Jump to content


Photo

How to explain to parents exams are not the syllabus


  • Please log in to reply
51 replies to this topic

#31 ViolinsAreForLife

ViolinsAreForLife

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 24 posts
  • Member: 900741
    Joined: 12-March 21

Posted 03 June 2021 - 18:29

There are some really good posts here...

 

I think that there are two themes that we touched on:

 

1) a broad-based education that does not specialise too early is important to develop well-adjusted young adults;

2) trying to specialise in too many areas is not the same as 1) and is counter-productive if done just to keep a child busy (to exhaustion).

 

My experience is that the 'can only practise ten minutes violin because I have hockey, jazz dance, and piano as well' type of pupils

cannot be asked to drop everything else to glorify me into being their no.1 exclusive choice: what we can do is to adjust our expectations,

and as others here have said better than me, this is when we push back unrealistic demands from pushy parents who think ten minutes a day

makes a pupil ready to launch on the grade I-to-VIII conveyor belt. Thus, we tell parents (or the adult learners) that with ten minutes a day, four

days a week, at best in a year we can expect competent fingering of the first three fingers in the first three Major sharp keys and a just-getting-by

bowing: anything above that would be considered a gift from the Olympian gods.

 

I had a pupil for the last couple of years who has gone from no music reading or violin knowledge to now being ready for Grade 2: I had her work

through all the Fiddle Time books, Violin Star 2 and 3, a bucketload of Irish tunes from The Session.org, plus pop/Disney tunes, Chinese violin solos,

classical music of various kinds, scales, technical drills, position shifts to second...AND vibrato. For the last year she has been practising between five

and six hours, yes, FIVE AND SIX HOURS.... A WEEK... She has just turned ten years old... This is an exceptional child... For this pupil, I have no problem

doing an exam, given how much more she has digested beyond the tiny list of pieces in the grade book... For a pupil who practises that much and with such

passion, who always turns up at her lesson smiling and with all her music/backing tracks/homework ready, I can do one exam per year, no problem. . . 

 

...................but she is the exception...................

 

:)


  • 0

#32 Grotrian

Grotrian

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 11 posts
  • Member: 900774
    Joined: 06-April 21

Posted 09 June 2021 - 12:03

I wonder how many of these pushy parents who are grade oriented actually play an instrument well. One thing I have always been adamant about when it comes to the children's activities is that they actually want to do it. If I have to push them to do it then there's no point. Music should be a passion - something you want to do because, not in spite of. I bought a piano the day my eldest daughter was born but because I wanted her to play but to simply have it there so she might play. In any case, I play and loved the piano enough to have many happy memories of wasting whole afternoons and evenings in a world of my own as a teenager so it wouldn't have been a complete loss. At various points of the children's childhood I tried to get them interested with varying degrees of success but it was obvious it wasn't a passion. Two years ago, I decided to give it another shot but this time I actually found them a teacher instead of trying to work through the book myself. If they didn't love it then no problem. It's only 2 months of lessons and there were plenty other activities they were already doing anyway to keep going with. So at the "past it" age of 11 and 9 (when prodigies are already pushing grade 8), they started lessons. This time, though, they really took to it. 20 months on, they are finally doing their first exam (well actually the older girl technically has already done her first music exam - grade 2 singing but voice doesn't really count!) - grade 4 for the older girl and grade 3 for the younger boy. Does the exam matter? Not to me. Actually the teacher is the one who is pushing them to do it. I can hear the improvement even without the exam. More importantly I could finally feel the passion within. So out went the upright and in came a grand. Now though, they are definitely getting firmly on the exam ladder  :ninja:! They don't get to stop before they bring home their FRSMs  :rofl:.

 

I think you simply have to say to parents that you can't force music. It comes when it comes and the parents simply have to be prepared to invest in giving their child that time and space to find it for themselves. The ones that don't understand that are imo not worth taking on!


  • 2

#33 BadStrad

BadStrad

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4591 posts
  • Member: 88756
    Joined: 28-January 10

Posted 09 June 2021 - 15:42

 (well actually the older girl technically has already done her first music exam - grade 2 singing but voice doesn't really count!)

That's a bit rude.


