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To push or not to push...

(40 Posts)
Frustratedhairpullmoment Mon 08-Oct-18 20:53:05

DS1 is borderline gifted in Music. He would be properly gifted if he really put his heart into it, but he doesn't.
He likes to perform and loves the praise he gets at the end of a concert. He has had distinctions for his grade exams.

However, he does very lazy practice. He doesn't actually work on anything and just rattles through the pieces, trying to play them faster and faster. Often I interrupt to remind him of the focus. Then he complains and whines, but he will fix the problem.

Anyway we are approaching secondary school time and if he doesn't get a Music scholarship he will have to go to the scary local rough school. It has less than 20% success rate for qualifications.

For this reason alone I want to push him. But tonight when I asked him to do his sight reading, he did this fake crying thing and refused. Saying he didn't know even whay the notes were. It was well within his level. He just couldnt be bothered.

I told him to just put the stuff away. I couldn't drag him through it. Then he was supposed to look at some theory. He couldn't (or wouldnt) answer a single question. He wouldn't even try.

Now, I would love to be the kind of mum who can just let her kid find their own way, but he will not have a happy time at the local school. I have looked at other options. Music scholarship is his only route.

How can I help him?

MidnightVelvetthe7th Mon 08-Oct-18 20:55:39

Does he want to go to the local school, are all his friends going?

Petalflowers Mon 08-Oct-18 20:56:48

Can you go,around the school,and show,him what there is to offer? Maybe that will encourage him.

Maybe ask why hem doesn’t Practice? Does he need a new teacher to encourage him?

Longtalljosie Mon 08-Oct-18 20:56:52

He’s 10? Talk him through his schooling options and why it’s important. And then yes, make music practice non-negotiable. You’re not sending him down the mines. The fake crying is trying to work out where your boundaries are.

Frustratedhairpullmoment Mon 08-Oct-18 21:15:55

Thanks. He won't be going to the same secondary as his friends unfortunately Midnight. He is in a private school at the moment and due to his dad leaving, I won't be able to pay for that anymore. He knows. This isn't impacting his practice, he was always like this even when I thought I was happily married.

Petalflowers he sort of does practice. He sits down twice a day, before and after school. But he plays rather than works. His teacher is excellent, she really knows him and isn't frightened to be tough when he needs it and gentle too.

It's at home, I just want him to motivate himself. It's like he wants me to do it for him. I need him to motivate himself somehow. Maybe the school visits would be good.

MidnightVelvetthe7th Mon 08-Oct-18 21:21:18

Being honest OP, is he good enough to sail through if he doesn't practice? He may think this is the case and he doesn't have to try?

Frustratedhairpullmoment Mon 08-Oct-18 21:26:07

Midnight hes the best in his school by a long way and I think it has given him the idea he doesn't have to try. Or maybe he doesn't even know how to try. But he won't be the best applying for music scholarship. These kids will all be around his level and they wont be fake crying at the thought of a bit of sight reading.

I think I need him to see these schools and hear some other good young people.

ShackUp Mon 08-Oct-18 21:34:29

I was your son. I loved music but hated the pressure. I had quite a shit time at my private secondary school - I went there for the music. I ended up reading Music at Oxford, it was totally the wrong degree and institution for me.

If he's meant to be a musician, he'll find his way there without being pushed.

MidnightVelvetthe7th Mon 08-Oct-18 21:35:11

Good idea. I also have a gifted one, maths not music and he got complacent and always used to being the best and not having to try 😀 I moved him to a more academic primary and it made him sit up once he realised he was no longer the best.

Take him to both schools, so he can see the difference that his work will make and get a better idea of his 'rivals'. It might also focus him a bit once he sees the undesirable school that he might have to attend.

Does his dad leaving have a part to play, I'm wondering if the lad is struggling a bit. Or maybe feeling the pressure of the music scholarship and crumbling a bit.

Pippap1 Mon 08-Oct-18 21:55:27

Is he in Year 5 or 6? I am not sure how much musical he is but I also have musically gifted but very lazy DD1 who is in Year 5. Our local secondary is also not good, so we are keen to music scholarship.

If I push DD1, she always gets cross. So I am trying not to push her too much and try to encourage her. I have brought her to a lot of music concerts. In this summer, she participated in an international masterclass and made friends with young talented musician around her age and she was so impressed by them. She may apply for Royal Academy of Music Primary for the next September to make more musical friends.

