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Thread: This annoys me as well.

  1. #1
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    Default This annoys me as well.

    There is a well known music exam board in the UK that uses language in its description of its diplomas that is very close to being misleading. If you don't read it very carefully you can very easily think that the diplomas are a higher standard and worth more in terms of qualifications in the music industry than they actually are. Some of the information implies that professional players in the UK would take the diplomas in order to increase their education. This isn't actually the case. Professional players in the UK do not take diplomas because the standard of playing is much too low to help them at all in their jobs. In any case playing as a professional musician isn't helped by exams as it is based on how well you played in your last job or how well you played in an audition not how many diplomas you have taken.

    There used to be a statement by the same exam board that if you didn't read it carefully looked as if the associate diplomas were the same standard as the type of exam taken by a conservatoire student at the end of their first year of study. However if you read it carefully it didn't actually say this. It said that the diploma is a standard that a music student could be expected to have reached by the end of the first year. The difference is that most music students attending a conservatoire would have reached this standard long before they auditioned to start their study at the conservatoire and of course this is well before the end of the first year but they would still have reached it by the end of the first year.

    Over the years I have met several adult amateur musicians who because of lack of knowledge of actual student standards of playing have been completely taken in by this statement and think that by taking an associate diploma they have somehow magically become the same standard as a conservatoire student finishing their first year.

    So in case anyone has read the information for this particular exam board and needs clarification.
    No diploma will mean that you will pass an audition for a professional orchestra. The standard of playing at audition is much, much higher than the standard of playing required to pass any of the diplomas. Do not be taken in by the wording.

    An associate diploma is not the same standard of playing as an exam taken by a conservatoire student at the end of their first year. To get into a top conservatoire you need to have reached this standard while you are still at school. Be very careful to read what it actually says not what you would like it to say. These diplomas are very expensive to take and don't mean anything when you have got one.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Haven't you -- and we, been over all this at least one or two rounds before this one?

    Schools, and these exam programs, are businesses, and since the latter quarter of the 20th century, fine arts publicity, for performance as well as the educational organizations, has all gone to similar advertising and promotion practices as taken directly from mainstream advertising. (In America, a good number of the PR agents for arts ensembles, chamber orchestras, theater groups, all have a background in PR, but come first out of the PR sector having worked in the area of sports, leapfrogging from Nike Shoes and Football teams to Chamber Music -- go figure, Even odder to figure out is why arts organizations hire PR agents whose only prior experience was in sports, LOL :-)

    One way or the other, I firmly believe most of those who are in these programs find out soon enough, if they have ambition and plans to become a professional, of just what the programs are good for and what they are not good for. Ditto for conservatories, which are beginning to have the same gloss in their brochures as these lesser exam programs.

    Though the real data of those graduating from even the greater conservatories of yesteryear is also generally known -- i.e. only a few of those graduates ever become tenured musicians holding a chair in a prestigious symphonic ensemble, fewer still become prominent soloists in a like caliber performing circuit-- the hype vs. the reality is quite the same whether that training is in the fine art of painting, writing fiction (literature,) dance performance, etc. It is just that more of late, the hype is louder, shallower and 'cheaper' than in the past. The actuality of what the training is, how many actually make it through and go on to careers is, I think, near the same as it was 'back then.'

    You seem highly alarmed and irate over something which is not, really, at all "news."
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-08-2014 at 13:08.

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    Senior Member dgee's Avatar
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    Not again! Is this actually a big real world problem? Maybe you should just forget about these "adult amateur musicians" and move on - is this misconception really hurting them? Who cares what they think anyway?

    Alternatively, you could offer "special tuition" for adults to pass diplomas and make some sweet ca$$$$h off those goshdarn fools

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgee View Post
    Not again! Is this actually a big real world problem? Maybe you should just forget about these "adult amateur musicians" and move on - is this misconception really hurting them? Who cares what they think anyway?

    Alternatively, you could offer "special tuition" for adults to pass diplomas and make some sweet ca$$$$h off those goshdarn fools
    Sorry it has come up again just recently. it comes up quite a lot here in the UK. We have advertising standards here and I feel that these statements by this board really do mislead. They mislead people into spending hundreds of pounds on something that no one needs. This seems to be a problem in the UK at the moment as we also have universities offering degrees that no one needs either.

    If you think that adults don't get mislead by these statements you don't understand the level of "wishful thinking" that goes on here in the amateur music world. I used to play years ago in an amateur group that somehow seemed to think that by doing concerts in the hall of the Royal College of Music that this would somehow raise its status by something from the college rubbing off on it. It didn't work the orchestra still remained mediocre at best.

