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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!!!!

Bonsoir Thu 19-Sep-13 11:05:11

Up to a point, wordfactory. Many DC would discover they didn't like eg Maths and give it up given half the chance.

My DD had a wonderful line for me when she doesn't want to do something - "But Mummy, I'm not that kind of girl."

I listen but I do think that DC need encouragement to persist with a broad range of educational activities, finances permitting. The core curriculum in schools has more to do with what is cost-effective to deliver than with what is truly beneficial to DC.

wordfactory Thu 19-Sep-13 11:20:53

Oh sure Bonsoir.

I don't think you should just let DC give stuff up at the first pulled face.

But TBH, many of the things my DC tried out just ran teir natural course. Particularly sports, which increase hugely in commitment as the years go by. You have to really like gymnastics or running or diving to train three to five times a week.

Singing is also a big time consumer.

So DC reduced their interests over time IYSWIM. And instruments went by the wayside.

Bonsoir Thu 19-Sep-13 11:34:33

That's why we chose piano! No commitment to orchestras or other people and easy to practice at home as the piano is always out and available for a quick 10 minute practice concert as the opportunity arises!

valiumredhead Thu 19-Sep-13 12:11:15

Bonsoir that's one reason I chose the piano, of I actually had to get an instrument out of its case I would never play itgrin

wordfactory Thu 19-Sep-13 12:16:18

I think the piano is a great choice, and one far more likely to be taken forward into adult life.

If I had my time again...

Flibbertyjibbet Thu 19-Sep-13 12:27:40

Piano is great cos you can sing a long to it, we loved it at xmas playing carols and all singing.

Same with guitar.

Can't quite do that with woodwind, violin, and things like cello are quite limited unless you actually do want to play in a quartet or orchestra etc.

We don't have a piano but we have my old guitar and dp's electric keyboard so the kids will have learned how to read music etc from the lessons they are having now and will be able to probably teach themselves strummy-chord type guitar later on if they want to (which is what I did).

Nearly all the ds's friends started out with swimming lessons. Some stopped as soon as they got to a point where they would not drown if they fell into water. Some carry on till competent. ds1 wants to stop now cos he 'knows all the strokes',, whereas ds2 really wants to keep on and get to club level. I don't hear the swim teachers complaining that 70 kids start learning and only 10 want to carry on coming past age 10....

78bunion Thu 19-Sep-13 12:34:37

The original post is not the case at most good private schools. There loads of children at secondary level learn instruments to a high standard. So perhaps it is a cultural difference between different classes of people in the UK or just a financial issue.

However all normal children do curb their full range of hobbies as they go into their teens and find those they like and those they don't. They do get UCAS points for grades 6 - 8 so that is worth telling them.

Also fewer children go to church so are not singing in a choir there every week these days so exposed to less more classical music than used to be the case. If went back 60 years most parents would aspire to have a piano as a mark of their progress and probably most homes do not have a piano these days.

Our children have quite a few grade 8s and that partly reflects parental interests too and the kind of schools they are at.

schilke Thu 19-Sep-13 13:19:35

78bunion, but my dh teaches in private schools. At one school the singing teacher goes in for a couple of days a week and could do more, but brass....4 pupils. 8 years ago he had 18 pupils. It's not just brass, other orchestral instrument teachers are struggling for numbers too. This is a big, academic well respected independent school. Singing, guitar, piano & drums are much more popular, especially singing!
Don't think it's as simple as financial reasons. Still blame Simon Cowell grin

Owllady Thu 19-Sep-13 13:24:37

mine have never been given the opportunity to learn an instrument in primary school (they are 14, 12 and 6)

Lancelottie Thu 19-Sep-13 13:58:37

Bunion, any idea how to translate the newfangled 'umpty credits at QCF level X' into actual UCAS points, cos I can't get my head round it?

Aye shall ignore your suggestion that it's just a question of tone in these schools (mind you, DH still has a lingering feeling that brass-playing is all very well for them northerners but not a proper form of music, I think).

Lancelottie Thu 19-Sep-13 13:59:28

Schilke, Too Bloody Heavy would be my guess at why pupils give up brass (barks shins on tuba in hallway yet again).

SanityClause Thu 19-Sep-13 14:08:36

There are lots of brass players at DS's (private) school.


They do six introductory free lessons in Year 4 of a brass or woodwind instrument, and then can pay for lessons and hire an instrument from the school for the rest of the year. (They do the same in year 3 with strings.)

There are loads of opportunities to play with various ensembles, including jazz bands, as well as more classical ensembles.

It is seen as a "normal" thing to do. Lots of the (non music) teachers play instruments, including a "cool" teacher who plays the euphonium. At last year's prize giving, there was a "mighty orchestra" where at least half the students, and all the peripatetic music teachers and many of the classroom teachers played.

