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Conservatoire Choices


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#1 meadowblythe

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 15:14

I suspect I am not the only person in this forum about to have "the conversation" about Conservatoire applications.

 

Whilst we are lucky in that we have good counsel from teachers, and our child has opinions but will listen, I'd be very interested in knowing how others decided where to apply, possibly more importantly where not to apply.

 

My daughter is extremely good, but not brilliant, on her instrument.  Well past Grade 8 standard (not that I'm a huge grades fan).  She is probably not at her best in a hothouse atmosphere, but has a tendency to underestimate how good she is.

 

All feedback welcomed!


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#2 Banjogirl

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 17:09

I hope she's not applying this time round as the closing date is on Monday!

We've just finished the application. To be honest, once the Boy had discounted a couple he definitely didn't want to go to, and decided only to apply to two London ones, then there weren't really any other choices to make. He'd like to go to where he's been at JD (RNCM) really. He sounds like your daughter - good but not brilliant - but his teacher seems to think he has a realsitic chance, and he's prepared to reapply next year if necessary. He's very young in the year so another year maturing wouldn't hurt at all.

 

He discounted Glasgow on my orders, as all of his siblings live in the south! His London based brother put him off the Royal College because he says the concert hall isn't great, and he has a cousin at one of the others so didn't choose that. Although it's expensive for all the auditions I suggested he go for Wales and Birmingham as I think he's unlikely to get into a London College. And that was all his choices made.


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#3 meadowblythe

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 17:40

Thank you - yes, it does sound as if they are on a similar journey.  Yes, application is this year - ready to go except putting in the codes and pressing the button.

 

Glasgow is very much on our list - we are in the midlands so all except Wales are somewhere between 2 and 4 hours away.  Brother studied ballet there, and loved living as part of a multi-disciplinary community.  Think she will enjoy it for a similar reason.  Birmingham is out after less than enjoyable junior orchestra experiences,  and she's not into the technology side.  RNCM - not ruled out, not ruled in.  Wales wouldn't be my first choice on distance grounds but great teachers on her instrument.  London - this is what we need to decide - I must admit I hadn't considered concert halls.

 

Maybe I'm over thinking this - stick to the practicalities and the music will take care of itself.


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#4 Banjogirl

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 17:48

I guess it's very hard to know until you're there. RNCM does have lovely facilities but lots of people want to be in London. Our boy is ambivalent. He's certainly not set on it at all. Maybe we'll bump into you at an audition!


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#5 meadowblythe

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 12:48

Well, the deed is done.

 

Two realistic, two aspirational, one "because if I don't apply I'll never know .."

 

Bank account reeling from the impact.  And that's before we start paying accommodation and travel costs for auditions.


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#6 Bang

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 12:49

Hello,

 

why would "good" but "not brilliant" students like to study in a conservatoire? With what goal?


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#7 Banjogirl

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 14:16

To improve. Everyone can't be brilliant. Why would someone who wasn't brilliant not be allowed to study and get better? What about late developers? Why on earth would you think conservatoire was only for the brilliant? Depending on how you measure it there are very few 'brilliant' people anyway. I went to a university which many people think is crammed with brilliant academics but is in fact populated by reasonably clever, largely very hard-working and, crucially, motivated people. I am certainly not brilliant but I did pretty well there. Maybe you would think I was brilliant for having been there. You would be wrong.


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#8 Maizie

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 15:50

While the OP refers to the potential conservatoire student as 'good but not brilliant', they're also described as well past Grade 8.  From a technical perspective, that's all a conservatoire wants - you don't need to be perfect, brilliant, outstanding with all your Dips in a row before you start.  You need to meet those minimum technical requirements, but more crucially have to have other things to go with it that aren't grade measurable - things like those Banjogirl mentions - motivation, passion, potential.  Not so easily measureable, but something that interviewers or auditioners (or equivalents in all sorts of other fields) get good at spotting.

Very, very, very few people are already brilliant and equipped to remain there at the age of 18!


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#9 Banjogirl

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 16:22

My niece hadn't even taken grade 8 on her audition instrument when she applied (and was accepted by four out of five conservatoires). There were reasons, but they were clearly looking at least as much at her potential and track record than her level at the time.


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#10 Banjogirl

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 16:25


 

Bank account reeling from the impact.  And that's before we start paying accommodation and travel costs for auditions.

