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Is it a good idea to learn 2'nd instrument when first one is around step-2 level ?

(10 Posts)
mom17 Thu 01-Jan-15 18:08:25

DS has just completed step-2 of Piano and doing really good ( good sight reading skills) and I wanted to start Vocal for him to help him improve his Aural skills but he doesn't seem to take interest in starting classes for the same. A teacher whom I was planning to start Vocal teaches Guitar also so just like that it struck to me to start Guitar( if not Vocal) as well, as I assume it will be 50% efforts only to learn 2'nd instrument but at the same time worried if he might loose interest in Piano( which I would prefer to be first instrument and would not like to compromise on seeing huge investment done for it) in case he finds Guitar more interesting. Frankly speaking, Music for us is as such secondary for us( primary studies) and we would not like child to pursue career in that but interested in that seeing other numerous benefits it bring to life/attitude/right brain training. He is 8.5 yrs old and left the decision on me. Any thoughts ?

Ferguson Thu 01-Jan-15 19:53:58

Personally, I think it should be HIS decision. But I'm afraid I also blanch at your "huge investment". Is this all for his benefit, or are you hoping he will succeed where perhaps you failed, years ago?

I did 'informal' music with primary children for twenty years; keyboard, recorder, percussion, and encouraged them to 'compose' and 'improvise' where possible, but there was never any aim at Grades etc, as I was not qualified, and was only 'an enthusiastic amateur' but I was able to give children a 'taste' of music.

There is evidence that music enhances academic learning, and it certainly has social benefits for older children, playing in school or county ensembles:

see James Rhodes' site:

By 'step 2' do you mean Grade 2 ABRSM, which is the standard music yardstick?

Guitar is a DIFFICULT instrument, to play properly and well. I would think a brass or wind instrument might produce quicker results and satisfaction. It also slots more easily into an ensemble environment.

You are probably right in saying less effort is required for the second instrument, as the basics of notation and timing will already have been learnt. Also Theory needs to be learnt at some stage, and this is often considered daunting. But all music is based on the laws of Physics and Maths, and is not a secret 'black art' as the uninitiated often suspect.

But at 8.5 he is 'his own man' and if you try to run his life for him, you could be storing up trouble in the longer term.

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 01-Jan-15 20:28:40

Step 2 is I assume the LCM pre-grade 1 exam. If so I might wait a little unless guitar is taught very differently, e.g. Chords/tab.

howtodrainyourflagon Thu 01-Jan-15 20:33:55

What instrument inspires him? Frankly I hated piano as a child however useful it was. At 8 he's big enough for most instruments except full size horn and tuba. Let him choose. I haven't heard of step 2 before - is it like grade 2?

Wafflenose Thu 01-Jan-15 21:22:35

Step 2 is pre-Grade 1.

Yes, at this stage, learning to read notation for two instruments can really feed into good progress in both. But time and again, I have seen that waiting a year or two (or even much more) until the first instrument reaches a really good level can produce extremely fast progress on the second, saving money in the long term!

However, it doesn't sound like your son is all that keen on picking up another one right now. I really would leave it until he wants to, or let him concentrate on piano if he is enjoying it.

mom17 Fri 02-Jan-15 01:29:15

Yes, Step-2 is before Grade-1 as he started learning Piano for past 6 months after 3 years gap of initial 8 months exposure @4 yrs. Thanks everybody for your suggestion, I have decided to wait for more time before starting 2'nd instrument. Though When I asked him about learning Guitar, he had shown interest @ first thought ( eyes bright, mouth open) but when I asked again in same day, his response was "you decide". He is as such a child who doesn't have much say ( not that we don't give him choice) as of now and leaves things on me for decision.

Mistigri Fri 02-Jan-15 16:19:02

There's no particular hurry to learn guitar if he's not extremely keen - rock/jazz/folk guitar can easily be started much later and there's not much crossover with classical piano as it's not played from notation but from tab.

Classical guitar probably benefits from an early start but do you really want him doing two solo instruments? Better to have a "social" (orchestral/ band) instrument as a second instrument I would have thought.

My daughter picked up guitar quickly as a second instrument but it was much later (11) and she was very self-motivated. It's worth bearing in mind that older children with a good general musical background tend to pick up 2nd/3rd/4th instruments very quickly if they are motivated - the transition from beginner to relatively confident player can take just a few months or even weeks, if the student really wants to do it. So there is really no hurry to have your son playing 2 instruments at 8.

Mistigri Fri 02-Jan-15 16:21:00

Also the earlier you start guitar the more time the student has to spend on cheap half/ three quarter size instruments which may not be particularly rewarding to play. At 11/12 assuming the student is an average size you can buy a "forever" guitar right away.

mom17 Sat 03-Jan-15 04:11:03

Thanks Mistigri, these thoughts never occured to me ( 2 solo). I buy your idea of elder student picking fast if keen.

LooseAtTheSeams Sun 04-Jan-15 11:47:34

Just seconding awareness of the implications of two solo instruments: DS2 took up cello around age 8 because he wanted to play in a group and he really liked the cello. He loves it at least as much as piano and looks forward to his string orchestra sessions.

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