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How many instruments is too many instruments?

(27 Posts)
Learningeveryday Sat 18-Jun-11 21:57:33

My dd is grade 2 piano, she has been playing clarinet for a term and in the Autumn term will be taking grade 1.

She now wants to learn Double Bass, but wants to continue with the other two instruments.

At the moment she practices an hour every evening, so I would expect to add another 1/2 hour to practice time for 3rd instrument.

As we can fit in practice would you allow child to take up 3rd instrument? Any reasons other than practice time not to take up 3rd instrument?

kirrinIsland Sat 18-Jun-11 22:14:03

If you think she will do (and enjoy doing) the practice for all three then why not? FWIW if she wants to play in orchestras etc then double bass is more in demand/less competition but it is a PITA to lug around! Is there any harm in letting her try all three and maybe dropping one later if she wants to (apart from financial!).

Learningeveryday Sat 18-Jun-11 22:21:27

Do you know I had ignored/buried my head in the sand/hadn't thought about the cost - that's a very good point!!

All practice at present is done by her, and she ensures it is always done, never had to remind her to practice.

Off to work out cost involved!

SecretNutellaFix Sat 18-Jun-11 22:23:53

How old is she and how is she doing academically?

Are there any other extra curricular things going on like after school club/ brownies/etc?

Learningeveryday Sat 18-Jun-11 22:35:29

Going into Year 3 in September (8 in October). School class her as very able, in top 3 for year group.

She does 1 hr of gymnastics and 1/2 hr of swimming a week and goes to after school club 3 evenings a week.

SecretNutellaFix Sat 18-Jun-11 22:44:36

in which case- give her a trial for a year. you can rent the instrument and it will give you an idea of her capabilities are with regards to time management. As she progresses on her other instruments they will need more practise time. see how she gets on, if you can afford it. If it isn't working out or she shows signs of strain after 6 months or so you can reassess then.

applesandcider Mon 20-Jun-11 00:58:30

My DD was nicknamed the clef queen when she was at school - she played piano, violin, viola, organ and had singing lessons. She was playing Violin and Piano and singing when she was 7 and coped very well. If your DD is pushing you - I'd echo the advice already given by SecretNutella - give her a trial period. If she's not coping, leave it a couple of years and try again if she's keen.

My DS (also very musical) has toyed with the Double Bass for a while - it's a cumbersome instrument to trug around with - fortunately we have a landrover which accomodates it well, but I can't fit it in my preferred car (Peugeot 306).

FWIW, DD did drop riding and tennis to concentrate on music when she was 13 - there was just not enough hours in the week to do everything. She's now studying music at Uni and has intentions to become an opera singer, so we (and she) made the right choice!

kirrinIsland Mon 20-Jun-11 22:53:56

Mine goes in my Yaris - but it is a bit of a faff, much prefer pinching DP's 4x4 when possible. As a kid we had a Metro and it fitted in there but wasn't much fun for the front seat passenger smile

beanlet Mon 20-Jun-11 22:59:08

I hope you have a Very Big Car and £££ for a decent double bass -- stringed instruments are notoriously the most expensive...

Seriously, though, three instruments are about the limit.

snorkie Tue 21-Jun-11 09:53:23

3 instruments is quite a commitment, but she's young and it's a good time to be trying things out and a stringed instrument is always good for a musician. I know several children who have managed 3 instruments very successfully. You will need a mini bass to start with, and I'd advise renting until she's big enough for a full sized one if you can.

ZZZenAgain Tue 21-Jun-11 13:41:16

hard to say. At the moment she is young so not much homework, less arranging to go out with friends. She has time to practise her music pieces and she is at a level with piano and clarinet where there is not yet a great deal to work on each week perhaps, shorter pieces, not too much difficulty. As she progresses, this will change. She will be getting more schoolwork each night, she will be wanting to do things with friends more often perhaps and she will have much more to work on in music when she is working through long performance pieces and etudes.

There may come a time when she will find she needs to choose two out of the three instruments but when the time comes , if it does, she will know which instruments she really likes best.

I personally love the double bass and they are much in demand for strings ensemble groups wehre there tend to be plenty of violins and cellos but double bass less so. I would let her do it now but I would not expect her to continue with all 3 when she goes up to secondary. No harm if you can afford it and will support her in it to try all 3 though.

Colleger Thu 23-Jun-11 17:34:03

She would be better getting really good at an instrument first, probably clarinet and take up the double bass once she is nearing grade 5 on the clarinet. DS did this and within four months he was grade 3 on the double bass but this was because of his prior musical knowledge. Otherwise she will take years and make average progress on all three. As she moves up the piano grades the practice time will be much longer so I would suggest waiting until she was nine to take up the double bass.

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 18:43:52

That is a good point colleger makes. Hadn't ethought of that. dd showed no real interest in learning a second instrument before she had learnt the 12 positions on the violin and it was really only then that she wanted to do anything else as well. So I haven't experienced a dc personally learning 2 or more instruments from scratch more or less at the same time. Her expereince was similar to what colleger describes with instrument nr 2 - although it was in no way planned that we did things this way, but it is true I found that if you are a proficient sight-reader already, have developped a good ear and have learnt the range of one instrument and reached a certain level in difficulty of pieces you can master, getting to a comparable level in the second instrument can take no time at all . Matter of months in fact. Will depnd on your dc and how the instruments vary etc

Still if your dd is very keen, speak to your current teachers and see what they have to say maybe, then if possible I'd think about doing a trial lesson or two just to see how dd gets on with the double bass. Sometimes you think you would like to play an instrument but when you hold it in your hands, it just doesn't seem right after all.