    I have been told by numerous amateur musicians that they are now the standard of a 1st year music student because they have passed an associate diploma so the statement seriously does mislead as I am sure the board are aware of otherwise they would have made their information clearer. I know that advertising is to persuade someone to buy something that they don't need. But often you can check to see if what you are buying does what you want it to. With these diplomas there is no way to check apart from to ask a professional musician.

    How would you feel if you had taken an expensive exam believing that you were now a really good player and had managed to get to the standard of a conservatoire student who had just finished their first year only to discover that this was not true and that you had spent time and money on an exam that a conservatoire student might have taken when they were at school or not bothered with at all because it wouldn't help them to pass an audition to get into conservatoire? I expect that I might be a bit disappointed.

    I am not in the least bit interested in which exams people want to spend their money on. What I am interested in is making sure that they fully understand what they are buying and what the limitations are of these exams.

    In case you were wondering what prompted this read some of the other threads including the one about how many instruments people play. Then ask yourself why anyone would advertise that they have passed a lot of high school level music exams. There a have been very few examples of people talking about music exams of school level on here and in all cases it has been because they didn't understand what the exams were.
    Last edited by Jaws; Sep-08-2014 at 12:13.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Certainly, there is some investigative journalism in print or television in the U.K. who would love to do an exposé of such a scam set-up? If it is really that sensational a scam, that is.

    Part of the problem (and inclined nature) of state-subsidized schooling (which I am for, have benefited from greatly) is that it is pitched to the public, and the programs supposedly geared, with an eye upon graduation and some virtual promise (virtual being key there) that if one has matriculated, it is a near-guarantee of gainful employ. These are no longer institutes of higher learning, but vocational schools, and actually, flat out vocational schools often have a much better track records of graduates walking out when they're done and getting real jobs in what they trained in.

    But truly, I would have to call you 'naive,' or guess that you were personally taken in by such a program and it failed you, or you failed, to get where you had hoped to go, and are carrying around some personal axe to grind with 'them.' I could be entirely wrong (if I am, I apologize for mis-guessing), but the repetitive nature of posting on the very same subject, and the mild vehemence about the subject, also repeated, tend to make me at least think these dynamics are in action here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    Certainly, there is some investigative journalism in print or television in the U.K. who would love to do an exposé of such a scam set-up? If it is really that sensational a scam, that is.

    Part of the problem (and inclined nature) of state-subsidized schooling (which I am for, have benefited from greatly) is that it is pitched to the public, and the programs supposedly geared, with an eye upon graduation and some virtual promise (virtual being key there) that if one has matriculated, it is a near-guarantee of gainful employ. These are no longer institutes of higher learning, but vocational schools, and actually, flat out vocational schools often have a much better track records of graduates walking out when they're done and getting real jobs in what they trained in.

    But truly, I would have to call you 'naive,' or guess that you were personally taken in by such a program and it failed you, or you failed, to get where you had hoped to go, and are carrying around some personal axe to grind with 'them.' I could be entirely wrong (if I am, I apologize for mis-guessing), but the repetitive nature of posting on the very same subject, and the mild vehemence about the subject, also repeated, tend to make me at least think these dynamics are in action here.
    I have two diplomas and I know how completely useless they are. What you get to do is to spend a lot of cash to take them and then you get nothing for them. The problem is that there isn't anywhere that you can go to find out what you are paying for because generally people don't know anyone who can tell you.

    On changing instruments from the horn to the oboe I decided not to take diplomas because I don't want to be fooled by doing that again. I just want to make sure that everyone knows that these music "qualifications" are worthless in the music industry. If I can do that then I will be very happy.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
    I have two diplomas and I know how completely useless they are. What you get to do is to spend a lot of cash to take them and then you get nothing for them. The problem is that there isn't anywhere that you can go to find out what you are paying for because generally people don't know anyone who can tell you.

    On changing instruments from the horn to the oboe I decided not to take diplomas because I don't want to be fooled by doing that again. I just want to make sure that everyone knows that these music "qualifications" are worthless in the music industry. If I can do that then I will be very happy.
    Does it need saying again that most with the ambition (and the time put in) are not so complacent as to not bother to aggressively look around and ask around, among the practicing professionals?

    I can not imagine a 'plot / conspiracy / brainwash' extensive enough where those who are going in the path of development towards becoming music professionals do nothing but sign up, take the courses, yet ask no questions in and of the professional community who are actively performing. To not do so is almost unheard of, so it is really difficult for me to imagine working, paying and walking through all that training without those questions being actively and aggressively asked, and those who can answer them not aggressively sought out.
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-09-2014 at 00:40.

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