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NMCP Theory Grade Contention #1703497
06/28/11 09:40 AM
06/28/11 09:40 AM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 178
Los Angeles
MrsCamels Offline OP
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MrsCamels  Offline OP
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Joined: Feb 2009
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Los Angeles
Hi -
I'm looking for some input on a student's theory grade from NMCP (basic rudiments).

Any reason why you think they would count "octave" wrong in an interval identification section? It was marked wrong 3 times when the intervals were clearly octaves. If they're looking for "P8" why wouldn't they accept both answers? Trying to determine if it's worth the $50 to contest.

Also a few scales were marked incorrect that were written correctly, and the student was asked to transpose a 4 measure segment down an octave. He transposed down 2 octaves, but everything is exactly correct - the grader gave him 0/10 points for that section. I would think he'd get at LEAST 5/10.

I'm asking because most of these marks seem like such elementary errors in grading that I'm not sure I want to pay $50 to have them take a second look. If the "highly qualified" theory examiner can't identify a correctly written scale, I'm not sure it's worth the process, hassle, money, etc. Wonder if she had a "helper" with the grading who couldn't evaluate the answers?

Has anyone contested grades with them before? How did it go?


Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
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Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703506
06/28/11 09:54 AM
06/28/11 09:54 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Generally speaking, when I run into dunderheads like this, I vote with my feet rather than losing sleep over it. A polite letter to the President, stating why you plan to no longer enroll students - arbitrariness in grading and excessive correction fee - will result in either a quick correction of the matter or digging in their heels, in which case, walking is certainly the best recourse.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703710
06/28/11 05:17 PM
06/28/11 05:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,207
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by MrsCamels
Trying to determine if it's worth the $50 to contest.


It costs THAT MUCH to contest the grading? How much did the test itself cost? In my opinion, it is definitely not worth the money to contest the grading, especially obvious errors that you can correct by yourself.

My students do CM, and every year there are many grading errors on the theory test. But I must remember that teachers volunteer their time to do this grading work, and mistakes will inevitably happen.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703713
06/28/11 05:26 PM
06/28/11 05:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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The problem with an outfit like NMCP is that they posture themselves as being part of RCM exams program, and they, in turn, have their noses high in the air. They claim superiority and high standards. They'd better live up to them.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703752
06/28/11 06:38 PM
06/28/11 06:38 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 178
Los Angeles
MrsCamels Offline OP
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MrsCamels  Offline OP
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Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 178
Los Angeles
yes, whether the graders are volunteers or not, the parents/families are paying a substantial sum to take these tests and deserve someone who takes the time to look closely. I'm very upset and don't know if I will continue testing any of my students. not sure. parents really like for their students to have something like this in their file, but don't know if it's worth the hassle.



Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
www.ecsorota.com
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703772
06/28/11 07:17 PM
06/28/11 07:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,913
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david_a Offline
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"Octave" as an answer is incomplete, and should get the same mark as you get for writing "3" on a third without saying if it's major or minor.

In any case, it's not worth fifty dollars, so forget it.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: david_a] #1703795
06/28/11 08:02 PM
06/28/11 08:02 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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I'm unfamiliar with major and minor octaves. [Linked Image]


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703817
06/28/11 08:49 PM
06/28/11 08:49 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,913
D
david_a Offline
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Good point - though I was thinking demented octaves rather than minor ones. smile


(I'm a piano teacher.)
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1703930
06/29/11 12:01 AM
06/29/11 12:01 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 431
Toronto, Canada
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musiclady Offline
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Toronto, Canada
Not sure about this, but I think the theory syllabus for the RCM/NMCP says that students must name both the numerical size and quality (perfect/major/minor diminished) on the theory tests, and name the quality and size as well as the direction on the ear tests. (I make sure my students remember this, especially the younger students)

Meri


Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: musiclady] #1703938
06/29/11 12:10 AM
06/29/11 12:10 AM
Joined: Nov 2009
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david_a Offline
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Originally Posted by musiclady
name both the numerical size and quality (perfect/major/minor diminished)
This is what I was clumsily trying to say. I have never not done that since I was nine years old or whatever, so the lack of a quality indication "sticks out" as an error to me.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1704003
06/29/11 01:55 AM
06/29/11 01:55 AM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,214
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Candywoman Offline
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I agree with the marker on both counts, and wouldn't spend the $50.

The transposition question is there to test the change in interval. If that's incorrect, the point is missed. So, for instance, g- should not get partial marks if g-sharp- was the desired answer. An octave is different than two octaves in terms of how it sounds and how you play it on an instrument.

Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: musiclady] #1704088
06/29/11 08:25 AM
06/29/11 08:25 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Originally Posted by musiclady
Not sure about this, but I think the theory syllabus for the RCM/NMCP says that students must name both the numerical size and quality (perfect/major/minor diminished) on the theory tests, and name the quality and size as well as the direction on the ear tests. (I make sure my students remember this, especially the younger students)

Meri

This brought back some long lost memories of a college debate I lost with a professor. [Linked Image] Of course, a perfect eighth is redundant, as it can be no other, which is why the answer octave should be acceptable. But for pedantics, it will never be.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1704106
06/29/11 08:54 AM
06/29/11 08:54 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
Kreisler Offline
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Octaves, like the other perfect intervals (fourths and fifths), can be diminished or augmented. It's rare, but it does happen.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1704117
06/29/11 09:15 AM
06/29/11 09:15 AM
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Iowa City, IA
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And just to play devil's advocate, the point of the labeling is to determine if the student understands how intervals work - that some are major/minor and others are perfect/diminished/augmented.

Also, "octave" is simply the Italian word for 8th. Writing "octave" is the same as writing "fifth", and I'm guessing you'd get a fifth marked wrong if you didn't include the P, A, or d.

As for the transposition issue, the student didn't follow instructions. 1 octave is 1 octave. In the real world, if an arranger incorrectly transposed a saxophone part for a show one extra octave, then it's very possible that 100% of the notes would be unplayable. No partial credit. On piano, we tend to think it doesn't matter, since we read 8va all the time, but on other instruments, having something written an octave off makes a huge difference.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: Kreisler] #1704124
06/29/11 09:26 AM
06/29/11 09:26 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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And as I said to my prof, if it's diminished or augmented, it's no longer an octave. It's semantics and no one ever accused a musician of being strong in either logic or English. But the power of the grading pen makes students acquiesce.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1704128
06/29/11 09:31 AM
06/29/11 09:31 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,154
Canada
keystring Offline
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If it's the RCM exam, you don't learn about aug and dim until 2nd level. Once you have that, you get the importance of the P before P8, P1, P4 and P5. In the lower grade you're memorizing that this is what they want to see at the exam, but there isn't much reason why.

I had a hard time wrapping my head around the dim8, aug8, dim1 and aug1 - picturing them, especially the unison. Knowing that CC# is aug1, and CCb is dim1 is easy. But the fact that whether you go one higher or one lower, the interval is always greater was surreal. If this were done at the piano it would be obvious even to a preschooler: a half step vs. the same note. They made it sound so complicated.

I think there is a danger of learning a bunch of facts and shoving notes around like algebra or geometry, with no application to music. When this is taught, is it a side thing for passing the exam, or does (can) it be integrated with music?

Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1704138
06/29/11 09:41 AM
06/29/11 09:41 AM
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Iowa City, IA
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
It's semantics...


Most of music theory boils down to semantics. smile

The question is whether or not semantics matter, and how much. If they do, then it makes a very real difference whether something is notated as an augmented octave (C-C#) or a minor 9th (C-Db) Following conventions of voice-leading and notation, a minor ninth is likely to resolve down to a perfect octave, while an augmented octave is likely to resolve up to a major ninth.

This is also why RCM makes a distinction between chromatic and diatonic semitones. You write them differently depending on the circumstance. When chromatic scales go up, we tend to write them with sharps. Descending, we tend to use flats.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1704143
06/29/11 09:46 AM
06/29/11 09:46 AM
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Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
And as I said to my prof, if it's diminished or augmented, it's no longer an octave. It's semantics and no one ever accused a musician of being strong in either logic or English. But the power of the grading pen makes students acquiesce.


Thinking about this a bit - Suddenly it makes sense for that exam to want to see P8 and not "octave" written down. Here's the thought:

When we say "octave" and "unison" we associate them with that smooth unified sound we hear in music. The "number" labels (P8, min3 etc.) give us the name of the number of notes involved. Thus aug2 and min3 have the same sound, but the number tells us how many notes are involved. In the same way, the "8's" tell us the number of notes involved. C1 to Cb2 involves 8 notes but so they are an 8, but no longer perfect. C1 to C#2 ditto. So we have the possibility of dim8, P8, aug8. By getting away from the word "octave" we concentrate on the naming of intervals according to how many letters are involved in written music.

If this is so, then the mistake marked in that paper suddenly seems wise.

Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1704152
06/29/11 10:01 AM
06/29/11 10:01 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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And in another thread, the OP wonders why so many potential music students drop out . . . . .


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: NMCP Theory Grade Contention [Re: MrsCamels] #1704170
06/29/11 10:32 AM
06/29/11 10:32 AM
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I don't think I know enough to comment on the octave; but transposing 2 octaves when asked for 1 is clearly wrong. Whether the student should get partial credit or nothing at all depends a lot on the specific exam. What I heard about NMCP (now The Carnegie Hall/RCM Achievement Program in the US) is that they are very old-school, the grading is very strict. That's why an 80 (out of 100) is deemed "first class" and a 90 is "first class with distinction". This is quite unlike some other exams. For RCM, it's a big deal to get a score above 90.

So I'm not surprised your student didn't get partial credit.

Our own limited experience with RCM is very positive. The examiners were very professional, strict but encouraging. The comments were matter-of-factly but very useful and insightful. We are not big on exams but grew to like RCM (at least we acknowledge its value).

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