  • 5

#34 elemimele

elemimele

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2099 posts
  • Member: 895612
    Joined: 17-July 16

Posted 09 June 2021 - 18:10

oh, don't think voice doesn't count! Nooooo! I know you didn't mean it like that, but cue rant: rave even! How many people trust themselves to sing, in public? To an examiner? There are loads, oooodles of instrumentalists who nevertheless can't sing/won't sing/believe singing is beyond them (Cyrilla would, I think, have them singing and surprising themselves, in minutes). But more to the point, listen to a good singer; that Purcell sound-the-trumpets that I posted the other day, with Iestyn Davies and Alison Balsom; she mimics and echoes his singing, and I don't now which is more wonderful: that he can sing a trill, not a warble or a wide vibrato, but a clean trill on two defined notes - or that Alison Balsom can mimic it on a trumpet with no valves. Oh, I'm lost in admiration of both of them. But the main thing is the interplay of musicality, the way they complement one another. That shows how the voice and the instrument are equal ways to express music. In fact, at the time Purcell was writing, the ultimate aim of an instrumentalist was to achieve the beauty of the singer. If you can pass grade 2 singing, you have accomplished a beautiful and worthwhile musical thing. (In fact, if you can sing without actually doing the exam, you have still accomplished a beautiful and musical thing, it's just you don't have the documentary evidence!).

(oh, and selfishly, as someone who has to walk past buskers, I do appreciate someone who can sing well; amongst the busking community they seem a bit of a rarity)

edit: this is Maria Christina Kiehr singing a beautiful piece of Buxtehude; it's one of my go-to pieces when I want to remind myself what a singer can do. But everyone will have their own go-to singing pieces; the voice is so, so versatile and direct. We take it for granted because singing is a natural and human activity that everyone should be able to do - but we shouldn't confuse this with thinking that great singing is somehow a lowly accomplishment... all singing is good, great singing is great


  • 3

#35 Banjogirl

Banjogirl

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4013 posts
  • Member: 39509
    Joined: 12-September 08

Posted 09 June 2021 - 20:44

Music certainly wasn't my passion when I was child, but I'm jolly glad I was made to learn the piano, just as I'm glad I was taught to read and write, and learn French, and any number of other things that I didn't particularly want to do at the time but which are invaluable skills now which give me great pleasure, and without which my life would have been hugely impoverished.
  • 1

#36 Iulia

Iulia

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 182 posts
  • Member: 899283
    Joined: 27-October 18

Posted 09 June 2021 - 21:11

Music certainly wasn't my passion when I was child, but I'm jolly glad I was made to learn the piano, just as I'm glad I was taught to read and write, and learn French, and any number of other things that I didn't particularly want to do at the time but which are invaluable skills now which give me great pleasure, and without which my life would have been hugely impoverished.

 

I always think that when people say 'I don't want to push them'. Well, did you push them to read and write? If they didn't like maths did you just say 'oh well I want them to enjoy maths not pass exams'. 

Kids don't know what's important. Left to themselves they would learn very little. Its up to the adults to decide what they learn. And yes of course there is no point in forcing a kid for years to do something they have no aptitude for or interest in, but many able kids give up because its too much work, enabled by parents, and all regret it later. 


  • 2

#37 zwhe

zwhe

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1062 posts
  • Member: 898658
    Joined: 19-January 18

Posted 09 June 2021 - 22:07

I think with 'pushing' its all about how much. My mother made me do ballet for 7 years. I was supposed to be an elegant ballerina. At the age of 10 I was still in the class with the 3 year olds. I have about as much talent as a dyspraxic elephant, and I really hated it (especially the humiliation of being worse than a toddler), to the point that there is absolutely nothing now that would ever convince me to dance in front of anybody. As well as having terrible balance and co-ordination, I'm also far too short to be a ballerina (this shouldn't have been a surprise to my 4 foot 11 mother)! You get the same in music with parents who have decided their kid is going to be the next Mozart and should practise 5 hours a day from the age of 3. That is not the same as making a lazy kid practice 10 minutes a day, but I do sympathise with parents who are worried about pushing too much. 

