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What did YOU get out of learning a musical instrument at school?

(69 Posts)
erebus Tue 10-May-11 12:27:02

Curious about how you feel about it now.

This isn't 'Why are you 'encouraging' your DC to learn an instrument?'- that's a different question.

I am just wondering how many of us feel the experience was worth the possible blood, sweat and tears that may have been caused by it in our own childhoods?

Fwiw, I learned recorder in primary; violin in Y7-8, classical guitar Y8-10. I can now play the recorder well as DS2 plays and I have had to help him; I couldn't make a sound out of the violin (possibly not a bad thing grin) and I can't read the classical guitar music at all any more despite once being able to play to Grade 4! Bear in mind I had to beg my parents to be allowed to learn these instruments whereas DS1 was coerced into piano (and quit after getting a Distinction in Grade 1) and DS2's recorder- well, I just re-enrol him every year, but he has 'outgrown' it in that he is the only Y5 boy left in the group!

However, for myself, I'm glad I got the 'feel' for how music works, which is partly why I got the DSs to learn something at least.

How many of us have kept playing a musical instrument up since childhood?

Dozer Tue 10-May-11 12:43:19

I played violin from age 7 until about 20, having asked to play an instrument, never found it hard work (parents and teachers were v relaxed about amount of practice). Was never that great at it but got through all the grades (which were a pain, would've preferred just to play).

For me, the best thing was the orchestral music itself and the social side of being part of school concerts, kids' strings groups and the city's youth orchestra, which did concerts, trips away for weekends, abroad for a week once etc. Have still got a few friends from it. Was also a good antidote to studying (as was art).

Regret having given up while at uni (boozy nights out were more tempting at the time).

I think it's a massive shame that local authority music services have been cut back.

thekidsmom Tue 10-May-11 12:46:00

I still play the piano and find it very relaxing.... From where I am now, looking back, I'd have kept up with an orchestral instrument too. The camaraderie my kids have with their various groups and ensembles is fantastic.....

acorntree Tue 10-May-11 13:08:29

I learnt piano, violin and the ubiquitous recorder.

I never really got on with the violin, and don’t think I really gained anything from that – but didn’t practice much – gave up before taking grade 2. Loved the piano and still play for relaxation / fun – made it through all 8 grades at school. Had lots of fun with the recorder as a child in recorder groups. The most valuable thing I got out of it all was an appreciation and understanding of music. Still love to sing in fun choirs etc. and the confidence to do that has come from all the music I did at school. I would never have made a musician but I think music is really important in life (for everyone) and it is really sad when children don’t get the opportunity to learn about music through playing around with and learning instruments.

mousymouse Tue 10-May-11 13:13:00

I played the recorder in primary and it is lovely to get children's song books out and play the songs to them.
I also play the trumpet and when I am stressed or my asthma gets bad I play a bit. the breething really helps me get grounded again and I think the strengthening of the diaphragm helps me with the asthma. would love to play in a group again, but there is nothing where I live...(at least not at my level)

M44 Tue 10-May-11 13:13:26

Grade 8 piano,violin and double bass. WOnderful memories of orchestral trips abroad- continue to play in amateur orchestras-great stress relief-just something totally different to do- I don't get on very well with book groups or pub trips so orchestra is great. Also sing alot in a band too which is really wonderful.

Rebeccaruby Tue 10-May-11 14:08:54

I just got the realisation that I was not very good grin. I am sure I was an undiagnosed dyspraxic. Sport was hell. I was always by far the worst child in the school. I tried the recorder but the teacher persuaded my Mum to lose it. Ijust did not have the coordination for the fingering. But I did get a lot out of music. I was in the local children's choir and school plays. I was quite a good singer. Our choir got to go on a trip to our twin town in Brittany.

