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If your dc play or played more than 2 instruments, could you talk to me please?

(32 Posts)
ZZZenAgain Fri 07-Sep-12 11:04:06

Atm my dd plays violin and piano. She practises a great deal and is involved in two orchestras, both of which are also, I feel, quite demanding in level so these pieces also require practice time. Now she has asked if she could try a third instrument which she would want to play alongside the other two. It is also a string instrument. I feel this is unrealistic in terms of time and effort on her part and I don't really see how we could fit in it very well. She also plays tennis, swims and has another sport on Saturday mornings. I would not like her to drop sport for a third instrument really. I think a balance is a good thing.

Does anyone have dc who play more than 2 intruments, if so, could you tell me how it works out for you/your dc?

She is 11

kitkat1967 Fri 07-Sep-12 11:18:01

Yes - DD plays 3 (just 12) and it is a constant nightmare. It has happened by accident as she asked to try the piano and then if she liked it she would give up 1 of the others - of course she loves it but has asked to keep both the other 2 as well.
Only 1 is an orchestra instrument though - so 1 wind band and 1 orchestra to play in but 3 x lessons a week and 3 practices every night is really hard on top of homework. She is not planning to make a career out of music and does lots of other things so it's a major juggling act. On the other hand at just 12 she is grade 5 in 2 different instruments (been playing 2.5 and 3.5 yrs respecively) and turning out to be a lovely pianist so it is clearly working out at some level.

ZZZenAgain Fri 07-Sep-12 11:24:46

yes I can see it would be difficult. My dd loves music and thrives on it so I don't doubt the value of it. I do try to support it but I don't think it should completely take over. As you say with other activities, all the travelling back and forth to lessons and orchestras and so on , it is time-consuming. Possibly she could do it now but soon she will need to put more effort into school with exams in mind, well not exactly soon but it is not too far ahead.

I have found a teacher who I think would be very good, if he has time, she could try it but I think something somewhere would have to give.

ZZZenAgain Fri 07-Sep-12 11:27:16

what other instruments does your dd play kitkat?

Hedgehoginhotpants Fri 07-Sep-12 11:49:16

Being a good parent is also being able to say, No.

I have a musician same age who is in five orchestras/ ensembles (and messes about on two other instruments without lessons.)

I would not even go down the route of finding out about another teacher or entertaining that it might happen. She is clearly very talented. You are very clearly a very committed and caring parent. However just because she wants it to happen doesn't mean you have to re-engineer your family life / timetable and make it work.

Having some slack time in her schedule is perfectly normal and healthy and adding a third instrument will upset the balance and more importantly that of the family unit.

Adam Smith and the Theory of Marginal Utilty and all that ...

kitkat1967 Fri 07-Sep-12 11:49:49

Oboe, recorder (descant & treble) and piano,

She took a bit of a break on the recorder last term as she really wanted to get to grade 5 on the Oboe (for orachestra qualification!!) and we thought she may give it up but over the summer holidays she got back into it so who knows.

And of course she has grade 5 theory to take this term......

Left to her own devices she would play loads of instruments - she seems to be able to pick up most things and get started (excpet the flute!!) but I have put my foot down now!! Over the last year she has suggested the trombone, double bass and saxaphone!!

On the plus side her 3 are a 'good' combination actually - oboe and recorder is a recognised combination and piano is generally useful.

ZZZenAgain Fri 07-Sep-12 12:16:43

I think in terms of fitting the lesson in, it could work easily enough. The teacher I found teaches at the place where one of her orchestras takes place so possibly that could work out conveniently. He also does not live far from us, so the actual lesson, should he have time, would not be a huge problem. I have not yet spoken to him about it, he may not take her on. I suppose I am really concerned at this stage about two things:
1. Fitting in the practice. Dd is not a dc who simply practises a bit each day but she practises for hours every day. That means that a lot of time goes on that already. Another instrument if she were to take it as seriously as violin I find hard to imagine.
2. Being another string instrument, it seems too close to the violin to make real sense to me. If it were a different type of instrument I could understand it.

It is not that the scheduling or time-tabling would adversally affect family life in our case really. I have spoken to her violin teacher who says she will pick up this third instrument very easily in his opinion, probably because it is another string instrument so some transferable knowledge. The piano teacher says she has so much music in her head that she it would not matter at all if she started to learn a third instrument. I am just not sure yet.

Thanks everyone for insight/advice. I appreciate it. I am not musical so I never really know what to do with dd's music. She does know some dc who play 3 or 4 instruments from an orchestra she is in but I don't know them or their families.