I think most (admittedly not all) children are capable of learning without pushing, but they do need steering and guiding. With the right encouragement they will want to learn as they will understand why its important. If you read to your children every day, they develop an interest in books and learning; they want to learn to read so they can do it when you aren't there. If you show them the beauty of maths they will want to solve the puzzles. Even when they don't like things, they will try to do it if adults explain why they should (like washing their hair or eating mushrooms!). I never pushed my kids, and they have found their own interests and paths. They were often left to their own devices, and found things that interested them. My (slighly weird!) middle child discovered online PhD dissertations at the age of 13 and enjoyed reading them in his spare time, especially Physics and Biology and is now studying Physics at uni. My eldest used to enjoy making new things out of the things she found and is just finishing art college. I think children are often capable of more than we realise as adults. My youngest is still at school, but I trust him to work out what he wants to do with a little help and support, even though there has been much reluctance along the way.


  • 2

#38 Cyrilla

Cyrilla

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15174 posts
  • Member: 99
    Joined: 09-November 03
  • Croydon, South London/Surrey

Posted 09 June 2021 - 22:17

oh, don't think voice doesn't count! Nooooo! I know you didn't mean it like that, but cue rant: rave even! How many people trust themselves to sing, in public? To an examiner? There are loads, oooodles of instrumentalists who nevertheless can't sing/won't sing/believe singing is beyond them (Cyrilla would, I think, have them singing and surprising themselves, in minutes). But more to the point, listen to a good singer; that Purcell sound-the-trumpets that I posted the other day, with Iestyn Davies and Alison Balsom; she mimics and echoes his singing, and I don't now which is more wonderful: that he can sing a trill, not a warble or a wide vibrato, but a clean trill on two defined notes - or that Alison Balsom can mimic it on a trumpet with no valves. Oh, I'm lost in admiration of both of them. But the main thing is the interplay of musicality, the way they complement one another. That shows how the voice and the instrument are equal ways to express music. In fact, at the time Purcell was writing, the ultimate aim of an instrumentalist was to achieve the beauty of the singer. If you can pass grade 2 singing, you have accomplished a beautiful and worthwhile musical thing. (In fact, if you can sing without actually doing the exam, you have still accomplished a beautiful and musical thing, it's just you don't have the documentary evidence!).

 

...the voice is so, so versatile and direct. We take it for granted because singing is a natural and human activity that everyone should be able to do - but we shouldn't confuse this with thinking that great singing is somehow a lowly accomplishment... all singing is good, great singing is great

Another post I want to give a 'love' to - a 'like' just isn't enough!

 

Ha ha, yes, perhaps I would...  :D  :D  :D .

 

Kodály had a lot to say about singing - this is one quote:

 

‘What is the violin or piano to you?  You have an instrument in your throat, with a more beautiful tone than any violin in the world, if you will only use it.  With this instrument you will come invigoratingly near to the greatest geniuses of music – if there is only somebody to lead you on!’

 

:wub:


  • 0

#39 Cyrilla

Cyrilla

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15174 posts
  • Member: 99
    Joined: 09-November 03
  • Croydon, South London/Surrey

Posted 09 June 2021 - 22:22

 

Music certainly wasn't my passion when I was child, but I'm jolly glad I was made to learn the piano, just as I'm glad I was taught to read and write, and learn French, and any number of other things that I didn't particularly want to do at the time but which are invaluable skills now which give me great pleasure, and without which my life would have been hugely impoverished.

 

 

...Kids don't know what's important. Left to themselves they would learn very little. It's up to the adults to decide what they learn. 

 

Mmmmm.   Proponents of Self-Directed Education would most definitely disagree with you here.

 

And I think children absolutely know what's important to them.   It may not coincide with what the adults in their lives deem to be 'important'.

