not to want my son to learn the violin?

(125 Posts)
MMQC Mon 08-Nov-10 09:38:41

This is my first AIBU, be gentle with me!

My son is six years old. He goes to a small village primary school with a single class for year 2, 3 and 4. This year, it has been decided that they are all to learn the violin.

Now I'm not a musician, but the violin does not strike me as the obvious choice for a group of 6, 7 and 8 year olds to learn to play. I'm all for fostering musicality, but the thought of my (let's face it, non-musically-gifted) son 'practising' on a violin at home for hours on end fills me with dread.

Last week, we were sent a letter asking us to pay £25 for the hire, maintenance and insurance of a violin for the remainder of the academic year, so our children can massacre the instrument at home too. The general consensus among the other mums is that we'd happily pay more not to have them brought home.

AIBU and mean-spirited and a spoilsport not to want to pay? Would you?

HelenRosie Mon 08-Nov-10 09:40:07

How do you know he's not musically gifted if he's never been given a chance?

MMQC Mon 08-Nov-10 09:41:31

Because I have heard him sing! smile

PestoEatsHurricaneWarnings Mon 08-Nov-10 09:41:58

It's up to you.
Both of my dds started violin when they were 7 in Year 3 and loved it.
One is now playing for a local orchestra and the other played for 4 years and has now swapped to the saxophone.

Music is a really good way of getting some of the unused parts of the brain working and even if they don't want to use it in the future, it's always a good skill to be able to read music.

BusyMissIzzy Mon 08-Nov-10 09:42:14

Does he want to play it? Surely at 6 he's old enough to express an interest, or not.

cory Mon 08-Nov-10 09:44:47

Singing ability has nothing to do with general musicality: lots of musical people can't sing.

And even not very musical people can benefit from learning an instrument: it makes them into better listeners. I don't know what instrument would be better really: the recorder is often used as a beginner's instrument, but imo it is an awful one, as you have to be seriously good at the recorder before it starts sounding like music.

Why don't you ask your son if he wants to learn the violin and take it from there?

Lancelottie Mon 08-Nov-10 09:45:11

He's not going to practise for hours.

He's going to do 10 minutes once a week or whenever you nag him.

Buy earplugs.

ShowOfHandsInEpistolaryForm Mon 08-Nov-10 09:45:46

Just because he can't sing, doesn't mean he can't play the fiddle. I'm not the best singer in the world, I have played the fiddle since I was 8 though (21yrs) and am pretty damn good I'll have you know. He could be the next Seth Lakeman.

And there are probably lots of things you don't want to listen to that he'll drag home from school with him. I'm dreading helping dd with interminable maths homework but it all serves a purpose.

TrillianAstra Mon 08-Nov-10 09:46:51

Why does it have to be the voilin, though?

Of all the instruments that there are, surely the violin in the best for making ear-splitting screeches?

MaMoTTaT Mon 08-Nov-10 09:47:06

Do you know what - I'm a musician, and when DS1 was given the opportunity to play the violin in YR3 (the whole year had a terms free lessons as part of a LEA initiative) I was petrified of what it was going to be like.

Despite having been to a school where there were some exceptionally talented violinists I had real vision of cat screeching.

He's in YR5 now and is really coming along well with it. And even in the earliest days the practising wasn't too painful.

I certainly wouldn't equate "can't sing" with not musical.

I can't sing - well I can sort of if accompanied by the tune - but if I sing with no music accompanying me it's horrific - I'm still musical though.

He's not destroyed his violin - and neither have his 2 younger brothers (DS3 is only 3).

ShowOfHandsInEpistolaryForm Mon 08-Nov-10 09:47:13

And Seth Lakeman is hot.

ZZZenAgain Mon 08-Nov-10 09:47:25

you're getting a violin cheap. Sounds like a really good deal to me.

well I don't know if I would start a second dc on the violin tbh (not the noise which was always fine, never bothered me) but iti s a difficult instrument, you need to be able to hear whether you are getting anote right and adjust your fingers accordingly if it is not quite right.

However the dc are young and can learn to listen and acquire an undrstanding for it.
Dd was 7 when she started and she got and still gets enormous pleasure out of it. In fact orchestra is her favourite activity in the week.

