Too old to start a second instrument?

(31 Posts)
Emarri Sun 12-May-13 17:58:49

DD1 is nearly 13 and movimg up to yr 10. Started playing keyboard this yr and doing grade 1 in june. Just got an 8b on a music composition. Also dabbles in guitar and recorder, will be learning a brass instrument in an out of school club soon. But is 14 too late to start a serious second instrument?

ZZZenagain Sun 12-May-13 18:02:21

depends what the goal is maybe. I don't see why he cannot get good enough to join a brass band before long. Dd started piano last year (aged 12) and she is doing very well so obviously wasn't too late for her to embark on it - but I presume far too late to become a concert pianist, but then that isn't what she has in mind.

With some instruments it might make sense to start a bit later on (oboe for instance, tuba and so on). I think he'll progress quickly, he already knows a lot about music. What instrument does he have in mind?

ZZZenagain Sun 12-May-13 18:03:06

actually she was 11. Where's my head? People start learning as adults and go on to do well. If he has time, why not?

Emarri Sun 12-May-13 18:10:45

She wants to be able to be in an orchestra. Was hoping for UCAS points but 6 grades in 4/5 years is a bit too much tbh. She wants to try trombone or trumpet in brass band thing. And have proper lessons in clarinet, violin, viola or flute.

ZZZenagain Sun 12-May-13 18:16:46

Sorry for some reason I read ds not dd. She wants to do keyboard plus trombone or trumpet plus another orchestral instrument. That is quite a bit. Start with the instrument she likes most maybe.

I don't know if there would be much time to keep up guitar and recorder too but she should be fine starting on a second instrument seriously at 14. The problem with getting into orchestras is that with violin/viola/flute a lot of other young people will have already been learning for years so could be difficult to get to their level in those instruments. I wouldn't rule them out on that basis though. A lot of learners give up their instruments at secondary school. Out of all those 5-7 year olds who start, I don't know how many are still playing at say 16.

Emarri Sun 12-May-13 19:03:42

She already plays keyboard, and guitar and recorder get played for about 30 mins each week. So keeping them up wont really be hard. A brass instrument would just be an hour at a club on saturday.
The problem is that she doesnt know which instrument to take up either. And if she'll be too late to get to , say, grade 3.

Daisy17 Sun 12-May-13 19:05:50

Not at all. I remember a young musician finalist a while back, played clarinet, he'd only taken it up at 14, think that was even his first instrument. If he's keen and wants to learn then progress can be really quick.

circular Sun 12-May-13 19:32:49

I cannot see a problem with starting further instruments at 13 or 14. Your DD is obviously musical. Although if intending to study music seriously will need to specialise in one or 2, so will be difficult to get to a high standard on all if them.

Having a late starter DD here (now 15, yr11), one of the biggest issues is trying to fit the grades in around GCSEs and A levels. I see now why so many rush to get the grades out of the way by yr9 or 10.

Is your DD going into yr10 early, or is age 13 a typo?
Are you concerned about grade 3 standard because of GCSE music?

Emarri Sun 12-May-13 19:57:03

No shes 14 in june, going in at normal age. And although shes not doing gcse music she thinks grade 3 is a good standard to get to and might be good enough for an orchestra depending on the instrument and the orchestra.

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 12-May-13 20:22:23

Dh started piano at 14. By age 19 he was Grade 8 and auditioning for music college. Although he got in on voice not piano he now uses his keyboard skills a lot playing for college she's and accompanying singers at degree/diploma level.

SanityClause Sun 12-May-13 20:25:17

DD2's violin teacher started to play when he was 13, and was playing for the London Symphony Orchestra by the age of 21.

Emarri Sun 12-May-13 22:09:47

So which would be best : viola,violin, clarinet or flute. (cost is a major factor)

Brownowlahi Sun 12-May-13 22:21:40

I started flute at 13 and did my grade 5 at 16. I could already play the piano, although wasn't very dedicated to my lessons, but could read music which is half the battle. So it is possible to progress in a couple of years if you want to do it.