I am off now but will have a look at the thread later on tonight.

kitkat1967 Fri 07-Sep-12 13:17:27

Is it the Viola that she wants to play? - I know lots of children who play Violin and Viola plus one other - that seems standard - not sure if it is as hard as 3 completely 'different' instruments as I am most certianly not an expert!!

ZZZenAgain Fri 07-Sep-12 16:27:48

yes, it is the viola kit. It involves a different key, different strings as the violin and the positions will be further apart, or the fingering I presume. I feel both instruments fulfil a similar function in a way but the violin is more versatile, so I don't really think it seems a good choice to do both, also similar in many ways so a bit like learning Spanish and Italian at the same time IYSWIM which I would have thought would be confusing

claraschu Fri 07-Sep-12 16:43:29

I am a professional violinist / violist. Many violinists also play viola, and most (not all) violists start as violinists. Playing viola gets you more and better opportunities, as there are fewer skilful violists than violinists around. If she is this quick and clever, she can pick up the clef and get a feel for viola without even having lessons. I would let her try it with a bit of help from her violin teacher, (or maybe with just a few lessons from the new teacher); perhaps she can play viola in a group of some sort. This is how many people start on viola. If she LOVES it after a few projects, she could get more serious. Most people will end up being more drawn to either violin or viola, as the viola has a richer, more mellow sound, and the violin is more virtuosic and quick to respond. It will be much easier for her to pick up viola than any other instrument.

ZZZenAgain Fri 07-Sep-12 16:49:42

thank you clara, that is very helpful

circular Fri 07-Sep-12 18:05:37

Yes - DD1(15) has lessons in 3, tinkers with 2 more and sings.
Wants to do music at university. Has been advised that when the time comes, will be best to specialise - 2 instruments at the most.

Spends all day Saturday in term time at music school which includes her 1st instrument lessons, ensembles, musicianship etc. School individual lessons on 2nd instrument, private piano lessons.
Choir one night after school, orchestra another and an outside ensemble a third.
Also has to fit in English tuition and DofE, but not especially sporty.

Thought it would slow down as she becomes more of a typical teen, but that doesn't look like happening any time soon.
Latest request is to learn the harp, but I've put my foot down there.

Colleger Sat 08-Sep-12 16:25:14

It becomes really difficult to fit in appropriate practice time at a high level. My son practices for about 2 hours on the bassoon and 40 mins on piano each day. He never fits in his singing practice and when he played double bass it was a nightmare.

The main issue is that she will progress very quickly on her second string instrument and then she will need to put in a lot of practice to maintain a high standard. If proficient on two instruments she could pick up virtually any instrument in 3-5 years time and be grade 8 within a year so it is pointless.

BikeRunSki Sat 08-Sep-12 16:38:17

I played piano and flute, played in school orchestra (my school was a specialist music school, with a hot house "music course" so this was a big deal) and sang in the choir. I was desperate to play a third instrument (clarinet) or at least give up piano in its favour. Had to stick with piano for O level music (I am that old), so agreed with teachers and parents I'd wait til 6th form. Did all three, plus choir plus 4 A levels. Was nightmare, very intense, and ad a 16 yo in Lobdon i was able to get myself to all lessons, rehersals etc independently. I dropped piano and one of A levels after about a term and a half.

ZZZenAgain Sat 08-Sep-12 19:36:54

I'll chew it over for a bit I think. Dd has had a look at the viola clef, seems straight forward and I think she probably could figure it out pretty well but no harm in having a teacher guide her.

As far as attainment is concerned or maintaining a high level, I am not really too worried about that. For me it is more whether or not she can fit it in comfortably and enjoy it. So long as she enjoys it for the time she does it, it is enough for me really. I don't mind where she goes with music or how long she does it.

Have just spent a packet on a very good piano today (very good bargain too thankfully for the wonderful sound it makes) but ouch, not in a hurry to buy another instrument for a while.

Thanks everyone, feel a bit more clear on this now. Will leave it till after Christmas and if dd is still interested, call the teacher then to see if she could maybe have a few lessons to get to know the instrument. If he is receptive to that, I'll take it from there. Atm she has not ever played a viola and I think until you do it, you don't really know if it is your instrument.

ZZZenAgain Sat 08-Sep-12 19:39:04

BRS, that is what I can envisage in the future. That's why I really think 3 is probably too much.

