to be disappointed that my 4 year old doesn't want piano lessons

(203 Posts)
evalluna Sun 01-Sep-13 08:56:05

Both my partner and I are musical, I played in orchestras throughout school and university and a bit beyond, though have let it slide since having children. My partner plays several instruments and has played in loads of different ensembles. We have a piano which we both (again mainly pre-kids) enjoyed playing though not to a great standard. We have always been keen for our kids to learn though (I have always regretted not having piano lessons as we didn't have a piano when I was growing up.) My partner was keen for them to learn by the suzuki method, so yesterday we took our daughter to meet a suzuki teacher, who was lovely (and our daughter actually went to sit next to when asked which is unusual as she is usually shy with unknown adults). However, when the teacher tried to do a few clapping games with her she wasn't interested and started being silly, and when she asked her if she wanted to learn to play the piano she said no. Understandably the teacher didn't want to take on a young child who didn't want to learn and suggester we leave it a while.

I am a bit disappointed, partly as I am probably projecting my own wish to have learned young on to her and feel it is wasting an opportunity. Also, I think she does have a fair bit of musical ability - she has always loved music and has had a very in-tune singing voice from an early age. My partner feels we have somehow failed not to have instigated in her a desperate desire to learn the piano. However, personality wise she has always been a mixture of extremely stubborn and quite anxious in new situations and has never been one for doing something she doesn't want to do. I wonder if she is just not ready - similarly for a long time she refused to write her name when asked even though she could but now is happy to do so. And although she has known her letters for a long time she has only recently wanted to attempt to put them together to read (she is about to start reception) and it was pointless trying to get her to do this before.

We have got a book called Lulus piano lesson which we have been reading with her and she likes, and my partner has done a bit with her, teaching her where the notes are, which she knows. When i ask why she doesn't want to learn she says 'because I already know' (ie can bash about a bit!)

I don't want to push it, but want to try to develop things so she might be ready for lessons at some point. Has anyone had similar experience/ got any advice? Thanks.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:29:54

My DD played in a primary schools orchestra when she was 9 - pushed by her teacher, not by me. It was a very long, tearful week for her.
Again when she was 10.
When she was 11 and would have been at the first desk and would probably have had a whale of a time she'd had enough and refused to go.

No such issues with piano though.

My ds is 6 and will be starting an orchestra in September. He's very talented and was accepted after a few months of lessons.

friday16 Tue 03-Sep-13 10:33:38

"What is a parent to do if his/her child is young and talented??"

Usually they aren't. You can push many children through to a reasonable youth orchestra standard (say Grade VI-ish) with no talent, provided you're prepared to force them to practice a lot and pay for lessons. Both of my kids are at a higher standard than that, and I wouldn't for a second say they were "talented", and they just have twenty minutes a week at school. Getting Grade VIII in an instrument proves you're a talented musician in the way that passing A Level Maths proves you're a talented mathematician: regular work, a basic facility and some parental encouragement.

Given that, in this city, young children in orchestras are almost exclusively Chinese violinists (not Greek violinists, not Chinese flautists) either there's some special genetic thing which links G-D-A-E to China or, more plausibly, it's become a particular cultural thing of the moment. And, by the way, in the higher standard amateur orchestras where you're not taken taken by your parents, they are notable by their almost complete absence.

evalluna Tue 03-Sep-13 10:33:51

Actually, that is a good point Friday - in my youth orchestra full of 15 to 18 year olds there was one (very talented) 11 year old, but I remember feeling sorry for her as she didn't fit in and was (other than musically) very immature for her age (probably due to spending 4 hours a day practising the violin). I think she is a professional musician now though and doing well, but I take your point - orchestras formed the main basis of my social life as a teenager but I would have got much less out of it if I wasn't with my contemporaries.

Am really liking the idea of a music class beyond what we have done already, which was basically a toddler singing group with some instrument shaking (and fighting over). We are in Yorkshire - if anyone knows of any I would love to hear about them.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 10:34:45

chocoluvva

I think that's a common feature of young violinists grin
My dd got a distinction in July for her last exam, had played in county ensembles, concerts etc, and hasn't touched it since exam. She is adamant she doesn't want to continue and concentrate on other instruments. She may come back to it one day, but its her decision not mine.

friday16 Tue 03-Sep-13 10:39:23

"My ds is 6 and will be starting an orchestra in September. "

Let me try to spell this out more clearly.

