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DS1 may have done something musical - advice please

(22 Posts)
mybabywakesupsinging Mon 21-Jul-08 00:48:45

DS1 (3) has been enjoying picking out tunes on the piano for a while now - happy birthday, twinkle twinkle etc. He started doing it by himself, it isn't something we've taught him. DH told him the letter names for the notes (?why) a while ago.
Today I heard DH play a note and say "what note is that,ds?" Ds got it right (he'd say "a", "g", etc). Repeatedly. Even when I tried it an hour later, from a piano in a different room to ds, he could still tell what note it was.
Anyway, no-one in the family is particularly musical (I played at school,was always rubbish at aural tests). I can't do that. I would struggle even if I was told the first note as a reference, IYSWIM.
I DO NOT want to push him, but - should we be encouraging him a bit more, are there games he could play with music that he might enjoy? he's no way old enough for music "lessons" and I don't want to spoil his fun anyway.
thanks for any thoughts

Arabica Mon 21-Jul-08 03:32:30

My DS is now 7 and was obsessed with music at your DS' age. He wanted to hear live music all the time and would try and join in with buskers in Covent Garden. We didn't have any instruments at home but he fashioned a drum kit out of boxes, made a 'harp' out of the radiator in his room, etc. I eventually found him a proper music class for kids where he could spend as long as he wanted playing with instruments afterwards. He was just under 3. If you're in London I could send you his teacher's number.
He's 7 now and although no longer obsessed, he's still keen on music and plays the harp (a real one, not a radiator!) I don't think his skills are above average but so what, it's lovely that he has this enthusiasm, and i never have to nag him to practise.
ADAIK it's unsusual for children at age 3 to be picking out 'happy birthday' by ear.

Arabica Mon 21-Jul-08 11:53:57

...that should've been 'AFAIK'. I think it sounds like your DS has a great ear for music but wait until he's much older for more formal tuition.
Try and find a good-quality kindergarten-age music class like this one and they will guide you.
And in the meantime take him to lots of live music of all kinds!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 21-Jul-08 12:06:03

It does sound like he's got a good ear. But I don't think you need to 'do' anything atm. Ds1 started violin lessons at age 5, and this is the perfect age imo!!! He is loving it, (he's just turned 7), plays in various orchestras, and also doing well on the piano.

If I were you I would encourage your lo to experiment on the piano as much as possible, and just see what he does! And not worry too much about whether he's 'musical' or not. There are so many parameters into what makes someone 'musical' and also what makes someone 'succeed' at music (how much practice they do later on being fairly hugely significant!). smile But just see what he does, and enjoy it! Singing is great for little ones - so that would be something to encourage. Dd is 4, and she likes to sing the backing tracks and harmonies to things like Joseph which we have in the car - that might be something you could do.

dreamteamgirl Mon 21-Jul-08 18:50:07

That sounds really impressive- my DS cant sing in anything resembling a tune. Course I still tell him his singing is beautiful

Could you maybe get some simple tunes and let him copy you playing?

Dottoressa Mon 21-Jul-08 18:53:28

Mybaby... Yes, your DS is very unusual! Apparently I was the same at that age (and can still do the guess-the-note-from-another-room thing, to my husband's surprise and envy); my mum did start me on piano lessons when I was four, but they were only for fun. I gave up piano at 11, as I couldn't play Duran Duran on the piano, but have taken it up since then, and am loving it. My own DS is very musical, too (and DD loves singing, but is wonderfully tuneless!)

All a rather roundabout way of saying that I have no concrete ideas, but do enjoy your DS and his lovely talent!!

uberalice Mon 21-Jul-08 20:46:48

Your DS has perfect pitch. I'm a musician but I don't have perfect pitch. Some people say it can be a bit of a hindrance, as it makes listening to music played on instruments which aren't tuned to concert pitch quite difficult.

It sounds like your DS is musical, and by all means encourage him to pick tunes out on the piano, and to listen to lots of musical styles. Perhaps you could find out if there are any Colourstrings classes in your area.

tortoiseSHELL Mon 21-Jul-08 21:43:46

perfect pitch is an interesting thing - I do have it, dh doesn't, but he has very good relative pitch, and an excellent ear and he is probably better at playing by ear (once given a starting note) than I am - certainly thick chords he finds easier to identify.

It is mostly a hindrance if you are singing in a choir and the pitch sags or goes sharp, and you end up having to transpose everything which is a real PITA!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 21-Jul-08 21:44:40

(Should add, perfect pitch in itself isn't a sign of musicality - I know someone with perfect pitch who is totally unmusical - they tried all sorts of music but totally didn't get on with it. But they can freakily identify notes.)

uberalice Mon 21-Jul-08 22:29:41

Those are interesting points that you've made. I'm like your DH, tortoiseSHELL - have relative pitch and can play tunes and chords by ear. I was always envious of other people's perfect pitch when I was younger - I thought it made me less musical somehow. But, I agree it would be a pain to have it sometimes.

tortoiseSHELL Mon 21-Jul-08 22:34:04

uberalice - it's just a freak of nature! I can play by ear, but I think sometimes I get a bit distracted by what the 'notes' are rather than the 'sound' of the chord iyswim.

