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Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
#1740887 08/26/11 08:11 AM
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Hi all,

I am an adult student (30 yr old female) who has been taking lessons for 7 years. Last week, I took my grade 7 RCM exam, and much to my dismay found out last evening that I didn't pass. I should also mention that this examiner seemed to mark quite hard, as I played about the same last year, and passed at that time.

I have two big obstacles.... one is the lack of practice time. I have a husband, 2 small children, and not a lot of free time. The other is that I feel my teacher just doesn't care. She is the 2nd teacher I've had in my years of study, and I've been going to her for about 2.5 years. I don't know about you other adults, but I always find that teachers are wrapped up in the children. I am the only adult that my teacher has. Recently I told her that if I didn't pass the exam that I probably wouldn't touch the piano again. She laughed at me.

This whole failure has been a huge blow to me, and I am contemplating whether to continue with my exam studies (I could do the exam again in January), just play for pleasure, or give up altogether. I don't know whether to continue with this teacher, or begin the search for a new one.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has has simliar experiences either with not passing an exam (and how you got over the hump of failing), or anyone who feels the teacher just doesn't give a damn.

I've been taking the exams because I was hoping to be able to teach at some point, and I'm not sure if you can do that without completing some sort of leveled examinations.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

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Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740888 08/26/11 08:15 AM
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I wouldn't worry about the exams and would search for a new teacher... Playing the piano should be enjoyable.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740891 08/26/11 08:19 AM
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I saw that a couple of years ago you went to a new teacher and then considered going back to the old one. Which are you with now? Does your teacher have a plan for you, do you discuss goals, and how to reach those goals?

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740893 08/26/11 08:25 AM
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Why not just play for pleasure? IMHO, that is how it should be especially for adults!


Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983
Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740894 08/26/11 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 80z_Chick
Recently I told her that if I didn't pass the exam that I probably wouldn't touch the piano again.


obsession is never good


you should change teacher, take it slow, and take that exam again when you feel you have what it takes!

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740898 08/26/11 08:32 AM
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What's your ultimate goal in regards to playing the piano?

I'm just about the only adult student my teacher has. She's easy on me and I have to continually push myself and my expectations of what I can accomplish. I play for pleasure, but that doesn't mean I'm happy with only being mediocre. I don't ever plan to take any exams as they have no bearing on my goal.


Started piano Dec 2009
----------------------
Working on:
-Anything composed by D. Nevue
Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740902 08/26/11 08:39 AM
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I'll post one of my favorite quotes:

"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."

I say keep working hard, never surrender. You, me, and all of us will get hit by life; but we must carry on fighting. Life isn't easy and never will be. I believe the true strength is to keep moving forward.

BTW: Change your teacher. You should feel motivated.

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740907 08/26/11 08:49 AM
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Don't let this setback discourage you to the point of giving up piano. You weren't ready, yet. As an adult learner with family responsibilities, it may take a bit of time to get ready.

You should talk with your teacher (whether this one or a new one) about your goal of eventually teaching. If you are going to need attestation, you do need to sit the exams. You need a teacher who understands that that is important to you and who is willing to work with you towards achieving your goals. One of the things you should be able to count on a teacher to do, in my opinion, is give you a frank assessment of your likelihood of success on an exam. Unless something unexpected happened on the day of the exam, your teacher should have been able to tell you that you weren't ready, yet.

Keep at it and you will be ready!

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740911 08/26/11 08:53 AM
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if you need recognition for your efforts... go to some amateur competition, join a club and / or start publishing your interpretations... you tube, music cloud, vimeo... plenty of space to show and discuss.

Unless your target is to become an accredited pro, Piano, but in general any art, should be done for your pleasure and other people pleasure... to carry a message or simply express your point of view...

A degree doesn't prove your skills or the weight of your message, it just say that you know how to study to get to that level.

less stress, more fun.

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
Ataru074 #1740918 08/26/11 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Ataru074
if you need recognition for your efforts... go to some amateur competition, join a club and / or start publishing your interpretations... you tube, music cloud, vimeo... plenty of space to show and discuss..

I did some of the exams when I was taking lessons, though not on piano. The idea is that there are a series of skills we need to get, and some knowledge about music, and it's organized over grades. The exam part is like a checklist to see which parts you got and which you still need to work on. You get a second set of eyes and ears. In what way can a club, youtube, publishing interpretations, etc. meet those purposes?

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
keystring #1740922 08/26/11 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Ataru074
if you need recognition for your efforts... go to some amateur competition, join a club and / or start publishing your interpretations... you tube, music cloud, vimeo... plenty of space to show and discuss..

I did some of the exams when I was taking lessons, though not on piano. The idea is that there are a series of skills we need to get, and some knowledge about music, and it's organized over grades. The exam part is like a checklist to see which parts you got and which you still need to work on. You get a second set of eyes and ears. In what way can a club, youtube, publishing interpretations, etc. meet those purposes?

With real people mostly to let you focus on what it does really matter... music.
The real value of the exam in this particular case was to understand that she needs to drop the current teacher and find another one.

