what I meant is if they can have difficulties in learning new pieces and sight reading.

NeleusTheStatue Wed 23-Jan-19 09:39:18

Having good understanding in theory will make learning new pieces and sight reading easier in my opinion. But it really depends on where she is musically. Many can get away without studying theory properly.

catkind Wed 23-Jan-19 12:59:07

Sorry for not being very clear, what I meant is if they can have difficulties in learning new pieces and sight reading.

I think if a child has specific difficulties beyond "need more practice and it will catch up" there are ways to work around. For example with Suzuki method they depend much more on learning music by ear and can get away with little sight reading skill. I did a huge amount by ear when I first took up viola until my reading caught up again (mostly; I still do more by ear than on violin I think). Listening to the music before learning it also largely gets around any limitations in remembering articulation, key signatures, tempo markings etc too.

DS is not a good sight reader and it has slowed him down. But we don't think there's any particular reason beyond laziness so the answer at the moment is DON'T play music to him first and practice lots of sight reading. It does mean at the moment DD who is a good reader is catching up on him fast, she just learns new music much quicker.

NeleusTheStatue Wed 23-Jan-19 13:04:24

Year, agree, good sight-readers learn new music a lot quicker.

Siriusmuggle Wed 23-Jan-19 13:20:40

Hi. My boy is 15 and is a horn player. He did NCO last year which he loved.
We went to the Chethams open day last weekend and he was blown away. He'd like to audition for 6th form. Does anyone have any experience of Chet's? Mostly how pressurised is it? Is boarding easy to settle in to? It's a long way off as there are 3 auditions before we'd even potentially have to consider an offer but I'd like to be prepared if it were to happen.

ZakStarkey Wed 23-Jan-19 21:33:54

Not pressurised- apparently a lot better than it was a decade ago- in terms of pressure.
Boarding- I would say it depends on the child- but as a sixth former I imagine he would be fine. 1/2 the school is sixth formers.

Siriusmuggle Wed 23-Jan-19 22:50:56

Thanks, that sounds positive

pushyviolinmum Thu 24-Jan-19 03:55:40

Hi all

Does anyone know if there are secondhand selling groups (eg faceb**k) for violin bits?

Specifically I'm looking for a good shoulder rest for a 1/8 violin - something shaped like a Wolf or a Kun one, so not flat but not massively shaped, and not too heavy. They cost considerably more when new than the (secondhand) 1/8 violin did, so I thought it could be worth seeing if I can find a secondhand one before i spend 30 quid and another 15 quid's postage on it. We're not in the UK and a good 400km from the nearest violin shop which is why it's so expensive and difficult to get anything. I know you can use a sponge and a few rubber bands but I find that massively uncomfortable and I think DS hates it too (hard to tell with a toddler - he likes my shoulder rest, hates his sponge one, and currently prefers his violin without a shoulder rest, which means he's not great at holding it).

i'm a slight impostor on this thread as DS is 26 months and we have only been "practising" on the 1/8 violin for the last couple of weeks. NB DS is huge so 1/8 is actually close to being the right size for him...

catkind Thu 24-Jan-19 08:28:27

Hi pushy (feels wrong calling you that!) - I think the right sized piece of foam combo can be very comfortable, i had a manufactured rest that was basically a piece of foam most of my life till they stopped selling the one I liked. So you could try experimenting with different thickness or positioning. But you could also try Fom brand rests - much cheaper and seemed quite robust when DD had one. (Also cuuuuute!) Or it may be just getting used to holding a violin, it is quite an odd position till you get used to it!

NeleusTheStatue Thu 24-Jan-19 11:07:02

I suppose you could find plenty of secondhand violin bits on eBay...? I once sold DS's old bow on eBay. Though you have to know which brand/model to look for, so it may be tricky if you don't know which to buy and can't try them out.

DS's ex teacher used to order loads of different sizes and thicknesses of sponge-typed rests from US, and his pupils were given whatever worked for them. They were easy to adjust as they grow too. Sometimes two sponges were put together to achieve the best fit. I think a normal shoulder rest could be quite rigid and uncomfortable for toddlers? Sponges are lighter as well.

TaggieOHara Thu 24-Jan-19 16:14:06

For tiny ones, the best thing may be a trimmed down kitchen sponge (removing the scouring bit!). You can attach it with an elastic band. DS2 had this when he first started. I used to tailor the sponge to fit him, letting it get gradually thicker as he grew. Seemed to work well and was much more comfy than a full shoulder rest.

He now uses a kun, which suits him physically but pops off the violin at crucial moments.

ZakStarkey Thu 24-Jan-19 16:40:19

Oh and new DOM is a horn player too Sirius smile

CruCru Thu 24-Jan-19 17:22:48


Sorry I haven't been around much. Not a whole lot has happened here, music-wise. My son has started a new book in piano and seems to be making progress in trumpet - I'm trying to get him to play more quietly (his current technique is to blow as hard as humanly possible) but he's only seven, he'll get it eventually.

Our school put a note in the newsletter to say that they are looking for more children to learn the bassoon. The insanely pushy part of me thought "Oooooooh, cool, unusual instrument!" Then I gave myself a shake and decided that I can't supervise practise on yet another thing - plus I've never played any woodwind instrument (apart from recorder, which I taught myself) so wouldn't know how to help with practise.

catkind Thu 24-Jan-19 17:44:20

On the subject of playing loudly - DS takes persuasion to drop below forte on the piano, DD rarely plays above mp. Lovely dynamic range between the two of them but no wonder duets was a battle! Trumpet for little lungs must be hard work, sure he'll get more control soon smile

April2020mom Thu 24-Jan-19 18:04:11

My stepdaughter learns the piano. She is currently working on ABRSM grade one material. I’m not sure if I want her to do any formal exam yet or not. For half a hour she sits there at the piano playing with her teacher once a week. She just finished her second book of pieces so that’s good. She’s a bright child. I always tell her so.

