School Music Lessons.(12 Posts)
I have posted this in Gifted and Talented as well, because I wasn't sure where to put it. Sorry for any confusion caused.
My eldest son is 12 and has just achieved his Grade 7 violin with distinction. He plays for the regional youth orchestra and really enjoys all aspects of playing, both alone and with other people.
However, his school music teacher (curriculum teacher, not individual music tuition) insists that he works with the class. For Year 7, they are taught about the Scale of C major, reading a musical score and doing simple compositions, usually without notating this. He is also expected to learn to 'recognise the sounds of different orchestral instruments'. All of these things he finds very boring, although he is obviously still applying himself, as in his last Assessment he achieved Exceptional Performance (which is the 'level' about L8) and an 'A' for effort, which the school is quite strict about giving out.
I am not against the music tuition the school provides: my daughter loved it and gained immense amounts from it, and the teaching itself is good, but I just wish there was something my son could be doing during these lessons, as they are not stretching him at all.
It's a good idea to meet with the G&T co-ordinator - I've previously met with his teacher, but she has stressed the importance of sticking to the curriculum.
It's also a good idea to ask about him completing his Grade 7/8 theory during this time, as it's something which he would find challenging and enjoy at the same time.
As for the Music Schools, we've got auditions at all three, but have heard really positive things about all of them. I'll ask around the orchestra, but I know that no-one is there currently, although there might be some older brothers and sisters there already.
Thanks for your help!
I've just been chatting about this subject with one of my DCs (now year 11 but got grade 8 in the first term of year 8.)
Yes, music was very boring until sometime late in year 9. No, he was never stretched. He never had different work, except for one teacher he was expected to do the score/chords for the simple compositions when appropriate. No, he didn't actually learn anything, and sometimes he was very frustrated by the marking scheme. Unlike at your child's school, one year he had a terrible teacher, who had no idea what she was doing (and subsequently left).
I've just asked him whether we should have requested for him to be allowed to do theory/different work during the music class.
Interestingly, he feels strongly that children like him were needed to help the class along, to be able to demonstrate and to help the others, particularly those who had some ability and interest but had never had the chance to do music before. (The only people he would have liked to have been removed were the few complete no hopers who were disruptive, as it made the lessons so difficult for the teachers. He said he didn't think that was possible though, with the national curriculum.)
Just thought I'd give his alternative view!
He sounds like a very thoughtful and conscientious student and also very similar to DS, who will also be taking his Grade 8 at the end of this year.
I don't think DS has quite reached the stage of maturity where he realises this yet. Sadly, he's in a class with quite a few disruptive students, who constantly challenge the teacher, asking her what the point of music is and being generally rude. He says that he is often put in a group with these students for group work, and therefore never gets anything done.
I do think that he needs to remain within a classroom setting, and still do some practical work with his peers, but also, when they are doing silent, theory work (ie. writing out the scale of 'C' major), it would be nice for him to be doing something more at his level.
Goodness, don't I sound like the pushy mother!
My DD in year 8 is also way ahead of the rest of her class in music - although only grade 5 standard on her first instrument, as she was a later starter.
I remember her initial disbelief in yr7 that they were doing stuff like the c-major scale and basic notes on the keyboards that she had covered in yr3.
The teacher was quick to recognise her enthusiasm and before long was pairing her with one of the special needs pupils. She has found it really challenging helping him, and it also has saved her from being bored.
The alternative would have been more extension work to push her ahead. But as she does her music theory outside of school, she is not losing out and is learning some valuable mentoring skills.
It might also be an idea to ask his violin teacher if she could recommend some extra material - there are some harmony books, and some musical application books he could read which would be really good background work for university level work. Things like 'The Inner Ear of Music' are really good for general musicianship skills.
I'm a 'cello teacher, and although I wasn't quite as advanced as your DS (I only started the 'cello at 12) I was up to Grade 5 theory standard by his age, so completely sympathise with his situation.
I agree that working with the special needs kids does give them a chance to 'teach', but in all probability this is a bit of cop out for not having to devote a few minutes to your DS at the beginning of the lesson in order to give him something separate to do.
I think if you outline to the teachers that you (and he) are quite happy to supply this different work, that it won't affect their workload or the teaching of the class, there won't be much they can object to.
Ask them if they would be happy for the Yr 11's to do Yr 3 literacy work, as it's tantamount to the same thing!
Hope that helps!
Thanks, circular and HobbitMama!
circular - Your DD sounds lovely - I'm not sure DS would have the patience to help the SN pupils, and I'm also not sure whether that would be the best way to teach him new musical skills.
HobbitMama - I will ask his violin teacher whether there is anything she can recommend for him to do during the lessons - that's a good idea! I will definitely go and see the teacher about it and try to make sure something different happens because I'm just not happy with the situation at the moment.
My DS isnt at your DS's playing standard but he is musical and plays several different instrument. His class music teacher quickly recognised that the basic stuff (starting to read notes etc) could be a bit boring so she gives him extends all activites or gives him different work to do. This is all within the class and he really really loves his class music lessons.
In know there is a year 5 boy from a local primary school who goes to the senior school to have lessons with the year 6 pupils so I assume he will work with different classes otherwise he will be repeating the work.
I would have a chat with the Head of the music department.
MY DD is not in the same leauge as your DS, but has always picked up music quicker than any of her class and is now playing a lot by ear (piano) and is the best in her class.
But as wolfbrother says, her teacher often allows her to peer mentor her class mates which she enjoys. She is doing GCSE music next year, so the general class ability should be more balanced.
Sorry, thats not very helpful but maybe if the school insist on him staying at the same level as his class, you could suggest that he mentors some of his friends, at which he will gain other life skills.
Hasn't the teacher heard of differentiation?
She should be planning work for your DS that is appropriate to his needs and development, especially as he is so obviously at quite a different stage to the rest of the class. Sounds like she's not on top of things if she's getting such rudeness and backchat from other pupils but there's no need for your DS to have such a poor quality experience.
I don't think you're being pushy enough!
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