I think every child should have the chance to learn an instrument, though. But don't force them if they don't like it (my parents didn't). Mind you, that might have been because of my practising! But if they don't do well, don't think they aren't musical. Try to get them singing (again, not pushing them if they don't enjoy it) as it may be an issue with not getting on with musical notation or coordination of hands and fingers rather than musical talent. And yes, I realise that if they develop an interest in some forms of singing at a high level, they may need to sight read, but there are plenty of types of singing where it's not a requirement.

Bramshott Tue 10-May-11 14:11:39

A life-long love of music, and my current career (which does not involve practic music-making). Communication skills, team-work skills, confidence etc. Also a bloody good time on summer schools and youth orchestra courses wink!

Potplant Tue 10-May-11 14:17:46

I got out of swimming lessons which I hated. Not much else though, but then I wasn't very good.

mousymouse Tue 10-May-11 14:20:04

ohh, yes summer camp.
winds against brass - guess who always won wink

erebus Tue 10-May-11 15:11:57

Can I interject here and put in my observation: that most here who got lots out of it were good! You'd need to be to get invited to join the sort of school orchestras that tour abroad! You don't 'just get through Grade 8' without a serious amount of practise and, importantly, musical ability! I doubt there was a lot of blood sweat and tears involved, either! grin THAT sort of DC stops at Grade 2 or 3, I'd say, just as the parent is becoming suicidal....

I'm feeling it seems to be the camaraderie of belonging to a group that's of chief importance?

Any other thoughts and experience welcome!

fluffles Tue 10-May-11 15:16:33

i played clarinet and was pretty crap at it - couldn't do grade exams because i couldn't (and still can't) sing and so couldn't do the 'ear tests' even though i have a perfectly good ear, it's my voicebox i can't control!!

but i played pieces at about grade 4 standard, including sight reading, and i really enjoyed windband and to a lesser extent orchestra. i enjoyed carol concerts and school windband performances and played a lot of swing music.

mousymouse Tue 10-May-11 15:20:22

erebus: you need the right instrument for you, no point in putting someone with bad fine motor skills on the violin or bad rhythym on the percussions.
and yes you need to practice and that is sometimes hard. I had a big hurdle around 14 but my parents kept pushing I persevered and it I am soo glad. because being principal trumpet in a big band or orchestra is sooo much fun!

exexpat Tue 10-May-11 15:25:51

I played the cello (up to grade 5, couldn't be bothered to do the theory exam so didn't get any further grades - probably played up to about grade 6 standard though) and recorder (tenor, in chamber groups). I was OK, but not very musical or talented compared to some of my friends - a couple went on to be professional classical musicians.

I suppose what I got out of it was an ear for music, an appreciation that I wasn't necessarily brilliant at everything I tried (I found the academic stuff easy), and the chance to play in various groups and orchestras. Oh, and after I stopped the formal lessons, I did for a while play the cello in a band with several older guys with guitars etc - I think I was mainly there for decorative purposes, as I don't think the cello added much to the overall sound. But it gave me cool points in the sixth form...

And later once I'd started work I took up the cello again as a way of relaxing after spending all day on a computer screen - it was just something completely different.

Ephiny Tue 10-May-11 15:26:36

I've kept up playing the piano and violin - well, I should say I've returned to playing them as an adult after a fairly long gap. I play in an amateur orchestra which is lots of fun and has introduced me to music I might never have listened to otherwise, and certainly would never have known and understood as well - you really get to know a piece of music from the inside-out when you play it, and understand how it's put together and what it means.

I suppose I could have learned from scratch as an adult if I hadn't had lessons as a child, but probably wouldn't have found the time or motivation to do so, and I doubt it would even have occurred to me to try. Much easier to return to an instrument once you've had an initial grounding in it, and when you already know the basics such as reading music!

HazeltheMcWitch Tue 10-May-11 15:28:28

I was very musical too - grade 8 at piano, violin and flute. PLus of course the ubiquitous recorder! I was good, but I had no flair - so was never going to be great. That was fine with my.