Rolf Sun 12-May-13 22:22:37

String sections are loads bigger than woodwind. Orchestras usually need more string players whereas there is much more competition for woodwind places. So if she wants to play in an orchestra I'd look at viola and violin.

A violin will be a bit cheaper than a viola because it's smaller, but the difference may be negligible - I don't know. My 13 year old DS has just moved up to a full-sized violin so depending on your DD's size she may be able to go straight to a full-sized one or may need a smaller one for a year or so.

You can lease violins, and do part exchange on them as well when you go bigger/better.

She'd probably find that pretty soon she'll need to chose her favourite instruments and give up some of the others. But trying out a few is a great idea, I think.

Emarri Sun 12-May-13 22:32:44

We think violin is probably best. However she's willing to teach herself if that reduces the cost. Is that possible on those 4 instruments?

SanityClause Sun 12-May-13 22:43:18

I doubt she could get to the standard she wants to by teaching herself.

Once she has learnt the violin, it would be fairly easy to convert to the viola. A bit more difficult to change to the cello or double bass.

There aren't many bass players around, so learning that would be good if she wanted to be in an orchestra. But, it's a bit of an acquired taste to listen to, and there isn't much interesting repertoire.

SanityClause Sun 12-May-13 22:46:42

Our local youth orchestra demands about grade 6, although about grade 3 is sufficient for second or third violins in the strings group that feeds into the orchestra proper.

noteventhebestdrummer Mon 13-May-13 09:59:00

Viola definitely most desirable for getting into an orchestra but it's tricky to self teach string instruments, it's such a physical set of skills.
I reckon I could get a motivated, bright teenager to Gd 3 viola in a year if they practised about 15 mins most days.

ZZZenagain Mon 13-May-13 13:42:50

maybe get her to listen to a concert on youtube of violin and then of viola, so she can compare the sound. Violins have I believe a larger repertoire, so more to choose from and the parts they play in orchestra can therefore also be more interesting. Viola has a warmer sound, some people just take to that more. She will probably be ok with a 4/4 instrument but you need someone who knows to check.

If she likes the viola, I think that would be a good one to do. Same as violin though, you have to have or develop a good ear and it is not the most natural playing position. You can easily get it all wrong working alone.I don't think you could learn violin/viola without a teacher really. Maybe to play fiddle music but not classical pieces. You would definitely need a teacher.

Flute I don't know. It isn't as hard as a string instrument but every instrument has its tricky sides. It is difficult in the beginning to get the hang of blowing across the hole. You have to sort of purse your lips and then widen them. Would help to have someone demonstrate that. She could probably get on a fair way with it alone but maybe a teacher could advise you about that or someone who learnt to play it. I tried - but gave it up.

Seeline Mon 13-May-13 13:49:41

I started flute at 11 and progressed to grade 5 by L6 - stopped exams then because I didn't have time to do the necessary theory with A levels looming. I had previously played the recorder which was a real help as a lot of the fingering is very similar to the flute. I also didn't bother taking the early grades but went straight in at grade 3. Second instruments are easier because you generally don't have to learn the music basics such as reading music, understanding the terms etc. I still play my flute 40 years on smile

Bramshott Mon 13-May-13 13:55:44

Go for viola - they're in much shorter supply than violins!

Not sure if you should count on UCAS points from music grades though - most things I've read say that almost all universities offer on grades not points, or specify that points must be from A/AS levels.

BeckAndCall Mon 13-May-13 14:21:38

It's never too late BUT she shouldn't teach herself - it doesn't sound, with respect, that she has enough music knowledge to be able to self tutor successfully.

To be able to play in an orchestra, maybe the school orchestra?, she doent necessarily have to have any grades but needs to be 'to the standard required' which would vary according to the situation - for school, that might be grade 2 equivalent, or might be grade 5- it depends on your school. For county music outside of school, there are some excellent training orchestras and ensembles, which might be a fun start, but it depends on your county.