MordionAgenos Sun 09-Sep-12 11:39:40

DD1 (14) - at a very high performing SS GS - has lessons on 3 instruments, also singing lessons (she is pretty serious about her singing) plus she tinkers (to some purpose - performance level) on several other related instruments and the guitar. And she does theatre group too (minaky for the singing but also for the stage confidence). She wants to do music at conservatoire/Uni. You'd think she was under quite a bit of academic pressure at her school - they do GCSEs in Y10 - but she seems to be fine. Her problem is that her weakest instrument is the piano and she needs that so she can't give up. Otherwise I think she might happily stop piano lessons - she can play well enough for her current purposes (she can accompany herself singing (although she prefers the guitar anyway) and she can compose). But she knows if she didn't have the lessons she'd let it slip and get rusty (as I did, for the same reasons - had to do piano for O level music despite already having 3 grade 8s in wind instruments, was forced to carry on in the 6th form because of A level despite deciding not to go to music college, got up to grade 6/7 standard, never touched a piano again between leaving school and having kids at which point I realised I'd been somewhat foolish).

The thing about music is - if it's hard work, once you are a certain age, stop doing it. If you don't enjoy it once you're a teenager then give up. You can always pick it up again later if you want. If you love it, properly, it's not hard work. And the kids find the time. They just watch fewer episodes of friends or do less emailing/face booking/whatever.

ZZZenAgain Sun 09-Sep-12 18:24:08

I don't know what an SS GS is, sorry. Your dd certainly sounds like she knows what she wants to do and it is encouraging that she is managing all that on top of her schoolwork. I suppose voice is also an instrument. Hadn't really thought of that. Dd has singing lessons so I suppose she does have lessons in 3 instruments already!

MordionAgenos Sun 09-Sep-12 18:30:01

Super selective Grammar School. She is very focussed but she does stuff she enjoys doing. If she didn't enjoy it and if it was a chore, or if her schoolwork slipped, we'd make a change.

ZZZenAgain Sun 09-Sep-12 18:30:30

oh I see, thanks. I'm overseas so not always up on things.

pugsandseals Mon 10-Sep-12 07:35:48

I am a viola player. Still play violin, but took up the viola when I was about grade 5 violin. I can still play both. They are so similar. I fell in love with my violin teachers viola & after buying a cheap one did alternate lessons with him on both. You shouldn't need a seperate teacher at this stage & they each help the other. It's a bit like professional recorder players in that once you know the fingerings for one it is easy to switch to another size. I picked up the new clef in about 2 weeks & the opportunities are vast. I really wouldn't see them as completely different from each other.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 10-Sep-12 07:46:12

Given the instrument i'd agree with giving it a go informally. If she likes it and ends up wanting to take it further, there may be more opportunity to get into good amateur groups, or progress professionally on viola, as there are fewer players.

Otherwise I'd say think ahead to GCSE years when she will need more time for school work and may need to drop something else. Maybe she has a few years now to establish a grounding she can draw upon later but be careful about her not being able to see the wood for the trees and making short-term choices with long term effects e.g. I think keeping up an orchestral instrument is an investment in social opportunities as an adult that piano generally does not offer.

ZZZenAgain Mon 10-Sep-12 11:11:30

just re-read the thread. It is been very helpful to sort my thoughts out and change my attitude to the combination viola and violin. I'll have to see if I can get hold of a viola for dd to tinker about with it a bit and I'll have a word with the viola teacher about it but I think sometime after Christmas. I wouldn't like to buy a viola until I know she gets on with the instrument. So I have to give that some thought.

I am not sure about her current violin teacher wanting to show her the viola pugs. He doesn't play it himself and he is quite full-on demanding with the violin IMO, I don't think he would be open to that. Come to think of it, I do know a lovely woman from a chamber music workshop dd did who teaches both viola and vilolin, maybe I could ask her about it. First I am recovering from the cost of the piano but I'll get onto the viola at some stage. I think she could try getting to know the instrument, no harm n that.

Many thanks everyone who posted!

ZZZenAgain Mon 10-Sep-12 11:15:33

lottie, I know she would drop swmming immediately given a chance. I suppose she could do that if she wanted to perservere with viola. I would like her to stick at it for another year to become a really strong swimmer. She has just learnt backstroke and butterfly but she isn't good at them. If she sticks it out for another year, I think maybe she could then drop swimming. I suppose she could also quit now though. She enjoys the other sports , I don't think she would want to give them up yet.

GCSEs are tough on dc, so much at once. Maybe she will just have to take a break from other things for a year or two if she struggles. We'll have to see closer to the time.

BreakfastCricket Mon 10-Sep-12 13:03:26

How about putting it to your child like this:

Once she proves she is a really strong swimmer then you would have no hesitation in trading the cost and time of the swimming lessons for a trial run of viola lessons.

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