This current madhouse

Violin is a tough instrument to learn.

Violin exams are a torture, the only reason I forced my children to play them this year is so that they can get the papers – if they get them, because guess who didn’t practise half enough!

I’m instating a new rule in my studio.  Nobody qualifies to play an exam unless they have first worked through a book of studies.  Kreutzer, Kayser, Dont, Mazas, Federigo Fiorillo – there are plenty.  (Just not the Wohlfahrts.  They make me queasy from boredom.)

Wildest One is handling the practising well – last year she nearly got a distinction though I made her play an exam above her level.  This one is also above her actual level, so we’ll see.  It’s a way of moving them into reaching higher and actually working for it; but a risky practise because it can backfire – they can fail.  Bad for their self-image, their love for music, and my rep as a teacher.  But what hey – I’m a gypsy, I don’t mind risk, and in any case a rep needs to be deserved.  But I disagree with the policy of letting them play an exam below their level like so many teachers do!  (Because then what have they achieved?)  In fact I disagree with the policy of exams.  But parents request them.  I need to learn to say, “not in this studio”.  But the trouble is, I can see the point in having some of these silly pieces of paper.  At least, certain levels mean something – e.g. Gr 5 means you can apply for a certain youth orchestra.

Wild One is not handling it that well, though he’s tackling it with bravery.  We’ll see.  We shall see.

And when these exams are done, the next stop is the concert on the 9th, and after that, an end-of-year Ceilidh; and after that, Christmas music.  Which is in descending order of difficult.

This is the moment I detach myself and say, whatever.  Whatever Trinity says.

Wish us all luck pls.



8 thoughts on “This current madhouse

  1. I can see the sense of exams from one point of view – that of offering an assurance to the paying pupils or parents that the tuition is leading to the required standards of skill. Most would be utterly unable to assess that for themselves.

    • Yes – sadly. And they also take it as a measuring stick for the teacher. I’ve had students who were doing extremely well otherwise, fold from stress in the exams (from pressure added by ambitious parents), not get their distinction and their parents removing them from my tuition because of course the teacher is at fault.

      Educating the parents is part of the process, maybe the most difficult part.

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