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Lovely music teacher but....

(21 Posts)
marialuisa Tue 23-Sep-08 12:57:54

DD (7y) plays 2 instruments and is grade 2-3 standard in both. She is keen, practices regularly, plays in groups etc.

We have a slight problem in that one of the teachers is very keen on exams and we appear to be on a bit of a treadmill. I wouldn't mind too much but having given exams "a go" it's clear that it's not (for now at least) the right thing for DD and it makes her miserable. DD is adamant that she doesn't want to do another music exam and I'm happy with that. We have tried to discuss with the teacher but it ended up with the teacher lecturing poor DD about music not just being for fun but the need for it to be perfect etc. and there was no point playing at all if she wasn't prepared to "try to be the best"hmm DD cried on the way home saying that she wants to be a marine biologist and not a musician but she still wants to play.

Any tips on how to tactfully broach the subject again? DD knows that the pieces she has at the moment are "exam" pieces and is flapping that she's going to be made to take an exam. Unfortunately it's not possible to find another teacher, and with the exception of the exam issue, the teacher is lovely (if intense!) so don't want the relationship to break down.

Bunch Tue 23-Sep-08 13:00:32

No advice I'm afraid. Just wanted to say that it seems children can't do things just for fun/enjoyment. My neice wanted to do ballet/dancing but HATES perfoming in front of people, she was told by the local teacher that if she wanted to attend lessons she could but she was under huge pressure to perform in ballet school show that she gave up. It's all wrong.

chipmonkey Tue 23-Sep-08 13:17:54

Oh dear but grin at your dd wanting to be a marine biologist, good for her!
I would have firm words with the teacher, of course music can be just for fun and possibly it's better to view it that way because, apart from an elite few, there's feck-all money in it!

islandofsodor Tue 23-Sep-08 13:20:23

It really sounds like this is the wrong teacher for your dd.

Dh is a music teacher and he has some pupils who love doing exams, some who never want to do one and some who want to do it as a career.

coffeepot Tue 23-Sep-08 14:08:36

Hi marialuisa,
I don't see why the need to get technique right and the need for music to be "perfect" automatically means you need to take exams. If exams are making your dd miserable they are surely not going to help turn your dd in to a good musician. You gave me some advice when I was looking for a music teacher for my dd's 2nd instrument and we found a lovely teacher who is very particular about getting technique right, and the importance of exercises, and the importance of playing music, not just notes, but she incorporates this without the pressure of exams. Dd responds because she loves the teacher and the instrument and wants to play well. I'm sure your dd would do the same.

Can you not say something along those lines to the teacher - she doesn't need the motivation of exams yet (perhaps she would do the higher graders when she is older) - and that her enjoyment of playing is sufficient motivation to get things right.

Very strange to say there is no point playing if you do not try to be the best...

kitbit Tue 23-Sep-08 14:14:37

Sadly I would say change the teacher. She might be lovely but if her approach to music isn't the same or compatible with your dd's, there will always be a conflict. Your dd would be much happier with a teacher who supports her wishes. And not wanting to do exams is certainly valid! My best friend from school is a well known singer and piano player and didn't take a single music exam.

mistlethrush Tue 23-Sep-08 14:33:46

...But you can also still try to be the best without taking exams. A good teacher should be able to find plenty of music that is of an appropriate standard that does not require any exams to be taken - but just because music is 'exam' music, it also doesn't mean that it cannot be studied not for an exam - I often learned all of the pieces in the books as it was a good way of getting extra pieces without having to pay for them.

I would, however, encourage your dd to keep up with exercises/scales - whilst they seem (at this age) a waste of time and effort, they do assist with general technique etc.

Out of interest - I took every single piano exam. I took all violin exams from Grade 4 upwards, and I took only 2 viola exams (got same mark for both!) - I now think of myself as a viola player first!

marialuisa Tue 23-Sep-08 15:12:36

Thanks for the comments, not sure why I'm at such a loss with this!

DD does all the scales quite happily and will work on a performance piece for months, but it's her choice, which I think makes the difference.

I think DD is aware enough of the teacher's ways to realise that the music is being learnt with an exam in mind. I have never heard any of her students play anything that wasn't on the syllabus and they all dutifully take their exams once a year (and spend all year learning just the 3 pieces). We don't have the luxury of a nicely packaged syllabus so have to buy separate books but we were rather told off when DD taught herself another piece from one of the books. Thinking about it we get lectured any time DD tries to deviate from the prescribed path, have a bad feeling now.

It's such a shame, the other instrument teacher (who has a DD of a similar age)understands that sometimes DD just wants to play something for the joy of it and has outed herself as not approving of exams for younger kids so it's all sunshine on that side!

Thanks for letting me whinge!

kitbit Tue 23-Sep-08 16:25:00

<whispers> definitely change teachers!! I'm sure she's lovely but you need to put your dd's musical style and development first. Good luck!

roisin Tue 23-Sep-08 20:06:05

ds2 is just like this marialuisa. He loved playing the piano and would play for ages and ages twice a day including scales, but he just loathed the exam pieces.

