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What instrument for DD (9)

(41 Posts)
Toomanychoices Mon 20-Aug-12 15:25:13

My DD plays the piano (grade 3-4 level) and sings (grade 4). She wants to learn an orchestral instrument to join the orchestra when she moves to senior school (will be going into year 5 next month).

She is reasonably musical, but as the piano already requires quite a lot of practice it would be good if the new instrument would be easy at least to start with. Although flute and clarinet would be ideal, they are quite popular so competition for orchestra places would be fierce.

So is there a relatively easy and not very popular instrument out there for her? I should also add that she is very petite and likely to remain so.

chocoluvva Mon 20-Aug-12 19:46:39

Oboe, trombone and bassoon are not as popular as flute and clarinet (though her hands will most likely be too small for bassoon).
French horns are sought after (but famously difficult).
Double bass might well be required.

Toomanychoices Mon 20-Aug-12 21:38:37

Thanks for the advice choco. Oboe is very tempting but I've heard that they have to be older to start? I think the bassoon will be too big for her, trombone good idea. I'll do some research, thanks

chocoluvva Mon 20-Aug-12 22:41:17

I've heard various things about wind instruments having an effect on children's teeth.

Colleger Tue 21-Aug-12 00:39:47

There is a shortage of strings, especially upper strings in many orchestras at the moment.

joanofarchitrave Tue 21-Aug-12 00:45:10

Viola. It's a lot more unusual than violin or cello, and easier to carry than the latter. The only problem is the lack of repertoire.

Toomanychoices Tue 21-Aug-12 08:10:49

Strings are very tempting and especially the viola. My concern would be that she has learnt the Bass and treble clef for the piano, would learning another clef for the viola be confusing?

Sastra Tue 21-Aug-12 08:14:34

Viola. She'd have a much better chance of getting into some decent orchestras when she's older (looks amazing on a Uni application!).

No, she'll pick up another clef easily. It's like languages at her age.

Toomanychoices Tue 21-Aug-12 09:07:06

Thank you all for your very useful advice. I'll try to find a viola teacher

flussymummy Tue 21-Aug-12 10:11:05

I'm a pro viola player and would suggest that at the earlier stages it's sometimes better to start on violin (particularly if your DD is quite small) as viola players need to be able to read treble clef anyway and it would get around the issue of having to learn a different clef. Also, then she has the option of carrying on with violin instead or as well if she enjoys it.

Toomanychoices Tue 21-Aug-12 10:34:50

Thanks flussy. Does the fact that she already knows the treble clef from her piano and singing make any difference? Would you still suggest that she starts on the violin?

Wafflenose Tue 21-Aug-12 11:04:29

Before reading the replies, I thought oboe or viola. If she wants to do a stringed instrument particularly, and wants to be able to get a place in orchestras right through school/ college, etc, I'd crack on and learn viola and alto clef right away (I did this!) Another clef will be easy if she can already read two. She will start with a violin strung as a viola though!

I would choose oboe over viola though - I know a child going into Year 4 who's been learning for a year and is doing brilliantly. He's on the tall side, but by no means enormous.

ReallyTired Tue 21-Aug-12 11:11:26

String instruments are fiendish to play in the early stages. I imagine that learning to play the viola would sound like a strangled cat singing alto. It takes a lot of practice to get the violin to sound vaguely respectable.

She is very young being grade 3/4 in piano and singing is a massive achievement. I would not worry to much about competition for orchestra places. Why don't you ask her what instrument she would like to do.

