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Your expert advice please...


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#16 ma non troppo

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 18:46

My sister is a bog standard classically trained pianist with a music degree. She's a fantastic sight reader and can play anything by ear. She obviously has talent but she also just played and played and played as a teenager, accompanying, improvising, song writing and playing normal music. One way or another that is the way to develop those skills.

At university one of their exams was to play unseen from a full orchestral score on the piano. Anyone who can do that can do anything!

Firstly, On my new phone I now appear to be able to quote on this forum which is a first!

Your sister sounds a little like me. As part of my degree we had to be able to sight read from score too. It is doable but takes practice. I am not bad at it, but in high school my music teacher was phenomenal in this regard. It annoyed me that he could do it but I couldn't and I told him this and he took some considerable time to help me with it. Yes, it is down to practice, but there are short cuts and "knacks" that can be taught.
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#17 Saxwarbler

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 18:59

Session musicians have to be *really* good. It's not an easy option. Admittedly, my experience is of orchestral session musicians and they have to be top notch to get the work.

I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with one or two session musicians over the course of my own, very amateur, playing career. One in particular was an army musician and state trumpeter before heading for the studios and playing on everything from Carry-On soundtracks to Mike Oldfield albums. He's not really 'known' except to those in the industry - where he is very much respected. He's retired now but still conducts from time to time and considers himself to have had a wonderful life.

What he has said several times though is that you have to be seriously good to survive as a session musician. It's not about what grades you've got. It's about being able to jump in there and play what's put in front of you pretty much there and then, fitting in with the band and sounding exactly how the producers/directors/artists want. It's also about being reliable and available. If you can't do that then they won't rehire you, simple as that - a salary is a luxury. OTOH, if you're all that and more then word will get around and you'll always eat at the end of the day.


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#18 susiejean

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 19:27

 

Session musicians have to be *really* good. It's not an easy option. Admittedly, my experience is of orchestral session musicians and they have to be top notch to get the work.

 everything from Carry-On soundtracks to Mike Oldfield albums. 

 

Oooh, wow. There's someone I would love to meet! wub.png


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#19 dexter97

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 11:56

Thank you all very much for your advice. After much discussion and deliberation, we've concluded that Rockschool / Trinity Rock & Pop is probably the way to go from here. We started him down the road of classical grades to develop his discipline and technical skills, and also to eventually give him the option of studying music at university should he wish to. I'd never really considered a more contemporary syllabus; I wasn't really aware of them until recently and would have assumed that they wouldn't carry the same weight or kudos as classical grades. I'm now persuaded that this isn't necessarily the case and there should be no detriment in taking this route, particularly as he's quite sure that he doesn't want to be a classical pianist.

 

It's an opportune time to change direction, as his current teacher had already advised us that she was unable to take him beyond grade 3 (she's more of a strings and woodwind teacher) and we are in the process of looking for someone else. We had found someone he could start with in September, but she's very much a classical teacher and I've not spoken to her yet about whether she's able to teach more contemporary styles. If I may trouble you for a little more help, what's the best way to go about finding a suitable teacher?


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#20 susiejean

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 17:15

Hmmm, not sure. I'm registered with MusicTeachers.co.uk and it asks you when you register which styles you teach. I've had a few people come through that as they were looking for non classical. Maybe try them and see what is near you? 

Or maybe ask for a recommendation on Facebook?

I'm sure someone will come in with better suggestions.


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#21 dexter97

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 17:05

Hello again, learned friends. A bit of an update, and if I may, a request for further advice…

We went with Rockschool in the end, and the lad’s just about to take his grade 4. It took a little time to get used to the new format, and the step-up in technicality came as a surprise, so we haven’t rushed through it. His new teacher’s also been giving him some classical pieces that he particularly likes, so he’s still keeping his hand in, so to speak.

In the meantime he’s joined a band as keyboard player & vocalist, which is giving him some brilliant practical experience. It’s not especially challenging – just classic rock covers, but his Freddie Mercury tribute (he sings and plays ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’) is pretty damn good for a 12 year-old – Not sure he’ll still manage to hit the high notes when his voice breaks!

