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Feeling fed up... Why bother learning an instrument in ptimary school to drop it in year 7?

(162 Posts)
stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 19:39:46

Exactly that. Feeling very impotent as a secondary music teacher, going through my registers "Yes Miss I can play the violin/trombone/viola/flute/clarinet. I played it at Primary school but gave up before my 11plus/at the end of year 5/4/3".

Every bloody year more and more kids tell me this. Why cant kids commit to learning for the long term?Argh!!!!

ISingSoprano Wed 18-Sep-13 20:32:28

Because it's all very well having lessons but are there enough opportunities for younger children to make music as part of a group or ensemble and actually have some fun with it?

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 20:38:19

Yeah they all tend to learn in primary following a sort of American Band system, all instruments together in groups and we have plenty of extra curricular groups (10 different groups a week) for them to take part in. Its just so soul destroying, they think being able to play an instrument means a couple of notesshock

Lancelottie Wed 18-Sep-13 20:44:18

Because once you've got past the first bits, it gets difficult and expensive, surely?

I mean, it's the parents' bank balances being committed to it, not the children.

DS started with a county instrument on loan for free, with massively subsidized lessons as it's a 'rare breed'. Great. But by year 5 he was beyond the group lessons, needed individual lessons to make progress, and needed his own instrument. Even the cheapest middling one we could find was £600 after which we would have murdered him if he'd tried to drop it

Lancelottie Wed 18-Sep-13 20:46:42

Does your school have lots of free instruments for them to try out, though? Maybe one of those ex-flautists would be a much keener trombone player, you never know. DS tried piano, clarinet and guitar before falling in love with brass playing.

derektheladyhamster Wed 18-Sep-13 20:48:10

my son stopped playing th double bass in yr 7, even though he was offered free lessons to continue it sad He'd got to grade 3 standard. TBH I think he found the music he was told to play boring, and no one thought to introduce him to jazz etc.

VinegarDrinker Wed 18-Sep-13 20:50:13

Round here there's a scheme where they do whole class instrumental lessons for a year in Y5 but after that it's it! Parents then have to find a teacher, fund lessons, buy an instrument etc. Inevitably hardly any do. Bonkers if you ask me.

My DM is a music teacher and wouldn't let us drop an instrument until we'd got to grade 5 at least. Bit extreme for sure, but I'm definitely grateful for being made to persevere through the tough bits.

Stropperella Wed 18-Sep-13 20:58:36

Erm, because the lessons are damn expensive and unless the child in question really, really wants to learn the instrument and puts in a decent amount of practice parents aren't going to keep shelling out for lessons. I have 2 reasonably musical dcs, but I gave up on dd's piano lessons after 5 years when she hadn't done any practice for the best part of a year, despite a large assortment of carrots and sticks. Ds has been doing piano for 2 years, but despite initial enthusiasm, it is now a struggle to get him to practice and school has just told him he is now having free tuition for playing the trombone. All well and good, but do I have the money to buy him a trombone should he prove to be any good and wish to continue? Do I buggery.

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 20:59:03

Vinegardrinker yes I agree with your DM.

We offer subsidised lessons to unusual instruments, yes they do get to try them out. Its just so depressing when almost 80 kids out of 170 have learnt an instrument in primary but less than 10 are carrying on into secondary (I am largely talking about orchestral instruments... No shortage of guitarists, singers and aspiring pianists).

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:04:52

I appreciate the cost part of it, i really do but I guess I am just feeling hacked off cos in general kids just want to fart arse about in front of screens than work to achieve proficiency on a musical instruments.

beatricequimby Wed 18-Sep-13 21:07:37

I think that there are a number of factors. Group lessons can be very slow, so kids don't make much progress, get bored and give up. If the child doesn't have anyone at home who can read music and help them a bit when they are starting, that makes it really hard for them. And I think parents who haven't learnt music themselves can underestimate how much practice and committment is needed.