Probably it would be worth that you may bring him to concerts of his instrument. Many orchestra have family concerts and National Children's Orchestra would be also a great idea if he plays orchestral instrument such as violin etc.

Frustratedhairpullmoment Tue 09-Oct-18 08:35:05

Thanks for the messages. It's so great to be able to discuss this, in real life my friends would think I was completely mad complaining about his work ethic because if you don't know the competition, you would think DS is miles ahead.

Shackup I get your point entirely but I don't actually care if my DS becomes a musician or not. I want him to go to a school where learning is possible, that half the kids aren't on drugs and I would like him to feel safe at school. To achieve this in our area, he needs the Music scholarship. Then he can go and be an engineer if he later wants. He has to use his skills to get the best he can in life. Yes it's sad he has to learn this at only 9 years old, but it is real life.

Midnight he is certainly feeling the strain of his father leaving us. But he has always practiced in this haphazard way all the way back to prep test. So his essential character is unchanged! I think you are right. We have to go see some rivals. We went to see an International competition in June with the aim that he will take part this year. There were a couple of girls better than him, but he just seemed to think that when it was his turn, he would just step up a level. Who knows. I wish he would consider trying it at home.

Thanks Pippap1 he is year 5. We will go to more concerts this year. Hopefully that will motivate him.

senua Tue 09-Oct-18 08:54:12

He likes to perform and loves the praise he gets at the end of a concert ... But tonight when I asked him to do his sight reading, he did this fake crying thing and refused. Saying he didn't know even whay the notes were.

I had a friend who lived by the mantra of "catch them being good" i.e. try to praise when you can; don't be (in their eyes) nagging-mum, cross-mum, disappointed-mum. Also, praise effort not result. So don't praise after a concert, praise after practise. After a concert, you don't mention the performance you mention the spade-work that made it possible.
You could even try a bit of reverse psychology. When he says he can't do it, take him at face-value and agree that perhaps he's not that good. There's nothing like a puncturing of pride to get them moving!

BingerGeer Tue 09-Oct-18 09:01:04

At this point, I’d be thinking of bribery. Does he like going to concerts? Or is he keen to have some ‘fun’ music to play? Or even pocket money? I’d be making a deal about 10 minutes of solid sight-reading practice every day for a week (with you listening, and stopping the clock for fake crying, mucking about etc) and then he’ll get x. Once he’s got over the hump (and I suspect it’s a fear of failure thing, so it’ll be emotionally hard for him and he’ll need your support) then setting a regular pattern shouldn’t be that hard, as he’s used to practising regularly anyway.

I have had to listen to practice from outside the room / with my back turned / having promised not to say anything either good or bad. I think talented children can sometimes really struggle with not getting things right first time.

A final thought - what does he need to do for the music scholarship? Some require not just the playing, but at least Grade 5 theory, plus aural tests.

NellyBarney Wed 10-Oct-18 00:56:33

If he is at a private school, did he ever see your local (what sounds like a) sink school? My dd is at an absurdly beautiful and kind prep school with great musical and academic teaching and opportunities, and so of course she has come to think that all schools are like that. So I took her on a tour of our local state secondary (which has a referral unit attached) and if she now refuses homework or, when it comes to music practice (on 2 instruments which she chose), starts her fake crying (She is also v good at that), rushing through pieces without reading the connotations her teacher made, being obviously sloppy with her fingering or posture, I'll threaten to take her out of her present school and send her to the local primary and then on to the scary secondary. Most of the time it works. I also try to make her understand that a bad or sloppy practice can be worse than no practice at all as you basically train your body to do the wrong thing and so you either try your very best or you basically shoot yourself in the foot.

Frustratedhairpullmoment Wed 10-Oct-18 05:19:18

Senua its always my intention to only praise. I do really praise effort rather than achievement but I am also the nagging cross mum. I will try harder today to be on the side of positivity grin

BingerGeer you are completely right - he doesn't like sounding 'bad so avoids sight reading and hurried his learning so his pieces sound all swishy and fast before he is ready for that stage. I know it's natural to want to sound good.

NellyBarney you are right. We should look at both schools and then he should have a good idea of what awaits.

So common consensus is to be tough and unrelenting regarding what is required but not nagging or negative and loads of praise for any good effort he puts in. That sounds completelt sensible to me, I just hope I can achieve it.

I'll call both schools to make an appointment today. Thanks.

marcopront Wed 10-Oct-18 05:26:32

Why does his Dad leaving mean he has to change school? Can his Dad not carry on paying?