Now here’s the thing. He went up to high school last September, and we’ve been left somewhat disappointed by the limited opportunities to develop his talent there, as well as the lack of peers of a similar ability for him to engage with. We’ve been considering a number of options to try to get him the best musical education we can, including moving schools, but he’s doing well there and we don’t want to cause unnecessary disruption.

So then I found out about the Junior RNCM, and after lots of discussion (and crunching the financial numbers) we decided that he’s going to have a shot at the audition next spring. We know that he might not be quite up to the required ‘Grade 5 Distinction’ standard by March, although I’ve read that this is just a guide and the panel will make their judgment on potential and overall musicianship. If he doesn’t make it next year, we can always try again the year after.

For the audition, he will also need to perform a piece on a second instrument and it’s on this that I’d value your thoughts. He can play guitar to a basic standard and can sing, so either of these could be his second study. However, he’s had no training in either and everything he does at the moment is contemporary, not classical, and I’m not sure how that would be received at a conservatoire. Does anyone have any experience of these auditions, and how would you recommend we approach the second study? I had thought of maybe doing a guitar & vocal version of a musical theatre number.
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#22 Banjogirl

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 18:37

My youngest son was at the juniors at RNCM. The guidelines are very much just that. Talk to them. They won't mind. I know one boy who started in year ten not yet at grade five, but with obvious potential, when clearly that's not the norm at all. Lots of people don't already have a second instrument, particularly singers. They were encouraged to learn the piano but I don't think they all did. The Boy had a very busy schedule, as he had three instruments, compared to some of the others!

We got a bursary. It reduced the fees by about a quarter, as I recall. It was based on parental income. We are by no means poor so it says a lot about the sort of people there, that we were one of the poorest families! It is undoubtedly an brilliant opportunity. I was really surprised that my lazy boy stuck at it, and it was so good for him, especially all the extra classes and the friends he made. It's a big commitment for parents. We travelled ninety minutes each way. We could do it because all our other children had left home, and if they hadn't that might have made it impossible.
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#23 HelenVJ

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 22:50

Yes, absolutely the best thing would be to contact the Junior Dept Head of Admissions at the RNCM and they can give you an informed opinion about the required standard. I'm not from your part of the country, but here we also have various Saturday Music Centres run by the borough. There might be more opportunities for bands/ groups at one of these, if you have something similar, and the cost would be considerably less.


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#24 edgmusic

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 19:28

Another vote here for RockSchool.

Certainly not an easy option. Encourages chord reading, improvisation and 'keeping going'
Great for pupils who play well by ear.

I personally think the Grade standard required are above the comparable ABRSM/Trinity classical exams.
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#25 Banjogirl

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 19:46

I should add that when the Boy auditioned he had sung a lot but hadn't had singing lessons. I asked whether he should sing or do piano as his second study and they said why not audition on both and then they'd choose, if they accepted him. When they did they said he could do all three if he wanted so he did. The point being, that he was offered lessons on voice even though he'd not previously had any formal lessons. And they know that some children have started later and with the best will in the world won't have become as advanced as someone who started when they were tiny. But they're also looking for potential. I don't know how much emphasis is put on the references but being a good attender and keen, with a steady upward trajectory is always going to look promising.
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#26 dexter97

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 21:12

Thanks for the replies. I've emailed the junior dept administrator for some advice, so we'll see what comes back.


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#27 dexter97

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 22:40

Edgmusic,

 

When I was researching Rockschool, I did hear that the technical level of the intermediate grades was a little higher than ABRSM, but I've not been able to compare them directly. Now we're looking at Junior RNCM, we'll have to get back on the classical track, so it'll be interesting to see what the step-up from RSL Grade 4 to ABRSM Grade 5 is like.


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#28 edgmusic

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 09:34

Edgmusic,
 
When I was researching Rockschool, I did hear that the technical level of the intermediate grades was a little higher than ABRSM, but I've not been able to compare them directly. Now we're looking at Junior RNCM, we'll have to get back on the classical track, so it'll be interesting to see what the step-up from RSL Grade 4 to ABRSM Grade 5 is like.


Will be interested to hear what you think.
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#29 Aeolienne

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 15:29

 

She's a fantastic sight reader and can play anything by ear. She obviously has talent but she also just played and played and played as a teenager, 

 

This the only way to improve sight reading, but try convincing a teenager whose less passionate!

 

Too bad it doesn't work for sight singing.


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