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How to combine school, exam preparation and free time?


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#31 Bang

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 20:33

My daughter was not at grade 6 when she left primary school - she was certainly a good grade 4, learning violin too - at G5, and took up singing at age 12.  As her piano teacher (and piano was her 3rd instrument in terms of choice) I found a range of repertoire at the level she was working at and gradually increased the difficulty, so that in fact her reading became much more fluent.  This obviously benefitted violin and singing significantly too.

 

My daughter certainly needed encouragement to practise, but she didn't spend one hour on her piano per evening - that was not possible with school work too, plus other instruments, and some "down-time" for relaxation.  

 

What does your daughter do in her hour's practice of the piano?  Do you specifically supervise her?  I would say, that she would benefit from playing a range of lower grade pieces - treating them as quick studies if you like, learning them by herself over a couple of weeks, so that her sight-reading was automatically being challenged regularly,  but she wasn't having to do specific "sight-reading studies" which can be tedious, and rather off-putting for a youngster.   In this way, her reading of music will become more fluent and she will be able to read through music more easily.

 

 

My daughter wants me to supervise but not micromanage... I usually give her indications as which scales / pieces etc to practise (we don't have time to practise the whole program everyday) + then tell her which specific parts to focus on... When pieces are new then I make sure everything is right (fingering, position etc) but lately she has even refused that I play the piece or section for her, she insists on discovering by herself. 


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#32 Bang

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 20:35

 

 

There has to be a misunderstanding here. I did not rush her through grades... She only took two exams so far, grade 4 and 5. She enjoyed this opportunity, so why not continue?

 

 

In what timescale? 

 

She's very young to be doing Grade 6, so I think (maybe erroneously?) people are assuming that she's jumping straight from one grade to the next, quickly. 

 

Perhaps too obvious a thought for you not to have considered, but if she was waiting until she was a little older to do the higher grades, there'd be more hours in the day to get everything in since I assume she'd be going to bed later.

 

 

 

To be honest she could have done Grade 6 much earlier... But as I was new to the system, I didn't know about the requirement for the Grade 5 theory .... so we spent one year studying theory last year - for this I agree we totally rushed, as she had almost no prior knowledge besides treble, bass clef, and basic rhythmic features.


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#33 Hedgehog

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 20:42

 

My daughter was not at grade 6 when she left primary school - she was certainly a good grade 4, learning violin too - at G5, and took up singing at age 12.  As her piano teacher (and piano was her 3rd instrument in terms of choice) I found a range of repertoire at the level she was working at and gradually increased the difficulty, so that in fact her reading became much more fluent.  This obviously benefitted violin and singing significantly too.

 

My daughter certainly needed encouragement to practise, but she didn't spend one hour on her piano per evening - that was not possible with school work too, plus other instruments, and some "down-time" for relaxation.  

 

What does your daughter do in her hour's practice of the piano?  Do you specifically supervise her?  I would say, that she would benefit from playing a range of lower grade pieces - treating them as quick studies if you like, learning them by herself over a couple of weeks, so that her sight-reading was automatically being challenged regularly,  but she wasn't having to do specific "sight-reading studies" which can be tedious, and rather off-putting for a youngster.   In this way, her reading of music will become more fluent and she will be able to read through music more easily.

 

 

My daughter wants me to supervise but not micromanage... I usually give her indications as which scales / pieces etc to practise (we don't have time to practise the whole program everyday) + then tell her which specific parts to focus on... When pieces are new then I make sure everything is right (fingering, position etc) but lately she has even refused that I play the piece or section for her, she insists on discovering by herself. 

 

This sounds very good, so perhaps you might need to think about her progress slowing a little when she gets to senior school and is looking at grade 7 pieces.  This would also take into account her need of extra time to practise violin as she progresses.


