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My 7 year old wants to learn an instrument- which one?

(47 Posts)
Clawdeen Sun 21-Jun-15 22:09:07

DD has been keen to learn to play an Instrument for a while now and has recently increased her pleading for lessons.

I've asked her which instrument and her answer is 'piano, guitar, violin, cello'. !!! I've drummed into her about the need to practice and now she seems of an age where she comprehends this ( though I'm sure it'll be a point of tension).

Anyway, I am totally non- musical. Never had any lessons on any instrument so I really don't know how to advise her or support her.

Which instrument is good to start with? Obviously, the piano would be an expensive instrument to buy but she could practice on a friend's piano initially.

What do you recommend?

Worriedandlost Sun 21-Jun-15 22:19:00

I would recommend piano! smile
Pros Children like piano for whatever reason, you can see results very quickly-you just press the key and get a nice sound (unlike with strings) and it is good from point of view of musical basics, music theory in a future, etc.
Cons It is expensive and it is a solo instrument

Second choice would violin - it is light and easy to carry, it is not expensive, it is an orchestra instrument and therefore very social, and when she is grown up she can always play it for hobby in some local orchestras, at least.

JassyRadlett Sun 21-Jun-15 22:28:13

Piano is a great basis for anything else, and doesn't require the physical development of most other instruments.

You can always pick up a touch sensitive electronic keyboard for practice in the early days - far from ideal but better than nothing.

Cello is a brilliant instrument in my book.

DS is 3 and stoutly maintains he wants to play double bass. I've told him he'll have to wait a bit.

NotMrsTumble Sun 21-Jun-15 22:32:58

Agree, violins are relatively cheap, and portable. Steer clear of anything brass as they are a small fortune. If DD shows musical talent and sticks with her practising them you can add piano later, by which point she will have a grasp of musical theory which will speed up her progress. Then you can remortgage and buy a piano.

Clawdeen Sun 21-Jun-15 22:33:29

Thank you both! That's really helpful.

Do you think it matters that I have no ability whatsoever? I only ask as DDs friends who have lessons come from very musical families. I have a romantic vision of me learning the piano but a) that would be the quickest way to put DD off and b) probably not greAt for my arthritis!

Clawdeen Sun 21-Jun-15 22:36:11

Re the violin- does it hurt your fingers initially like the guitar? DD has a very low pain threshold so I'm wondering if she might give up before her fingers toughen up

TypinginGloves Sun 21-Jun-15 22:36:58

Has she thought about wind instruments as well? My DD started on piano at six, and I agree with the comments above about the various benefits. My DD had a keyboard on a stand at first to practice with - cheap and portable option till you're sure she will stick with it. BUT you can't join an orchestra with a piano - other instruments would allow her to play with others which is a huge part of the fun in learning. My DD moved onto wind instruments later on - there are some things which are better learned as second instruments when you already know the basics. Also, sounds obvious but consider the cost of an instrument and how portable it is ... I didn't ....!

TypinginGloves Sun 21-Jun-15 22:41:56

Just seen your post asking if it matters about your lack of ability ... my DD outgrew my help after about four lessons when she was six! I have no idea about music, spent years sitting in the audience learning what all the instruments in the orchestra are. To this day, (she's 15 now, grade 7 on two instruments) Music Mums will talk to me in a way that assumes she must have inherited her musical ability from me, and I have to smile and say no, it's all her own. She has had a great teacher, though, so has someone to talk to about it all, which I think is important.

JassyRadlett Sun 21-Jun-15 22:44:08

A kid who wants to learn an instrument off their own bat is more likely to do well and enjoy it than a child who's there because their parents think it's the right thing. Your daughter sounds ace.

Worriedandlost Sun 21-Jun-15 22:45:45

I am not musical at all. Well... I learned piano for few months and then dropped, so it does't not count. Three years on since my dd started music lessons, I feel quite professional on a subject grin, so much so that my piano teacher friend asks me for advise on books, events, and other info smile) It is a great fun and I highly recommend music lessons.

I think violin hurts, yes, but depends how quickly things are going, depends on a teacher too. It took dd few months to get used to the string pain

Clawdeen Sun 21-Jun-15 22:46:33

Typingingloves- that is very reassuring to hear!! She hasn't considered wind, I think her current list of instruments is driven by what her friends are learning

Chinhairscare Sun 21-Jun-15 22:52:13

Something with fucking headphones. I'm not kidding. If I have to hear that fucking violin scrape up and down scales for one more fucking moment I swear I will lose the fucking run of myself. Its agony. You've been warned!

Clawdeen Sun 21-Jun-15 22:52:24

JassyRadlett- thank you! She is very keen on extracurricular activities to the point where I'm sure she'd rather pursue them rather than school! I'm not sure where her drive comes from- I am spectacularly lazy on the hobby front.

Worriedandlost- that did make me laugh! Perhaps I can become a musician vicariously

HollyAndIvyTime Sun 21-Jun-15 22:53:40

I learnt piano as a child and hated it. I found reading and playing two lines of music hard and it was boring doing it on my own. But I love music and as an adult took up the clarinet. Much easier (one line of music only) and, as others have said, the social aspect of playing with others is so much more appealing. Piano may be a good place to start for a bit (most decent musicians seem to be able to play piano at least a bit) but be prepared to consider other instruments as well / instead later.

