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Violin lessons - is it fair to let younger sibling start?

(44 Posts)
jem1980 Tue 20-May-14 13:38:04

DD1 has just started private violin lessons at age 7.5 (September birthday, School Year 2). Her younger brother is 5, almost 6 (School Year 1) and is very keen to learn the violin too. I would happily start him off with lessons from, say, September, but I am worried this is unfair to DD1 as he will be starting at a younger age than she was. Also, it might make it feel less "special" for her. However, I don't want to disadvantage my son by delaying his lessons when he seems clearly ready to learn. Help please! I am an only child myself, so I am quite new to sibling politics... The difficulty really is that DC2 is almost 2 yrs younger than DD1, but there is only one school year between them so he does generally get opportunities at a slightly younger age than she did. I also have a 3-Y-O but she is not currently in this equation.

Floggingmolly Tue 20-May-14 13:41:24

confused. Most younger siblings do things at a younger age than the first born; it's the natural order of things...
Would you really make him wait 18 months to make it "fair"??

jem1980 Tue 20-May-14 13:54:37

Thanks for the reply, Floggingmolly - You're right, I guess I wouldn't wait 18 months but I wasn't sure whether to wait 6 months or so. By September DD1 will have only had 9 lessons (term time only) so it will be a very close start. I originally thought they might choose different instruments but the fact that he has heard DD1's violin has really got his interest. I am kicking myself for not starting DD1's lessons sooner...

AMumInScotland Tue 20-May-14 13:55:38

If DD1 was keen at age 5, and you forced her to wait, then it would be unfair to let DS start straight away.

Other than that, I don't think you should delay just because he'll be starting earlier.

jem1980 Tue 20-May-14 14:10:04

Thanks AMumInScotland. DD1 hadn't shown any interest until a couple of months ago when some older children played in a school assembly. DC2's interest has since been sparked by seeing / hearing DD1, and going to the music shop to buy her violin etc.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Tue 20-May-14 17:44:09

I agree with AMuminScotland

We have had this. I don't think its fair to make them wait, it is good to get them when they are interested.

In our case the younger sibling was five years younger, was slower at first (but DS1 already played an instrument to Grade 3 as well) but caught him up and overtook him. DS1 admits that DS2 is a better musician though.

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 20-May-14 19:13:23

Would DD1 have a massive issue with DC2 starting at the same time?

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 20-May-14 19:13:56

(*FWIW, I won't take children under 6.5 for violin, and usually not under 7yo, but assuming the teacher would agree).

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 20-May-14 22:07:09

I can see where you are coming from.

My sister started piano at 5 or 6 and I started at 4 because she was doing it, a teacher was coming to the house and I wanted to do it so it made sense. She was always ahead of me with it because she was older, more mature, old enough to do the exams before I was (plus hugely more talented than me!)

I have 2 children less than 2 years apart. Elder one didn't start activities until she was 6, younger one has kind of joined in at 4-5. Reason being I was dragging her around to everything anyway and she wanted to. They are similar levels for swimming because they started at the same time (elder one more confident I think), started dancing at the same time but due to age the elder one is ahead of the younger one. Working towards the same grades at the moment but in a few weeks the eldest will take some exams and the youngest will do one next term and one the term after. so they are quite close with level.

Is it a problem? not sure I have noticed one really. I am conscious of trying to ensure the elder one is in different dance classes just to give her the chance to be ahead of her sister but with swimming and drama they are happy to be together. In our case the younger one seems more naturally sporty so I suspect she will catch up or overtake at some point which I think will be an issue but I can't hold her back because of that so we are looking for another activity DD1 wants to do that she can start (violin actually) which DD2 can't do until she is the same age because of the way lessons work at school.

jem1980 Wed 21-May-14 11:42:46

Thanks RaspberryLemonPavlova - it is interesting that your younger one overtook the older with a 5y age gap.

JulieMichelleRobinson, DD1 wouldn't have a massive issue although she definitely does want to be "the first" - I was more worried about her feeling that it is unfair later on. At the moment she is very proud and her practice sessions are "concerts" for her two younger siblings.
The teacher was the one who had suggested that 5-going-on-6 is a good age for DS to start - I know she has successfully started students at a similar age e.g. I met a girl in Y3 who has just done grade 1 after 2 years of lessons. His attitude is also quite mature for his age, as are his motor skills, so I am not worried about it being too early except in the sibling balance. It is the teacher's comment, as well as his interest, that made me think about letting him start sooner (when we signed DD1 up we had loosely planned to let DS choose an instrument at the same school stage - last term of Y2 - although he would be younger in age.)

nonicknameseemsavailable, it is a helpful point that your DCs are happy to be together - I hadn't thought about the fact that it might actually benefit them to be learning alongside each other. They do both do after-school football together and enjoy that. It might be nice for them to be able to help each other with violin practice etc. For people who I know who have any issues about opportunities they received in relation to siblings, it tends to be where one got an opportunity that another didn't, rather than the timing.

The other question is, if DS needs the same size violin as DD1, do I buy a second identical violin? DH seems to think they can share if this is the case, but I thought this might be a no-no. Thanks for all the useful replies :-)

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 21-May-14 12:25:18

well I would look at it that they would share a piano so I can't see why they can't share a violin for the moment whilst they decide if they are serious about it or not.

remember a lot of learning to play an instrument is actually about learning to read music and timing, rhythm etc so one of them may decide to change instrument in the future or one may play viola and the other violin.

DeWee Wed 21-May-14 12:39:46

I can see both sides.

