Two instruments - worth persevering?(13 Posts)
DD1 is 10 and has been learning piano for a couple of years, and clarinet for a year and a bit. She's doing fine - about to do Grade 2 piano and Grade 1 clarinet. She plays sensitively and has a decent musical ear (good sense of rhythm, sails through aural tests, plays with dynamics etc).
But if I'm honest, she is not really committed enough to practice both instruments as much as she should. And I'm thinking that maybe she really ought to drop one, in order to get the best out of the one that she carries on. She is also doing loads of other activities - Scouts, drama club, swimming lessons etc, and something really needs to give.
The trouble is, I'm pretty sure the clarinet is the one that she would choose. And the amateur musician in me feels that it would be "wrong" to drop the piano, because keyboard skills are so useful. Am I right? How important is it to be able to play a keyboard instrument? E.g. if she goes on to GSCE music, will she regret losing her keyboard skills? Or am I worrying about nothing?
Tbh, I would say carry on with both till she insists on giving one up, if she ever does. Let her decide.
so much more fun to have an orchestral/band instrument though. Yes piano is helpful for having keyboard skills later on, good for understand theory and working things out, generally helpful background, but you don't have to take it really seriously for that - she could just carry on with it and see how she gets on, even if clarinet is her main instrument. But with clarinet she'll have the chance to play at school, in youth orchestras, go on tours etc, and even as an adult, having an orchestral instrument is a good way to meet people when you move to a new place, etc.
maybe the instrument skills don't have to be developed to the same degree, so she can spend most of her music practice time on the clarinet and do a bit of work on the piano, just to keep it up and make some progress. If she is doing grades, maybe she could keep it up to grade 5. By then, she should have good general musicianship and theory skills and be able to do a fair bit on the piano, eg teach herself the tunes to songs she likes, film theme music and so on, pick up a piece of classical music and have a pretty good idea of how to play it, there is a wealth of literature for the piano on all levels and it is a good instrument to be able to play to some proficiency, it isn't necessary to really excel at it IMO , she doesn't need to aim to be a solo performer on the piano. If she were to get really serious about the clarinet at some stage, a good background in piano would probably be an advantage but in the end I suppose it is your first instrument which needs to be really good.
One of dd's teachers told me he took about 6 months to teach himself piano to get to the standard required for entrance to his music degree course. He did say he pitied the instructors who had to give him piano lessons during his degree, he felt it was very hard on them but what that means I think is that if she needs piano to study music, it wouldn't be incredibly hard to reach the required level.
Thanks for those comments. I need to think through how we prioritise things. She is showing more enthusiasm for clarinet and I agree that an ensemble instrument has more scope for social music making latter in life. She has just joined a training wind band and is being more conscientious about learning the music than I expected.
I am a bit conflicted by the fact that i sing with her piano teacher ...who is quite hard line in the level of work expected. So i have probably been more strict about piano practice, because I don't want to be embarrassed! Deliberately slacking off on the piano could be a bit awkward, but does make a lot of sense.
She has exams in both instruments this term so we'll persevere with the practising till they are out of the way and see how things go.
just wanted to add that we are in a similar position with 2 of our children doing violin and piano, one is keener on the piano, the other on the violin. My eldest about to do grade 1 on both in december.
I am like you in that I think it is a struggle to do both well and have wondered whether they should drop one, but I have decided to keep on going until they are Grade 3/4 now. It seems that by having a good musical ear they are able to progress with minimal practice at the moment, so I am going to wait until it becomes a real problem!
I'd say carry on with both, and
Maybe worry a bit less about practice? Piano is very hard when you are primary age but such a good skill to have under your belt long term.
Wee are just going around the game with our 3rd child -they all have an orchestral instrument, piano, recorder and voice. I'm sure they would all progress faster if they practiced more, but maturity helps so much with increasing the gain from practice sessions. Dd1 and ds are looking to hit/exceed grade 8 in all areas before they leave school. As music isn't either of their 1 St choice careers I think driving then harder younger wouldn't be useful.
Mind you I am going"encourage"dd2 this week about her theory as she has an exam this week!
Btw those who are thinking of dropping piano it sees grade 5 is a worthwhile stage to aim for to give a minimum skill set to support gcse and a level studies-our just.fiddle about and play TV tunes our sounds by ear to there own kids etc
Oh, and don't let an exam driven teacher drive you/your child. The best teacher we have only enters for exams when they areworking well beyond the level and actually asking to be entered! They skip many grades. In contrast the piano teacher makes then do all three grass and enters them when they are just at the level-it's a pain!
I agree not to drop piano. If she can do some practice even 20 mins 3x a week she should make enough progress to justify the lessons. Piano is soooo useful
It's nice to hear from other families in a similar position - not least because DD1's school is completely lacking in any culture of studying an instrument, so we feel a bit out on a limb! On the other hand, I am a keen choral singer, and played two instruments right through to the end of secondary school, so it feels "normal" to me to have a first and second study. I might have a chat with her piano teacher once Gd2 is out of the way and see if we can ease back a little bit and not plunge straight towards the next grade. At the moment we are managing about 3 decent practice sessions on each intsrument per week, which most of the time is OK, but not at the moment with two exams looming. (Makes mental note to make sure the next grades are NOT both sat in the same session!)
I think 2 instruments or more are fine if the dc wants to practice regularly. There is quite a large leap from gr2 to gr3 and sometimes this can be the time when many lose focus, find it difficult and it becomes boring because they can't do it. So many times I hear somebody talking about their dc who gave up before or just after gr3. In this respect maybe the dc would be more committed if they only had one instrument to concontrate on. Saying that though most good music teachers I know recommend about 30 mins a day on each instrument up to gr5, so its only an hour a day.
I'd keep up the clarinet - much easier to play in groups and orchestras etc, and generally have fun with. The piano is a lovely instrument, but can be a bit solitary.
Clarinet will be easier than piano too, so she'll progress more quickly and so keep her interest up.
But nothing is forever, and she can always go back to piano later, if you (and she) think you've collectively made the wrong decision.
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