Jul 28 2004, 10:45 AM
I've just heard my Grade 2 school pupil has just got a merit in her exam, with 126 points - just four points off a distinction!!! And it's better than she did in her grade 1, which she took last year, before I started teaching her.
I'm thrilled to bits as I have only just started teaching in schools and she only has half-hour, often shared lessons. When I started teaching in broom cupboards I really doubted the possibility of school-based pupils getting those sort of marks, but it is possible! She's thrilled to bits and now wants to do grade 3 asap, plus learn to play jazz - yay!!!
Jul 28 2004, 11:09 AM
It makes it all worth while doesn't it.
Jul 28 2004, 09:22 PM
Pupils sharing lesson-time in school can certainly obtain excellent marks, as I think I pointed out on some thread or other, months ago!
As well as my private teaching on recorders and piano, I teach recorders (both descant and treble) to school groups with 4-6 children in a group. The average mark in exams for these pupils tends to be about 126/128, with a good few getting Distinctions - one of mine got 139 a little while ago, which I thought was really excellent for a pupil not getting individual tuition!
I find that the group-taught pupils tend to prepare their scales better than the private pupils, simply because they all have to play them in front of each other, and no-one wants to be the worst in the group! The aspect they tend to NOT do so well on is the sight-reading, because they tend to pick things up from each other by ear and I don't get the opportunity to test their sight-reading in each lesson - an exam class is typically 20minutes shared between all the children, so there's little time for anything - it's amazing how it focusses the mind though...............
Jul 29 2004, 12:20 PM
Um, one little point here - I'm teaching the violin, not the recorder. You can play the wrong note on the recorder but you can't play it out of tune. Try getting four violinists to play in unison, in tune.
All a recorder player has to do, in the early stages at least, is blow with the right strength and put their fingers in the right places. Both hands do exactly the same thing, ie put fingers on top of designated holes. There are 8 notes, two of them with 2 holes each.
Even a beginner violinist has to think of so many things it's almost impossible to list them. All these have to be learned before the player can even think about becoming competent. Each hand does something completely different; one puts fingers down but where? They have to use their ear in order to put their finger in the correct place, and what do you do about the students to can't hear when they're in or out of tune?
The right hand has to manipulate a bow; they have to hold it in the right way, which takes some months to learn; or you might have previously taught pupils who need to be completely retaught. Balance has to be correct, pressure has to be right, a number of different bowing styles have to be learnt...the permutations are endless.
While I'm not trying to diminish the recorder in any way - it's a fine instrument in its own right - it may be apposite to point out that you don't need a musical ear to be able to play it in tune, which is why recorder is, or was, routinely taught to schoolchildren, whereas violin isn't. At my secondary school we all learnt recorder and formed groups with some of us playing different sized instruments and making quite a nice sound all playing in harmony.
Can you imagine a classful of 30 children making a decent sound on their violins, all playing in unison? Unless they were Suzuki taught - which also takes months of preparation and close parental involvement?
By the way, this girl got good marks in all aspects of her exam including her sightreading!
Jul 30 2004, 10:17 AM
I'll go along with all your comments on the challenges of violin playing but intonation is a challenge for ALL wind players. Anyone who has listened to a primary school recorder 'band' will know that it is an often neglected challenge to get good intonation from a recorder!! It is a common misconception for wind instruments (and one I am constantly trying to expel from my pupils!) that if you put your fingers in the right place you've got the right note - oh no - you are roughly in the right area for the right note - now is when it starts to get interesting adjusting air pressure, angle of air or pressure of lips, even mouth cavity and resonances, and each must be adjusted differently for sax/clarinet/flute/recorder and differently for varying dynamics and differently in varying ranges of each instrument. And yes, exams do take this issue very seriously and a wind player is expected to make the necessary adjustments to get Good intonation and will be penalised for not doing so.
However, violin is a serious challenge that's for sure!
Jul 30 2004, 11:00 AM
I take your point that a note played on the recorder needn't be perfectly in tune just because you put your fingers on the right holes, but a violin player can put the right finger down and play completely
the wrong note! And think they're playing the right note if their ear isn't good...
Not long before he died, Yehudi Menuhin set up a programme for teaching a group of primary-aged children to play the violin. They spent the first three months working with a piece of wood instead of a violin, to get used to the right way of holding it! Suzuki pupils do something similar...
Can you imagine recorder players being given a recorder-shaped piece of wood to start off on before they face the challenge of an actual recorder?
So yes I take your point that wind pressure etc can affect the note, but at least you know exactly where to put your fingers and the note doesn't have the potential to be as badly out of tune as a violin note...
Jul 30 2004, 11:58 AM
I saw the start of that project of Menuhin's on TV.
Wasn't it going to be continued after his death? I am sure they said it was but have never picked up on the follow up.
I am not a string player but it was very interesting.
I seem to remember that the working with the pieces of wood was meant to address some of the technical issues before they had to think about playing notes?
Aug 4 2004, 12:52 AM
I got my [piano] pupils' results this Monday just gone, and all did well, one of whom who did much better than I had anticipated. I had him down in my books as a 'fail', which I know is not a good thing to think of at any time for any pupil, but what can you do when you have tried almost everything to get your pupil to practice? I am soon to begin a new teaching post where group teaching is implemented. Any additional advice to that which I already know is greatly appreciated.
Aug 11 2004, 07:07 PM
Hi i teach guitar in groups in schools and have had the results from my three 8year olds who share a 30 min lesson. They all passed grade one with High Honours (Guildhall School of Music and Drama)
Focused or what?
From A very proud teacher
Aug 12 2004, 12:17 AM
Many congrats to both you and you're [hard-working] pupils.
Aug 12 2004, 08:58 AM
grinn ok i got to add mine to this one, i just got my only two results from this session, one grade 2 and one grade 4, the grade 2 got 130 which i am so proud of him for, not least because he made an astromical level of prgress from grade 1 in a short space of time and then plateaued off just before his grade 2 so i was a little worried, shows i had no need to worry! My grade 4 i'm dead proud of too, he got 134, getting 29 29 and 30 in his pieces, his scales werent so hot which surprised me and i'm guessing he just got nervous in the first few minutes as his scales were impeccable in lessons. Both these students came from another teacher too and there was a vast amount of fix-it work to do with both of them, they had not much of a clue about musicality, and we spent about a year working masses on tone control and phrasing/phrase shaping. Isnt it wonderful when your students do well? Also kind of reinforces the idea that I can teach after all !
Aug 23 2004, 09:46 PM
I've been teaching for a few years now... and I got my first merit from one of my students the other day. Others have been very close in the past.... but normally nerves get on top of them. I teach a worried bunch! Poor things!
I'm dead proud of her... she did herself justice as she worked so hard.
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