Why not try it for a year and see how it goes? Tbh violin is very versatile and easily transportable and 25 quid is a very good deal. They do need a violin at home though, short daily practise is going to be the main way to progress with it

Otherwise, maybe you could recommend guitar if there is a teacher available? Also versatile, easily transportable but not so diff IMO

HelenRosie Mon 08-Nov-10 09:47:27

I'm a terrible singer but still made it to grade 6 piano. I think you've been given an opportunity for your child to learn a musical instrument cheaply and I can't really understand why you wouldn't take it. I never play the piano now but I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn.

flowerybeanbag Mon 08-Nov-10 09:47:46

It would be the "it has been decided that they are all to learn the violin" that would bother me, rather than making the opportunity available for those who are interested. It sounds as though it's a case of opting out rather than in, meaning those children who do will be the odd ones out.

Yes singing ability not indication of musicality. My DH is a talented musician but would be the first to say he is not a good singer at all. His musical 'ear' in terms of picking out tunes/harmonies isn't anywhere near as good as mine but he's a much better musician than me.

piscesmoon Mon 08-Nov-10 09:47:55

It seems a good, cheap way for him to give it a try-you can't possibly know in advance how he will a, like it and b, take to it. It seems better than the recorder to me.

MaMoTTaT Mon 08-Nov-10 09:49:13

TA - no that's not true

Recorder - played badly is horrific
Clarinets/Oboes - squeak horrendously
Brass instruments - loud no matter what they do in the early days
Drums - well........need I say more....... wink

DS1's "screeching" lasted all of a couple of weeks

BuntyPenfold Mon 08-Nov-10 09:50:30

I think the violin is an awful beginners instrument, especially if no one at home can tune it.

You could let him have a try though; usually after the first week it is hell and high water getting them to practise anyway.
You can also have fun having a go yourself

ilovehens Mon 08-Nov-10 09:51:06

my ds is learning the viola and he's enjoying it a great deal. You should give your son the chance of learning the violin. Music is a lovely thing to be able to do and it also helps with other areas of learning.

I play the flute, viola and piano and it gives me tons of happiness and relaxation.

pottonista Mon 08-Nov-10 09:51:19

YANBU not to want a beginner violinist in your house. I started violin lessons aged 9, and I reckon it was a good 3 years before I started making a nice noise. Thankfully our house was big enough that there was somewhere to hide from the horrible screeching.

You would be unreasonable not to encourage him to learn to read music and play an instrument though. It's one of the best 'non-essential' things I ever learned, and I'm grateful to this day to my parents for nagging me into it, and putting up with the noise.

warthog Mon 08-Nov-10 09:51:35

violin teacher here.

it's not going to be hours of practicing a day - you should be so lucky!

yes, beginner violins don't sound great, but they're not very loud either. unlike an oboe or a clarinet.

it's a wonderful opportunity.

MMQC Mon 08-Nov-10 09:52:13

He's dead keen. They've already started learning in school. Part of what annoys me about this is that it's been presented as a fait accompli. They are already learning and keen to practise, so it would seem churlish of any of us not to pay up. But nobody ever asked us whether we wanted them to learn or told us it would cost us money!

I'm all for them learning an instrument, but it's a strange choice for a group of children of this age with limited experience of music teaching, isn't it? Or is that just me? As I said, I am no musician.

The earplugs sound like a good plan!

ilovehens Mon 08-Nov-10 09:52:33

I'd also like to add that you can buy an electronic tuner for the violin so that you don't have to tune it by ear. They don't cost very much.

comtessa Mon 08-Nov-10 09:52:53

My brother started off screeching away through the classics on his violin aged about eight.
He then didn't play it through his early teenage years. Aged about 16 he discovered folk music and started busking. Now aged 33 he's a professional violin maker and repairer with his own business and rapidly building a reputation for his violins. Always worth introducing a child to something new.

ZZZenAgain Mon 08-Nov-10 09:53:20

you can get an electronic tuner which doesn't cost much I don't think. After about a year, they tune it themselves if you have a keyboard or something at home for them to use as a base? When you get notes with accompanying CDs, I have found they tend to have notes on there as a seperate track for you to use for tuning too.

I used to freak about the tuning thing, but honestly dd does it. I just press "a" on the keyboard and she does the rest. It is not as difficult as non-musical parents like me worry about

mousymouse Mon 08-Nov-10 09:53:59

let him have a try. violin is perhaps not the best "beginners" instruments but it teaches soo many things like fine motor skills, listening, discipline, patience, concentration.

my sister is a music teacher at a "trouble" school and they have introduces mandatory music classes for all children. they start out with rotation, try out an instrument for three months for a year and then the children decide which instrument to learn proper.
they have funding in place so that poorer children don*t need to pay for the hire though.

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