In the end I just said to the teacher would you mind awfully if he didn't do grades? At least not at the moment, maybe when he's older if he chooses to.

Fortunately for us teacher said yes, no problem! He did a music festival last year (his choice) and will do it again (more classes this year).

Abandoning the Associated Board is really liberating, as you can just have fun and play whatever you fancy. ds1 has loads of books and just picks a new piece when he feels like it.

He has made progress, but it can't be proved or boasted about at staff meetings or dinner parties, which is important to some people. (Is the teaching within school?)

roisin Tue 23-Sep-08 20:07:54

[complete hijack for a moment]
Am I right that you used to work in University Admissions? (I don't know if you still do?) Is there any difference between the way an English education [ie A levels] is perceived compared to a Scottish one [ie Highers]?

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Sep-08 20:12:19

I never did any music exams. I was never going to do it as a career, and it was my fun thing. My parents were fabulously unstressy about it, as was my teacher.

marialuisa Wed 24-Sep-08 08:57:51

Hi Roisin,

Yes, used to do loads of admissions and still "fill in" occasionally. There is absolutely no difference between the way English and Scottish qualifications are considered at the Englsih unis I've worked in! The worry about A-levels vs IB vs whatever on MN amuses me as IME the reality is simply "Does the student have 5 A grade GCSEs? Does the student meet these minimum grade requirements?" If yes, move on to next stage of checks, if no then bin. Having "extra" a-levels, highers or whatever just isn't a factor, particularly on very popular courses like English and Medicine.

Problem musixc teacher is outside school, it's an odd instrument!

zazen Wed 24-Sep-08 09:15:39

When there are hoops to jump through things suddenly change and can become a chore.

I have to say this happens with adults also - I was doing fine in my Iyengar yoga class for three years and suddenly the teacher began to say that I was good enough and I should qualify as a teacher hmm I hadn't thought of myself as good or bad - it's yoga after all -
Kindof took the fun out of it for me, and I felt that I was time wasting 'just' to attend class.

The only thing is that if your child wants to become a music teacher in the future she will need her exams. I stopped doing ballet at elementary grade as I was in uni and i wished later that I had gone on for that year, as I could have taught ballet - as a sideline when I was studying.

Could be that your teacher (of an unusual instrument) wants someone / anyone she teaches to jump hoops so that SHE will look better as a teacher??? Or is that cynical of me? It would look better on her CV that she is preparing X number of students for exams.. Do you know if she's going for a job as a teacher somewhere, and needs to spruce up her CV?

coffeepot Wed 24-Sep-08 09:54:18

are you sure there are no other teachers around? I suspect you are talking about the same unusual instrument as my dd now plays. I was amazed how much choice we had when I started digging. I was given the names of 2 localish teachers from the shop in the Gloucester from where we hired the instrument, but one of them was too far away and I found the other a little too scary and intense (scary for me let alone dd!). I just talked to everyone I heard of who had anything to do with the instrument and eventually collected names of several possible teachers – I had a lot more choice than I originally thought, but I did have to dig.

marialuisa Wed 24-Sep-08 10:56:52

Yes, 2 other teachers "around", but both at least 20 miles away. One is current teacher's mate, other is not for us (witnessed her reducing a girl of around 10 to tears).

Current teacher is not a f/t teacher and doesn't plan to be so don't think the exams are for her benefit. I think we will just have to ride this out, and I'm feeling mean as current teacher is lovely, just a bit blind in this area!

At the end of the day DD is 7 and I will be delighted if she's till playing an instrument at 18, am not going to worry about her future ambitions.

marialuisa Wed 24-Sep-08 10:58:20

Coffeepot, if the shop is in glos, then very possibly the same instrument. Hope your DD is enjoying it!

mistlethrush Wed 24-Sep-08 11:31:56

You definitely should be doing more than 3 pieces in the year - even if they end up very polished.

Teacher should definitely not be 'telling off' child for learning another piece - it should be encouraged, as long as it doesn't mean that the real practise on technique and main piece is not being skimped.

When I was teaching I aimed to introduce exam pieces over a term, with the exam the following term - but have other pieces going, particularly at the beginning of the first term, and have at least a term 'off' doing other fun pieces.

kitbit Wed 24-Sep-08 13:48:08

oooh I'm really curious to know what the instrument is now! Tell! Tell! pleeeease

Kammy Wed 24-Sep-08 15:51:15

An adult perspective here - I started piano at 6 and was also on a bit of an exam 'treadmill' more so because I also got a music scholarship to and independant school. Result? Age 18 I completely stopped playing the piano. Fast forward many years and I have been lucky enough to find 2 great teachers - one when in my late 20's who even managed to get me to retake my Grade 8 hmm and the one I have now...OK, I'm not a child, but my son also goes to this teacher and the most impressive thing about her is how much fun playing is. She also teaches impressive technique, but through playing a wide variety of pieces, not getting hung up on 'perfect' and occasionally abandoning pieces if they are just not enjoyable.

I'm now 46, and enjoying playing more than I ever did - and lets hope ds is the same.

coffeepot Wed 24-Sep-08 19:22:53

dd loves if smile
Hope you manage to sort this out.

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