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Is a pass mark a good mark?

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#1 kevin1981

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:42

Hello all! I'm new to the forum and I'm posting my first ever post!

I've done my first exams in singing and piano this summer (grade 3). Both of them were 117, just 3 marks short of a merit. I've been reading different posts around the forum and many were disappointed that they didn't get a merit or distinction. Some even were not satisfied with a distinction and they wanted a "high distinction".

I just want to know should I be happy and proud to tell everyone I've got 117 in my exams or should I not tell anyone because it's embarrassing? Surely a pass is good news and worth celebrating but reading some of the posts it seems a lot of people want to get more than 140!

What is your idea of a good mark?
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#2 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:55

Kevin, beware of asking questions that might attract a depressing answer!

It's almost as though you are begging to be discouraged!

A good mark depends on the person.

Please be happy and proud. If you don't like 117, then make it a personal aim to do better at grade 4.


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#3 mel2

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:02

A mark of 117 is no cause for embarrassment. Why would you think it might be?
If you have heard of people who strive for 100% marks then I would suggest they have some deep-seated insecurity that means they are never going to be truly happy in life. (It's only music...)
Nothing wrong with aiming high, but remember the effect of nerves and playing an unfamiliar instrument on the finished performance.
A sense of proportion is s very fine thing.
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#4 kevin1981

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:06

Glad there are people think like me :-)
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#5 thara96

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:01

Why should you be unhappy?

 

117 is nothing to feel terrible about!  


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#6 corenfa

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:41

The only time that I could see one might be "justified" in feeling bad about a particular mark is when a certain level is required as a qualification. I think some universities require distinction for entry into certain programmes.

If this doesn't apply to you, then be proud of what you've achieved. I could be said to have "missed" a distinction in my ATCL by not many marks. I put "missed" in quotes because that's not how I feel- I am very pleased with my pass that was obtained after not that many months preparation, and under difficult personal circumstances.
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#7 corenfa

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:42

Also, if you tell someone you got 117 and they react "badly", that says a lot about them. Personally if anyone were to try to make me feel embarrassed about my marks, I would be re-evaluating whether I should continue interacting with them.
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#8 LoneM

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:56

I absolutely hated doing exams (piano) when I was at school. By the time I got to grade 7 as a stroppy teen I was refusing to take it right up to the moment I was metaphorically frogmarched into the exam room. My aural was very good and I knew my scales but was bored with the pieces, had hardly looked at one at all, and was always a poor sight reader. I scraped through with 100 marks - the examiner's comment was: "You will need to think seriously about your approach if you want to take grade 8" .

 

I've always been rather proud of that result! :D


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#9 AllTheRightNotes

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:34

My first ever music exam was Grade 3 Clarinet at school (30 odd years ago) and my mark was 104. My dad (a passionate amateur musician) was delighted, I think it's one of the few times in my life that I've made him genuinely proud which pleased me immensely. If you are happy you are happy! :)


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#10 corenfa

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:40

I got 103 for grade 3 and 104 for grade 4. Given that I was 9 and 10 respectively and hadn't any clue about practising, those were brilliant results.
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#11 EllieD

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:51

Brilliant results in both exams, you should be very proud! Of course these things are all relative, aren't they? Mo Farah was no doubt devastated whenever he got a silver medal rather than gold … most normal professional athletes would be thrilled to be picked for the Olympic team! If you are ultimately hoping to make a large amount of money as a professional pianist and singer, releasing platinum albums, then yes, please feel free to be disappointed and ashamed with your results. Otherwise, please enjoy being a normal person and be very happy with them!!

Welcome to the forum, btw!  :)


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#12 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 13:24

kevin1981, first and foremost, congratulations on the 117.  That's a high pass, a very safe pass, and I tell all my adult students that a safe pass is what they should be aiming for.

 

Now, is 117 a "good" score?  I would say it depends.  Are you hoping to make a career (or second career) out of music, as a teacher, composer, conductor, or virtuoso performer?  In that case, then I would suggest that no, 117 is not a good score and you should "lick your calf again" (as we used to say back in the mountains).  But if you're doing this for self-improvement (which I think is an admirable goal), then 117 is indeed a good score.

 

My first exam was G5 Music Theory in March 2018, followed by G5 Piano in May 2018, then G8 Piano in May 2019.  (These exams were not available to me when I was younger.)  I'm a music teacher, so I did feel the need to score as high as possible.  Furthermore, my teacher (a retired conservatory department chair) pressured me to score as high as possible at G8 - she wanted me to get at least a Merit if I wanted to continue on to diplomas.

 

Regardless, I would offer this advice: go through your results sheet with your teacher(s) and identify your weakest areas.  (If you don't have a teacher, get one!)  Work on shoring up your weak points as you progress towards the next grade.

 

If the 117 bothers you, then you can always re-take the G3 exams.


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#13 RuthP

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 14:35

As a teacher, I am always very proud when my students get marks in the region of 117. Of course I’m over the moon when they get merits and distinctions, but 117 is still very good (in my opinion), and it’s not like you just scraped a pass. Also bear in mind that nerves can affect your playing, as can performing on an unfamiliar piano. I think you did well, and congratulations.
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#14 agricola

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 07:44

As a teacher thinking about long term potential I regard a score of 110 - 119 as a good, safe pass, which means that the pupil can progress to the next grade in a year or so.  Under 110 I would take a little longer to improve skills. 

 

From a personal standpoint I consider that any form of art is something you should do for its own sake.  For example, I like to garden, I love my garden and think it is beautiful, but I am always looking for ways to improve it.  I don't care what anyone else thinks of it or even whether anyone sees it.  You can learn to play an instrument in the same way, in which case exams are still useful to monitor progress although you may not be overly concerned about your score.  On the other hand, if you have a competitive nature you will never be satisfied with a pass and if you seek approval you will need an audience to impress.  So the answer to your question depends on your motivation for learning.


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#15 Hedgehog

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 08:59

117 is a mark to be proud of - it's a very good pass. If you're feeling a little bit miffed that you didn't get the extra 3 marks to tick over into the Merit category, think back to the exam - were you particularly nervous? Have a look through the comments sheets - anything there that you could improve on, or that was obviously due to nerves?  You have to remember too, that it was your performance at that moment in time, and it's just that examiner's viewpoint.  I know they have a set of criteria to work with, but there are shades of interpretation because they are human too.

Think about music as an on-going learning process in terms of developing your skills in your chosen instruments, and as a lifelong process generally.  Perhaps you can find a piano group that encourages performances - informal piano groups are popping up all over the place, and if you find one, you'll probably find someone who'd welcome the chance to accompany a singer, so you'd get two opportunities.


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