MyOneandYoni Sun 21-Jun-15 22:58:35

All great advice. All I would add is perhaps learn an instrument that is being tuaght in the school by a peripetic teacher. I.e not just the recorder group at lunchtime, but maybe a visiting teacher comes regularly and runs a violin or guitar group etc...
This way you don't have the added stress of getting anywhere else for the lesson, and the group mentality/friendly competition seems great for motivation...
Another thing to consider is does your Local Authority have a music hub? i.e my kids have started on their instruments and learnt enough after a couple of terms to join a Saturday group where others are learning their instruments and again that is really motivating.
Finally, some instruments can be bought fairly inexpensively which might even work out better value than renting them...

TypinginGloves Sun 21-Jun-15 22:58:58

Also, not sure where your DDs lessons will be but while my DD learned piano privately, she added lessons for bassoon via school via the County Music service. They often have schemes for loaning instruments cheaply or even free in some cases; that's how my DD got started. They may also have a 'try out' day when your DD could try a range of instruments she hasn't thought of. (Now is a good time of year as people get ready for next year's start in September.) It is definitely true that people 'fit' different instruments. I had no idea what my DD's teacher meant when she told me that my DD was a 'good fit' for a bassoon but several years on, I know just what she means! Not sure how it works county to county but maybe Google your own county with County Music Service and see what comes up?

clary Sun 21-Jun-15 22:59:09

She's probably a bit young for wind instruments (embouchure needs to be developed ie teeth in) but my DD has played clarinet since about 8-9 yo and we love it.

DS2 has played piano since he was 7 so that's an option. He plays it in band at school as well tho I agree other instruments are more flexible (no band needs more than one piano but can usually make room for extra violins etc).

Violin and other strings are a bit grim IMHO until they are well played (this can take years judging from the many concerts I have attended!). I do love a cello tho.

Second hand pianos are cheaper (ours was about £1200) and you can often hire one from a music shop for not much.

clary Sun 21-Jun-15 23:00:31

yy re loaned instruments - DS2 is also learning trumpet now and his instrument is loaned from the county - if he likes it and gets on with it we will buy one.

PianoCat Sun 21-Jun-15 23:02:52

Don't be fooled by the cheap violin starter sets - violins are not cheap in the long run. Brass and non-reed woodwind are cheaper as minimal maintenance costs and only need to upgrade when reach grade 5ish. Violins need changing for next size up as they grow and strings vary in price but the recommended sets for kids are around £30-50. Saying that your child maybe too small for most brass/ woodwind instruments at the moment ...

Worriedandlost Sun 21-Jun-15 23:40:47

Just to give an idea of violin starter costs, dd got her first new 1/10th violin through her teacher for about £80, then the second one, 1/8 Primavera, was part exchange, we paid about £70 as dd scratched the first one. Then dh bought a spare 1/8 Stentor for £30 on ebay. It was used but in excellent condition. So, unless you are buying Gligas which don't depreciate smile, it is pretty cheap.
But I think any instrument will be expensive in a long run taking into account that long run equals proficiency and that the instrument should match the level of playing.

AlpacaMyBags Sun 21-Jun-15 23:58:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JulieMichelleRobinson Mon 22-Jun-15 00:15:34


unlucky83 Mon 22-Jun-15 00:37:45

I was going to say piano -you can get a decent starter digital touch sensitive piano (not a keyboard) for a couple of hundred pounds second hand (watch out for the portable ones that have been used by musicians though as they might have been dropped.) The more recent the better as they are improving all the time.
New just over £300. They are (apparently) good enough to get through the first few grades and 'better' than real old /out of tune/poor quality pianos. They don't need tuning and are easy to transport - if you get a folding stand you can put them out of the way - but they are full length so not that easy to store -and if they are left out they are more likely to have a play (practise).
Best things about them....they have a headphone socket -they can practise whilst you listen to the radio/watch tv! They have a volume control (so even if they don't want to use the headphones) they can play eg early morning without disturbing the neighbours.
And finally you can change the they can play eg 'good king wencelas' at Christmas on 'Organ setting' and even if they are a bit hesitant it sounds ok ...which then gives them confidence (I don't think to be encouraged on a regular basis as they do need to get the timing/strokes right but as a 'I can play a song' for family etc - fine)

RedKite5004 Mon 22-Jun-15 10:03:25

My DS started on violin before transferring to cello a year ago. Violin sounds terrible at the beginning whereas the cello produced a much less grating noise from day 1 but do bear in mind that you need a reasonable sized car to transport even a half size cello! Also bear in mind that down the line if a decent violin is pricey that's nothing compared to a decent cello!
I would also seriously consider viola as it's a beautiful sounding instrument and unlike the cello can be carried on the school bus without risk of knocking out fellow passengers or requiring it's own seat, less likely to get you stuck in doors and won't make you look like a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle! Viola is always in high demand for orchestras too because so few people play them in comparison to the violins and cellos.
I'm not at all musical so I do find it hard to keep up with my DS but I found a course locally that teaches basic music theory to adults and that really helped me get to grips with it a bit more.

AllTheToastIsGone Mon 22-Jun-15 13:52:29

Just wanted to say that violins don't have to sound horrible from the start at all. If a child has a reasonably nice violin with decent strings, a good teacher and is fairly musical I don't see why it needs to sound bad at all.

I went to DDS music Concert yesterday. No auditions, all welcome to join in the junior orchestra post grade 1. The orchestras all played together as one big orchestra and they sounded great.

I think if your daughter appears to have a bit of musical aptitude (eg she can sing in tune ) then the violin is a good choice.

I played the piano myself and still do sometimes but I would have loved the chance to play in an orchestra and they always need loads of violins.

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