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How can you tell if a child is musically gifted?

(23 Posts)
geraldine1969 Sat 01-Nov-03 22:57:38

P can find parts of songs and play them in tune on the piano and recorder by ear. Now 5 she has been able to do this since she was about 2.5 - 3. I play piano a bit (but was an adult learner i was certainly no prodigy!) but i have never really properly sat down and taught her. She is going to join a recorder group at school after half term and after a few casual sessions of playing around with a beginner book and cheap recorder this half term holiday she has picked it up really quick. Does anyone actually have a musically gifted child or know the "signs" or am i being abit hopeful!!!

JulieF Sat 01-Nov-03 23:18:27

It certainly sounds like she has a natural aptitude for music. Having a good ear is very important, this can be developed with training but some of it is instinctive.

Be wary of pushing her too much at this early age or you might put her off but maybe you should look into some sort of lessons that are fun but not too pushy. The suzuki method is ideal for young children. Encourage her to listen to all types of music. One musicologist said that a child's musical education should begin in utero. Does she have a good sense of rhythm?

Dinny Sat 01-Nov-03 23:28:45

Julief,\ what is the suzuki method?

anais Sat 01-Nov-03 23:30:32

I agree with Julie's message - she does sound like a natural. This is, however, coming from someone with very little clue! It is vitally important though (IMO) that she is not pushed at all, but given thr opportunity to listen to lots of diffeexperimenting with different instruments. On the other hand I have heard people say that children are usually better learning to play an instrument when they are older (10 or 11ish) I really don't know. I have also heard good things about the suzuki method, although i know nothing about it. I'm sure someone else will have better ideas.

beetroot Sat 01-Nov-03 23:34:58

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beetroot Sat 01-Nov-03 23:37:06

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bobthebaby Sun 02-Nov-03 07:11:11

I'm going to buck the trend here and say that if she is interested in music I think its better that it moves to a formal setting now. If you leave it until later she will have learnt all sorts of bad habits and will have ways of making the notes and sounds that a music teacher will have to patiently correct. She may well lose interest if she feels she is being held back. If you go down the lessons route 10 minutes practice once a day should be on the lesson material and only then as much other time as she wants to spend "doing her own thing". I was a music teacher in a past life (before a career in advertising and ds) and also started formal piano lessons at 5. Email me through contact another talker if you want to discuss it more.

LIZS Sun 02-Nov-03 10:10:10

bobthebaby and beetroot

I agree with you to an extent. I initially learnt the recorder in a group setting at school.It was only when I moved school that it was picked up that I had learnt to with my hands the wrong way so I guess I didn't get much individual attention. On the plus side I managed to switch over in a short space of time so that I could reach the sharps and flats.

Definitely think that a general music group session is still worthwhile - to learn a bit of theory, music appreciation, play in time and cooperatively with others - but if she really wants to try something specific out like piano or violin get a recommendation for a local children's teacher - you could go to your local music shop and ask if they know of anyone suitable or is there a local private school who could give you the names of the teachers they use -or perhaps the LEA organises courses in school holidays where she could try a few things out before you commit.

kmg1 Sun 02-Nov-03 10:12:34

She does sound musical - as others have said the hearing is key. At 5 I wouldn't necessarily encourage the recorder, as it is quite demanding on little hands both for co-ordination and reach - but maybe she is big for her age? What I would encourage is general music lessons: I would definitely encourage you to find a good qualified piano or singing teacher (or both) - but maybe talk to them about, rather than doing formal lessons, concentrating more on general musicianship - hearing and repeating back tunes, listening, rhythm, reading music, etc. This is particularly good in a small group setting, rather than one-to-one. Maybe you know of some other children who have an interest, and you could club together and find a sympathetic teacher?

kmg1 Sun 02-Nov-03 10:14:17

Another thing about the recorder - LIZS post reminded me - a recorder group at school is often taught by the teacher who has drawn the short straw, rather than someone who is particularly gifted, trained, or even interested in it!

Jimjams Sun 02-Nov-03 12:51:25

Ds1 is very musical - he's been able to sing perfectly in tune since he was about 15 months (started singing when he stopped talking). He's also very moved by certain classical music, (goes all weird when he hears it). DS2 is totally unmusical

The suzuki method is the usual one for young children. DS1 is autistic and has only just learnt to blow- when/if he is more instructable I'll probably start him on the recorder and piano. He bashes around on the piano now. I do hope to be able to harness his musical ability as its one thing I think he could be good at.

I started learnig the recorder at 6, flute at 8 and piano at 10. 10 was too late to start the piano though- I'd recommend starting it earlier. I think Suzuki piano teaches the right hand first? Is this right? I would worry about that as I always struggled with the bass clef and just making my left hand keep up. As you will be able to tell I don't know much about this though.

geraldine1969 Sun 02-Nov-03 21:32:19

Thanks for your thoughts, Yeah i think she has good rhythm as she claps along in time to my pieces and stuff on the radio. I will check out Suzuki as this has come up a few times. I wouldnt push her at all as i have heard and agree that this would put her right off. I think she is a bit young for violin but will consider it at a later date ie 7 or 8 and just start off with piano lessons.

bobthebaby Sun 02-Nov-03 21:37:43

Suzuki method teaches kids as young as 3 to play the violin. The major benefit is that violins come in various sizes, whereas a piano is actually quite hard work to press when you are five, and some of the stools can be quite unsuitable. Basically I am trying to say that if your nerves can stand it the violin would be good for a 5 year old.