Boyskeepswinging Thu 24-Jan-19 18:16:30

Hi Cru
plus I've never played any woodwind instrument (apart from recorder, which I taught myself) so wouldn't know how to help with practise
Don't let this put you off - neither my DH nor I had any experience of percussion but it's not hindered DS (14, currently choosing his repertoire for his diploma). His teacher has been great in pointing out stuff that we can help with. Being musicians ourselves has definitely helped but I still don't know my paradiddles from my flams blush
Your post touched a nerve with me as I desperately wanted to play the bassoon but didn't have the opportunity. 40-odd years later I still look longingly at the bassoon section in orchestras! And it's an endangered instrument ... just sayin' ...

NeleusTheStatue Thu 24-Jan-19 18:54:21

Plenty patents on this thread can't play any instrument (including myself), CruCru. smile But I understand the time issue of multi-instrumentalists. I didn't let DS take up other instruments when he showed interest due to the logistic reasons. Still feel bad about it sometimes. But you don't need to be a child to learn something so he'll take up one day if he really wants.

CruCru Thu 24-Jan-19 19:13:34

I think the bassoon is a lovely instrument. However, neither child has expressed any interest in it so this would be due to me (both children asked several times to learn to play piano / trumpet / violin). If either wanted to learn to play it, we’d look at it then. I think they have enough time out of lessons (music lessons are done throughout the day at school).

Plus, an adult bassoon is about £5k. Crumbs.

busyspinning Thu 24-Jan-19 19:14:27

I can’t play either the piano or a brass instrument!! But I do love music and help when I can - even if it’s just to drive them around !!

NeleusTheStatue Thu 24-Jan-19 21:09:45

Me too! I love music!

DS has done his concerts this week and I managed to see all. What's a privilege to be able to attend such concerts. The parents of mini musicians are so lucky, aren't we? Lovely to feel I'm still part of his musical journey too.

catkind Thu 24-Jan-19 22:19:03

Yay neleus, glad you could make the concerts. Must be quite a musical treat.

I'm feeling very lucky today too. Just from playing accompaniments with both kids and all of us enjoying it. Sod exams and performances, this is what I do music for, playing lovely music with lovely people smile

NeleusTheStatue Fri 25-Jan-19 00:23:33

Aw, that's so lovely, catkind.

LooseAtTheSeams Fri 25-Jan-19 08:16:20

Just to reassure any non-musician parents - a friend of mine doesn't play an instrument but she uses the notes in her DS's practice book to make sure he covered what the teacher wanted him to work on. (She does joke that these days she could probably do the theory exams!) He's on about grade 7 on his instrument now and doesn't need prompting but I know his early rapid progress had a lot to do with her just being there, encouraging him to practise, and being interested.
Both my dcs are beyond my musical ability level, needless to say!

minisnowballs Fri 25-Jan-19 09:28:42

Umm... yes Looseattheseams - that's encouraging. I can't play any of my children's instruments. However, I do sit there with their practice diaries going "umm... x says you should have the thumb on the back of the neck - are you doing that?" (and inwardly thinking .... 'which bit is the neck again?'.

With cello I am still not actually sure which is an up and which is a down bow (oops). But the teachers inform me that my hopeless supervision is enough to help them make the progress. I'm also grateful for technology - a tuner app/Youtube and the ABRSM practice partner go a long way!

woolleybear Fri 25-Jan-19 11:06:04

I have never learned an instrument but still feel sometimes can be relatively constructive during practice for dd though I don't sit through every practice now as I used to. Now she is practicing for grade 5 I find I can't really contribute much for pieces (new one this week!) other than ask questions, and make positive noises to encourage. I can sit there with a list of scales and ask which ones she knows, which ones need practice etc, and ask for random ones so the same ones don't get done every practice. And it is relatively easy to hear if they are right or wrong.

druidsong Fri 25-Jan-19 12:51:06

Attention violinists!!!!!!!!!:

KittyOSullivanKrauss Fri 25-Jan-19 13:01:35

Interesting discussion on supporting practise. I got to grade 2 piano in my early teens and looking back I can see that my progress and exam marks were down to lack of regular practise. I think my parents just left me to it so I didn't do much and then got in a vicious cycle of not enjoying the lessons because I hadn't practised enough in between. I'd forgotten everything from my piano lessons when DS started (apart from where middle C was!) but I've picked it up again along with him. My little bit of knowledge is helpful but I think the main thing is just being supportive & encouraging daily practise. He's easily much better than me now on the piano. I've considered lessons and maybe doing grade 3 alongside him but I'm not sure it's a great idea to have us both going through exam stress at the same time!

I have no experience of string instruments so the cello is quite alien for me but again, just encouraging regular practise and making supportive noises seems to be helpful. We also had a revelation this week that poor practise sessions were often linked to DS being hungry. Don't know why I hadn't realised this before but it does at least seem easy to fix!

Siriusmuggle Fri 25-Jan-19 13:02:46

He is indeed ZakStarkey, he's one of my son's musical role models and a lovely chap.

PaddingtonPaddington Fri 25-Jan-19 13:44:25

druidsong many thanks for the link will be passing on to DD

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