 

And I'm afraid your last sentence... :blink:  :blink:  :blink:


  • 0

#40 Grotrian

Grotrian

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 11 posts
  • Member: 900774
    Joined: 06-April 21

Posted 10 June 2021 - 07:04

 

oh, don't think voice doesn't count! Nooooo! I know you didn't mean it like that, but cue rant: rave even! How many people trust themselves to sing, in public? To an examiner? There are loads, oooodles of instrumentalists who nevertheless can't sing/won't sing/believe singing is beyond them (Cyrilla would, I think, have them singing and surprising themselves, in minutes). But more to the point, listen to a good singer; that Purcell sound-the-trumpets that I posted the other day, with Iestyn Davies and Alison Balsom; she mimics and echoes his singing, and I don't now which is more wonderful: that he can sing a trill, not a warble or a wide vibrato, but a clean trill on two defined notes - or that Alison Balsom can mimic it on a trumpet with no valves. Oh, I'm lost in admiration of both of them. But the main thing is the interplay of musicality, the way they complement one another. That shows how the voice and the instrument are equal ways to express music. In fact, at the time Purcell was writing, the ultimate aim of an instrumentalist was to achieve the beauty of the singer. If you can pass grade 2 singing, you have accomplished a beautiful and worthwhile musical thing. (In fact, if you can sing without actually doing the exam, you have still accomplished a beautiful and musical thing, it's just you don't have the documentary evidence!).

 

...the voice is so, so versatile and direct. We take it for granted because singing is a natural and human activity that everyone should be able to do - but we shouldn't confuse this with thinking that great singing is somehow a lowly accomplishment... all singing is good, great singing is great

Another post I want to give a 'love' to - a 'like' just isn't enough!

 

Ha ha, yes, perhaps I would...  :D  :D  :D .

 

Kodály had a lot to say about singing - this is one quote:

 

‘What is the violin or piano to you?  You have an instrument in your throat, with a more beautiful tone than any violin in the world, if you will only use it.  With this instrument you will come invigoratingly near to the greatest geniuses of music – if there is only somebody to lead you on!’

 

:wub:

 

Haa.. hoist in my own petard again :D. "The voice doesn't count" was soooo tongue in cheek! (She actually got a merit which given she only started singing lessons 6 months ago in year 7 which was a surprise given I never think she sounds that good.) I spent 15 years without a piano after I finished grade 8 and left for uni and never felt I missed out too much not having one to play on. But the voice has always been my first love (even though I never had any formal lessons). I spent 10 years chasing opera around the world and delayed family and kids till I had satisfied that itch. I guess that comment was half aimed at the "serious" musicians who consider opera trivial. I know some piano teachers who have never heard anything from an opera and consider the harmonies too trivial and boring. In any case, I apologize for the misleading throwaway remark.

 

About children and teaching, there's many ways to parent of course. To each their own but personally I very much divide learning into curricular and extra-curricular. Whilst I admire those parents who leave their children to self-direct all their learning, I am not brave enough to take that risk that it will all turn out well. I push mine (hard) when it comes to schoolwork but for the extra-curricular activities, it is very much self driven and there has to be a desire to excel in whatever else they want to do outside of school. There's no point throwing money away on things they don't want to do even if something like music might very well be enriching and fulfilling. And of course there's only so much emotional energy one can invest in "pushing" children. It is very tiring!


  • 0

#41 Iulia

Iulia

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 182 posts
  • Member: 899283
    Joined: 27-October 18

Posted 10 June 2021 - 07:37

 

 

Music certainly wasn't my passion when I was child, but I'm jolly glad I was made to learn the piano, just as I'm glad I was taught to read and write, and learn French, and any number of other things that I didn't particularly want to do at the time but which are invaluable skills now which give me great pleasure, and without which my life would have been hugely impoverished.

 

 

...Kids don't know what's important. Left to themselves they would learn very little. It's up to the adults to decide what they learn. 

 

Mmmmm.   Proponents of Self-Directed Education would most definitely disagree with you here.

 

And I think children absolutely know what's important to them.   It may not coincide with what the adults in their lives deem to be 'important'.

 

And I'm afraid your last sentence... :blink:  :blink:  :blink:

 

 

 

My last sentence what??

If I had a tenner for the number of times I've heard a variation on 'oh I used to play piano/violin/trumpet - I got to Grade XYZ (usually about 5) then I gave up. I really regret it now' I'd have enough for a new piano with a luxury holiday thrown in.

I don't think kids have a wide enough view of the world to know what is good for them long term. I have one student who has just been enrolled in swimming lessons. He doesn't enjoy them and each week moans at the lesson he has to leave and go swimming. So, you think it better if that child just never learns to swim - a skill most would consider important? Let him choose to not swim? 