I think marialuisa's dd was learning 3 instruments at a very young age and doing well in all of them (unless I am mixing people up). I am sure for the right dc it is possible and enjoyable.

Colleger Thu 23-Jun-11 18:55:40

I would add that the same has happened on the piano which he started at the beginning of this year and won't be far off grade 3 by the end of the year. His progress will slow but I'm in no doubt that this progress has been because he was already grade 5 on a wind instrument.

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 19:10:36

yes I think you are right colleger. I really hadn't thought about it till I read your post. If you imagine struggling to read music (although she has grade 2, so should be quite fluent already) plus all the other manual manipulations, growth and changing instrument size, itt could be stressful for OP's dd going through all this simultaneously on 3 different instruments. Stressful in the sense of frustrating but maybe not

Well I don't know, am really no kind of expert at all Learningeveryday - but your teachers are , they know your dd and they can compare her to other dc so will have some means of realistically assessing how she might cope. In the end though, what does it matter really, so long as she does not get discouraged? I mean dc are mostly just doing music as an enrichment activity and not in preparation for a future career in music. For me, I wanted dd to learn an instrument to give her access to something beautiful, sociable, as a secondary thing I like that dc acquire some kind of discipline with it. So few have the potential to be as accomplished as the famous ones we all know, probably almost no one and it is so competitive at the top, who would want that for their dc?

How many o f our dc will actually study music? Probably not many when you think of rising tuition fees and you wonder if it will leave them in a position to finance themselves afterwards. It can be hard for musicians to make ends meet despite so many education, training and years of hard work. so in the end how far they get with it and how fast, probablyj ust doesn't matter much I think. Unless the plan is to improve their chances at getting a good education via music scholarships?

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 19:17:00

argh I have been typing rubbishy tipo filled posts all day.

Sorry about hat

pinkhebe Thu 23-Jun-11 19:21:19

my son has been learning the mini bass for about 3 years (it's not that mini!!) It's very much in demand, although the school orchestra (primary) had no music for one, so that was a bit pointless!

It fits in my punto - just, although the next size up is unlikely to.

We hire the instrument as they're about £1000 to buy.

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 19:24:54

..oboe has a nice sound too...

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 19:26:55

so many nice instruments out there, I can imagine it is hard for a dc to not want to try a whole lot of different ones if the lessons are fun and progress is easy.

I always fancied the cello for dd but she chose the violin

bass is nice. I like the fact you can twirl them around

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 23-Jun-11 20:58:47

You can twirl the cello too. Gives me a heart attack every time DS1 tries that. One of his beginner pieces actually prescribes that. I can only picture wrecked hired instrument...

I'm going to pick up the cello when I retire. smile

marialuisa Fri 24-Jun-11 09:56:02

Zzen is right...DD was playing 3 very different instruments from age 7. Progress got quicker with each one she took up! We hit a crunch appox 6 months ago when she was at least g5 level on each instrument and there was a question of rather costly investment in instruments as she headed towards the last couple of years of primary with the likelihood of increased homework at senior school. She also has another (expensive) time-consuming hobby and does athletics at county level. She had been getting away with minimal practice time but was coming under pressure to take on more music-related commitments (orchestras, competitions) and for her, music is just one of several things she enjoys and has a modicum of talent for. She made the difficult decision to drop the second of her three instruments (have to admit, guided by us as we were looking at a minimum £10k outlay for the next instrument!) continue with the other 2 instruments (one strings, one wind) and her other activities.

She was very sad about giving up the instrument, to the point where she insisted we sell it as having it in the house was too upsetting but has moved on from that point. You don't say how old your DD is, but I do think it's important to make sure primary age children have time to try out other activities and not become too focused on one area. Early on music is a relatively easy hobby for a young child but as they get older more opportunities appear in other areas just as the music starts to make more demands. DD feels very sorry for a friend of hers who only does music as her parents feel she has no time for other things because practice comes first, especially as there's no evidence that the child is particularly gifted IYSWIM.

Colleger Fri 24-Jun-11 10:37:42

Whatever you do NEVER give up the piano if she wants to pursue music!

ZZZenAgain Fri 24-Jun-11 10:48:18

ooh I got it right marialuisa. I have the violin mums more or less sorted out in my mind.

I fancy having a cello to twirl but I couldn't learn to play it. Good for you though LordC

Colleger your posts are so nice and brief but they always leave mewanting to know more: i.e. please say more about why they should not give up the piano etc...

Colleger Fri 24-Jun-11 11:04:46

The piano is the most important instrument for a musician and musicianship. One does not have to be amazing but it helps in so many aspects including sightsinging, aural, theory etc. If a child goes for a music scholarship they insist that the child must learn the piano once they start the school. The RCM JD pretty much insist on it too. When a chorister starts a choir school they learn piano and any other instrument but piano is generally non-negotiable. DS hated the piano so after a term at age 7 he gave it up but he had to start again this year and it was the right time. Anyone can pick up a clarinet at age 16 and get to grade 6 in a couple of years - try doing that on the piano!

If a child seriously wants to pursue music, even singing then a career in music normally requires the musician to be able to play the piano in order to accompany the student. Yes that is thinking ahead but it is exactly the reason choristers learn the piano.

I could go on but I'll leave it to someone more knowledgable.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 24-Jun-11 11:16:31

I also think you should not give up the piano, but it's only my personal preference (and also it's the only instrument I can play almost properly grin). Many people (like me) don't go on to do great things (or even anything at all) with music, but it will remain a hobby for life. And for me the piano has the advantage of being more "self-contained" than many other instruments. I can play on my own without embarrassing other people or dragging other people down with me ...

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