Your son, who has been playing for a few months, is presumably not signing up for the local youth symphony orchestra, entry standard Grade VII-ish, which knocks through the bigger works of the Romantic repertoire plus the occasional concerto featuring either the local hot-shot of a YMotY finalist, based on three hours of rehearsal every Saturday morning. Most of the people playing in that will be doing their A Levels, with a smattering of GCSE students. There will also be, in my (fairly extensive) experience of these ensembles, a small handful of much younger children, whose parents have to stay for safeguarding reasons, who have managed to convince a peri that they could play on the back desk. No-one talks to them, the parents are on constant edge as the teenagers talk about parties and sex, the kids get upset when the conductor yells in the manner you can when you're dealing with seventeen year olds and even if the kids are getting anything out of the experience musically (I don't think they are, but hey, Lord Copper might be right) they certainly aren't getting the social benefits. By the time they are old enough, they are bored, jaded and want to do something else.

Age-appropriate orchestras are great. My kids have played in a dozen or more of them, over the years. Everyone's roughly the same age, the conductor is chosen to be good with kids, there's appropriate peri support, the rehearsals are supportive and low pressure and, of course, only a couple of hours at a time. It's great.

It's the kids that were started young, pushed, and end up in the senior orchestras young who I worry about.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:44:43

I couldn't agree more.

DD has loved her time with regional orchestras as a teenager. Educational in so many ways grin

I wanted to get my ds lessons at 3, but no-one would teach him.

He was clearly very capable then and was writing his own left hand on the keyboard to the tunes he had picked out on the right.

I wouldn't say he was EXCEPTIONALLY talented, but he IS talented and I think it is a shame that he had to wait 3 years to begin a hobby that would have been very beneficial to him at that time.

Where does a person GET music lessons for a young, talented, and eager student?

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:51:14

From their parents perhaps or an early years teacher who happens to play the piano. At this age the musical content is a much smaller part of the 'lesson' than 'entertaining/encouraging/developing pre-instrumental skills. And progress will seem slow while the child's development of skills gathers momentum.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 10:52:12

Some children are musically gifted and want to learn music at three years old. I think with orchestras its a matter of finding one that is suitable.

Our country has a string group suitable for chidlren from the age of six and will take children sooner on teacher recommnedation. However this group is only suitable for beginners. The national Chiildren's Orchestra has a training orchestra for gifted children.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 11:15:53

I really don't agree with age appropriate orchestras and ensembles in some respects. Our music service has the beginners, intermediate and Youth groups. The beginners are fine and any age plays in this, the same with intermediate. However, the youth groups are from grade 5 and above but only from high school.
So a child who is talented and reached grade 5 before 11+ has nowhere to go and in addition somebody older who only has grade 3 would have the first chair as they are older, the younger grade 5 would be playing first parts but sat 6 rows back.
I think it should be a case of ability not age.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 11:25:06

"So a child who is talented and reached grade 5 before 11+ has nowhere to go and in addition somebody older who only has grade 3 would have the first chair as they are older, the younger grade 5 would be playing first parts but sat 6 rows back.
I think it should be a case of ability not age."

What difference does it make which chair a child sits on if they are all playing the same part? I accept that a younger child may need to sit at the front so that they can the conductor.

An orchestra should be fun not competive. Sometiemes playing second violin is more challenging than first violin as you don't have the melody and can't get away with playing by ear. All the chidlren in my son's guitar emsemble have a turn at playing the harmony parts as well as the melody.

The older child may be just as talented, but started a lot later. My son started guitar in year 4 and got to grade 2 in 18 months.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 11:56:16

ReallyTired

I meant that a teenager who has grade 3 will have the leader chair, whilst a 9 year old with grade 5 will never have the leaders chair as every time somebody older passes grade 3 they become leader.
This doesn't seem right to me. I know its not a competition but if you know you'll never progress to leader or even first seat, what is the point? I'm sure all authorities aren't like this and understand they can only manage the dc they have in a manner that suits the majority, but this won't always suit all.
There aren't so many classical players here, considering the size of the area covered. There are more brass/wind/jazz/rock bands, compared to classical ensembles.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 12:32:11

"I meant that a teenager who has grade 3 will have the leader chair, whilst a 9 year old with grade 5 will never have the leaders chair as every time somebody older passes grade 3 they become leader.
This doesn't seem right to me. I know its not a competition but if you know you'll never progress to leader or even first seat, what is the point? "

Being an in an orchestra isn't about being leader or even sitting in the first seat. The point of being in an orchestra is learning to make music as part of a team of other musicans.