Frustratedhairpullmoment Wed 10-Oct-18 07:57:08

macropront he had a good career, then coke addiction, other woman, nervous breakdown, now no contact at all. I don't even know where he is. Primary school are letting DS stay on. I'm a teacher with more than one child to this man so can't pay for school. I can barely cover the Music lessons at the moment.

marcopront Wed 10-Oct-18 08:58:09

Ok that makes sense.
I assumed he had just moved out.
It does make things a lot more complicated.

W00t Wed 10-Oct-18 09:41:52

I have a son the same age, whose practice sounds identical! grin
Quite the opposite of his older sister, who practises with dedication daily.

I will be honest and say I think i think he's acting this way because you're putting too much pressure on him because you're stressed about the schools options. I don't mean directly, but he will be picking up on your stress about the issue, and subconsciously reacting.

Are there absolutely no other schooling options?
With maturity, he will understand the importance of practice, but all children mature at their own rates.
I agree he needs inspiration- you don't necessarily have to fork out a fortune for concert tickets.
Firstly, the school you'd like him to attend will have regular concerts, I'm sure. When my eldest was applying, the schools positively encouraged prospective Y5/6s to attend their concerts, particularly the music scholars.
Secondly, you tube has literally hundreds of thousands of performances of classical (and jazz) music on it.

Finally, what will you do about the younger children? You need to address that early, as presumably they will not have the benefit of years of music tuition, as your eldest has.
Is a house move possible?
I'm sorry you've found yourself in this situation, it must be very difficult, and not something one can foresee or plan for thanks

W00t Wed 10-Oct-18 09:47:41

Also, you say "instrument" singular, but does he offer two or more? Most music scholars we know have two, three, or more instruments (not just "doubling" instruments)- the other children going for scholarships will, surely?

Hiddeninplainsight Wed 10-Oct-18 10:20:03

OP I feel your pain on lots of levels. We have the same practice issues with an instrument (DD not gifted here), and on 11+ work (is gifted here). A couple of points- take your DS to the local comp but IF there is a chance any of your children may need to go there, do not demonise it or use it as a threat. And seriously look at moving to a better school area. It is an incredible pressure on your DS. I worry about pushing my DD. They are still so incredibly young. I get frustrated about her work ethic, about her rushing things and not caring, and i find it hard to balance expectations with the reality of the fact that she is 9!!! Learning should be fun, and I do think it is still our responsibility to make it so for young kids. If your son plays twice a day that sounds amazing. Can he do music camps? Orchestras? Group things that make it sociable (and socially desirable to practice)?

OutwiththeOutCrowd Wed 10-Oct-18 12:42:51

I think that many schools are putting money into bursary schemes over scholarship schemes these days and it is possible in some private schools to get a bursary for 100% of the fees if your income is below a certain level. (My DS's school is such a school.)

So I'm just wondering if it really has to be a Music Scholarship for your DS, particularly if he is feeling under pressure. It might be worthwhile exploring the bursary option in schools within commutable range too.

Frustratedhairpullmoment Wed 10-Oct-18 14:04:30

Hi again, Sorry, he does have 3 instruments all above g5 and has passed the theory.

WOOt I have no idea what to do with the other two thanks and my house is for sale hopefully moving to an area with a good school. Only if my house sells.

Anyway it's the practice motivation I need to focus on. He told me today I was stressing him out. I will stop.

Pippap1 Wed 10-Oct-18 14:57:58

Hello again, I am a bit surprised by your previous post. What a gifted boy! 3 instruments all above G5! It is amazing.

But I am afraid that three instruments might be too much for the little one. I have a lot of music connections and know musically progidy children. But no one plays three instruments. My DS is 9 and Grade 8 distinction but she has been stick to one instrument. She has been practicing more than three hours everyday since she was 6. She has won the 1st prizes under 15/18 sections of local music competitions and finished the 3rd at her first international competition abroad this year. Other great gifted children are all stick to one instrument and some of them play the piano as second. But that’s all. I know all depends on children but I think it would be less stressful and more fun to chase just one or two instruments.

OlderThanAverageforMN Wed 10-Oct-18 15:08:33

Music scholarships generally only cover a small percentage of the fees, so are you looking at the available bursaries as well?

Scholarships also generally come with caveats. You have to continue with your music tuition, take part in all aspects of musical performances within the school, and take music GCSE. Some schools even request back the scholarship if you break these terms. Just check really carefully.

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