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Exams Parental-expectations

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#16 ontheblackkeys

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 15:12

It seems to me the best way forward would be to prepare the youngster for the Initial exam, as the OP states she is coping with the level of pieces.  This will show the mother that you are not against exams.  Definitely agree with explaining and showing the level required for grade 1.  Also a discussion that each grade requires more at each level, not at an exponential rate, but it is not just a little extra difficulty.

 

Handled correctly, this mother could be an asset.  She is keen, supportive and probably just very keen for her daughter to succeed.  If she has not gone down the instrumental exam route herself, then she needs help understanding what is involved.

 

Agree with the advice above, do not make promises.  Explain the work involved, acknowledge that the foundations are being laid already at home, but stress it is not an easy or guaranteed route.  Also stress, the daughter has to want to do it herself, and to keep practise time fun, or there will be blood!

 

Oh, I'm definitely not against exams, just prefer not to be told when they're going to be ;)

 

As to the daughter wanting to do it herself, I totally agree and I'm not 100% sure that that is where we are at the moment.  Time will tell, I think.


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#17 Clovis

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 17:01

Private school and needing to be grade 3/4 by year 6? That sounds like she's aiming for a music scholarship.

 

Might be worth clarifying this with the parent, as you could potentially skip a grade exam along the way if the child practises enough.


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#18 Latin pianist

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 17:13

Depends on what Private school but I remember my cello teacher taking her child to an interview and he was grade 7. And there were other grade 7s too. Don't think 3-4 is going to achieve a scholarship. I wouldn't recommend skipping a grade. I was talked into doing this and had a Y6 take grade 5. She passed but only just. And after that, it was hard to get back on track.
There are all round scholarships where being 3-4 might help. Even then, the school would want to hear the child play rather than going on what grade has been passed. IMO a lot of damage can be done by rushing through the grades.
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#19 jenny

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 17:47

I once had a mum who phoned me to ask if I could get her daughter to Grade 3 by the following year so that she could apply for a scholarship to the local high school. Her daughter was a beginner, didn't practise much and showed no real ability or enthusiasm.   


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#20 Clovis

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 19:34

Round here private schools generally ask for grade 4 standard performance in the audition on the main instrument (preferably orchestral). Some ask for an exam certificate to match, but others don't and just go with how well they play. I know of children who've gained scholarships without taking any grades. I guess London is very different.

 

The mother's request seemed so specific that I think it would be worth investigating if she's aiming for a scholarship, and then finding out exactly what the private school requires. If this is indeed what she wants, then the best advice would probably be to sign up for lessons on the bassoon, or another endangered instrument.


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#21 elemimele

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 22:08

The fact she listens intently, and yet she's so unobtrusive in lessons that you didn't know she was listening (she seems to be supportive of your approach, keeping quiet when you're teaching, and all-in-all accepting your professional role) is probably a good sign.

 

In a way, perhaps it's no bad thing she told you what she's aiming for. Maybe she did it in the same way that she'd explain to an architect about a house-extension she'd like, not to get in the way of his professional work, but so that he can use his professional skills to advise on whether the project can be accomplished, and if so, how. Her objective at least gives you an opening for discussing her aims, and whether they're realistic and appropriate for the way you teach. If she's one of those mums who's worked out her daughter's entire career path, grade 3, scholarship to local good school, Oxbridge entrance, degree in medicine, consultant haematologist... then things are going to be very stressful and horrible. If she's a mum who is taking a long cool look at her daughter's activities, thinks a previous teacher's somewhat more laid-back approach perhaps wasn't getting the best out of her daughter or her lesson-fees, and is trying to plan realistically, then life might be good. After all, she speaks as though she understands that grade 3/4 is a distant point on a journey she'd like her daughter to make, and she understands that a long journey like this will only happen if her daughter can start by aiming at a closer mile-stone. The big question is whether she has the understanding, empathy and flexibility to cope if the journey takes longer than expected, or if it turns out to be completely wrong for her daughter. 

 

It's a bit of a contrast with a friend of mine, a mum, non-musical and somewhat intimidated by music, who was a bit shocked when the first she heard of her daughter's entry for grade 1 was the bill!


