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help with self-esteem... music exam stress....

(12 Posts)
christine34 Sat 25-Jun-11 12:59:20

Hi, my DD (12) had a really hard time doing her Grade 2 keyboard exam recently and is convinced she has failed. She came out saying she had competely messed up one piece (other 2 went fairly okay) and that she was very nervous doing scales so hands were a little allover the place. She will find out if she's passed on Tuesday. I feel so sorry for her as typically, up to the night before, she was playing everything really well and when I said we know what you're capable of/don't worry if you don't pass etc. she said knowing she knows it so well makes it harder to accept. I have said that she's done well, whatever, and that whatever the outcome, we are very proud of her achievements (started at 6 with 2 notes to learn)! and know playing tunes with chords, etc...., but she said "I'm stupid, I messed it up" and I just want to make it alright for her and make her realise it's not the be all and end all, but on the other hand, I know that it's important to her (she's taking a break from keyboard shortly for various reasons). I think also the fact that the examiner was so formal just made her so nervous.... am so upset that she feels so bad and just don't want it to dent her confidence, sorry for garbled post, but feel v upset for her.... thanks for reading!

virginiasmonalogue Sat 25-Jun-11 13:06:21

Well, you never know, she may have passed. I teach flute and a lot of the time when people think they did really badly, they still manage to pass, even if it isn't the best mark in the world.

If 2 went ok, then chances are she did ok. Everyone gets shakey hands with scales. One of mygirls doing grade 4 got one scale wrong, then her mind went blank and she couldn't play any of the rest. She still passed.

Even in the worst case scenario, you know and she knows, she can play the pieces so much better. So what she made mistakes in the exam, she knows what she can really do. Just keep really positive about her ability and she can always take it again.

christine34 Sat 25-Jun-11 13:09:37

Ah, thank you SO much Virginia, such a positive and reassuring post and from a music teacher - even better! yes, I suppose she should wait and see. Has always been hard on herself, not sure where she gets it from because we are by no means pushy parents, always reward effort rather than attainment! Thank you once again. smile

bothsidesnow Sat 25-Jun-11 13:14:55

Everyone needs to have experience of failing in an exam. If she has failed, she's now got that experience under her belt, and it'll never be the first time again. Every child has to take so many blardy tests these days, if she doesn't fail one of them sooner or later, she's not trying. smile

bothsidesnow Sat 25-Jun-11 13:16:25

I had to say to all of my dc when they started at secondary school that I expected them to get a detention sooner or later, and not to see it as the end of the world.

christine34 Sat 25-Jun-11 13:40:39

bothsides, thanks for post. Yes, very true, so many tests these days and in that respect, DD has got much better about not being so hard on herself. Can;t remember it ever being lik,e that when I was at school (early 80s) - now they have SATs/constant assessment, good in one respect but not so good in another! smile

ommmward Sat 25-Jun-11 15:49:30

Speaking as someone with, er, three ABRSM grade 8s (in the dim and distant past), I think it is really important to think about what the point of playing the piano is. To play for pleasure? To give other people pleasure by playing? To show how proficient you are?

There are times when it is a really good idea to take music exams; there are times when it isn't. I think the most important thing is to try lots of local low-key music festivals, try performing at school concerts and things - see if performance is actually something she enjoys. If so, then music exams just become extra opportunities for performance and feedback. If they are the only performance she does, then of course they are a stressful experience.

christine34 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:28:12

thanks, ommmwarrd. DD has done quite a few school concerts before and has enjoyed it, also gives "concerts" for us and grandmas/grandads, etc. and is a real pleasure to hear her play and she likes to play for others. So yes, definitely done for enjoyment and that is something that I have obviously said to her - have made a point of saying look how far you've come/that was great playing, etc. and we are very encouraging. We have told her we are proud of her for how she has progressed, not whether or not she passes an exam. Thanks for all of your posts.

diyqueen Mon 27-Jun-11 16:14:24

Another music teacher here (flute too!) and I agree with virginias that it is unlikely she'll fail. It's completely normal to get nervous in music exams - after all, it's not like a written exam where you can go back and correct mistakes. But at the end of the day it's a snapshot of how you performed on that particular day, and not necessarily a reflection of how good you are at your instrument - a rubbish exam mark certainly doesn't make you a rubbish keyboard player, it just means that you fluffed some bits in that exam, which happens to the best of us. If it's any consolation to her should she not get the mark she wants, out of the exams I did there were a couple where I got pretty mediocre marks (and was horribly disappointed), but then later went on to get distinction at grade 8 and then went on to music college... All the best and I hope she's pleasantly surprised!

Lancelottie Mon 27-Jun-11 16:19:55

Everyone obsesses over the bits they think went badly and forgets the bits that went well. DS stopped altogether in a moment of mental blankness in his last exam. He also had, ooh, six goes at b minor, making the same mistake every time (could hear him faintly from the waiting room).

He got a Merit, and a calm comment that the 'scales response was not yet quite secure' and it was 'a good musical performance despite a small slip near the start'.

Mind, he's titchy, and probably looked at them with big spaniel eyes!

christine34 Tue 28-Jun-11 22:41:47

Hi, Diyqueen, thanks so much for your post, such lovely andn positive comments - well done on the distinction!! And Lancelottie, could relate to your post - well done on his merit! That's very true, DD did tend to focus on the mistakes rather than the positives, but guess what? just found out she got a pass with merit!! So pleased for HER, because I know it meant a lot. Thanks so much to everyone who commented so positively and for your words of encouragement, Mumsnetters are the best! smile

christine34 Tue 28-Jun-11 22:46:52

Meant to say, the examiner did tell my DD's keyboard teacher that she could tell she was nervous, but still did well in exam. I suppose it's difficult for examiners, because they (of course) have to remain professional and fairly formal, but I suppose the pupils may pick up on this and get nervous - my DD's examiner seemed very nice - in fact I don't think we've ever had a "nightmare examiner"!, they all seem to be nice in the music service!!! Thanksagain for comments. smile

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