It is of course a shame if for example a sporty parent pushed an artistic child to do sport and won't allow them to follow their interests. But on the other hand a child who prefers to be sedentary should surely be encouraged to do some physical activity. 

My father insisted both myself and my brother got our driving licences at 17. He said you don't need to drive later if you don't want or need, but its important you have it so do it now. I didn't use it for another 10 years but thank god I had it when I did need it. And I'm super grateful he had the wisdom to make a decision for me I didn't have the experience to make for myself. 

Its obviously something that must be done sensitively, but that is the case for all aspects of parenting (and teaching) surely. 


  • 2

#42 zwhe

zwhe

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1062 posts
  • Member: 898658
    Joined: 19-January 18

Posted 10 June 2021 - 08:09

Goodness, it must really vary depending on where you live. If I had a tenner for everyone who regrets giving up an instrument, I wouldn't even have enough for a cheap second hand keyboard!! I do often hear people say they wish they could play an instrument, but without the bother of learning, and they don't want lessons. I have a couple of adult pupils who wish they had the money to learn as kids, but most of the adults I know are happy they chose to spend their time as they did. Although it has to be said, none of my friends were the hanging around looking for romantic interest/smoking type of teenagers.

My eldest hated her (school) swimming lessons, but her attitude changed after a summer holiday where her younger brother was allowed to play in the sea and she had to stay knee deep next to me because he could swim 50 metres and she couldn't. She did a holiday course at the local pool and could swim the following year! A lot of it is about motivation - nothing else had changed. The lessons were with the same person, but she only learnt when she wanted to.

Surely at the age of 17, driving lessons was a decision you made not your father, even if he persuaded you to do it? There is no way he could have made you take driving lessons without your consent - you had to make the decision to get in the car and actually drive it.


  • 2

#43 Aquarelle

Aquarelle

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8701 posts
  • Member: 10531
    Joined: 05-April 07

Posted 10 June 2021 - 08:16

Children do need guidance and adults who don't give it are failing in their parental or teacher responsibilities. Which child to push and  which subject or activity to push is a very delicat matter and needs to be thought through carefully and in the case of music with proper professional advice. An experienced teacher gets the vibes early on. Over 50 years of class and individual teaching I have seen many parents let their children down because they allowed these inexperienced little beings to take decisions for which they had neither the maturity nor the experience to be able to make. I have also seen parents take very wrong decisions  - often for emotional  and sometimes even selfish - reasons. I have also seen many parents take the right decisions and stick to them even in the difficult moments. It is all a question of balance and informed common sense.


  • 3

#44 vron

vron

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 305 posts
  • Member: 898525
    Joined: 05-December 17
  • South Shropshire

Posted 10 June 2021 - 08:24

Like all things I think it is a matter of balance.

 

Some things are really worth the effort of pushing children - reading,writing, English  and maths being some of them. Swimming for safety i think is included in that but not competitive swimming if they dont want to. Knowing enough to cook themselves a decent meal but not  masterchef etc etc.  Extra curricula activities shoudl be encouraged  and some gentle pushing may be needed when younger but it shoud taper off as they grow.

 

I also think a parent knows their child. Some are just lazier and dont want to put the effort in for anything if they can get away with it, some are interested in many things and will explore for themselves given the chance. Some have aptitudes for a specific area. Some have specific difficulties they need help to overcome.

 

Like life one size doesnt fit all.


  • 2

#45 Iulia

Iulia

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 182 posts
  • Member: 899283
    Joined: 27-October 18

Posted 10 June 2021 - 08:37

Surely at the age of 17, driving lessons was a decision you made not your father, even if he persuaded you to do it? There is no way he could have made you take driving lessons without your consent - you had to make the decision to get in the car and actually drive it.

 

Well yeah I suppose I could have flat out refused if I'd been an idiot, but the impetus came from my father, who 'pushed' me into doing it because he believed it was the best time to do so before I left home to go to college. Left to my own devices I'd possibly have procrastinated, missed the opportunity and it would have been harder later as I wouldn't have had easy access to a car to practise with. 


  • 0