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#34 Bang

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 20:47

 

 

My daughter was not at grade 6 when she left primary school - she was certainly a good grade 4, learning violin too - at G5, and took up singing at age 12.  As her piano teacher (and piano was her 3rd instrument in terms of choice) I found a range of repertoire at the level she was working at and gradually increased the difficulty, so that in fact her reading became much more fluent.  This obviously benefitted violin and singing significantly too.

 

My daughter certainly needed encouragement to practise, but she didn't spend one hour on her piano per evening - that was not possible with school work too, plus other instruments, and some "down-time" for relaxation.  

 

What does your daughter do in her hour's practice of the piano?  Do you specifically supervise her?  I would say, that she would benefit from playing a range of lower grade pieces - treating them as quick studies if you like, learning them by herself over a couple of weeks, so that her sight-reading was automatically being challenged regularly,  but she wasn't having to do specific "sight-reading studies" which can be tedious, and rather off-putting for a youngster.   In this way, her reading of music will become more fluent and she will be able to read through music more easily.

 

 

My daughter wants me to supervise but not micromanage... I usually give her indications as which scales / pieces etc to practise (we don't have time to practise the whole program everyday) + then tell her which specific parts to focus on... When pieces are new then I make sure everything is right (fingering, position etc) but lately she has even refused that I play the piece or section for her, she insists on discovering by herself. 

 

This sounds very good, so perhaps you might need to think about her progress slowing a little when she gets to senior school and is looking at grade 7 pieces.  This would also take into account her need of extra time to practise violin as she progresses.

 

Yes I have come to that conclusion actually. I guess I am afraid of middle school (change of school and maybe of system) but it may be not as terrible as I think it will either...


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#35 elemimele

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 20:55

Don't be afraid:

Slow down... slow down...

It takes time, space, and the influences of many people for a child prodigy to develop into a truly good adult musician

Remember: theory is a springboard to understanding, not a turnstile entry to a restricted area

Be gentle about beginners' pieces; they only sound like beginners' pieces when played by beginners (and not always then); they, too, hold opportunities, and things to explore: be wise enough to explore them.

Listening is as important as playing; and listening isn't just about listening to music.

You cannot play with a skip in your heart if you have never skipped; you cannot make a piano sing if you have never sung; you cannot make a piano shout if you have never stood at the top of a hill and shouted; you cannot throw yourself wildly down an arpeggio (without tripping up) if you have never run harum-scarum down a hill (without falling flat on your face). Leave time to do all these things...

And good luck!


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#36 jpiano

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 21:08

I would echo the advice about not worrying about timescales and higher grades. After all, you didn't worry about her sitting the first 3 grades for piano, and this suggests a concentrating on the music itself rather than the exam which would seem to have paid off. My own personal experience is that more advanced music does require a level of maturity and life experience that comes more naturally to those in the final years of school-this isn't to say of course that there are not exceptional individuals for whom this isn't the case- together with differing educational systems and cultural and social backgrounds which can greatly alter expectations about what is achieved at which age.

 

As a rough guideline though, I normally expect my pupils who are working for grade 8 (or playing pieces around this level) to be putting in at least 40-45 mins practice daily. I remember putting in 2 hours practice a day on piano through the last 4 years of school but I had decided I wanted to go to music college and make music my career.  I had a very co-operative school who made time available during the day for me to do homework and I wasn't interested in doing lots of other outside activities. And there is also an over-riding difference  between pupils for whom music is a passion (whether or not they choose it as a career) and those who may well achieve grade 7 or 8 whilst at school, but for whom music is as hobby that's enjoyed, but competes with plenty of other interests. 

 

You mention free time and the importance placed on this in Sweden- I wish that were the case here in the UK! How does your daughter define free time? Is music fun and part of that free time and enjoyment or does she see it as work? I wonder if that could be a defining factor as to how she deals with factoring in practice in the future? It's easier to make time for something we enjoy and don't see as part of schoolwork.