We live in an area where there a lot of opportunities for kids to play in groups. My son has been very motivated by the prospect of going on residential courses from age 10 (if he is good enough) or maybe being part of a youth orchestra that tours abroad (as a teenager, again if he is good enough). I was a kid who had lessons and didn't practice enough and then regretted it as a teenager when my friends swanned off on exciting residentials which I wasn't good enough for. I have made sure my son knows that these opportunties are available if he works hard.

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:18:18

Yes but having parents who dont read music or play really isnt an excuse for the child not to carry on. My DH and I are both music teachers, neither of our parents can read a notewink

beatricequimby Wed 18-Sep-13 21:26:40

But you were probably really good and really into it. For children who aren't as naturally musical, having parents who can help can make a difference.

Also when I was young all school music lessons were individual so kids got more attention. In our area, all lessons at primary are now group lessons and I don't think that helps.

3birthdaybunnies Wed 18-Sep-13 21:27:37

Maybe they just didn't enjoy it? I had some lessons in piano, recorder and clarinet, didn't really enjoy them, so dropped them. Still don't really get or enjoy music despite dh playing bass in a band - I go along when I have to but not my idea of fun. My dc all enjoy playing music and I clap in the right places and encourage them but personally I would much rather sit listening to radio 4, read a book or look on the Internet. Life's too short to keep doing things you don't enjoy. Am sure that I will probably offend you by saying that. Dh really can't understand it, he just doesn't get that music really doesn't do anything for me.

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:36:20

I do agree most group lessons are a false economy... All this money splashed out on primary music, we really dont see any reward from it in secondary (coupled with music not being in the EBacc).hmm

schilke Wed 18-Sep-13 21:39:09

My dh teaches brass. Numbers are really low for him at secondary level. The Simon Cowell effect he likes to call it....singing & guitar teachers have waiting lists as long as their arms sad

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:39:56

3birthday yes but its gone from 80 kids learning for a couple of years to 10 continujng... So 70 kids didnt enjoy it, coildnt carry on.. Makes me so gutted and angry all the money is being thrown at the primary sector for kids to have a free jolly up and literally nothing left for us at secondary (we fund our department largely through concert income).

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:42:06

Shilke thats so true. School of 1500 kids. One brass pupil hmm guitar and singing lessons booked out all day. Both DH and I play orchestral instruments as furst study. Its absolutely gutting.

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:42:44


beatricequimby Wed 18-Sep-13 21:47:22

That is sad Stillenacht.

worsestershiresauce Wed 18-Sep-13 21:47:23

Hmmmm, ever thought that half the kids at primary school who learn an instrument are gently encouraged forced to do so by their parents, and once they get to senior school are old enough to say NO MORE. Or maybe that was just me...

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:50:24

Yes Worcestershirehmm and the parents just say "oh ok" (lets just give up when it gets hard/we have to pay for it but thanks for the free ride while we got it.. Here get on your ipad/laptop).

schilke Wed 18-Sep-13 21:51:54

Dh also thinks that we live in a time of instant gratification. They get a new video game. Play it for a couple of weeks and are great at it. That doesn't quite work for an instrument. I shouldn't have got him started now. He's on a rant....grin

stillenacht Wed 18-Sep-13 21:56:09

Shilke I totally agree with your DH. Its the same in our music clubs... I used to have 70 in our Jazz Band, now 30 if we are lucky hmm

Lancelottie Wed 18-Sep-13 22:29:04

Well yes, I did think 'thanks for the free ride... but oh god where is £600 coming from now that he's keen?'

I sypathise, OP, I really do, but we have one-and-a-half incomes and struggle to pay for full-on lessons sometimes, and we were very biased from the start towards them all learning something (anything! so we ended up with euphonium, drums, tuba and god knows how many ukuleles, rather than the gentle concert cellist DH had dreamed of).

If the parent isn't keen and the child seems bored, I can see why people save the money -- because it's hard, and pricey, and an appalling racket at least some of the time.

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