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Flute, very slow progress and frustrating, advice please

(47 Posts)
Dancergirl Sun 11-Nov-12 15:49:30

Dd1 started playing the flute at the end of Year 4 after trying piano and deciding it wasn't for her. She has now started secondary school and hasn't even taken Grade 1 yet.

A bit of background: she was having private 30 mins lessons at school but unfortunately there was a high turnover of teachers. She had 3 different teachers whilst at primary school. The second teacher was the best one and there was talk of her preparing for grade 1 but then she left and teacher no 3 didn't pick up where she left off.

Fast forward to her new school - I did ask her new flute teacher if she could skip the early grades and go in at Gr 3 but he wants her to start at gr 1 so she's started to learn the pieces and scales. But she's finding learning v slow and difficult/ frustrating. I keep reading on here about dc getting through the grades quite quickly and I'm wondering what we're doing wrong. Does it really require hours and hours of practice? Dd is quite busy with other things but she usually manages to practice 4 times a week. Is this enough? I do have to remind/nag her though and the enjoyment seems to have gone and it's more like a chore.

I don't want to push her too hard but at the same time having learnt an instrument myself as a child, practising IS hard work and the reward often doesn't come till later.

ebutcher88 Thu 10-Jan-13 22:08:24

We had the exact same problems with school music and changed to private tuition and found an amazing music school and would recommend them to anyone we are in Surrey so not sure where abouts you are my two now go to the surrey sound of music for their lessons and the teachers come to us! Perfect!

Wafflenose Wed 19-Dec-12 11:56:29

Music Through Time Book 1 (famous classics)

What Else Can I Play? Flute Grade 1 (popular/ musicals)

ZZZenAgain Wed 19-Dec-12 10:34:29

that's a good idea. If you can arrange it so that the school lessons are theory which she will need at some stage anyway, that might be a solution for you.

mummysmellsofsick Tue 18-Dec-12 19:43:49

Can you ask the school teacher to teach her theory for a term? I sometimes use the Theory Fun Factory book with my students if ABRSM seems a bit dry.

Dancergirl Tue 18-Dec-12 16:12:14

Yes I did think about doing that, it's just galling paying out all that money for nothing! In hindsight I should have given my term's notice in September and used this term as a 'trial'. But who knew?

What other music books can I buy for her with well-known pieces?

ZZZenAgain Tue 18-Dec-12 14:10:53

yes, I agree, now that she is happy with the flute and coming along well, just pay for the other lessons and write it off. If the lessons at school are not pleasant, it is not worth it. It is a shame to have to still pay for them but your dd sounds better off without them tbh.

So glad to hear things have picked up and she is enjoying the music now.

Wafflenose Tue 18-Dec-12 10:17:24

If it were me, I'd just pay up front for the notice period, then write a letter saying that dd did not wish to attend any more lessons. If she has a great new teacher, she doesn't really have to endure the school lessons any more. As a music teacher, I would be unhappy about taking on a pupil until they had totally finished with their previous teacher, and it sounds your dd doesn't enjoy the school lessons at all.

I really like the red study book! Used alongside other things though.

Is she going to do Grade 1 next term? I think my dd is going to. It sounds like yours would be well able to.

Dancergirl Mon 17-Dec-12 20:15:39

Another update: wow, what a change in dd! We've gone from me nagging her to practice 3x a week to her picking up her flute and playing for pleasure every day! In fact her flute is rarely put back in its box!

Scales are coming on well too.

I bought making the grade and dd loves it. We play eidleweiss together (me on piano) and oom-pa-pa and Joseph.

I have found a lovely teacher who comes home and I didn't see any reason to delay her starting. Unfortunately I am locked in to the schools lessons for another term so she won't be able to give those up till Easter shock I did ask the school but they won't let me off the terms notice. And dd is really not enjoying the school lessons. She's a bit scared of the teacher, he tells her off if she hasn't practiced the right things and she's bored playing studies all the time. So I've asked the school to allocate her a different teacher next term while we ride out the notice. It's not ideal but while dds so enthused and likes the new teacher I don't want to rock the boat.

MordionAgenos Wed 14-Nov-12 23:35:26

Making the grade is a level below. You should get her book 1 of Time Pieces for Flute and Baroque Flute Pieces - those books have loads of pieces ranging from grade 1 to about grade 3 standard so you will get some use out of them. You can get music books for beginner flute based on themes like Glee, or Harry Potter or other films or shows too. I remember Dd1 had a lord of the rings one and a pirates of the Caribbean one back in the day. These books come wth CD accompaniments as well as piano parts so you can really have some fun with them.

Dancergirl Wed 14-Nov-12 22:54:08

Thanks grimma they have the Grade 1 book of Making the Grade on Amazon, I might get it for her anyway, I think she would enjoy playing well known pieces.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 14-Nov-12 22:35:59

Perhaps you could email and ask if there is some other book you could get for your DD if she's bored with the one she's got. Between grades 1&2 dds teacher recommended a couple of books 'what else can I play' and 'making the grade (grade2)' - so I assume theres a grade 1 version of that. There's a lot of nice tunes in them (DDs favourite at the moment is the Dad's Army theme tune but she can't quite reach the top E). She did do more playing when she first got those books, now I think about it.

MordionAgenos Wed 14-Nov-12 22:01:22

I wonder if the teacher is a good fit.

However, I do think it would be utter madness for an older child to spend 4 months focussing on those grade 1 pieces. She will get beyond stale.