 

I suppose the only thing that disturbed me a little about your post was the impression I got of the need to get exams over and done with as you are worried your daughter won't have enough time for music in later school years.  I could be wrong about this but that was the initial feeling I got. If I was presented with a student who had achieved the level of playing you describe at age 10, I'd be thinking in terms of the musical activities increasing, not decreasing, as she gets older, in terms of tackling repertoire, playing orchestral or chamber music, entering festivals and school performances and so on. So in a sense, whether she it entered for a particular grade or not is irrelevant in terms of her choice about how important music is going to be in her life. 

 

As a side issue I just have to disagree about a waste of time and money if it takes 5 years to reach grade 1. Sometimes this can happen for a variety of reasons- it doesn't mean always that the person isn't gaining a lot from lessons and finding piano enjoyable and fulfilling. It really is each to their own preferences here- some teachers would find it frustrating, others don't. In an ideal world this would link in with what type of teaching you prefer to do and what type of pupils you accept-although this isn't sadly always the case.


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#37 Bang

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 21:19

Hello,

Thanks for taking the time to give me your opinion. No definitely, violin/piano, as much as she enjoys it (especially violin) is not free time. She is still very playful. In her freetime she would play with her friends and fluffy toys, and watch movies. 

 

I know you in UK always refer to festivals - not sure what you mean with that - nothing we have here. Same thing about orchestra: there is no opportunity before turning 13 years old. All in all, few performance opportunities. This is also why I thought these exams  would be good to play for other professionals and get proper feed-back. If she disliked them, we may have stopped, but she really enjoyed the ones she took and is tremendously proud of her cerificates.

 

I hope this gives you a bit more background.


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#38 elemimele

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 21:37

Oh, performance: yes, it's a really good idea, and could be a lot of fun for her. But surely there must be some possibilities, perhaps not very optimal, but better than nothing?

Does her school have a school orchestra? They must need violinists, everyone always does!

Does her school have a yearly concert of some sort? (If not, why not!?? Parent power arise! Time to protest that it should have one!). There must be a slot for a pianist of her calibre.

Do you know anyone with whom she could make music: another solo instrumentalist, or singer, who needs an accompanist? Someone else who could accompany her on violin? They don't have to be up to her standard: one can learn a great deal from playing with others even if there are big differences in standards.

 

The reason I make a big thing of this is that as children get older, life divides into things which are concerned with Achievement, and things which are concerned with Social life and Fun. For those who come from a background that values hard work, and who go to good schools, music often gets firmly placed in the category of Achievement, and that is a double-edged sword. Yes, your daughter should be proud of what she's done; it's remarkable and a great foundation for later musical life. But if she can also make music with friends, as a social activity, that will get her through the thin patches, the patches of self-doubt, and give her a life-long support, even if she discovers something else that she wishes to do professionally, later in her life. To be able to make music socially is a great asset - and learning to do so is a great help to general musicality. I do know it can be very hard to arrange (I'm worse than most on that count) - so I sympathise if it just isn't possible where you are. But I really hope you can find some way, no matter how small.


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#39 Banjogirl

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 21:48

Maybe other people would like some performance opportunities or orchestra at a younger age and you could make it happen. We sometimes orgainise a fundraising concert and local young people might be invited to play. It doesn't have to be high powered or scary. You could start small and see how it went. I'd like to bet lots of parents would like their children to take part in a concert. It doesn't matter if different children are at diffferent stages at different ages - let them all take part. Or organise a children's orchestra. I have a motley group of players from my chorus who are invited (bullied) into paying together every couple of years. I arrange a piece so they all have a part they can play and the results are surprisingly good. Making music with other people is the best thing. Your daughter is at a stage where she can do this, and if no one else is organising anything then there's no reason why you shouldn't get the ball rolling. I'm eternally grateful to the people who gave my boys opportunities to play in groups from a young age. I've run a children's choir for years and it's wonderful to see them progress and blossom, and enjoy doing music together.


