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Music...compatible with academics?

(27 Posts)
splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 12:50:05

I would really appreciate your views on this...DS 11 says he wants to be a musician and teachers seem to think he has the potential if he wants to. He is starting at a very academic secondary school with a music scholarship. However, he is also an academic scholar so he is going to have to put in a lot of work re academics and get those As they expect from him. Currently entering gr 6 for two instruments so if he really wants to take it seriously we are talking a lot of practice everyday...A friend says he should be aiming for two hours a day now! I am a bit versus homework and school there time for both? How is that going to be possible?

Have any of you managed to combine them successfully? I have heard of a girl in a very pushy school getting up at 5:30 am every morning and practicing violin for two hours! There is no way we could do that, firstly because of neighbours, secondly because DS is a big sleeper and he would be exhausted throughout the day...And thirdly cause that would send me to the grave in a couple of years...

mistlethrush Wed 03-Jul-13 12:58:22

I was at a very academic school, ended up with 3 grade 8s and going to study music - Saturday morning were spent at the county music school. Someone 2 years above me plays in the phil - she went to the academy for lessons at the weekend. Someone in my year went to the guildhall on a saturday for lessons. If he is both talented and academic he will fit it in.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 13:51:35

Most of the musicians I know were/are very very academic also. My DD1 wants to study music, she is at one of the top superselectives in the country, it doesn't seem to be a problem.

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 14:00:18

Thank you mistlethrugh, encouraging!
Was one of your instruments the piano? DS talks about maybe pursuing the piano which is not orchestral, which means you either make it as a soloist or not, right? And the only successful concert pianist I know fully concentrated on music age 12, school came second from then on.

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 14:07:10

Russians, we crossed posts. Thank you too! Do you mind me asking how much practice does she manage to fit in?

mistlethrush Wed 03-Jul-13 14:13:04

Well my BiL ended up at Chets and went to Cambridge and clearly wouldn't have got in there unless he had the academics - he is a pianist and composer and now does a lot of chamber music and accompaniment when he's not composing.

I did to piano - but I'm not a pianist despite getting grade 8 grin

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 14:25:21

Thanks again. Chets makes sense though, being a specialist music school. I just checked the leavers destinations at the school DS will be joining...lots of Oxbridge but none for music, and noone to music conservatories. Only one the previous year. And this is spite a good vibrant music department. I do think it's a question of priorities for the school. I guess they want their students to be making a proper living in a few years time!

Theas18 Wed 03-Jul-13 14:30:24

Are you asking if it is possible to achieve high grades in a rigorous academic curriculum whilst perusing the training that may lead to a musical career is a suitable able child?

Of course it is!

You are describing huge numbers of kids at my kids schools here. Grade 8's are common, diploma standard players , a large handful in the school. Academically probablyas many get AAA or above at A2 than don't I would say .

DD1 could easily have pursued music at uni/conservatoire. She is 2nd year Ancient history(year prize) and has a choral scholarship. She just adores "old things " though!

All the kids doing high level music/academia combined are phenomenally busy though. But it's normal life. They still do " kid things" DD2 baked biscuits for the new neighbours for instance.

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 14:35:46

oh great to hear Theas18. You're all making me feel better already...thanks

Theas18 Wed 03-Jul-13 14:43:36

splitbrain 2hrs a day practice for grade 6, umm gosh blush mine are clearly very lazy toads! I don't know quite what to think of that. If you need to fit in 4hrs practice, increasing as they progress then maybe you should be at a specialist school (preferably boarding) that effectively timetables that in. What does his teacher say? We've always be far more lax than that...

School work, hmm. Even achieving high grades DS didn't seem to " work hard" until the run up to GCSEs and now for AS he's really been grafting. I think this is because he now thinks he has his ultimate goal in his sights. However, they do work, and maybe they have a bit more time as none of us watches huge amounts of TV etc?

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 14:47:37

I would second Theas. It was true when I was at school and then Cambridge, and it is true today.

DD1 often does more than 2 hours practice - but certainly not on a daily basis. For a start, on the day she has her first study instrument lesson, she doesn't get home until nearly 8pm. She spends more time on practice than she does on watching Friends though (this may be a girl thing. But watching hours and hours of Friends is compulsory for early/mid teen girls). She has still put enough Friends hours in to be regarded as a proper person though. grin

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 14:49:59

I should say - more than 2 hours straight when considering multiple instruments. She is Grade 8 level on 2 instruments (but one is more like a class of instruments) and voice. She never practices her singing, but on the other hand - she never stops singing. So, you know....