Surely a nine year old who stays in an orchestra will one day be the oldest and get their chance to be "leader" if that is important to you.

Being in an orchestra is as much a social activity as a musical activity. A more serious issue for a gifted nine year old is being bored by lack of musical challenge or being in an orchestra where they are lonely because everyone else is a teen.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 15:02:18

I dunno ReallyTired

Of course I see your point about the social side and the playing music as part of a team, but I also see that many children like to see themselves progressing through the seats. This system means that the 9 year old will never be the oldest because there will always be a teen at a lower grade in the orchestra who comes first. The 9 year old will age to 11 and go into youth orchestra and be at the back again because of their age not standard.
Just seems wrong way of doing it to me.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 15:16:40

"The 9 year old will age to 11 and go into youth orchestra and be at the back again because of their age not standard.
Just seems wrong way of doing it to me."

The nine year old has made progress if they are allowed into the youth orchestra. I don't understand why you have your knickers in a twist about where children sit.

In our area the nine year old has the choice or either remaining in the training orchestra or progressing to the youth orchestra. When I was that age was pretty oblvious to where I was seated. Provided I was sitting near friends I was happy. I imagine that sitting next to friends is most the important thing to a musically gifted nine year old.

friday16 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:42:43

"but I also see that many children like to see themselves progressing through the seats"

Every orchestra my children have played in, and I mean every orchestra, swaps the desks around on a regular basis. Each section is led by a different person for each piece in a concert, and often the desk swapping takes place between pieces as well (sometimes just between halves). I don't recognise the idea of a youth orchestra where people "progress through the seats", and it sounds very rigid.

"I meant that a teenager who has grade 3 will have the leader chair"

But I thought you said it was a grade V+ orchestra? Worrying about who's leading seems a bit futile if there are people paying at Grade III standard.

exoticfruits Tue 03-Sep-13 17:20:00

I can't see the problem. If a musical child wants to learn an instrument it will be difficult to stop them. If they don't want to learn it is all rather pointless.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 22:54:44

Friday.

The youth orchestra is grade 5+ and open to 11+ only, the beginners and intermediate are below grade 5 and open to anybody between 7 and 18.
So this is the reason I don't like condition of age rather than ability. I was disagreeing with other posters who thought they were the ideal. It's just my opinion after hearing the local children talking at various times, my own dd included.

baddriver Wed 04-Sep-13 10:45:16

I don't think you sound pushy at all and am agog at some of the harsh posts here.

I guess I must qualify as a tiger mum as not only did my dc start music lessons at 4, but also swimming (3), French (3), ice skating(4), ballet (4) art (can't remember), baby gym then gymnastics... Oh it goes on.

It won't mitigate to say they pleaded for these things, will it...

evalluna Wed 04-Sep-13 12:22:21

Hey, think my threads been a bit hijacked but have been enjoying reading about 9 year old desk rivalries (and being glad I didn't play the violin!)

I have found all the advice really helpful in allowing me to relax and just enjoy my daughter beimg four. Also, I have considered for the first time really that she might just have different interests to me and it may not be because of anything I have done right or wrong. All good points.

That said the last couple of evenings she has wanted to sit and play (a lot of nonsense on) the piano (uninstigated by me I hasten to had) so maybe her interest had been piqued! Shall wait and see..

evalluna Wed 04-Sep-13 12:23:18

Sorry for typos, on my phone!

quoteunquote Wed 04-Sep-13 12:27:21

OP you have a message.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 04-Sep-13 13:42:49

evalluna

Sorry for the hijack, but honestly no rivalry the dc get on fine, the competition is with themselves, not others.
As you were and apologies for my part in the hijack.

evalluna Wed 04-Sep-13 14:56:45

It's ok, was joking about hijack - think original topic had probably run its course!

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