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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:17 pm 
Hi everyone

I'm new here. DS1 will be applying to the SW Herts Consortium schools for entry to Year 7 in September 2013 and I'm looking for general advice, especially on the music and academic exams.

Does anyone who has been through the process before have any specific information on the music test? What I'm most interested in is this: if DS1 gets through the first music test, what format does the 'free piece' audition take? Where is this audition typically held, is there a time limit on the piece they can play, do some instruments stand a better chance than others (he plays two instruments to a similar standard, so presumably we'll have to choose between them if we get that far!)

Secondly, does anyone know anyone who knows anyone whose children have got a place at WGSB or WGSG without being tutored? My son is not seeing a tutor, although I will be helping him myself to prepare.

Thanks in advance and best of luck to everyone in my position who will be registering this May and sitting the tests this September...Let's all try to keep smiling! :)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:02 pm 
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It's all very friendly. The adjudicators (we had two for my DS) ask them to play/sing their piece and then they have a little chat afterwards. It's not a heavy interview but they do ask questions about why they picked the piece, general interest in music, etc. Venues vary, not sure about time limit but it doesn't have to be long at all. I don't think it matters what instrument (mine sang and got a place although he does play 3 other instruments well), the best thing to do is pick what they like best and feel happiest with - they're not necessarily looking for the ones with the best grades.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:03 pm 
Thank you Chapuza, that's very helpful. Can you tell me where your son did his singing? Do they all get invited to the same venue?

And did your DS get a place under the music criteria in the end?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:23 pm 
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He's a cathedral chorister. Yes, he got in. No, I think there are different venues - we went to Watford but I think there are different ones depending on where you live.

As an example of how relaxed they are, we were about an hour late for his audition because of a massive traffic jam. We rang ahead and they were very good about it, just rescheduling it for whenever we arrived.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:41 pm 
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Not much to add to chapuza's excellent posts,

I would emphasize picking the instrument that DS is most confident and happy playing. The audition is very friendly as stated and my DS was really chilled out afterwards. He has two instruments but played piano for the audition. He took his grade 2 exam a couple of weeks later and got a distinction if that helps with std required. I have heard some DC's are at grade 5 so the std can be high.

One topic you might want to think about is the part 1 of the music entry which is a test of core musical ability that does not require pre musical knowledge. It is known as the Bentley test and has caused many otherwise skilled musicians to not even get to the audition stage. There are descriptions of what is involved posted here if you do a search. You must pass this test to get an audition.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:32 am 
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Location: Herts
All auditions are at the Watford School of Music, you have a max of 5mins but they don't seem to check. In elder dd's audition the examiner playing the piano just loved our choice and waxed lyrical about it for some time. We have done it twice and found it lovely and friendly. It is even easy to park a couple of streets away. But as has been said the aural, which is the same one used by DAO, and Chancellors, is the downfall of many very able dc's. We know Grade 7's who did not get through. As DAO is first this year and you no longer have to use up a ranking for it I would recommend you apply for the DAO music test if you are in catchment or Chancellors if you are not. DAO run the Chancellors test for them so you will be in the same place doing the same test whichever one you apply for. We focused entirely on the aural both years and did not even start practising the audition piece until we had heard we had got through. We had spent two many years seeing the tears in the playground of those who focused on the audition, not the aural. When we sat the aural at Clement Danes five children actually arrived with their instruments. We expect our children to read the questions but obviously some parents don't follow their own advice and do not read the letters sent to them! Will give more info on a pm. We would have liked to have played more than one instrument but not allowed. DG


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:32 am 
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RationalityRules wrote:

Secondly, does anyone know anyone who knows anyone whose children have got a place at WGSB or WGSG without being tutored? My son is not seeing a tutor, although I will be helping him myself to prepare.



Yes, my dd did - if by 'being tutored' you mean paid for. I did tutor my dd myself, ie basically covering the Year 6 maths curriculum and doing some practice VR/Maths papers, over the 6 months prior to the exam, and there is excellent support on the forum from old hands like Daogroupie (who despite her name, knows everything there is to know about all the local 11+ exams, not just DAO) to help if you want to help your dc yourself.

For what it's worth, all those of my dd's friends who used paid tutors to help them in the Consortium exams failed - the only ones I know personally who passed had helpful parents instead. I do strongly believe that no tutors care as much as a parent nor know their child as well, so doing it yourself is far more effiient use of limited time (and money!).

Feel free to ask for tips!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:17 pm 
Thank you so much Herty - your post is very 'hertening' :lol: I believe that paying for tutoring is unlikely to be worth it for us, for the reasons you mention. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that familiarisation at home will be all that is needed for DS1. Trying very hard to keep away from all the playground chat and hype about how hard these schools are to get into!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:16 pm 
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Just to add to what Daogroupie says about aural test and audition, I think it's very wise to focus on the aural (ditto stories about excellent musicians for some reason not getting through) but I would keep half an eye on the audition piece too as you don't have much time to prepare between finding out if you've got past the test stage before you have to audition (if memory serves, we found out on the Friday and then auditioned on the Tuesday following). But definitely don't get hung up on the piece - DS changed his mind what to do the evening before because he felt the one he'd chosen wasn't quite right for him... Gave me heart palpitations but he still got in.

On the tutoring side, while I agree that parents know their child best, they're not always the best teachers...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:07 pm 
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Obviously it depends on the parent, their abilities and time commitments, but given that we're only talking about work suitable for an 11 year old, i think most parents can handle the teaching. What can be hard is knowing what to actually teach - this is where this forum is so helpful for tellling you what you need to cover and the resources to use. Other than that, it's about developing the right relationship with your dc so they will actually listen to you - this was hard for me initially but so worth it as I can honestly say the experience brought me so much closer to my dd and was worth it for that alone, whatever the end result would have been.

So some hard work for you as well as them, yes, but worth every minute.


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