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GCSE and the private instrumental teacher

Discussion in 'Music' started by gizzy, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. What do you see as the role (if any) of the private instrumental teacher in GCSE music?
    I've often encouraged my better pupils to opt for music, but in the past most of the best of them have declined to do so, saying they'd have to drop some essential language or some other favourite arts subject if they took it, and they can carry on with their music outside of school. (Then of course the music tails off when the end of Y11 looms)
    I do have one in Y10, and I want to do my best to support her in it; I have mailed the music teacher at her school and I have written her a letter when I got no reply to that, asking what help she thought was appropriate (plus a more detailed enquiry about one of her assignments) but I received no reply. Maybe she's busy. Or maybe she is jealously guarding the progress of her class and doesn't want any "interference"
    It's years and years since I taught GCSE, since those who remember me will know I was teaching primary. I should have thought that any extra help I could give would be welcome, but maybe not. I don't even quite understand what she's doing, since the syllabus has changed almost out of recognition since I taught it last, but it's to do with controlled coursework and composition. I don't want to give any advice or help that is counter to what she is actually being advised in school.
    Those of you who teach GCSE, do you welcome the input of the private teachers, or do you feel them to be an intrusion?
     
  2. What do you see as the role (if any) of the private instrumental teacher in GCSE music?
    I've often encouraged my better pupils to opt for music, but in the past most of the best of them have declined to do so, saying they'd have to drop some essential language or some other favourite arts subject if they took it, and they can carry on with their music outside of school. (Then of course the music tails off when the end of Y11 looms)
    I do have one in Y10, and I want to do my best to support her in it; I have mailed the music teacher at her school and I have written her a letter when I got no reply to that, asking what help she thought was appropriate (plus a more detailed enquiry about one of her assignments) but I received no reply. Maybe she's busy. Or maybe she is jealously guarding the progress of her class and doesn't want any "interference"
    It's years and years since I taught GCSE, since those who remember me will know I was teaching primary. I should have thought that any extra help I could give would be welcome, but maybe not. I don't even quite understand what she's doing, since the syllabus has changed almost out of recognition since I taught it last, but it's to do with controlled coursework and composition. I don't want to give any advice or help that is counter to what she is actually being advised in school.
    Those of you who teach GCSE, do you welcome the input of the private teachers, or do you feel them to be an intrusion?
     
  3. Hello. I'm not teaching GCSE at the moment but am teaching AS/A2/BTEC L3 courses. I think that private instrumental teachers are vital. There's a massive difference in quality of performance and understanding of performance practices with students who have regular lessons with a private teacher. I'd be gladdened to hear of any extra support my students get and would support that as far as possible. I certainly wouldn't see it as interference.
    Yes, the controlled conditions for coursework at GCSE and AS/A2 mean that the student mustn't work on their coursework compositions outside of school/college but that doesn't mean that generic composition exercises can't be undertaken or the work of other composers studied. Perhaps some general exercises around those could be supported by you?
    Sorry that you've been thwarted in your attempts to help. It could be that the teacher is just so busy that he/she hasn't had time to reply (I'm trying to be generous here!).
     
  4. I'm still trying to get my head round that one. It's a strange situation when a student can't even "prepare" on their own. This girl says most of her friends have said they'd already finished their composition, though most of them either aren't writing it down or just haven't done so yet. She seems to have done about 4 bars (or 8 bars depending on what her time-signature is). How can anything stop a student from completely composing the piece while improvising at home, and then just playing out and writing down (if necessary) what they've already done when they're in the classroom? I would have thought that was hard work and initiative rather than anything underhand. I do wondr if she was even meant to play to me what she'd already done, though I would only be doing what her teacher at school would do.
    She told me it was meant to be "based on" or "inspired by" the piece which she had already played as part of the module. I feel that must be incredibly difficult with some pieces, but she's now implied that this can be so loosely interpreted as to mean it need have only the barest connection with it. She played a jazzy waltz, about g2 level, on the piano, and I had gone through it with her before Christmas and told her to look at all the elements of the composition - the key, the structure, the modulation, the phrase structure, the jazz waltz trexture, the harmony, without having her play anything for me.
    What she played to me in the last lesson had some nice jazzy chords - more by chance than by design, probably, but then I'm always telling them that some of the greatest music in the world fell out of the ends of someone's fingers in the first place - and said she was stuck. So I said she needed another section of the same length to balance the first section of the piece, and explained a little about motivs - told her to find the slightest, smnallest little figure and try to expand it, repeat, sequence, etc. What she'd done so far definitely wasn't a waltz. In the piece she played, the last note of one section became the first note of the next section, and I suggested last year that she might use that as an idea.
    She doesn't practise much, and as she's got the lead in a school play at the moment she keeps having to miss piano lessons for rehearsals as well
     
  5. Red wine fan

    Red wine fan New commenter

    I see the role of the instrumental teacher as a partner in the preparation of a student for GCSE. We leave the choice of performance repertoire to the students in consultation with their teacher. When it comes to ensemble performances and some of the students look blankly at me, I suggest that they talk it through with their teacher and come back with some ideas. We are very lucky in that the visiting music teachers in school are very supportive and know the way we work, and we have pretty good working relationships with many other teachers around and about. They will email in for guidance if they are unsure.
    As far as composition is concerned, I went on the OCR training almost 2 years ago and seem to remember them saying that it was ok for a student to bring in ideas, chord sequences, lyrics etc. from home but the composition MUST be put together under controlled conditions. Many eyebrows were raised at that point [i.e. how was it different from completing the whole composition at home and just typing it up...?] but it was re-stated that they could bring in xyz as long as it was put together under controlled conditions.
     
  6. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi Gizzy
    The role of the private instrumental teacher is wonderful I think, as is the music co-ordinator ( a term loosely used in Scotland, where the MC can organise visits from opera companies, other professional musicians etc, take orchestra/band rehearsals and be an extra pair of useful hands!) Unfortunately there will always school music teachers who are so "precious" that it spoils the whole dept. and musical education of the pupils. Maybe this teacher is genuinley busy so I would follow your own heart and help this pupil as you see fit - you are professional enough to know what is helpful and what is plagarism!
    Your pupil is lucky to have you.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Welcome of course and not an intrusion at all. However, the following points are important. We would like the private teacher to support us when we try to explain that passing a succession (often annual) of graded exams does not necessarily makes you very "musical". And we would like the private teacher to understand how much time it will take [on top of normal lesson time] to prepare a high-scoring ensemble item (especially if the candidate(s) is/are indeed only used to preparing solo items for graded exams).
     

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