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Grade 1 Violin - anyone been through recently?

(18 Posts)
maggiethecat Thu 09-Jul-09 13:43:21

DD has been told that she could do exam soon. I'm not keen on exams but recognise their usefulness. It's probable that we would let her do grade 1 to start her off and then skip a couple of grades and just allow her to develop and play without the strictures of exam preparations.

Has anyone's dc been through grade 1 recently and how did they find it? (and of course how did you??)

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 14:09:16

How old is she maggie? Well done to her for reaching that stage.

My dcs did grade 1 a long time ago in about year 5. It was pretty much the way their teachers taught so there wasn't really a choice although absolutely it's not essential to take exams (lots of countries don't do them in the same way that is the norm here). If her teacher isn't used to teaching that way though it might cause some difficulties.

My dcs weren't phased particularly by them - they were a little nervous, but no more than that & took them in their stride. I very much doubt that they would ever have been motivated to practice scales (or aural come to that) if they hadn't done exams.

I occasionally work as a music exam steward & see the children as they go in & out. Most are fine. There are tears & nerves (before & after) sometimes, but on the whole nothing too bad. Actually, it's usually the parents & teachers that are more stressed!

If you decide not to go down the exam route, I would suggest making sure that your dd gets some performance opportunities somehow (maybe at school, music festivals or whereever) as I think it's good to get a piece up to that standard of playing from time to time and without an exam, some children don't get that chance.

maggiethecat Thu 09-Jul-09 14:19:54

She's 6 next month and has been playing for a year. I really am not that keen on exams and would rather she not be fettered by a focus on them but for reasons including the ones you give, they are useful.

She recently played at a small concert given by her teacher's students and although she said she wss nervous she was composed and played well but I suppose she would need more than this end of year exposure.

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 14:30:07

She is quite tiny then - extra well done to her smile. I'd have thought once a year to perform at that age would be enough to be honest. The other thing that I know some teachers have done is to prepare for an exam and then do a 'mock' one with the teacher, but never actually do the real thing. I'm not sure if that's the best of both worlds or the worst to be honest - it probably depends on the child (but you can save a fortune in exam fees that way).

maggiethecat Thu 09-Jul-09 14:42:01

That's an idea. She's also done things like ask to play for her friends at school which her music teacher at school has allowed as part of instrument awareness.

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 14:42:21

Ment to add that the younger children are more polarised in their attitude to exams. They are more likely to be anxious (or maybe they are just more open about showing it), but some of them are just totally unfazed - like it's a walk in the park. I think if you have that attitude and do exams regularly then you are less phased by them when you are older too.

But equally it's horrible when a child just learns exam pieces grade by grade moving straight on to the next as soon as the last one is over and never has the freedom to play outside the exam syllabus.

If your dd doesn't do exams, she will need to field the inevitable "what grade are you?" questions - it's not difficult, something like "I've been playing x years, (can play approx grade y level pieces) but I don't do grades" should do it.

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 14:46:28

playing at school with/for friends (or in assembly occasionally) is excellent.

maggiethecat Thu 09-Jul-09 18:56:25

I suspect that she'll be a bag of nerves (she's my child!) but unlike me will hold it all together.

We anticipate the 'what grade are you question' and will deal with it along the lines you've mentioned. In any event, she'll probably do an exam every couple of years but do not want them to be the focus.

About how long does the exam last?

Pyrocanthus Thu 09-Jul-09 19:59:28

DD1 is taking grade 3 next Tuesday - she's 11 now and did grade 1 two years ago. She was a bit nervous but took it in her stride. She likes studying for the exams; after grade 2 her teacher suggested a break from exam work but DD said no, she'd like to crack on. I might suggest a break after this one though, as she's got secondary school to contend with next term.

She hates performing solo in public, but loves playing in orchestras (one music service and one community folk at the moment). I worried that playing before the intense and indvidual scrutiny of an examiner would freak her out, but oddly enough she doesn't mind that nearly as much as she would playing in front of her classmates.

My friends' daughters have mock exams with their teachers to enable them to skip grades, which works fine for them. I think children who are whizzing through the grades also tend to skip some. DD finds them motivating at the moment... Not sure if DD2 (novice cellist) will be as keen.

The exam lasts about 15 mins - in fact DD has been given a 14 min. slot for grade 3 next week. Don't know what happens if she plays slowly hmm. They play the 3 pieces that they've prepared, some scales, and do some aural exercises, which I think at grade 1 consists of clapping rhythms and singing melodies, but I'm sure a music teacher will be along soon to put me straight if necessary.

Well done to your DD for getting so far so quickly, and I hope she enjoys the violin for years to come.

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 20:07:03

grade 1 is 12 mins I think. They get gradually longer up to 30mins for grade 8. If they play slowly or choose 3 longer pieces the examiner can ask them to stop once he's heard enough - it hardly ever happens though.

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 20:09:37

And they wouldn't stop you early for the lower grades. It's only about grade 6+ where the pieces are longer that very occasionally the duration gets to be a problem - some examiners prefer to overrun even then.

Pyrocanthus Thu 09-Jul-09 20:13:35

I was thinking that if they're allowed to stop the candidate when they'd had heard enough, then many of the exams in the early grades would be very short indeed...

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 20:25:17

Pyrocanthus! My Dd loves to relate how she saw the examiner wincing visibly as she played her scales & then saying in a gentle & reassuing voice "shall we move on now?".

maggiethecat Thu 09-Jul-09 20:39:56

'Gentle and reassuring' - I like the sound of this. It's great that your dd has seen the funny side.
My dd is going through a phase at the moment where everything is 'so embarassing!'

Thanks Pyro - she is enjoying playing. At practice tonight she decided that she was going to colour her music (playing softly or loudly as she saw fit) and she enjoyed describing to me what she was doing - we're having fun at the moment.

Pyrocanthus Thu 09-Jul-09 21:41:38

Wow, maggie, she sounds very musical.

Snorkle, you'd think that Advanced Wince Concealment would be part of the ABRSM training.

My DD has been furiously and belatedly cramming her scales this last week - it seems to have worked (I shan't tell her to look out for the wince), but I'm beginning to see what she'll be like in the weeks/moments before she starts her GCSEs.

snorkle Thu 09-Jul-09 21:55:36

Pyrocanthus, I'm sure the winces were reasonably concealed or even imagined, but dd has grown the story in the telling.

Ds was/is a great one for last minute scale cramming. He figures you can get 7/21 marks for any attempt to play them however wrong they are and that's good enough to pass if everything else is OK. His teacher thinks that's throwing away easy marks and won't let him do grade 8 until he can play his scales perfectly, so they have a stand-off.

Pyrocanthus Thu 09-Jul-09 22:02:07

Ah, the joys of artistic endeavour. Hope you're getting all this maggie.

maggiethecat Fri 10-Jul-09 09:46:06

Just saw this after falling alseep straight after putting dc to bed last night. The artistic endeavour has me all worn out!

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