Grade 4 ballet – merit!

It’s nearly three months since my daughter took her Grade 4 ballet exam. Yes, that’s how long it takes to get the results.

Grade 4 is tough. It’s a huge step up from Grade 3, with a much longer syllabus. In the exam, the kids have to do far more dancing on their own than in previous exams. Apparently it takes 75 hours’ class time, plus 20 hours practise at home, to really cover the Grade 4 syllabus. That’s a lot of work for a class that takes place one a week, in term-time only, and is only 45 minutes long.

My daughter, as ever, worked really hard for her Grade 4 exam. In the weeks running up to her exam, she looked brilliant. Her movements were strong when they needed to be strong, soft when they needed to be soft. For her individual dance, she had chosen a different dance to everyone else – always a brave move – and it looked so slick.

But of course, I’m no expert. Everything I know about ballet, I know from my daughter and her teacher. I know more about ballet than people whose kids don’t do ballet, but I know less than most ballet mums. Because I never did ballet myself. I’m learning as my daughter learns. I know she looks brilliant, but I don’t know if she’s got things technically spot-on.

My daughter has got distinction in every single exam she’s ever taken, both in ballet and the other styles – she’s done one exam each of tap, modern and jazz. Of course, we hoped that she would get distinction in her Grade 4 ballet exam too. When I watched her class dance, she did look like the best (even though she’s the youngest). If anyone was going to get distinction, it was my daughter.

So three months have passed, Christmas has come and gone, and thoughts have turned to her panto. We haven’t exactly been thinking about the results of the ballet exam every day. But of course, deep down, we were hoping for (and maybe even expecting) a distinction.

But then the result came through. Merit. A high merit, but a merit all the same.

She couldn’t get a distinction forever and, with the much harder syllabus, it was to be expected. But I knew she wouldn’t be happy.

When I told her the result, she seemed OK at first. But 10 minutes later, I found her a mess of snot and tears. She’d done her very best and, in her view, that wasn’t good enough. Which meant she could never have a career in dance or the theatre… She was exactly the same as someone who had got 55%… She’d missed out on the distinction because she’d wobbled…

We knew a merit was a possibility this time, but we also both still thought she’d get the distinction. But if she’d done her best, we couldn’t ask for more. If she’s serious about a career in dance or the theatre, she can still make that happen. She’s definitely not exactly the same as someone who had got 55%! The boundaries are very big, so a merit goes from 55 to 74% and she got 71. She may have got a merit the same as someone who got 55%, but she did a lot better than them. And her wobble would have been unlikely to lose her even 1% and definitely not the 4% needed to get up to a distinction.

I’m pleased to say, she does recover fairly quickly from these little knocks. There are two other girls in her class who are almost as good as her and one of them confided in her that she’d got a few marks below a distinction. I knew that if my daughter didn’t have a distinction, none of them would.

The teacher even said that she felt the examiner was a little harsh and that she should have got a distinction. And if the teacher thinks that, there’s nothing to be upset about, is there? She also told me daughter that she didn’t get a distinction until Grade 5 herself – and she had a professional career in ballet.

My daughter really has got nothing to worry about. And I know, and I think she knows deep down, just how hard she worked and how well she did in a very challenging exam.

Ballet exam, Grade 4, Daughter, 365

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. The merit is still amazing! She did so well and did her best. That is all you can ask for and all she can do. The teacher saying the examiner was harsh must have been a good boost for her confidence. x

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    • Thanks very much, you are so right! I’m pleased to say she bounced back from the disappointment pretty quickly. I know she did her best, and that’s all that really matters. x

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  2. Well done to her! Honestly I think it does children good to have disappointments at a young age, because if they don’t then when the big disappointments come when they’re older teens they won’t know how to cope with them. And getting a still brilliant mark is a pretty good disappointment to have 😉

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    • Thanks very much! You’re definitely right. She managed to get over the disappointment pretty well after the initial shock of it. She always knew it would be a possibility one day and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t get distinction again in the future.x

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  3. That’s a shame, but that’s still a great pass. It’s good that they get told their % as we never did. Does she do ISTD? We did RAD and they were pass, pass plus, commended, highly commended and honours, so a different system.

    I remember my Grade 8 clarinet exam, and missing a distinction by 2 points. It’s probably one of the only things I regret in my life because I only practised once a week for 2.5 hours (plus obviously band/orchestra) and just 1 extra practice a week would have blasted that. But your daughter shouldn’t be disappointed, as she’s worked hard, and exams are all subjective anyway. 3 or 4 marks just shows that it can just be dependent on the examiner on the day.

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    • She does RAD. They just have pass, merit and distinction these days. I think the outcome might have been different with a different examiner, but I know she worked as hard as she could on it.
      I can imagine how disappointed you were about your Grade 8 clarinet! But finding the time and motivation for extra practise isn’t always easy.

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  4. what a shame she did not get the result she feels she deserved having worked so hard.
    I know nothing about ballet but can you resit level 4 before she moves on and try for a better result next time?

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    • Thanks very much. It is a shame, but I’m sure she will manage to get distinction at some point in the future. You can’t resit them, especially as she is at such a small ballet school where exams aren’t held very often and they’re only held when the whole class is ready for them.

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  5. Aww such a gorgeous photo. Such a shame she didn’t get the results she wanted, but she deserved it and is such a star x

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    • Thanks very much! It was a shame she didn’t get it, but these things done’t always work out. She’s throwing herself into all her new challenges now. There’s always something to keep her busy. x

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