The Grade 1 music exams

Our family is a lot of things. Between us, we’re a pretty talented bunch.

We’ve got family members who are highly academic. Family members who are good at sport. Family members who are a good at art. Family members who are strategic thinkers. Family members who are really good with people. Family members with lots of common sense. Family members who are highly resilient. Family members with a good general knowledge. And just one family member who is a brilliant dancer.

None of us are brilliant at everything (in fact some of us are pretty bad at some of those things), but between us, we’ve got everything covered. Apart from one thing.

None of us are good at music.

I love listening to music. Music makes me very happy and I listen to it on and off all day. But I don’t understand it. I don’t understand the terminology people use when they talk about music. I can’t even tell if something is in tune or not (unless it’s really badly out of tune). And I’m not the only one. We’re all exactly the same. We just don’t get music at all.

But, despite this, between my three kids, they have four Grade 1 music exams. Only Grade 1, mind. None of them have taken any further exams and they still don’t really understand music.

It goes all they way back to my eldest (now in year 13) was in year 3. A letter came home about playing the violin.

‘You don’t want to play the violin, do you?’ I said, as I chucked it in the recycling.

He did want to play the violin. In fact, he played the violin right until the end of year 11. He did his Grade 1 violin in year 6 and, although he did practise for it, he only got a pass. Of all the kids, he is the one who has practised the most over the years. He even did GCSE music, which we realised almost as soon as he’d started was a massive mistake. In a class of talented musicians, he was the class clown who happened to play the violin. Ironically, it was GCSE music that put him off playing the violin for good. He was actually around Grade 5 standard by the time he jacked it in, but he never took another exam.

Because his brother played an instrument, it seemed only fair to ask my younger son if he’d like to play one too. He chose the guitar, and started playing in year 3. He seemed pretty good at it at first (to my untrained knows-nothing-about-it ear), but he didn’t practise and he never had that desire to pick his guitar up and just experiment and play. He did his Grade 1 in year 7 – and got a pass. He practised a bit more when he was doing guitar as his skill for D of E Bronze, but now he’s ticked that box, he’s back to not practising. Most of the time, his guitar doesn’t even make it home from school. But he won’t give it up. He’s probably around Grade 2 or 3 standard now, but he won’t do another exam.

Son, Daughter, Siblings, 365

As we already had two small violins lying around at home, we asked my daughter if she’d like to play the violin. So she started in year 3. She took her Grade 1 in year 6 – and she got a merit! The plan was for her to keep going at secondary school, but that didn’t happen for various reasons.

As she is still interested in a career in the theatre, and she’s definitely a double threat rather than the preferred triple threat (she can dance and act, but not dance, act and sing), we decided that maybe she should have singing lessons rather than violin lessons. To my untrained ear, she has a perfectly pleasant voice. But apparently she doesn’t hear a lot and her voice is very low for a girl of her age. She is most definitely un-musical like the rest of us. She won’t practise singing at home for fear of the boys taking the piss out of her. She took her Grade 1 in December after just a few months of lessons. She got a pass. And by pass, I mean pass. She got the actual pass mark. One less mark and she would have failed. That’s how un-muiscal our family is. And while a merit in ballet made her cry, scraping a pass in singing just made her laugh out loud. Because she knows she’s not a singer, and that’s OK with her.

Now the question is. Will she make it to the heady heights of her Grade 2?

violin, violin exam, Grade 1 music exams, son, daughter

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. My family is un-musical too. lol
    My youngest played the trombone for a couple of years at primary school and that’s about it.
    Good on your girl for singing. I imagine it is harder to get a pass than just basic singing.

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    • Thanks very much. It’s good to know that there are other families who aren’t musical too! I think the singing exam must be pretty hard. Sadly she still has no confidence with it and won’t practise at home.

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  2. Oh this is hilarious, I love that you can laugh about it too! As you say, no one can be good at everything and it’s good to see your daughter not putting herself under pressure – at least she passed! My eldest is very musical and I have always loved that but she hasn’t picked up any instrument for years and it makes me so sad 🙁 I’m not musical but I love to hear her play. My middle one did a few singing exams and is actually really good but didn’t persevere with it which is a shame. Then again, as she said, what’s she going to do with it? She had a point!

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    • Oh yes, I can definitely laugh about it! My only regret is the amount of money I’ve spent on music lessons over the years, but you can’t take it with you, right? What a shame that your daughter hasn’t played music for years. Hopefully she will come back to it when she’s ready. I remember you’re younger daughter doing singing lessons, I think that’s how I knew such things existed! I was hoping my daughter would extend her options with a career in the theatre by taking singing lessons, but maybe not if she can only scrape a pass!

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