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Changing from Clarinet to Saxophone...

(17 Posts)
Gunznroses Wed 05-Jun-13 19:19:04

Has anyones dc started off with Clarinet and then moved to the sax ? how was the transition ? ds 9 started Clarinet in yr 4 as we were told he is too small for the Saxophone which he really wanted to take up. He has recently done his Clarinet Grade 1 and passed with distinction.

His teacher and the school music teacher are now saying he is the best in the class and gifted with the Clarinet! (and don't want him to change) DS is dying to switch to Sax, anyway we were wondering if when he takes up the Sax hopefully by september will he jump a grade (because of Clarinet), the reply was no, he will start from grade 1 as the keys are different. We are really confused as we thought the whole point of taking up Clarinet was because its very similar to the Sax.

We now feel ds has wasted time practising the Clarinet. We also keep being told he is small for the sax, I suggested a soprano Sax (as its small in size) but was told that the keys will be very difficult for ds to learn and an alto sax is better.

Can anyone advice ?

ReadytoOrderSir Wed 05-Jun-13 19:23:37

He has NOT 'wasted' any time at all. There are lots of people who play both clari & sax! I suggest you talk to a sax teacher and see what they say.

I'm a yr4 primary teacher and my class all get to learn either flute, clari or sax (external specialist teacher). The sax players are the taller pupils in the class. If your DS's height is still an issue then keep up the clari and start sax when he is big enough.

AuntieMaggie Wed 05-Jun-13 19:25:54

I play both and started on the clarinet - its really easy to switch but agree that the weight of the alto sax may be an issue atm. If he's picked up the clarinet easily he'll have no problem with the sax when he's big enough.

Minithemoocher Wed 05-Jun-13 19:26:42

The clarinet has two different sets of fingering. The higher octave, which your DC won't have learnt yet is the same as the saxophone, but the lower one is completely different. In grade 1 they only learn the lower octave fingering.
I wouldn't consider a year 4 to young to play the saxophone (unless your dc is very small). Just make sure you get a decent support strap so the weight isn't on his neck.
Time playing the clarinet isn't wasted though. He'll pick up the sax quickly as the embouchure is similar and it's great to be able to swap from sax to clarinet in bands.
Can't comment about the grades, it would depend on the child (I'm a woodwind teacher)
Hope that helps!

Gunznroses Wed 05-Jun-13 19:28:56

Clarinet teacher is also Sax teacher. DS is i suppose petite. He is also already playing a second instrument, which he is mad about, guitar, so it has to be either Clarinet or Sax as the second. 3 instruments would be too much.

I think we feel time has been wasted because he will also need his music when applying to senior schools in yr 6, and was hoping he would be at least a Grade 3 by then, but if he is going to start a new instrument from scratch in yr 5, i can't see how that will happen.

NomDeClavier Wed 05-Jun-13 19:33:47

Why would 3 be too much? I play 5, 3 to grade 8+ and including clarinet and sax. I picked up my 3rd instrument in Y6, not counting voice.

Sax I picked up at 14 and went straight to grade 5. Once you've done grade 3ish on clarinet it's a very easy switch.

VinegarDrinker Wed 05-Jun-13 19:38:43

He would definitely get to grade 1 standard on sax quicker having learnt the clarinet thus far. The embouchure is very similar and he will have learnt all the basic theory, music reading etc. And chances are if he is picking up clarinet quickly he will do the same with sax.

I think the most important thing in a child learning an instrument is their enjoyment and motivation so I would definitely let him switch.

(my DH is a woodwind teacher)

Gunznroses Wed 05-Jun-13 19:42:07

Nom - The school day is long and I don't see how he would fit in practice for 3 instruments. He also does all his music lessons at schools which means he misses a lesson for instrument practice, but works round that to catch up on anything missed, so adding a 3rd instrument lesson into the time table would not be wise.

The teacher to express concerns about the strap, and decided the neck strap might be too much but would triall him with a back strap.

VinegarDrinker Wed 05-Jun-13 19:42:51

One of my DH's pupils started clarinet from scratch with him in y5, he is now in y6 and taking his grade 4 sax (and it would be astonishing if he doesn't get a distinction).

Unusual, yes (he is highly motivated, practises both clarinet and sax before school every day and naturally very musical) - but for your boy g3 in over a year given that he's already g1 standard on clarinet is by no means impossible.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 05-Jun-13 21:05:14

The progression tends to be quicker if you already have a decent grasp of reading music etc, it took me about a year to get to grade 1 standard on the piano, but two terms to get to grade 2 standard on the cello (second instrument). Plus it sounds like DS is really keen to learn the sax, which is a definite advantage. Could the teacher mean that he will have to start from the beginning with a new instrument, rather than he will have to work through all the grades at the same speed as he did with the clarinet, his first instrument? It's not uncommon at all to skip the exam for grade 1 (or even grades 1 and 2) on a second instrument, especially if the first was very similar, like saxophone and clarinet.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Wed 05-Jun-13 21:25:30

DD began sax in Y5 and just missed a distinction at grade 4 at the end of Y6. She had started violin in Y3 but quickly went past that, (she did Grade 2 violin also at the end of Y6).

DS2 began trombone in Y4 and did Grade 3 (distinction) less than a year later but he did Grade 4 piano at the same time.

A lot depends on the teacher though, as well as your DC.

DDs current sax teacher says all clarinet players should play sax, he is very jazz orientated though.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 05-Jun-13 21:34:00

I believe that Clarinets are a bit harder to play than saxophone, although I found it the other way round.
I think if he wants to play sax to any standard he will need clarinet and possibly flute as well. We have an excellent youth jazz orchestra and from the start sax players are expected to double.

teacherwith2kids Wed 05-Jun-13 22:21:30

Funny to come across this thread today as have recently had a conversation with DS's clarinet teacher. He's a bit further on - Year 7, hasn't done grades but is doing Grade 5 clarinet this year. Been having 1 to 1 lessons for just coming up to a year, before that it wa the usual 20-25 minute shared lesson with a peri teacher at state primary school.

DS's great musical love is jazz, so it makes sense for him to add sax to his jazz clarinet playing. Agreement is that he will probably start (as a 2nd instrument initially) after he has done his Grade 5 clarinet. His teacher says that the clarinet - sax switch is usually easier than the other way round.

NatashaBee Wed 05-Jun-13 22:37:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NomDeClavier Thu 06-Jun-13 11:18:54

I was about to say the same as Natasha - if the teacher is the same can he not split the lessons between clarinet and sax? And at this stage around 10mins of practice per night would be fine so you can see how it goes.

It's very, very unusual to have a sax player who only plays sax. The overwhelming majority play clarinet and/or flute, although some pic up sax after a stringed instrument to have something they can play jazz on!

Gunznroses Thu 06-Jun-13 11:20:12

Thanks to all your comments, i see lots more have been added. I think you've made what the Clarinet teacher was saying a lot clearer. It would be great if he could continue with the Clarinet and have Sax as well.
Natasha that's an interesting idea about sharing the lesson between two instruments since he has the same teacher for both. I'll discuss with the teacher about that.

Schmedz Thu 06-Jun-13 22:42:57

Clarinet and sax are natural partners! And lots of west end shows need reed players who can do both...and all the types of sax and clarinet....

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