 

It makes me sad that if you're poor, or just normally reasonably well off, consevatoire application could be beyond you. Lots of people have no spare finances or disposable income to fall back on.


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#11 GMc

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 00:19

I must say that I have some underlying feelings of "why" even though DD who is currently applying is supposedly (according to various teachers and the  interview panel at her first audition)   "special" and playing at a professional/licentiate level.  The answer is that she will regret it if she doesn't see where she can go with it and we can afford it. The chances of being a principal in a good orchestra are slim, making a living as a soloist impossible for anyone no matter how famous, teaching  hopefully a job but not privately - not enough pupils - has to be tertiary, doing  weddings and funerals keeps some money coming in....Oh, and possibly the Queen Mary or what ever Cunard's flagship is at the moment!

 

They wont consider a double major here at any con on 2 instruments so hard to keep the other one up but she wants to and is interested in piano accompanying too.   If you are poor you would never have funded the lessons to get to a con application!  But there are still quite large but rare scholarships around if you are exceptional.   I think they  look for ability to change as much as the actual level - your ability to respond to teaching is vital as is your innate musical sense.


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#12 dbengo

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 08:39

On the finance issue - our local authority provides free music tuition, and can be on several instruments. You still need an instrument - can hire from them - and music/exam/audition fees.  Free tuition also = access to city wide bands & orchestras from age around 8 or 9.


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#13 elemimele

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 10:11

there's absolutely nothing, zero, zilch where I am. You get class lessons on Ukelele if your school's up for it, for a few weeks, that's all.

Just loved Maizie's comments on brilliance; if the world relied on only brilliant people doing what they're brilliant at, nothing much would get done at all. Competent, calmly-professional minions arise! We're the people who make things happen.


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#14 meadowblythe

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 10:44

The "why" question did make me stop and think.

 

The answer is: partly because if you don't apply you'll never know.  Because her very being and soul springs to life when she plays  in an orchestra - you can see it in her face.  Because she is a kind compassionate person who would make a good teacher and wants to spread her gift (her most significant moment was not playing solo in a prestigious concert hall, but playing Amazing Grace as part of a quintet in a soup kitchen.)

 

As to how:  are income is very low, but we are not on benefits so can't claim anything back.  But we have been saving for a year to pay for these fees - no holiday for us this year.  And she is on a virtually full scholarship so she can receive the standard of training she needs.

 

If it all comes to nought, we all did are best.  If there's a good following wind, who knows?


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#15 BadStrad

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 12:44

why would "good" but "not brilliant" students like to study in a conservatoire? With what goal?

Well, firstly, why shouldn't they?  If they're not good enough they won't get in.  If they are good enough why should they be denied the opportunity to get better?  Perhaps they might be brilliant given a different teacher or a new approach to their instrument.  Arnold Steinhardt made his debut with the Los Angeles Phil at age fourteen, but when he got to Curtis at seventeen, Galamian was so horrified by his playing, in particular his bowing, that he sent him away to practice bow movements without a violin. Should he have been turned away for not being "brilliant?"  Steinhardt was good, but he became magical under Galamian's tutelage. 

 

Not many conservatoire students are going to be soloists.  In the strings department, the top students might become soloists or go into quartets.  The rest might become orchestral players or go off to play in a folk band (especially if they studied in Glasgow) or a rock band; they might become teachers, or move into musical research; or they might just enjoy the journey and then get a job as an accountant and keep music for pleasure.  If you were only going to fill spaces on a course with potential soloists there might be a lot of empty chairs.

 

One of the things that always amuses me about the grade obsessed world of (classical) music lessons, is that the RA (and I suspect other conservatoires) doesn't require applicants to have passed any of the graded exams.  One very good opera singer I know sang grade six level songs for his conservatoire audition.  He was probably around grade eightish at the time, so certainly no high-flier, but he is now in the great position of being employed full time and has performances at Glyndbourne and the Proms on his CV.  He too was "only" good, but has become brilliant.

 

But what if he hadn't become a brilliant singer?  What if Galamian had never "fixed" Steinhardt's bowing?  They would still have followed their dreams, and if those dreams hadn't worked out, then at least they would have no regrets.  They stretched and blossomed.  Why should someone be denied that?

 

Why should someone make themselves small (and never stretch for the stars) just so other people can feel bigger (and entitled to the stars)?


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