I was the middle child, and wasn't always desperate to do what dsis did. She was 3years older, and we're very different in likes and talents, so typically either she was interested or I was. So we didn't both do a lot of things together, which looking back would have been nice if we had.

But db (4 years younger) was encouraged to do things I did from much younger. And I found it totally threatening. I didn't feel I could have an interest that was mine and I could enjoy. I couldn't win in that situation. If I was better-that was because I was 4 years older (even if it was clear looking back that I was better). If he was nearly doing as well as me that was amazing, fantastic etc... and I was rubbish.

This meant I grew up thinking I wasn't good at anything, only in adult life I have realised that actually I was better at several of the things I thought I was not. I stopped putting effort in on some things because I found it easier to be able to think "If I had put in effort then I'd have done better" than to have put in full effort and still been beaten by him.
I felt if every I started/got something really good, he was doing it within the year.
I also felt that I got to go first, all the mistakes/experiments were made with me, I couldn't do things because they were inconvenient-and then when I started he got to do it very shortly afterwards because it now was convenient.

I got/get on much better with my dsis, and I think that was part of the problem.

Certainly I wouldn't say that they should never start an interest together. But do be aware that it may be encouraging for them to learn together-but it could equally well be discouraging for either-the younger because he can't catch up, or the older because he has caught up.

Stripytop Wed 21-May-14 12:48:15

I think if your child really shows you that they're keen to learn something, then as long as you can afford it, and they can manage the lessons and practice, then you should go for it. It shouldn't really be connected to what the other dc's in the family are doing (aside from a time tabling clash).

My kids do various activities, mostly different, and have to reach a certain level of persuasion before I agree. They did both just start music lessons at the same time (2 yr age gap). Both were very keen so it would have felt a bit mean to make one wait.

playftseforme Wed 21-May-14 12:53:09

On the sharing point, we are hiring a violin from the council music dept. Dd started when she was 6, and after one year, needed to change violin to the next size up because she had grown. You may find what your dd is using is too big for your ds.

RunAwayHome Wed 21-May-14 13:37:34

Sharing a violin does seem like it would really be taking away the older one's "special" thing, though.

If it's the whole process of getting an instrument and starting lessons and so on that has appealed to the younger, could you perhaps talk her into cello or even viola (very like violin at that age/size, apart from a different clef) so that it wouldn't seem so much like treader on the older one's toes? Plus it's nice to be able to play violin/cello duets!

jem1980 Wed 21-May-14 13:41:15

Yes playftseforme there is a chance he'd need a smaller violin anyway - she has a 1/8 size. We were told it could literally be just a few months til she is ready for the 1/4 but depends on growth spurts etc. He is very keen, Stripytop, but I haven't yet indicated to him that he might be able to start before a year's time so he is not trying to wear us down on the issue IYSWIM.
nonicknameseemsavailable, I take your point about the future possibility of a change of instrument. DS actually shows inclination towards the viola.
DeWee, what you have described is very helpful - that is exactly what I was worried about. Do you think there would have been a way around it in your experience? We have not yet had any situations where he has overtaken her, but I guess that is partly because they are still relatively young. They get on well most of the time and I would describe them as close. DS had been doing after-school football for 2 terms before DD decided she wanted to join. I was worried that would upset DS as it was "his thing" but he is very happy they are doing it together.

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 21-May-14 13:42:43

I wouldn't expect them to share instruments - how can you do duets then?

Chocotrekkie Wed 21-May-14 13:43:21

Can the youngest do a different instrument ?

They then won't be comparing themselves against each other.

jem1980 Wed 21-May-14 13:47:13

I had thought about that, RunAwayHome, but the violin teacher, who also teaches viola, recommends starting with violin first and then moving to viola at a later stage (not sure if this is due to size? I can ask again). There are no cello teachers anywhere near as convenient so not sure about that, would have to check out logistics. I would also have to check his interest in cello as he hasn't indicated anything yet. There are woodwind teachers fairly locally but he isn't really interested. I had originally assumed they would choose different instruments.

jem1980 Wed 21-May-14 13:51:35

Yes, I agree about the sharing instruments - I think that would be the thing most likely to upset DD too, if we suddenly turned her own instrument into a shared one. It is good to hear others think this - DH thought it was crazy to get a 2nd violin but the point about duets is a good one (plus they would definitely fight over it). I guess if he wants to do the same instrument we would be best to treat it as if he has chosen a different one - i.e. getting his own instrument and letting them both find their natural pace of learning.

Wafflenose Wed 21-May-14 15:11:17

I know a teeny tiny child who learns viola on a 1/8 size violin strung as such. It's certainly possible!

jem1980 Wed 21-May-14 15:23:39

Wow, thanks Wafflenose - I had never heard of that being a thing, but just looked it up and you can even do Grade 1 on a violin strung as a viola. Will have to see what his preferences are, and also what the teacher suggests...

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 21-May-14 21:59:01

I would imagine that you can technically do grade 8 on a violin strung as a viola. The examiners will take into account the poor quality of student instruments. Though I don't imagine many students reach grade 8 before they're big enough for a viola, some of us adults play on small violas (14" for one teacher I know - a violin is 13") and I played for years on my student fiddle with viola strings on it.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 22-May-14 09:34:40

I have the same problem with the younger one being quite quick on the uptake. I persuaded him to learn a different instrument ... (I am a coward...)

flowery Thu 22-May-14 09:39:53

Definitely harness it while he is keen IMO. And I think they need an instrument each and are unlikely to need the same size. DS has been playing for a year, is just 7 and doing his grade 1 this term.

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