Jimjams - it sounds like a wonderful idea to explore music with ds1. Be sure to let us all know how you get on.

JulieF Sun 02-Nov-03 21:44:56

I'm rubbish at links but the following explains a bit about suzuki. Children generally start young and learn to play by ear before beginning to read music (ideal in cases where normal reading isn't developed.

I agree about the developing bad habits and often individual tuition is good, however it can be expensive and some children thrive better in a group setting.

Dh is a singing and piano teacher, the youngest child he has taught is age 5, at that age it is mostly things like games on the piano.

The main thing in choosing an instrument is to find one that the child enjoys although there are certain guidelines eg. its pointless starting brass and woodwind before a certain age. Piano is easier in some respects becasue you can create a sound straight away rather than having to work on tone production.

I hope she continues to enjoy music which is the important thing.


geraldine1969 Sun 02-Nov-03 23:01:46

julie F

Thanks for link, will study it later. Does your DH think 5 maybe too young for piano lessons? I was practising my scales today (!) and she wanted to try it too - c major contrary motion for one octave, so i drew out a mini piano, wrote the fingering in, got her to pay it separately then she tried it together with some success! her fingers are still chubby but she really got in to it! Mad!

musica Sun 02-Nov-03 23:20:28

Hi geraldine. I think the recorder is a really good starting point - she can learn to read music which is often the biggest hurdle. I would say 5 is a bit young to start piano, although I have taught 5 year olds. At age 7 they make much faster progress. However, if she's interested, then do let her play around on the piano - you can't pick up very many bad habits at this age!

I'd be a little careful of the suzuki method - that's not to say it isn't a good method, but I've seen lots of children struggle when they've started suzuki and then moved to a non-Suzuki teacher, because it's very different. I think you need to be sure that you are going to stick with suzuki all the way through.

Singing is really really good for little children - is there a school choir or a church choir she could join? Or maybe a children's choir in your town.

JulieF Sun 02-Nov-03 23:33:07

A lot depnds on the child. A half hour individual piano lesson can be hard going for a child of 5 who is probably just coming to terms with the formalilty of school etc.

However he plans to start our daughter earlier than that but then again we have the freedom to give 10 minute fun sessions at home.

Mind you a contrary motion scale at 5, I am impressed!

Incidentally dh is not a suzuki teacher and neither of us have studied the methods fully but have known people who have learnt this way.

geraldine1969 Tue 04-Nov-03 13:29:05

Have found a reputable piano teacher locally who taught two of my nieces who are now both music teachers and i'll see how she gets on. DD won't let me teach her which is a shame as i am a piano teacher myself! I have never come across an exceptional student yet - some are very good but no budding Mozarts! DD has sat in a few times when i have been teaching and this may have rubbed off i don't know. I can't wait to see how she gets on with her teacher. I didn't take piano up myself till i was 16 and flew through all the exams and stuff and decided to give teaching a go when DD was born instead of going back to dull job in personnel.

Arabica Wed 11-Aug-04 16:27:53

Hello, I was just reading through mumsnet for the first time. I have a boy born April 2001 who seems to have a gift for music despite the fact that his father and I can barely clap in time let alone play any instruments. He is absolutely obsessed with music and musical instruments and loves everything about them--even the way they're packed into cases after being played. We go to a fantastic music group once a week but would love to hear about families with similar children to share ideas about encouraging his musical interests without being pushy, and maybe find out about places where he can see/hear music and get a bit hands-on with the instruments.

sarochka Wed 11-Aug-04 21:48:27

My daughter goes to Kindermusic and has done since she was a few months old. She absolutely loves singing and dancing and happily sits at the piano playing little tunes. I think it is great to encourage them to enjoy music and I try and provide opportunities for lots of different styles. I would really recommend some of the catchy world music cds where they can shake, stamp and twirl along. I find it good fun too!
However I daren't teach her the piano myself - too many bad habits. has anyone tried this ?

Arabica Thu 12-Aug-04 10:41:06

Hi Sarochka. Wish we had space for a piano. We are thinking of a keyboard that has piano-sized keys but as my little darling pointed out when we saw one at a neighbour's house, 'it doesn't have pedals like a proper piano!' Anyway I'm sure it can't be doing your daughter any harm to let her play around on your piano--after all, that's what Mozart did! So far as lessons are concerned we were told to leave it until they're four at the earliest. How old is your little girl?

sarochka Thu 12-Aug-04 11:20:11

Hi Arabica
she is 2.5 now. Actually the piano is mine, I started playing at 5 but it is at my mum's house. Our house is too small aswell. My friend's little girl has a cool keyboard that makes all the right noises and fits in too. Could be a good idea I think. Dd spends alot of time with my mum as I work full time. I play the flute at home occasionally but have not played properly for years so probably scare the cats when I start!

muddaofsuburbia Tue 17-Aug-04 13:30:47

Sarochka and Arabica - our house isn't the biggest, but we have managed to squeeze in a Clavinova digital piano. It's pricey, but like a real piano in that it's correctly weighted so the keys "feel" like a real strung piano - it has 3 pedals too!
It never needs tuned, so that's money saved in the long run, as it retunes itself every time it's switched on. It's also reasonably compact.

I started piano lessons at 7 with the loveliest lady on earth - she was my school music teacher. I stopped a few months before I got married at 23! I think 7 was a good age to start although I did have friends who began earlier.

Starting with the piano means that your ability to read music is better cos you have to follow left and right hand. It's also easier to play around with and experiment when you're younger.

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