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740926 08/26/11 09:28 AM
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Quote
I did some of the exams when I was taking lessons, though not on piano. The idea is that there are a series of skills we need to get, and some knowledge about music, and it's organized over grades. The exam part is like a checklist to see which parts you got and which you still need to work on. You get a second set of eyes and ears. In what way can a club, youtube, publishing interpretations, etc. meet those purposes?


Indeed. There is nothing wrong with an adult student following an exam-based course of study. On the other hand, everyone should think clearly about their motivations. 80z says she has some interest in teaching. The graded exams can provide excellent feedback.

We really can't comment in any detail about the wisdom of switching teachers. We just don't know enough about 80z and her relationship with this teacher. All we can do is explore the key words in her sentences. If the teacher really doesn't give a damn, then it is time to move on. How do you know this for sure? Examine that.

Different people respond to failure and setbacks in different ways. For some it's a motivator. For others its a huge discouragement. We have no magic wand to change how people react to life events. All we can do is note certain things that are under a person's control (their teacher, their practice time, the possibility of retaking the test etc.). The ultimate motivation must come from within.

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
Ataru074 #1740945 08/26/11 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Ataru074

With real people mostly to let you focus on what it does really matter... music.
The real value of the exam in this particular case was to understand that she needs to drop the current teacher and find another one.

And how do you get at that music when you are learning? One of the ways is to get at the elements of music in an organized way. For some of us that works. We can also have random people listen to us play and tell us what they think about the pieces per se. Maybe we'll find out that we need to learn how to bring out staccato, or get a better understanding of some point in theory, in order to make our pieces work better, and maybe we can work on that in the piece ourselves. But some of us are wired to want something structured when we are learning. That can be through exams, or through a focused teacher who works in that direction (no exams needed).

If a person is wired to want something structured, or maybe it's that point in their lives, why tell them to do something which may suit you but doesn't meet what they are after? Why are so many people trying to talk the OP out of his or her goals? Isn't that the original problem - a teacher who is not taking the student's goals seriously so that it leads to this kind of failure and unhappiness?

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1740995 08/26/11 11:20 AM
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80z Chick,

You've raised a number of issues that have been addressed in the previous replies. I would like to add the following thoughts. Let me first commend you for being at the level that you are currently at. I'm sure that you have worked hard to get to this level given your family responsibilities. As for whether exams are necessary for your ultimate goal of teaching, I would look and ask around to determine what are the typical qualifications of piano teachers in your area. That information may provide some guidance as to whether exams are beneficial or not to your ultimate goal.

Since you currently are taking exams and did not achieve the result you wanted, I wouldn't be discouraged. Were you close to the pass mark? Was there an area that was very weak compared to other areas? Your selected pieces, scales, sight-reading, aurals, etc. for example. Was there consistent feedback in pointing out some weakness in an area? For example, maybe better attention to dynamics could have been used when playing pieces. I think that if you review the comments about your performance when they become available then you will be in a better position to work on the problem areas.

If you believe that your teacher is not helping you reach your goals then maybe you should study with another teacher that will do a better job than your current teacher.

On a personal note, I'm married with two elementary school aged kids and I am also an adult piano student. I also work full-time. I understand the time constraints that you face. However studying and playing the piano and music in general is a great joy in my life. I don't consider the time that I spend practicing and playing the piano wasted time as a result. Like you I also do exams as well. In my case ABRSM exams where I am at Grade 6. I do exams because I started out with them as a child doing lessons and I see more benefits in doing them than not doing them. Also as an adult I see them as recital opportunities which help to build my confidence playing in public.

It seemed as if this exam sitting you repeated the Grade 7 exam. Would it be better to move on to the next grade? Sometimes you can have a better connection and therefore perform better with the pieces in a higher grade than the pieces in a lower grade. Also there is not always a clear cut answer as to what grade a piece belongs.

Whatever you decide best wishes and keep playing!

Last edited by Musictuary; 08/26/11 11:21 AM.
Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1741003 08/26/11 11:26 AM
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As somebody has already mentioned I feel your teacher should have been able to tell you that you were not quite ready to sit for the exam. This in and of itself gives me great concern. I would look for a new teacher asap.

Don't change your goals or your dreams. Grade 7 sounds great to me...keep up the good work! Think of what you would say to a student of yours who went through this? Would you tell them to stop because of a setback? I doubt it.

Get a new teacher, create a plan to focus on your weaknesses, and to make best use of your limited time!

Keep going and all the best!!


Coming back after a long while.
My recent Recordings: Faber
My recent Recordings: Pianote

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1741026 08/26/11 12:12 PM
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Ever hear of Babe Ruth? He was famously known as the Sultan of Swat because he hit more home runs than anyone else.

He also struck out more than anyone else. Most folks never knew that.

Bet the next time you take the exam you'll pass and think it was easy.




Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1741042 08/26/11 12:33 PM
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Thank You everyone for your replies. It means a lot.

