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BC- sometimes otherwise very good teachers are clueless about rcm exams or even about when you need new repertoire and what to play when... my brother's teacher is like that. He's going to do a grade 8 exam and I'm the one figuring out what he should play. (And he does have a very good teacher.) Sometimes if a teacher doesn't have many students, or has mostly advanced (university level) students that aren't doing exams they can be really good at teaching you HOW to play but don't always know the repertoire. RCM JUST brought out a new syllabus so that could be part of the problem.

A change of teachers might not be a bad idea, it depends.

If you have the money for weekly 'coachings' with a good accompanist (maybe like the one you have?) that could help. Sometimes they know the exam stuff better than the teachers, having accompanied so many!

At the least, if you do any more exams, buy the syllabus yourself or borrow it from your teacher and read it so YOU know exactly what you're supposed to be doing! At don't feel bad... sounds like you're a good player that just didn't know what to do for the exam.

Playing well and playing a good exam are two different things!!! Exams are as much or more about organization as good playing.

What about going back to some 'easier' stuff (and NOTHING is really 'easy' to play well) and learning the notes faster and really enjoying it? And even taking a lower grade of exam and going in there feeling really good about it all?

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Thanks for the input. You hit the nail right on the head by saying that I have lost confidence in myself. I am going to take the exam again, but in a long time, for now I am going to play pieces I enjoy to play, and perhaps try to get myself and a few other students together to form a little group of some kind.

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Daisy, human nature being what it is, we sometimes do need to do for ourselves what we should be part of a professional's job. It's all there for any teacher: syllabus, a set of pieces which are part of the syllabus requirements, one handy book holding all the scales and arpeggios for each grade and a core set of studies that will definitely be part of the exam. But if it's all there for the teacher, then it's all there for the student or family (if the student is young). At least you'll know which scales, whether you need an accompanist, how many pieces in which category. But here I'm already hesitating. Surely my teacher would know better than I, as a student, which of the pieces in category A and B, and which of the choice of studies would be the best to prepare according to my abilities. Isn't there a moment where teacher and student still need to collaborate on this? They still have to negotiate at some point. If the student can choose his piece successfully, his teacher still needs to know what he has chosen and help him with it. I seem to keep getting snagged up with this communication thing in various places.

I just got a request to tutor a student in his early teens in an academic subject for the rest of the year. I have not been teaching for a while. What struck me was the involvement of the family, and the student himself. We spent an hour hammering out goals, how the student wanted to approach his studies, what expectations the family might have, what expectations I might have. This is one-on-one teaching and student and teacher work together. The teacher definitely has a leadership role, but the student also needs to have guidance and know where he is going, and sometimes how to get there. What I liked in my interview is that the student could say, "This is what worked for me with my tutor last year, this is what did not work, and this is what I would like to do. These are my goals." We won't be working in the dark.

BC, playing pieces with friends and doing pieces that you enjoy seems an excellent idea. You can play, and from what you wrote before you probably can play better than you realize - but you need a different atmosphere to balance off what the exam experience has given you.

Putting on a philosopher's hat: I read that great people from Churchill to Einstein all had one thing in common: lots and lots and lots of failure. Yup - if you reach high you will fall a lot. They probably experienced more failure in a decade than others did in a lifetime, but what we remember are the successes.

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Originally posted by:

I no longer feel confident in the music I play, it feels as if I am always

struggling to complete a piece such as Allegro Brilliant or

Concerto in A minor. I no longer feel that I have polished any of

my songs off, as they constantly present a struggle...In short, I have flatlined,

and I am not getting any better. I take weekly lessons, and,

although my teacher adamantly disagrees, I almost feel like I am


Why do you feel this way? Any substantial evidence that you are regaressing or just your own expectation that you feel you could have and should have done much better? Expectation and absoluteness (word exists?) are different things.

In the country I grew up, we had to pass high school and college exams in order to proceed to the next level of education. Schools are always ranked. When I was in high school, one of my closest classmates from elementary school complained to me that she felt her brain deteriated (in a sense that she was not as smart as she used to). I later found out that she was always the #1 student in junior high, but after she went the #1 regional high school, she started struggling to keep her #1 seat. The reason then was very obvious to me that in junior high, there was no selection process--Every student in the school district would be admitted regardless. But now after the filtering process (i.e. highs school entrance exam), every student who went to the same school would logically be close to each other academically. Under such circumstance, it would be difficult for any student to remain in the #1 seat given the fact that most of the students were top students if not #1 in their given junior high schools. Often self-doubts consciously or otherwise kicked in.

In your case, if you have played for nine years, I am sure you should be learning difficult pieces. Your frustration, therefore, might actually reflect the difficulty of the techniques you have to learn or to put together, not your ability/talents. In other words, you are too harsh on yourself due to extremely high self-expectation. And that is the exact reason "[your] teacher adamantly disagrees" with your self-assessment.

So if I were you, I would take it easy and follow the pace my teacher set for me.

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Originally posted by:

Who is this Andrew Victor???

Andy is an old gentleman of my father's generation, whose advice I benefitted in the past. From my limited experience with him through exchanging DVD's, he appeared to me to be a real genuine person, who is ready to lend a hand to those who ask for it. If I remember correctly, he is violin player and teacher in CA.

"You might consider just quiting for a while" I believe is from the bottom of Andy's heart drawing upon his own experience although I am not sure it is the best for the young violinist or whether it is what he should try. But I am sure Andy was sincere in his statement.

That said, I agree with fiddlesaw's caution, which I feel should be branded in ones head when reading advice. Assuming all the advice given, free or otherwise, are good, still not all of them would apply to a specific case. Often time only the person who is in need can tell, and is always held responsible for his own final decision.

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