Sickandsad Tue 21-Aug-12 11:15:29

I started DD on the oboe as I play myself. She is now 9 and has been playing about a year. She found my old student instrument quite heavy and was not able to reach the lower keys well as her finger stretch is not yet big enough. I have now moved her onto a Howarth Junior Oboe which is much lighter and has no key work on the third joint at all as it has all been moved up slightly to accommodate smaller fingers. The difference in her playing is remarkable. Downside is the cost of the instrument compared with the flute or clarinet. She is in the school orchestra however as they were keen to have an oboe and the secondary schools we have spoken to are also interested in a more unusual second instrument. grin

Toomanychoices Tue 21-Aug-12 11:41:45

My DS is a beginner violinist and my sister studied the violin to diploma level, so I know what beginner strings sound like. When my DS is playing I pretend that it sounds good. It took many many years for my sister to make beautiful music on her violin, bizarrely I'm not put of by the beginner stage. I have selective hearing loss grin.
The oboe has also been on my mind, her teacher at school thinks she might be too small to start now.
My DD started the whole orchestra instrument thing, she is very keen to play music with others. Her sister is now moving to secondary school and they have far too many year 7 kids playing the flute, clarinet etc so for someone starting these instruments in year 5 who will still be inexperienced in year 7 they wouldnt stand a chance of playing. That's why i think it may be a good idea to play an unusual instrument for my DD

Lancelottie Tue 21-Aug-12 11:49:32

If you're feeling rich -- harp? Seriously. DD has a very petite friend who plays harp, and is welcomed with open arms into most orchestras. A friend's son also plays, and currently has a small one for busking as well.

You do need a big car, though.

jicky Tue 21-Aug-12 11:50:36

I was going to say oboe as well. Ds2 started on a howarth junior oboe at start of year 6 and has taken grade 2 in a year. He will continue on the junior oboe for another couple of terms until he takes grade 3 then switch up. He has just finished year 6.

Another option might be percussion. Ds1 is going to start this as he doesnt play any orchestral instruments and thought this might be fun.

sleeze Tue 21-Aug-12 12:00:28

Another vote for the oboe here - she could then double up with the cor anglais when she has grown a bit too.

grumpykat Tue 21-Aug-12 12:05:04

I'm an oboe teacher- I'd have no problem taking on a nine year old, especially one who was grade 3 piano already.
And my teeth are perfect, so don't let that worry you too much!

Toomanychoices Tue 21-Aug-12 12:07:52

She is so petite that transporting an instrument like the harp would be quite a problem.

Toomanychoices Tue 21-Aug-12 12:11:49

Many votes for oboe, torn now between a string (viola) and the oboe which was one of my first thoughts until her teacher discouraged me.

I will sit down with her tonight and do some research. Everyone has been so helpful, you've given me lots to think about

jicky Tue 21-Aug-12 13:29:26

Also of course it depends on finding a teacher. Oboe teachers were thin on the ground round here and had to wait a bit to find one with a slot.

ZZZenAgain Tue 21-Aug-12 13:38:50

it is definitely a good idea to play an unusual instrument, that way you get in much easier and playing in an orchestra makes sense of the whole business IMO and it is usually fun.

You say she plays the piano and sings, what other instruments does she actually like the sound of? Was it her idea to do flute or clarinet or was that your idea? If she doesn't have any particular choice, I would try getting her to listen to different instruments (you can just use youtube for a start) and then maybe go into a shop and look at various instruments.

Personally I like the double bass, they are always needed and you can do quite a bit with them in terms of variety but as you say she is petite, maybe the size of it would overwhelm her. She may not need an instrument with a whole lot of literature since she does the piano anyway as main instrument.

MMMarmite Tue 21-Aug-12 13:40:21

It's important to pick something where she likes the sound it makes and will enjoy playing it. Also have a think about different styles - I love playing the cello, but whilst it's not bad for orchestral stuff, there's not much chance to get involved in modern music styles like jazz. Although I suppose singing is always gonna be useful if she decides she wants to do jazz or rock.

pugsandseals Tue 21-Aug-12 14:02:17

Not viola unless you can see a proven lack of them in your area. We have reached the stage here where so many teachers have promoted viola that we now have more violas than violins in our local orchestra! Also if she is small I would not suggest it as she will always be competing with bigger people on bigger better sounding instruments. DD started oboe at Xmas Age 9 & is doing.really well, but she also plays recorder to grade 3 standard. Instruments which are in short supply & don't require much practice might include oboe, bassoon, French horn or timps. Viola players practise for upto 6 hours a day!

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