I've been doing a lot of thinking, even since I posted this topic, and I really wouldn't/couldn't give up playing altogether. I've worked very hard to get where I am, and have put a lot of time and money into this instrument. I enjoy being able to sit down and work at a song I want to learn. I will apologize in advance for the long post. It's kind of a long story to tell.

Previously, someone had asked about a post of mine regarding my change of teachers. I had one teacher from mid 2004-early 2009. She is the one I started with, and she had completed the highest level of RCM (ARCT) and also had studied music in university. Unfortunately, she had some problems, and had stopped teaching (but did eventually come back after about 1 month with teacher #2... however there are other reasons mentioned below as to why I didn't go back with her). We got along excellently, and she was not only able to help me with practical exams, but also theory as well (I have completed and passed grade one intermediate). I worked on grade 2, 3 and 4 with her, and my lowest mark was 78%, highest was 89%.
It was at that time in early 2009 that I went on the hunt for a new teacher. The one I have currently has RCM grade 8, and can no longer help me with my theory as she says she's not comfortable and has directed me to another teacher for theory classes. My second teacher is also the teacher of my 16 year old niece.... so I am constantly hearing how wonderful she is, and I almost feel like I am being compared to her at times (she is 1 level behind me). With this teacher I have done grade 5, 6 and 7. With my highest mark being a 71%, and the lowest being my current grade 7 score of 53%.
Strangely enough, about a year ago, I heard back from my first teacher who still owed me some lessons. She wanted to know if I was still taking piano, and if I would be interested in making up those lessons with her. I said I would like to do theory with her. However, she never called back,I never touched base with her, and I continued on with teacher #2. Now, I could try and get in touch with teacher #1 again, but there were other underlying reasons for me not going back. One was the fact that she had a lot of insane policies (which I won't get into), whereas teacher #2 has none. Teacher # 1 was constantly cancelling lessons week after week, and I was falling behind. Teacher 2 rarely cancels.

It may sound crazy, but I am a person who loves to get things in my piano books like stickers and such. That helps motivate me. My first teacher was really big on that. She used to make happy faces in the book and give stickers and she used to post things that everyone had learned and were proud of in the waiting area so everyone else could see what you'd done. I have a lack of confidence (which was noted on the current exam results) and things like that help boost me. I have told teacher # 2 about liking stickers, and she gave me a few, then stopped.

So, as for the exam results, I didn't pass by 7 marks. I am not very good at the techincal stuff (specifically anything in "solid" form, such as dom and dim 7ths). Now with teacher # 1, we devoted time EACH lesson to sight reading, interval identification, playbacks, clapbacks, etc. Teacher #2, only does this stuff once in a blue moon, and then tells me about playbacks/clapbacks "That's not your strong point, you might as well give those points right up to the examiner". Sometimes she does say about a piece "Well, that was better this week", but she really hurt me one week when I had worked on a piece, and she said "I guess you didn't do much with that one this week did you"? At that point, I felt like walking out of the room and not coming back.

I have mentioned to her that I want to teach at some point, and she said that I might be able to take on some students now(beginners), but there was no encouragement for me. However, she does encourage my 16 year old niece to teach. This is the stuff that really hurts. I apologize for the long post.

PS: there is another new teacher in town advertising for new students. I have been in touch with her about theory, but she said she couldn't teach level 2 (Advanced). Didn't ask about regular lessons though.

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1741049 08/26/11 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 80z_Chick
Sometimes she does say about a piece "Well, that was better this week", but she really hurt me one week when I had worked on a piece, and she said "I guess you didn't do much with that one this week did you"? At that point, I felt like walking out of the room and not coming back.


Being a great teacher has nothing to do with subject matter. A great teacher is often surpassed by the student in that regard.

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1741051 08/26/11 12:44 PM
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dont apologise. you need a better teacher. one more than a grade ahead of you. 2 reasons. 1 - to teach you piano, including aural, theory, etc. 2 to teach you how to teach (rule #1 never make assumption about how much work has been done)

sorry this happened

Re: Didn't Pass RCM Exam :(... Need some questions answered
80z_Chick #1741105 08/26/11 02:30 PM
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I know what it's like to fail an exam, I failed Basic Harmony TWICE before passing it with first class honours. And I had two other exams (practical, one clarinet, one piano) that I didn't do so well on. Well one of them I sort of deserved it, since I didn't practice that much, but the other, I worked so hard and just had a really rough exam.

It will take some time to get over it. It took me a few years before I had the courage to try another practical exam, which I got first class honours. (clarinet)

Use it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. I made a terrible mistake of not practicing much (that was a clarinet one) for one of them, but redeemed myself last June with a First Class Honours. I'm aiming for another first class honours in January for the same exam level as you.

And, as a teacher, I have had a few failures of exams, though all kids, and I tried to advise against registering or doing the exam if they did. Though most students do get first class honours, some with distinction.

Depending on where in Canada the OP is, if in/near Toronto, maybe my husband could help if a change of teacher is still wanted.

Meri


Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com
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