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#40 lubylu

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 08:28

My daughter had grade 5 on two instruments by the time she left primary school. This was achieved with about 30 minutes practice on both most days. In her first year of secondary school, she got to grade 7 clarinet, grade 6 piano and also took up saxophone. She managed all of this perfectly well with her homework commitments and also managed to fit in another hobby. She has now given up music altogether because although she was very good at it, it wasn't her passion and she didn't enjoy it. She now devotes a lot of time to her other hobby.

My son is 12 now. He is hugel passionate about music. He initially played cello and was grade 7 standard this time last year. He has now switched to guitar which he loves. He plays when he gets up, when he comes home from school and after tea. All by his own choice. I would say he does about 2 hours a day and is grade 6 standard after playing for 9 months. He also plays piano which he enjoys less but continues with because he understands keyboard skills are important for a career in music. He has no trouble fitting this in around his homework.

My experience is, if they want to do it and are passionate about it, they will fit it all in. I don't nag him, about music or homework, he just sorts it out himself. I would be guided by your daughter and where her passion and enjoyment take her.
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#41 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 09:28

Long, long ago I was at an ordinary comprehensive which gave out insane amounts of homework. We didn't even finish school until 3.45pm, then we had to get home, recover and do 2-3 hrs homework at age 12 and 4-5 hours, by age 15. In the 'top class' we did more subjects and got better grades than the nearby, famous private grammar. We walked everywhere which also took up a lot of time.

I had a very active, totally unsupervised social life and additionally spent 2 or 3 whole evenings a week learning dancing quite seriously. I also watched a lot of telly.

How did I fit it all in? I didn't 'give up' anything but my parents did. I did very few chores. We had few family meals, on weeknights Mom would carefully slip a plate of food between me and the books while I studied in my bedroom. I wasn't expected to trail round with my parents while they did something, one stayed at home while the other went out, or as soon as I was old enough, I was left on my own, or with my friends. I didn't go to church. Until age 15 or so I did much of my homework in front of the TV. This approach was common amongst my friends families.

Many of us got all A's in our exams and had very happy teenage years. It was our parents who probably missed out.
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#42 GMc

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 13:22

I would swap it over  - suggest she spends longer on the violin if she likes it better and cut back on piano to 20-30 mins or so a day after the grade 6  and see how things go. There might be some  Suzuki groups somewhere around you I would have thought - if you made friends with them she might be able to join their ensemble even without having a regular Suzuki teacher - they always do loads of solo and groups performing.  The ensemble and orchestral possibilities of violin makes it a very much more interesting prospect for many people  than piano.


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#43 Oboedad

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 13:46

Is there not a Music & Arts School somewhere near where you live (akin to UK Music Services/Hubs from what I can tell) as it sounds like these ought to provide the sort of opportunities needed? 

 

http://www.kultursko...om-smok/english

 

From the experiences my daughter has had with our music service and the opportunities provided I think we'd swap any number of Grade exams for the sheer pleasure she gets from playing music with others. Yes it is very hard work fitting it in round work, school, homework, family life and all the other activities but it's worth it for the memories made and all the immeasurable benefits of teamwork, socialising, organising etc. There are times when "formal" practice inevitably has to take a back seat (school exams etc) but she does still continue play in ensembles at school and County as , despite being hard work, these are a form of relaxation/release from the other pressures.

 

She is still keen to get the Grades "out of the way" as a personal challenge but I think she learns so much more from the ensemble playing she does both musically* and as a person. (*After all, even if you complete all the grades it's possible to only have ever played 24 pieces of music - and only 16 of those with another musician.....)


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#44 barry-clari

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 14:57

Hello,
of course I make it personal. We devote a lot of time to music, we do our best to cope with everything, I am here for advice and I am told I am doing things the wrong way because my daughter would be too good too soon? Are you jealous? Then just work more.


Thanks for that :(
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#45 lubylu

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 21:14

Rise above Barry.....
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