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#22 jpiano

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 23:03

I have found that part of the target-driven approach to the school education system has been a continuation of that into some people's expectations in piano lessons in that everything is measured in terms of needing to be at x grade by y age. I absolutely hate it and as a result I've found that it's easy  for my inner hackles to go up at this when actually it may be a perfectly reasonable request to see approximately what her child could be aiming for. Especially if the request is sprung on me at the end of a lesson, say, when I've the next pupil about to knock on the door and no time to properly consider anything. What I've found works best is to be extremely specific- so for the grade 1 book to be bought, as I use Piano Adventures generally, they need to be able to be able to be a good way into 2B of Piano Adventures and to also have played a small selection (or the more the better) of grade 1 type repertoire that I set them. Likewise for grade 2, to be able to play some grade 2 pieces and so on. The only exceptions I make have been for grades 6 to 7 with 6th formers who would like to take the exam obviously before they leave, so long as we've covered plenty of non-exam material with me along the way they've been Ok to move straight on. I think it's such a problem in terms of less time, focus, other activities and such a different experience nowadays for children growing up and they don't progress through the early stages as quickly as we did. That is a good thing in other ways though as I believe that plenty of time on the foundation stages really does reap rewards later on. I've taken on so many people who've learned as children and just don't have a solid grasp of basic concepts of technique and theory.

 

Looking at the Trinity Pieces -the new ones for next year- the grade 1 set does look easier and I'm wondering about moving straight onto them at a slightly earlier stage though.


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#23 ontheblackkeys

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 12:08

Just a quick update for anyone who may be interested...mum gave me notice yesterday (and has paid her notice period fee without prompting :) ) - reason given was that she's having problems getting child to practise without tantrums!  This is after asking me on Tuesday if she could start having longer lessons from next term (she wanted an hour, I agreed to 45 mins on a trial basis) and she never mentioned any practise issues.  So, don't really know what to think, exactly but I have a sneaking suspicion I may have dodged a bullet...rolleyes.gif unsure.png


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#24 ten left thumbs

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 13:10

Thanks for the update. That's interesting. The mother must be very frustrated. But it is as it is.


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#25 tangoallegro

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 14:57

Just a quick update for anyone who may be interested...mum gave me notice yesterday (and has paid her notice period fee without prompting :) ) - reason given was that she's having problems getting child to practise without tantrums! This is after asking me on Tuesday if she could start having longer lessons from next term (she wanted an hour, I agreed to 45 mins on a trial basis) and she never mentioned any practise issues. So, don't really know what to think, exactly but I have a sneaking suspicion I may have dodged a bullet...:rolleyes: :unsure:

Take comfort that you’re not alone here. Earlier in the year, a pushy parent requested that I get their child through the next two grades ‘as quickly as possible.’ This was a difficult request as the child did minimal practice between lessons. A few months after this I too received notice of termination of lessons, the reason given was that the parents had decided they did not want the stress of daily arguments when the child refused to play their instrument. Breathe a sigh of relief!
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#26 ontheblackkeys

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 15:20

 Breathe a sigh of relief!

 

 

 

Oh yes, I already have!  I'm surprised I'm so zen about it, I'm usually more upset when someone stops but although the loss of income is annoying, I'm not altogether sorry to see them go.

 

She has indicated that she definitely wants the last 4 lessons to go ahead, which I'm fine with.  My only concern is that they have a book of mine and that they may change their minds last minute, which will be a bit of a hassle.  Fingers crossed that they at least come next week!


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#27 linda.ff

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 15:20

 

Just a quick update for anyone who may be interested...mum gave me notice yesterday (and has paid her notice period fee without prompting smile.png ) - reason given was that she's having problems getting child to practise without tantrums! This is after asking me on Tuesday if she could start having longer lessons from next term (she wanted an hour, I agreed to 45 mins on a trial basis) and she never mentioned any practise issues. So, don't really know what to think, exactly but I have a sneaking suspicion I may have dodged a bullet...rolleyes.gifunsure.png

Take comfort that you’re not alone here. Earlier in the year, a pushy parent requested that I get their child through the next two grades ‘as quickly as possible.’ This was a difficult request as the child did minimal practice between lessons. A few months after this I too received notice of termination of lessons, the reason given was that the parents had decided they did not want the stress of daily arguments when the child refused to play their instrument. Breathe a sigh of relief!

 

And it does feel quite good having pretty well "proved yourself right", doesn't it?


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