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Exam practice


Lilac
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Just wondered if anyone could advise? Dd is due to take her Advance 1 ballet old syllabus on 18th December. She has one ballet lesson locally per week and attends Tring CBA. I am really concerned that this is not enough preparation, as she has never before taken a ballet exam without having extra sessions. A while back the teacher mentioned the need for these, but all bar one never happened. I mentioned them a couple of weeks back and was asked to wait, but now we have 3 weeks and no word. DD is the only student taking the grade which doesn't help, and I don't feel I can ask again. Could people make any other suggestions, wonder if there are any private teachers I could turn to? Would need to be Hampshire , Berkshire, London or Surrey. Want to do our best for DD. All we can do is practise with the DVD outside the weekly lesson. Thanks.

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Well, I think you should ask again.  It's the teacher's responsibility to make sure that her students are ready for their exams and if she has agreed to enter your daughter for such an advanced exam on one lesson a week (which IMO is nowhere near enough at that level) then she needs to find time to work with her.  Does your daughter feel ready?  Has she practised all the "unseen" work?  There are either 2 or 3 exercises that the examiner makes up on the spot and your daughter will need to know the vocabulary for that - allegro and pointe work.  Honestly - don't feel uncomfortable - go and nag until your daughter gets what she needs!  If you can get up to the Academy in Battersea you can arrange for private lessons there, but they are very pricey.

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The teacher tends to make me feel that I am over-anxious or undermining her when I ask, and it can seem to make extras less likely to happen. Just keep weighing this up and how much longer we can wait! DD does feel anxious, especially as it is her first time of doing a vocational grade without a fellow student there which at least provides moral support.

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lilac - we have similar issues tho at a lower level. teacher seems to move the whole class fwd irrespective of whether all the children feel ready. often I am under the impression it's done to move the grade up to make space in the timetable.

DD requested extra tuition before last tap exam which she didn't get and so I requested she stayed down. I was told that wasn't an option as DD was "likely to pass"

we have also requested extra festival coaching but that's rare in coming too. leaves DD feeling a little 'unloved' at times.

Can Tring offer advice / coaching at all? Some of the older girls at the school have been to private bespoke lessons at Pineapple I believe

sorry not much help xx

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Yes I have contacted Tring to see if she could attend there associates for one or two weeks as we have the link there. Also trying RAD for private lessons, and other options suggested on this forum so will hopefully be able to sort something. Teacher is very laid back and last minute so outside chance she may yet suggest something! Just frustrating isn't it?

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One consideration is how many students are in the class? Is she is the only one taking the exam are there others on the class? As it's the last opportunity to take the old Adv 1 presumably she will have had plenty of attention? Also how long has she been studying the syllabus. Sometimes one class of quality time is much better than 3 classes per week in a large group with little attention. My youngest DD is at vocational school where they do one RAD class only, other classes are free work. Sure some extra tuition will be beneficial if you can access. Good wishes to your DD, sure her teacher wouldn't be entering her if she wasn't absolutejy ready. Let us know how she gets on.

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My dd in similar position lilac, we managed to get one private lesson ( well, two dancers) for advanced 1 exam which is next week but that is all despite having asked since the start of term. I am sure they will both be fine though and really not much to lose, other than the entrance fee etc as its the end of the line with this syllabus. Hope you manage to find some extra classes. There was someone on this forum a few months back saying they could offer advanced 1 tuition in london on sundays i seem to remember

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From the point of knowing the syllabus and being exam ready, I think it does depend on how long she has been doing the syllabus and how well your DD feels she knows it? I agree with Nana Lily that one good quality lesson a week can be better than 3 in a large group with little attention. Has the teacher taken her time to enter her because she knows she cannot retake on this syllabus or is she being rushed through before the syllabus changes? How long is your DDs lesson? and has she been able to practice for the unseen section? Personally I would ask the teacher once more. You may be over anxious for all I know but it is still her duty to prepare your DD for her exam so that she can do the best she can in the exam.

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Yes one lesson a week is certainly enough to learn the syllabus - provided that a student is taking several other lessons of free work at a similar or higher level.  Lilac noted that her daughter "has one ballet lesson locally per week and attends Tring CBA"  I don't know how many classes she takes at Tring, but if it's only one extra ballet class a week that's still hardly enough for Advanced 1.  It's not just a question of learning the syllabus, but of being able to perform it well even under the pressure of exam conditions. Of course your daughter may be super talented and have been working on the syllabus for a couple of years, but even so with less than three weeks to go you really do need to start pushing - even a "laid-back" teacher should see that!

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At the end of the day, if it was my business I would be pushing all my students to gain the best grade that they could possibly get, because at the end of the day you would surely want a reputation for excellent teaching. This would be one way of demonstrating this. Go back and ask and good luck.

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DD has been learning the grade for over a year. Exactly a year to the day since she passed Intermediate, with Distinction! So I do know she has quality teaching. About 6 in the class, some who are working to Intermediate and some who don't take exams. Tring is very other Sunday and sometimes DD stays to Advanced 2. Interested to hear we're not the only ones Coupdepied! Teacher is now ill so think I will ask again at next Monday's lesson. Plan was to enter DD before old syllabus changed and there would be a long gap for her to learn it. If not I would have gone for deferring the entry. Might at least book one external private lesson as can't do any harm.

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Yes I have put students in for the old Advanced 1 a year after Intermediate and two got Distinction, but I honestly can't see that happening with the new syllabus, so I can well understand your teacher wanting your daughter to have a go before the syllabus changes, even if it's a bit rushed.  I did that with a beautiful student who was not quite 14 when I put her in for Advanced 1.  I knew that if I didn't she wouldn't take it, because the class beneath were not suitable candidates for it even if she waited a year.  She ended up passing with Merit for the first time in her life, but I still considered it a great achievement at that age. And she only had 3 lessons a week at that time.   