And for a significant proportion of universities, music grades are irrelevant fro entry - it's just A level grades that count. For a few universities - mostly in the what's called 'post 92' sector, they might make a bit of difference but for a lot of courses they need specific subjects at specific grades - not just any points form anything.

She should learn what she likes - but a word to the wise from a heavy instrument mum (!) let it be something she can carry herself!!

FastLoris Mon 13-May-13 16:59:31

I agree with previous comments about violas being more in demand than violins, BUT I'd be very wary of starting a string instrument that late and hoping for fast progress. The early stages of learning stringed instruments can be hard going, physically awkward and requiring a very fine sense of intonation.

Of the instruments you listed, the obvious choice for someone starting late and wanting to make quick progress through the early stages and get playing with others ASAP, is the clarinet. People who have some other musical background and are keen can often cover the early grades of that instrument very quickly and painlessly indeed.

She will find there are lots of other people doing it, when she comes to audition for orchestras etc. But if her sights are not set too high, she'll find opportunities. There are wind bands etc, and they seem to expand to accommodate the number of people doing it.

If OTOH you can afford an oboe, and cope with the first few years of horrible duck impressions, then she'll likely have an orchestra chair pretty much unchallenged.

ZZZenagain Mon 13-May-13 18:33:01

aren't oboes quite expensive? Can make a lovely sound though

musicalfamily Mon 13-May-13 21:09:17

It's never too late to start learning an instrument! Recently I have been tempted to start a second instrument myself!

I would let her go for the instrument she likes the sound of/fancies the most. It's impossible to tell how fast she will learn it until she tries for a while. Strings are generally harder to grasp but some children do it very quickly. Also as far as orchestras are concerned, there are all sorts of standards, from grade 1 to grade 8. If your DD doesn't mind sitting in with perhaps slightly younger children, then she'd be fine whatever grade she achieves.

Good luck and let us know what she picked in the end!

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 14-May-13 20:42:35

she cannot and should not simultaneously take up violin and a brass instrument, nor should she attempt to teach herself either.

Once she has picked one (one!!!) then off you go. Of course she's not too old.

Seriously though, violin really is hard. Brighter people than you or I have devoted their lives to mastering it, and they didn't master trumpet at the same time.

Pythonesque Tue 14-May-13 21:19:37

I'm a bit puzzled by this one. From your initial post, I would have said, focus on continuing to develop keyboard/piano skills, and work on the brass instrument she's planning to take up. Just make sure she learns an orchestral brass instrument and there you go. More feasible than trying to work on 3 instruments seriously.

neolara Tue 14-May-13 21:24:25

No, it's not. I took up piano at 14 and had passed grade 5 within 10 months and grade 6 within a further 8 months. It's much easier to learn an instrument when you already know how music works and at 14 you're much more co-ordinated that when you are 7, so it's easier to get your fingers to do what you want.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-May-13 21:27:09

With regards to UCAS points they can be used at some universities but not if hey are too similar eg. at the uni I went to and the conservatoire dh went to Grade 8 practical & theory could be used in lieu of music A level

The school dd will be going to doesnt offer a level dance or drama so she will use LAMDA & RAD grades instead.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 20-May-13 16:45:40

I don't think its ever too late to learn a second or subsequent instrument. I would advise perhaps keeping to the same family if swift progress is required.
I think brass, strings, woodwind may be too much difference if time is of the essence.
Its amazing the progress that can be made though if a person is determined and puts in the required time and effort to practice.
Don't forget that it isn't necessary to take each exam to move up to the next grade. This can sometimes save time, but if each grade is required for motivation purposes there isn't a lot you can do.

Emarri Tue 28-May-13 12:15:27

Update : she is going to learn the cornet at a club and continue with keyboard. She will keep the guitar and recorder as occasional hobbies and if we can find a good instrument at a local car boot sale cheaply she will teach herself that. Thanks for your answers grin

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