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 Post subject: Violin grades
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:26 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:05 am
Posts: 580
Can anyone offer any advice? My ds is ten and has a very musical ear. Music teachers always single him out as someone who has great pitch ect. He will often hear a tune ( recently adele) that he likes and will then come home and work it out on piano for example. He sings well and plays piano ( without lessons - self taught) and drums and violin( has very relaxed lessons). He has got to grade 3 easily ( his teacher doesn't normally prepare for grades, he is a lovely 70 year old man who simply plays violin well, and loves to teach) and I'm now wondering whether we should push him on with a new teacher, maybe through his new school in sept, or keep him with his much loved teacher and accept that whilst he may not be hurrying along he retains a love of playing. Violin such a difficult instrument and I'm thrilled with his sticking at it through hard times! He is going to a orchestra summer school in July. Should he do more grades? Can he have a break from them and still progress? Will his school stop him joining music groups etc if he not a particular grade? Also - does anyone know what the normal time lapse between grades is? I am NOT musical at all!


Last edited by neveragain* on Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:44 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 5921
Your son sounds a fair bit like my daughter, albeit younger, and whether you can learn from our experience I don't know, but here goes. DD had piano lessons for about a year when she was 9: sat Grade 1, got a distinction and then announced she hated lessons and was giving up. She did not sit at the piano for about another 4 years, but now, like your son, spends hours at it, jamming and improvising tunes she has heard (also Adele, but also lots of other stuff). She gets enormous pleasure from this, and has also taught herself to play guitar and ukulele. As she is doing so many exams at the moment, it had been a great escape for her, and I have been really pleased she has this outlet at her disposal. I think if we had done any pushing, she would not get the obvious pleasure she does from it...I don't really care whether she is technically brilliant, it sounds damn good to me and she enjoys it.j :)

Regarding violin, she took that up at about your son's age and had a teacher who was very keen to put her through the grades..at the rate of one or 2 a year. With each exam she got progressively more nervous, shaking and even dropping the bow once, and more of less passing out with nerves another time. Though she passed, the marks went down each time, although her teacher was of the opinion she was doing amazingly well and should have been flying through. We did try to stop the grade machine quite early on but it seemed to be a treadmill it was hard to get off, but after grade 5 we decided to call it a day grade wise and she has continued to play with markedly more enjoyment. I don't know what grade she would be now as we asked the teacher to lay off all that kind of stuff and concentrate on playing for pleasure.

In short, you don't have to do grades, nor ask for them to be 'pushed on' if your aim is that they will enjoy playing, be prepared to experiment and just love music. It will happen by itself and you could kill the spark if you try too hard to fan it.

Like you I am no musician, but for our family, this approach has been the right one.
HTH :D


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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:34 am 
We have not pushed the grades. The only downside is that to join the first orchestra at our grammar school for violin you need to be at grade 6 level. Second orchestra is from grade 1 I believe. For wind instruments such as flute / clarinet the first orchestra requires grade 8 and second orchestra grade 2.


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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:12 pm 
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It's very possible your son is well beyond grade 3. Often teachers who don't bother with grades have pupils who progress faster. I am dead against grades now although I will have DS sit grade 8 and then his diplomas.

My son started piano in January. The teacher is not interested in grades, if she had been he wouldn't have got past grade 2 as shed have spent one term working out his level and the next doing three grade 2 exam pieces. As it is, I discovered last week that one of the pieces he is playing is actually on the grade 4 syllabus and you may find this is the case with his violin.

I'm not saying that this guy is the right teacher for him and it may be worth getting a consultation lesson with a very well-known teacher to see what they think. I'd avoid at all costs a school peri - I know they are great for some but from your post I think you need more information and unfortunately it's possible never to speak to a peri. Id also avoid exams where possible but keep a close eye on the repertoire and its equivalent grade level. I have a friend who would know this if you want to pm me some pieces. I've not spoken to my son's peri in the whole five years he's been taught by her. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:50 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
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Location: Herts
I would recommend you learn at school. The quality of my life when it comes to dealing with music teachers has improved dramatically since my dd's went to secondary school. The teachers phone and text me regularly and it does really feel like a partnership. I would recommend doing the grades as many schools demand them for the top orchestras and bands. Our school requires you to bring the certificate along so they can see it before you are even allowed to audition. DG


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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:57 pm
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Daogroupie wrote:
I would recommend you learn at school. The quality of my life when it comes to dealing with music teachers has improved dramatically since my dd's went to secondary school. The teachers phone and text me regularly and it does really feel like a partnership. I would recommend doing the grades as many schools demand them for the top orchestras and bands. Our school requires you to bring the certificate along so they can see it before you are even allowed to audition. DG


Top orchestras do not require grades, they require the applicant to be an appropriate standard. Doing grades slows down a musicians progress. Very few grades are ever sat at the specialist music schools and most of the orchestras are filled with these students, and I know plenty concert pianists and those training to be at conservatoire who have never sat a grade. I would be more interested in an establishment doing its own test to see if a student is an applicable standard. Passing grade 5 does not necessarily mean a child is anywhere near grade 5 level. I know children who have got to grade 5 and have only played 15 pieces in their five years of lessons because they only learn exam pieces. Stick them in an orchestra or get them to sight read and they are out of their depth.

I'm glad you have such a strong partnership but most schools do not allow parents and teachers to have each others email and phone numbers. Yes, I'm sure I'll get some saying they do but on the whole it is not the case.


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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:28 pm
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Grade 3 is pretty high for a 10 year old imho. He sounds very talented. Would it be possible to do lessons at school (aiming for grades) but still keep up with his nice chap too so that this is his fun more relaxing lesson? I know it can get quite expensive paying for music lessons but it would be nice to have both experiences. If he doesn't get overly stressed about exams and you don't have to nag about practising (the waterloo for violin lessons for DD) I would let him take them. I would agree with others that enjoying the instrument is the key. Best of luck to him.


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 Post subject: Re: Violin grades
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:05 am
Posts: 580
Thank you everyone. I'm thinking that we continue with lovely guy for now - stop the grade machine for at least 6 months, and start viola too as have a friend who teaches it! He keen to do that! He has chosen some need music that he wants to learn as well as keeping on with lord of the rings theme tunes etc! We haven't pushed him at all so whilst grade 3 is probably average for a ten year old I think the fact that it has been all self motivated and he has asked to do grades etc stands for a lot. He enjoys weekly orchestra on a Saturday and I think his sight reading is strong because of that! Thank you all again for your pm's and your posts!


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