Beetroot Mon 21-Jul-08 22:37:48

TS - <hyjack>
I made a recording of ds1 final solo - made me cry!

Booboobedoo Mon 21-Jul-08 22:41:15

He's got perfect pitch, and is obviously musically gifted.

I could pick out tunes on the piano at your DS' age, but have perfect relative pitch, not perfect pitch.

I'm a singing teacher now.

My Mum started teaching me to play the piano at aged 3 which I loved, and then I started lessons with another piano teacher when I was five.

(Just read rest of thread and am repeating points. I suppose perfect pitch would be a pita if you play the clarinet or something).

mybabywakesupsinging Mon 21-Jul-08 23:17:57

Thanks all this is very helpful indeed. I had a lot of fun playing in an orchestra and would love ds to have this enjoyment too if he wants. Love the idea of taking him to live music, too. Now I am a bit worried about singing to him - maybe he can't bear my off-tune errors...his singing is, let's say, enthusiastic.
Arabica, we are north London (N14).
I was thinking maybe 5ish for music lessons if he's still keen then? The colourstring place sounds very interesting but weekends are very precious here - ds2 would love it, though, as long as twinkle twinkle was repeatedly played...

smartiejake Mon 21-Jul-08 23:38:44

I was on a course a few weeks ago about recognising children who were potentially talented at music (according to the government terminology) and one of the markers was being able to pick out tunes by ear on an instrument such as the peiano or glockenspeil.

This was for school age children largely talking about dcs who were at least 6.

Your dc is only 3?

[fainting emoticon]

Most impressive!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 21-Jul-08 23:40:38

Beety - I would cry too! I cried when our head chorister left last term, I will be hopeless with my own children! Lovely to have a recording though!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 21-Jul-08 23:51:56

The thing to always remember with music is that it is for fun and enjoyment - and as long as that is always the pervading influence then you won't go far wrong! smile

If you are thinking of getting him piano lessons, my guidelines are that 6 is probably the earliest, unless they are DESPERATE to learn and can concentrate, and have big enough hands (they need to be able to count to 5, and for their hands to be big enough for one finger per note).

But seriously, I think lessons could be prohibitive - experimentation for him will be much more fun, and more productive, and could be extraordinary!

BlueberryPancake Tue 22-Jul-08 11:36:08

We go to a standard local music group sponsored by Sure Start, and my son has an amazing attention span when it comes to music. The teacher is brilliant, and it's free. My DS has an excellent sense of rythm, loves playing the drums (like most kids?) and does it (sort of) in time with any music that is playing in the background. He also plays the correct rythm on the piano if singing, lets say, twinkle twinkle. His 'music teacher' recomended that we play games with patterns, say go up and down on the notes on the piano and encourage him to go up and down, and then down-down-up, down-down-up, and up-up-up-down etc. and clap in time with words and sentences and rythm. I don't think that he is gifted, but I think that it is a genuine interest and it keeps his mind focused more than any other games we play which I suppose is very good for him. His 'teacher' also recomended that we'd speak to our local music academy if we need more ideas on how to play musical games with him, which I haven't done yet...

mybabywakesupsinging Tue 22-Jul-08 23:41:23

I guessed definitely not till 5+ for lessons, too. He could count no problem but only concentrates on something he's decided to learn himself...otherwise it is "too tricky for me"...
BlueberryP that sounds like a lovely music group; I will ask around locally. It has to be something ds2 would also be welcome at.

sarararararah Wed 23-Jul-08 10:02:28

Yes - lots of areas have baby / toddler music groups that are just fab. Jo Jingles, Monkey Music, PRESMA are some in our area. They wouldn't be to "tricky" at all as they don't realise they're learning - it's just lots of fab, fun activities. Not sure if they're nationwide or not though. I have perfect pitch and manage fine when playing clarinet - it's when singing in choirs and the pitch sags that I really struggle. It is actually painful to my ears! Also, have to make sure the piano is tuned regularly or I can't bear to play it!

Bramshott Wed 23-Jul-08 10:12:34

I'd second the vote for a baby / toddler music session. There is bound to be one locally you could take both DSs to.

Arabica Thu 24-Jul-08 01:15:17

The woman who does great children's classes is based in NW6, so I think that's probably a bit far for you? We felt we needed to take him somewhere for a structured group because we couldn't provide anything at home. He did a couple of years at the Guildhall School of Music strings training programme too. They don't introduce the instruments until the kids are 6-7.

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