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 Post subject: Do we have to be 'fair'?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:00 pm 
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Our youngest child, 14 - just finished Y9 - is a good musician, Grade 7 in main instrument and taking G7 next term for 2nd study. She is entirely self-motivated for music (we don't nag her to practice) and wishes to go on to music college once she's done A levels.

Her teacher has suggested that she consider applying to 'Junior College' - the Saturday music schemes run by the specialist music colleges (Royal Academy, Royal College, Royal Northern, Birmingham Conservertoire, etc). There's no guarantee that she will get in, of course.

Attendance at these are quite expensive - £3,000 per year for 30 sessions, though they tend to be 9 to 5 on the Saturday, complete with lots of tutoring from higher class tutors on both instruments, teaching of Aural, advanced theory, then varying bands, orchestras & ensembles. There is a means-tested government grant that can cover all of the costs, but we just fall outside the cut-off (assuming my partner has a full time job). We have a lot of out-goings, though.

I would be prepared to scrimp & save to get DD2 through this. OH, on the other hand, can't see the benefit, and also suggests that DD2's elder sibling would have to be given an equivalent amount to spend on career development (though there are no courses to help that path other than Uni); this would rule out the chance of DD2 going to junior college and also possibly mean she could miss out on getting into the 'adult' colleges.

Should we be fair to both children?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:36 pm 
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If she's genuinely good and considering music as her career, I would encourage her to apply and see what happens. Otherwise she may have regrets. Two families I know place a particular value on music and both see the Saturday music schools in London as something to be prized. One of the students was at grade v in year v; the other is a multi instrumentalist who is starting the Saturday school post-GCSE.

Perhaps there's a way to get a partial bursary? It is a lot of money.

Fairness in the longer run may be the more important measure. Some families simply have more money available to help younger kids, because the parents are more senior in their jobs and/or the mortgage or cost of accommodation is more manageable. Could you as a family agree that your other child will get x amount of support (monetary or in kind) at a later date? Or that the younger child will be expected to repay (some of) the fees when they're working? That would focus the mind on whether it's really worth doing.

Another viewpoint is that some kids and choices just NEED a bit more support more than others. Like it or not. Life simply isn't always fair.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:45 pm 
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You don't need to join these to get into a good music college. Join the county orchestra or similar level groups and that will give the same sort of opportunity much more cheaply.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:12 pm 
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She's been in the County groups for two years on her second instrument and enjoys them very much. However, her main instrument is piano.

What the county groups don't offer is tuition. When I was a child, each section had a sectional tutor, but due to budget cuts this is no longer offered - they just have the conductor and a couple of DBS checked chaperones (unpaid).


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:34 pm 
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It's a hard decision. Will your older one feel it is unfair if you pay for your younger one to do this? She might not care at all. She might think going into London all day Saturday to do this sounds like hard work rather than a "benefit"!

It seems to me it's something that you maybe have to give a try?

Is your DD getting really high marks in her exams? If she is, then it does sound like a very good opportunity.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:56 pm 
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In Bucks we have a music scholarship scheme .. is there something similar in your area?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:11 pm 
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Does elder child know that the music sessions will cost this?

If not then is there any need to discuss it ? - it is quite a lot of money but on the other hand you may buy different things for elder child eg clothes, weddings (in time!) - they may go to a more expensive part of the country for university - they may have a more expensive course there. Suppose it comes down to whether you always have to spend exactly the same for each kid or can accept that it is approximate over time.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:12 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
Just what I was writing herman : "Fairness" between siblings is a minefield - they will all have different needs, financially, emotionally, attention etc at different times in their lives, and I would imagine even the needs of identical twins cannot be parcelled out into exactly equal packages of parental time and money..

We have 3 DC who will all emerge with substantially different student loans hanging over them, purely due to their dates of birth - unfair? Yes certainly, so do we help the youngest more to bring her up to the same level as the others, or do we help them equally? Or do we wait and see how those needs might translate eventually into requests for help with house deposits,depending on their earning capacity, partners, children, geographical area?

All three had the chance for music lessons etc, but one was far keener, taking up a much pricier instrument (bassoon) and getting further ahead musically so needing a better instrument. Being musical myself I would always think such things worth investing in, but does that mean we automatically need to give the other two an equal amount of money to spend on their hobbies? Or do we just bear it in mind when one of the others is planning a gap-year round the world trip and can be discreetly helped with the cost?

Driving lessons - one takes to it like a duck to the proverbial, another takes 40 professional lessons and hours of practice with fraught parents before finally passing. But we want them all to have that skill... Next minefield - fair use of Mum's car.....

One child (not mine, thankfully) may have a serious illness or condition which needs hours of extra support, possibly expensive treatment or adaptations. But most would not hesitate, although it would certainly be valuable to remember the possible impact on unaffected siblings of the family's focus being so unbalanced?

No easy answers: as you can see my prejudice is nearly always in favour of musical activities(!), but you would need to ensure the other sibling felt they had an equivalent share of parental attention and encouragement, not necessarily strictly financial. And if finance is tricky the musical DC could perhaps do some busking to contribute to their spending money or travel costs? Music is such a competitive field to make a career in that some high quality advice, coaching and contacts are invaluable...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:11 am 
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We had to help DD1 towards the purchase of a small car...as a veterinary student with lots of work placements in rural locations not served by public transport, it was more or less essential. DD2 is fine with this and accepts that her own course is unlikely to have such demands and therefore she's unlikely to get her own car any time soon, but knows that she'll have the use of our car when home and wanting to see her friends.Driving lessons too. It's swings and roundabouts. If the music course will help the younger child to fulfil her potential, and you can afford it, I can't see why the older one would have a problem as you would probably support her if an equivalent opportunity presented itself. University certainly isn't cheap these days! :shock:

It's occurred to me that this might be the kind of dilemma facing two-child families - if you do something for one you automatically feel you have to do the same for the other. With four children we know from the outset that it's impossible - we just do our best for each child at the time, depending on their individual interests and needs.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:55 am 
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The situation becomes unfair if normal family treats are sacrificed as the kitty has been spent on one child. We had that earlier this year when we paid for one to go on a European rugby trip, it knocked us out for a few months financially, so really not fair on the other two, we would think twice before doing it again.


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