So - I don't know. But maybe you should think about a different teacher. Just because the lack of communication seems a bit odd.

Dancergirl Wed 14-Nov-12 21:37:48

Another update:

With her new-found enthusiasm, dd had her lesson at school today. She came home and reported to me that the teacher said that she shouldn't be spending so much time on the grade pieces as she'll be 'pulled in too many different directions'! He wants her to do just studies from a red book that dd finds v boring. She's actually enjoying the grade pieces now and wants to take the exam as soon as she's ready. My view is I see no reason why she shouldn't do the exam in march.

The problem is I can't talk to him face to face, although I can email him. Or should I find a private teacher and have lessons out of school? Dds a bit miffed as she says she feels she's being held back.

Wafflenose Wed 14-Nov-12 20:48:23

Forgot to say... DD1 also plays the flute (which is why I read the thread in the first place) and piano, but recorder is her first love!

Glad your DD is now working towards her Grade 1, OP. When she passes that, and can play some Christmas carols, I'm sure she'll have renewed enthusiasm. The journey towards Grade 2 will probably be a bit quicker.

Wafflenose Wed 14-Nov-12 20:46:50

* * waves * *

We are proper recorder players here! I only ever did some group lessons at primary school, then recorder club, by taught myself post-university and got Grade 8 distinction. I now have 78 pupils of my own (mostly recorders, but some clarinets and saxophones too. Ironically, clarinet is my first study).

DD aged 7 started recorder at 3.5 years. It fizzed out after a few months, but she took it up seriously 18 months ago, and is taking Grade 3 in a couple, of weeks. We both played in the local music festival yesterday!

DD aged 4 is desperate to start, but is very tiny, and a bit flighty, so we will probably wait a year or two!

Lancelottie Wed 14-Nov-12 20:31:27

DS's school currently has a 'first study' recorder player, and they are quietly excited about him. He is rather good (and also rather beautiful, and a dancer -- apparently he was bullied out of his previous school partly for these reasons sad ).

ZZZenAgain Wed 14-Nov-12 18:02:16

that sounds great Dancer. You must be handling it really well for her to be enthusiastic. Sometimes we all just do need a bit of a new impulse to make things we have been doing for a while become interesting again. Be sure and come back and let us know how she gets on in the exam when the time comes.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 14-Nov-12 16:28:27

Goodness, that's impressive... I did know that there are people who play recorder to a high standard, just no idea how they get into it. School seems to do mass squeaking sessions with non-specialist teachers (primary generalists and secondary classroom music teachers) and keen kids form clubs doing their own thing - wonder why the woodwind teachers don't seem to mention it as an option. Its such an accessible instrument, seems like more should be done with it. (sorry for the digression)

MordionAgenos Wed 14-Nov-12 15:49:07

Grima did you not see the recorder player who won the woodwind section of YMotY this year? Look on YouTube - I can't link (phone). I'm definitely not the only grade 8+ MN recorder player, and DD1 is definitely not the only MN spawn ;) who is or has been in NYRO. Theas has kids who have been in NYRO, for sure. There may be others. DD1 isn't even the only MN spawn who is currently hoping to have recorder as her first study at conservatoire, either.... I think I might be the only MNetter who regularly plays in an adult recorder orchestra though (if you check out the orchestra in a field website you'll see photos of my orchestra playing at this year's festival).

Recorder exams have been around for >30 years with Trinity board, ABRSM started offering them some time after - the Trinity exams are still better regarded I think but mainly because most specialist teachers did them when they were kids and so have brand loyalty. Many woodwind teachers will offer tuition for the early grades, I think you need a specialist for the later ones and post grade 8 diploma levels. There are some amazing recorder players out there. Check YouTube for Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, Chris Orton, Pamela Thorby - some amazing performances. grin

Lancelottie Wed 14-Nov-12 14:31:52

Goodness, is Hot Chilli still on there? DS did that for grade 1, and he's 16...
Mine mostly do brass (with bits of piano), and as the brass tunes don't all come from the same book they don't overlap so much.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 14-Nov-12 14:08:42

Snap, except for the speed of progression through the grades!

Can I just briefly mentioned recorder grade 3. I've never heard of anyone ever having 'proper' recorder lessons or doing grades - DD seems to really like recorder so it just got me wondering...

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 22:36:10

Everyone does hot chilli. It's fine, it has a momentum all its own and the accompaniment is very helpful. DD2 did short waltz for her piece C last term. This term she's doing march militaire (which I have always hated since I was a child), naughty but nice, and study in..whatever it is. G I think. I must say, the recorder grade 3 pieces are much nicer. To be fair the flute grade 3 pieces are nicer but she can't really manage two octave scales yet - not enough puff.

Dancergirl Tue 13-Nov-12 22:14:19

I looked at Hot Chilli, some of the rhythms seem tricky for Grade 1. It's a possibility though.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 21:36:22

grin Yes, we went through Greensleeves (Hot Chilli for the List B - she scraped a Merit so I guess that worked OK)

... a couple more weeks of the March Militaire to go. I can't stop internally singing that song, you know, '...he could play the big bass drum'...

The examiners (and teachers) must get pretty sick of the same few tunes for several years at a time, mustn't they.

Dancergirl Tue 13-Nov-12 20:57:52

Yes Greensleeves lol! And Study in F I think it is for C. B pieces are harder to choose though.

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