I got teamwork, discipline etc from it - many positive things. The downside IME was the same as with many hobbies - as you get slightly proficient, you're fed into 'the machine' - of clubs and practice and trials. So for me, that meant orchestras, wind bands etc, plus lessons and practice. Ditto with swimming - practice and trials and meets. The fun is soon forced from the whole thing.

But another great perk that no one has mentioned - a cast-iron bunking excuse! I could always excuse myself from school lessons for music lessons. My grades were fine so no one ever even thought to check...

Tortington Tue 10-May-11 16:37:15

social pariah.

cat64 Tue 10-May-11 16:40:45

Message withdrawn

nickelbabe Tue 10-May-11 16:42:47

I was a recorder player and also played the classical guitar (but only as far as strumming- i couldn't get the hang of picking)

I got a lot out of it - i have always loved music, and was quite upset i didn't "qualify" to learn an instrument at senior school (i wanted piano and/or violin)
my big sister was allowed to play the piano, so we got one as a family, and I tried to teach myself (as an adult I have discovered that I didn't do this very well at all, but I'm learning properly now)

I learnt to read music (well, the treble clef, only just learnt the bass clef in the past 2 years), play as part of a group, learnt to appreciate music and making it etc.

OneMoreMum Tue 10-May-11 16:45:29

Most of my social life worked around music in my school years, and yes I was quite good but a lot of work (and according to my mother lots of parental 'encouragement') went into that.

Also managed to bag myself a husband through it too but although we both still play in bands etc and know the advantages can't get the DCs to put any effort into music. They have both given up everything they've tried which really frustrates me as I was hoping they would find the same level of enjoyment in it that we did.

I didn't find the fun forced out of it, though, but then I stopped taking exams after grade 5 when I was 12 (did find exams stressful) and although I probably could have taken grade 8 within a few years I just played for fun.

If your child's interested go for it but unfortunately you can't make them interested..

nickelbabe Tue 10-May-11 16:46:34

the other part of your question - I didn't keep up playing an instrument as I became an adult - the guitar was a piece of rubbish, and I couldn't afford a new one when it broke.
the piano got woodworm, so I spent many years without it, and I do still play my recorder now and then - I'm bad at the piano (althought getting better! i'm still onyl a beginner - grade 1 is hard to me atm), so when I need to learn a new piece of music, I play it through on my recorder first - I can sight-read on my recorder, but i can't sight-sing.

I foudn that the transferrable skill of being able to read music meant that I am now a competant and enthusiastic singer (and being in a church choir)

yes, dad, you can ban me from practising the violin, but you can't stop me singing!

nickelbabe Tue 10-May-11 16:48:59

i find myself playing vicariously through DH these days - I get frustrated because I can't play much (this is piano now), and DH is a fricking genius on the piano!
(i also get him to play things through for me when I can't work out the rhythm, and then get annoyed that he can sight-read it straight away hmm )

MrsChemist Tue 10-May-11 16:53:10

I learnt piano outside school from age 8 to 18 and flute in school from age 11 to 15.
Hated flute because I hated my teacher. I love my piano, though it's at my parents, so I don't get to play it often.

I enjoyed it at the time because it was learning something for the sake of enjoyability, not to pass exams (though I did exams for the piano by choice)
When your constantly being pushed to learn for good exam results, it's refreshing learning something just because it gives you pleasure.

campion Tue 10-May-11 17:00:52

I had ( free) piano lessons at school but we didn't have a piano at home!

Bad choice and you can guess where my piano career went. I did marry a professional musician though so get to bask in his reflected glory hmm

But I have always sung - a good choice as it's free and always ready for action.

GrendelsMum Tue 10-May-11 17:06:49

Being part of a group doing a joint creative activity to a (reasonably) high standard is really important to me, and that's why I still play in a music group. I'm not very good compared to many of the others, but I enjoy it. I also enjoy the challenge of taking on the preparation for a concert, and the buzz you get when the concert's gone well.

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