 

I have a feeling that the Academy will see a huge drop in Advanced candidates with the new syllabi.  For heavens sake they used a professional dancer to demonstrate the new Advanced 2 on the DVD!  I am very upset because I have a super batch of Intermediates this year and I would have sent them for Advanced 1 next year, now I don't know how to continue with them.  Sorry, I digress! 

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Echoing taxi's message of good luck to those taking exams over the next few weeks on the old syllabus - my elder DD is also amongst them - for Adv 2.

 

On a different note  - there were no adv 1s to take the exam at younger DDs school so they went straight onto the new syllabus from intermediate.  Adv 1 generally takes 18 months - 2 years on 2 lessons a week at the school and it looks like being the same timescale for the girls doing the new syllabus.  Younger DD had been taking an adv 1 class each week as an extra alongside intermediate and has now stopped as she was picking up adv 1 quicker than intermediate! so perhaps nothing to worry about Dancer*is*life

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I think it's good to aim to pass well not just aim to pass and most students are very keen to get the best mark they possibly can. So any extra help at the mo must be good. Obviously the teacher has great confidence in your daughter Lilac so I'm sure things will be okay but your daughter also needs to feel this confidence so a bit of extra private work might make all the difference.

 

My friend in Oz's daughter is about to take this very same exam(she's 14 at mo) and has been working towards this for almost 18 months .....started in summer of 2013.

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DD is very teenage at the moment and is always funny about going for outside help. Emailed lots of sources most of whom were extremely helpful including the RAD themselves. DD only wants extra from teacher and that's the one thing I can't get so feeling very upset and angry. Just don't know what to do or expect. Even if the teacher thinks I'm demanding I don't feel she should take it out on DD who she knows wants to go to dance college later. Trying to see as a last shot if dad can get anywhere with her.

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Lilac, your DD may be worried about the teacher finding out and being cross about the additional lessons with another teacher. Give her the choice: have no extra lessons which may mean than she feels less prepared for the exam or attend lessons with another teacher which will help her to feel better prepared. Tell her that what she wants is not on offer. If your DD is a teenager then she is old enough to understand that she can't always have what she wants and that sometimes you have to accept 'second best'. If she doesn't feel the need for additional lessons then perhaps she doesn't need them. Alternatively, she will learn that if she is stubborn there can be negative consequences. It's her exam and she should be the one who is worrying, not you! Sorry to sound unsympathetic but I've been there with various types of exam and you just have to accept their decisions about preparation and let them get on with it, otherwise it leads to a huge amount of conflict and time wasted arguing and you the parent tie yourself up in knots and get very upset.

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I strongly agree with Aileen.

 

In addition, I'd say it's important that, as a first step, your DD should ask the teacher herself about extra lessons. (I'm not sure if she has or not!) If she's a teenager, she's old enough to be doing this. If she feels shy or reticent or anxious, I'd say by all means accompany her, but do not say anything yourself. She should do the talking. Only intervene if something needs clarifying or to prompt her if she forgets something she wanted to say. It will come over much better, and she will be showing drive, commitment and maturity.

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What very good advice Aileen and Rowan. I'm a long way off having to deal first hand with the vaguaries of teenagers ways at this point and forget that sometimes they can be their own worst enemy(as can we all in fact!)

 

I do remember though that as an early to mid teen I'm not sure I'd have had the confidence to ask the teacher for extra lessons without my mum being behind it ......this didn't come till I had left school quite honestly......but we do live in different times and today's teenagers as a whole that is do seem thankfully much more confident.

 

If the extra lesson/s with the teacher seem out of the question is there another girl she gets on well with taking the exam who she could get together with and go through things together.....even putting together their own steps from the syllabus to perform for each other etc as will be required in the exam......probably the most nerve wracking bit of it......OR an older student at the Dance school who has already passed this exam?

Anyway we will all now be keeping fingers crossed on the day for your DD!

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Decided to have one last try with teacher as people suggested. Now have some possible dates so hopefully can bring DD to a good level for the exam. Feels a year of the work is adequate and that DD is doing well. Good luck to everyone else doing these exams. These syllabus changes are a pain, without I think we would have at least had another term and maybe another student taking it which DD would prefer. DD knows nothing of impro in the exam, is that old syllabus?

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Don't worry about the unset - your DD will have been taught all the steps and vocabulary she needs to know to be able to do it and as Pas de Quatre says they mark it through a few times in the exam. - although its easy to say not to worry - as I write I am waiting for a text from my DD to say she has found Northern Ballet School as her first stage of the exam was finding her way to Manchester by herself.  I will need to keep myself extra busy this morning!

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Just like to clarify in my last post that I did not mean the students will be asked to make up their own combination of steps to perform for the examiner (improvise) .....these are always given by the examiner. It's just that if she had someone to practice with they could each 'pretend' to be the examiner and set each other the steps to perform! I don't think that's clear in my post on re reading!!

 

From friends who've taken this exam or similar level as adults yes they do get some time to go over it.

In one case the student wasn't sure about the name of the step the examiner had used and just asked the examiner if it was the same as another step......which she then demonstrated.....and the examiner confirmed this. I don't know whether it's because they were much older students but the examiners in each case seemed to be really helpful and kind. These adults took the exam on their own there were no other students with them but this is not always the case of course.

 

Anyway looks like you may have solved the problem Lilac and the teacher must have a pretty good idea of whether her students are capable of passing the exams she puts them in for.........especially at this late stage.

Good luck with it all anyway!! Linda

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