Article about education for the gifted

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Registered: 05-18-2005
Article about education for the gifted
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Tue, 09-25-2012 - 7:28am

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 12:36pm
I'm well aware of that argument and do agree, Deborah. The problem comes in when in an already unchallenging environment the better players are automatically put in first violin, and everyone ( including the kids) knows it, and the second violin part is clearly set up to play simple pieces.

It's a question of management. In the above situation, gifted players who are intentionally held back ultimately lose motivation, especially if they're younger. If my kid had been a couple of years older, she could have rationalized the situation and things would have been fine. As it was, she felt caught up in a never-ending slog and felt like her work was not recognized - and she may have been right.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 10:05am
As a violist/violinist who has played a lot of orchestra and chamber music, I must say that although "second" violin is not necessarily as demanding as "first" violin, the inner/lower voices are equally important. In orchestras without enough competent musicians, second violin can be a dumping ground where the weaker players are hidden...but many pros would love to be able to snag even the last second violin chair of a symphony. I agreed to shift from viola to second violin for one concert in the last orchestra I played in (this right before I was made principal viola) and it was by far the most challenging concert of the ten years I played in that ensemble because of the wider range of abilities...the first stand were pros, the last stand gifted high school students who were used to being first stand in their orchestra but finding it hard to fit in a situation where they were not the "leaders"...somewhat contemptuous of their section and not understanding that the hard spots were important enough to practice, although they were no slouches when it came to violin recital time. (And I was last chair, which they assumed was based on my merit, so being in a section with them was like a return to junior high with its jockeying for status. Grin and bear it and wait for them to grow up, right?) BTW, as viola section leader, I shifted the chair assignments around depending on the needs of the piece and the players ... the concertmaster once remarked that violas were "a cut above" the other sections (definitely not because there was more talent there). As in other things, strict ranking in music does not always lead to the best results.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 10:15am
I think it depends what the criteria for gifted and the goals of education are. If it's standardized testing and grades, I guess the school will end up with a goodish number of high achieving, smart kids who may or may not be gifted.

Mom_ladybug, I completely understand your frustration. Last year my fourth-grader was offered a place in the high school orchestra on the condition that she additionally perform in the elementary orchestra, a deal which resulted in my child bring required to sit through three and a half hours of orchestra a week, doing pieces which were laughably easy. This year she was kept in second violin in the HS group because "what'll we do with her all the next years?" She decided to quit both and join newspaper. Busywork is worse than no accommodations whatsoever because your child ends up getting punished for being out of his/her league.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 7:36am

I've seen schools go both ways.  When I was in elementary school, gifted education was out of fashion as "elitist".  My friends and I largely grew up as underachievers who were first challenged in graduate school, and had to scramble to learn study skills at that time after spending years coasting to A's.  My son is in a system with separate gifted classes, but most of these classes are within general schools rather than totally segregated.  He's having a much better learning experience, and is more comfortable socially (no bullying for "nerdiness").  The overall school seems to benefit, as the tracks are together for extracurriculars and recess, and the G&T parents are disproportionately involved in the PA.  Average test scores also rise, which helps the school get government funding and grants for extras like music.   Prior to the gifted program era, a lot of those families would have fled to private schools or the suburbs. 

Gwen

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