The school has both a junior and senior school. So, while DS is the only bassoonist (tenoroon, actually) in the junior school, there are others in the senior school, so it is worth a teacher coming in, as it's to teach 4 students, not just one. (I know bassoon is woodwind, not brass, but it's similar in that it's quite rare.)

The parents can (one assumes) afford to pay for lessons, or they wouldn't have children at a private school.

newgirl Thu 19-Sep-13 14:11:07

Do you know I am gutted about this too

My 11 year old is grade 4 piano and I would love her to learn another instrument at secondary school but I simply cannot afford it. I have two kids - music lessons cost me 400 a term as it is!

I wish it was different as I think shed be fab on a woodwind instrument - I wrote to the school about it but nothing helpful back

Flibbertyjibbet Thu 19-Sep-13 14:48:04

60 years ago a home would be more likely to have a piano as there were very few tvs so they made their own entertainment.

and eee bah eck I am a northerner and I LOVE a brass band. My first boyfriend's school had a brass band and it was very cool to be in it. One bar of the floral dance and I'm right back in 1978 grin

stillenacht Thu 19-Sep-13 15:50:15

I teach in a selective school in the south east.. 170 pupils a year. Year 7 has one grade 3 violinist and 2 grade 3 pianists. hmm

OddBoots Thu 19-Sep-13 15:59:31

My dd is in Y6 and plays viola, we're hoping to keep going to secondary but the music service is consulting on the second huge hike in prices in as many years for everyone except those on free school dinners. I think the summer holidays are tricky too, there is a huge gap between lessons, that's a lot of self motivation needed.

Bonsoir Thu 19-Sep-13 16:01:10

Did the DC at your school do tutoring for the 11+?

I would hazard a guess that many families' budgets for extra-curricular activities are severely eroded by tutoring for the 11+. And DCs' time.

stillenacht Thu 19-Sep-13 16:50:44

Oh yes bonsoir lots of tutoring!!!!hmm

I have been at the school 15 yrs though and have seen it get worse notably over last 5 years (since smart phones, social media have blown up massively).

stillenacht Thu 19-Sep-13 16:54:00

Its the lack of orchestral players that depresses me... Even populist instruments like the flute and clarinet are becoming less. I used to have 15 flutes and 15 clarinets in my band now I am lucky to get 5 in each section hmm

78bunion Thu 19-Sep-13 17:00:52

It may depend on the area then. Sometimes they have 90 applications for music scholarships at one of our local academic private schools. That is applications of scholarships, not number of children playing instruments, never mind the Chinese requirement that the child plays the violin and/or piano to super human levels which accounts for a good proportion too. Another has over 500 pupils a week having lessons.

stillenacht Thu 19-Sep-13 17:01:07

You see I find the opposite with the piano. Its quite a lonely instrument. I went to secondary school with grade 5 piano, red band at church choir and took up an orchestral instrument to get into the bands and orchestras at school and at county level. At music college the orchestral instrument was my first study. I guess the orchestra is my passion.

I would love to be able to make it more popular, if we could just have a bit of the money the wider opps schemes at Primary get then I am sure we couldsmile

Bonsoir Thu 19-Sep-13 18:00:33

Piano is fun - DD's best friend does piano too, and other friends, so they practice and sing when they go to one another's houses.

stillenacht Thu 19-Sep-13 18:08:10

Yes of course its fun, any music is but really I suppose what I am getting at is the pressure from management to maintain school orchestra/bands/wind and string ensembles with far fewer kids learning.

I can be a one man band, but a one man orchestra!?shock

MadeOfStarDust Thu 19-Sep-13 18:11:17

Yep Bonsoir - my DDs play and sing together and their friends do too... been treated to Passenger - "Let her go" on many occasions lately with their friends round.. I think there is a Y8 "talent" contest coming up.....

and they are all into Harry Potter too. Tonight's lesson was fab with "Professor Umbridge" and "Hedwig's theme" being chosen as their new pieces...

( I think sometimes the "fun" gets forgotten in the exam chasing - so we are having a sabbatical from all that til next summer)

Bonsoir Thu 19-Sep-13 18:12:51

Here in France there isn't the concept of school orchestra (or very rarely), but the conservatoires do a good job of getting DC to play together. Some DC seem to spend all Wednesday and all weekend playing instruments and doing the requisite accompanying music theory, choral singing, voice and dance.

I am fully with you in that I think that to learn an instrument properly is a wonderful thing, but I think there are so many competing activities for time and budget. If 11+ tutoring is what is getting in the way, that is indeed a tragedy. Maybe musical proficiency ought to add points to the 11+?

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