She also spends quite a bit of time on composition. I think if she wasn't so academic, it might be a problem. But she is so it's not.

Theas18 Wed 03-Jul-13 14:53:32

Russians I can so identify with the " she never practices her singing.... but is never not singing" that's exactly how it is. Mind you when they actually have to learn the words to more than one verse ...

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 15:15:17

Theas photographic memory. Gotta be useful for something! grin

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 21:41:08

Theas18, the two hours according to teacher do not depend on the grade but more on what you are planning to do with it IYKWIM...This is because neither of his teachers really care about grades. But DS does, he likes goals, results, etc. Last thing he got was a distinction and one of his teachers said very good but remember it´s not about the exams, it´s about the music. So enough said!

I can see he is going to have to work very hard if he wants to achieve all the things he says he wants in this school but you all say it´s possible and I shall believe you! He is not lazy. TV watching also not a problem at home as we don´t have a license. But Lego... I also want him to chill out and just be happy!

cardibach Wed 03-Jul-13 21:50:43

I have grade 8 in two instruments. I never practised anything like 2 hours a night!
I am a teacher now, and I would say that most successful musicians in school are also successful academically.

cardibach Wed 03-Jul-13 21:52:38

I agree with his teachers about the music not the grades, too. I still think two hours a night is unnecessary at this stage. Obviously when/if he starts to pursue it more seriously/exclusively he will need to do far more than that.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 22:10:37

Cardi Me too (actually, I have 3!) and me too. Although there were days when I'd do nothing but play. I wouldn't say it was exclusively my experience that the best musicians were the most academic kids, but it was definitely the case most of the time.

britishsummer Wed 03-Jul-13 23:01:35

Do people really think that being a soloist can really be achieved with less than 2 hours of practice a day? I could understand that for a composer or somebody aiming for academic music degree or even an orchestral musician when sufficiently talented, however surely concert pianists or other soloists have to practise far more very gifted or not. Benjamin Grovesnor and Lang Lang certainly did.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 23:42:07

Nope people don't think that. But the OP was asking a more general question too. I do, as it happens, know someone who is making a very nice living thank you as a pianist and composer but he's not a Lang Lang style concert pianist. I also know someone who tried to make it as a concert pianist and didnt succeed. He took the classic route of competitions etc and it didn't fall for him. I do know one recentish major international prize winner (not piano) who was definitely not practising for 2 hours a day when at primary school though. Because he hadn't taken up his instrument at that point. And I know other soloists who work constantly and make a decent, family supporting living, who were also not practising that much at primary school.

cardibach Thu 04-Jul-13 22:40:28

britishsummer you might want to read what I said 'Obviously when/if he starts to pursue it more seriously/exclusively he will need to do far more than that.'
The OP is a bout a young child who is trying to balance music and academic study and also progress in his instrument and keep his options open, not somebody being hot housed into a solo career.

britishsummer Fri 05-Jul-13 00:13:43

Cardibach, I understood from OP's earlier post that her DS might be hoping to pursue a solo piano career and that she was wondering if he would have time to practise enough to at least keep that option open whilst maintaining a high academic level at secondary school. There are, I suspect, a fair number of very bright aspiring young musicians attending various music college junior departments on a weekly basis so it would be interesting to know how many hours practice they put in from 12 years onwards (if they continue wanting to pursue the soloist path) and at what cost to their academic attainment.

Schmedz Sat 06-Jul-13 17:01:40

As a music scholar, is there not practise time built into his school day?

Perfectly possible to achieve well in both academic and musical disciplines. As long as he is practising effectively, he can achieve a great deal in a shorter time. 2 hours per instrument per day sounds a little excessive if he is not working at diploma level (possibly even excessive for a low level diploma...)

BeckAndCall Sun 07-Jul-13 07:15:57

schmedz, whether there is practice time built into the school day would depend on the school. At an academic secondary school, it seems unlikely to me - my DD holds academic plus music scholarships at a day school and there is no question of time being 'allowed' or built into the regular day.

And for comparison, she doesn't practice two hours per day on any of her instruments - but she does play for about 10 hours a week on each of her 2 main instruments - but over all, including ensemble and orchestra practices.

Schmedz Sun 07-Jul-13 13:43:11

Agree that taking part in a JD or extra music activities would be expected for a music scholar. Some schools do build in practice time but I suppose they tend to be boarding schools (and producing BBC young musicians!)

The academic/music scholars I know usually do end up doing homework until late in the evening and for much of Sunday.

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