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Is 12 too late to start an instrument from scratch?

(47 Posts)
Dancergirl Sat 04-Jul-15 12:30:34

Dd is 12 and just finishing Year 7.

She's tried recorder and piano in the past but gave them up. A lot of her friends play musical instruments and I've suggested maybe she takes up something new but both she and I are unsure which instrument.

She is a bit unsure about it all but I know dd, she needs lots of encouragement and I think as long as it's the right instrument for her, I think she would really enjoy it.

I'm just worried that 12 is late to start when lots of other dc her age are already at a high grade or starting a second instrument or whatever. I know it's not a competition but I don't want her to be daunted or put off.

I'm musical myself - I played the piano from about age 8 which was ok but I found it very solitary, and then started clarinet at secondary which I loved and enjoyed ensemble playing.

I thought dd should maybe consider a more unusual instrument as there is more demand for them but she's very small physically so it's got to something she could manage size wise.

Any ideas?

LibrariesGaveUsPower Sat 04-Jul-15 12:36:53

I was about to suggest woodwind or brass. Many of those are generally started later. I started flute in year 7 (many moons ago)

insanityscatching Sat 04-Jul-15 12:38:17

Dd is 12 and has been having piano lessons for about 9 months now, she's enjoying it very much. I never considered her ability compared to others tbh, it was something she wanted to do for pleasure. As it is quite a few of her friends started instrument lessons when starting secondary so I don't think it's that unusual really.

LibrariesGaveUsPower Sat 04-Jul-15 12:42:12

Oh yes. Or piano.

I was thinking from the perspective of playing with others - orchestra etc - quicker. smile

Dancergirl Sat 04-Jul-15 12:42:18

I'm not sure about piano for lots of reasons - as I said I found it very solitary and there's not much you can do with piano as far as playing with others is concerned. There's also the issue of reading 2 lines of music, I think dd has probably forgotten how to read music so will be starting from scratch with that too.

A lot of her friends play clarinet and there seems to be a lot of ensemble opportunities at her school.

I suppose brass instruments need a lot of breath control?

steppemum Sat 04-Jul-15 12:44:29

I took up clarinet aged about 14/15.
I took up guitar aged 24 and got quite good.

dd1 wanted to join a brass band, the band leader roped in all the mums sitting on the side, so I took up the baritone aged 45! We play concerts too!

So no she isn't too late.

The brass band was a brilliant way to begin an instrument, our local band does a 10 minute lesson, and then once you can follow a simple piece of music (which will be faster for your dd as she has played an instrument before) then you join the ensemble and play together for half an hour, with help from the more experienced players. As soon as you can keep up with that you stay on and play with the training band. This means it is very encouraging, social and you play for 1.5 hours, so you get loads of practise and progress quickly.
dd is rubbish at practising at home, but plays really well now.

Dancergirl Sat 04-Jul-15 12:47:08

steppe I LOVE brass bands and brass music in general. I'd love to take up a brass instrument myself one day but at the moment I want to focus on dd and what's right for her.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 04-Jul-15 12:49:43

My dh didn't do any music at all until he was 16 and he is an international renowned musician, in his particular genre.
I'd say it was more about attitude and dedication than age you actually start playing.
They also say those gifted as a child are caught up by their peers at 18.
Bassoon and oboe are always sought after, not so much clarinet.
Then there are the brass and those sought such as bass trombone tenor horn, not so much trumpet.
Electric bass or drums if she likes modern music?

FadedRed Sat 04-Jul-15 12:50:56

No age is too old, IF the person wants to learn then they will put in the effort required but she sounds a bit unsure about it all would make me think she isn't that bothered, especially after trying twice and not continuing.
From waht you say in your op, I get the impression your are more keen that DD learns to play an instrument than she is, in which case it will be an uphill struggle for both of you.
Perhaps there is a musical workshop type thing on in the holidays that she could try different instruments and see if any appeal to her? Or a local music school that you could pay for a session for her to try some instruments out?
I would love to be able to play an instrument but despite lessons I didn't have enough desire to put in the practice needed to become competent and neither did my Dd, yet musical talent is very noticeable within the family.
I think some people have a natural talent for a skill, including music, and the rest of us could become competent with practice without natural talent, but only if it is pleasurable rather than a chore.

Dancergirl Sat 04-Jul-15 13:10:11

I know what you mean faded it does sound like I'm pushing her into it. But from past experience I know my dd does need a lot of encouragement with things, she doesn't always enjoy them at the start but does later on.

I know swimming is very different and needed for safety purposes, but dd struggled with YEARS for swimming. I paid for private lessons and she usually sulked through them. She finally got it and is now confident in the water. I've lost track of the times dd has thanked me for persevering as it gives her so much pleasure now.

I know it's a very different thing but sometimes we have to encourage our dc to try things especially if they're reluctant to initiate things themselves.

Noteventhebestdrummer Sat 04-Jul-15 13:13:55

I didn't start violin till 12 and now I'm a violin teacher! If she likes Strings then go for viola and she will get lots of opportunities for playing.

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 04-Jul-15 13:20:11

DS3 started the clarinet at the beginning of Y7. He is now at the end of Y8 and preparing to do his Grade 3 in December. If anything, being a bit older brings a mature attitude towards practice and a resilience when progress seems slow.

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 04-Jul-15 13:20:30

Meant DS2.

FadedRed Sat 04-Jul-15 13:31:56

Oh yes Op totally agree that your encouragement and facilitating Dd can make all the difference to enjoyment and achievement.

DorothyL Sat 04-Jul-15 13:32:08

Dd started clarinet at the beginning of year 8 and now at the end of year 9 has just completed grade 4 - she went straight to grade 3 at the end of year 8.

steppemum Sat 04-Jul-15 13:34:06

Op - sorry, I wasn't clear/ DD started the cornet with the band. it was her that joined and the ban taught. They take anyone who is 7 plus and has their adult front teeth!
Once she had been playing for a while, the band leader handed out instruments to all the band mums sitting on the side watching.

Bands are all different, ours is very much about fun and getting kids playing (they have a link with one of the local schools too) We play things like Lady Gaga and film theme tunes.

I thought your dd might find t more motivating to be part of a group, it has certainly been good for dd

steppemum Sat 04-Jul-15 13:46:50

if she wants to always be needed by ensembles and bands, then play the trombone (national shortage apparently)

Mistigri Sat 04-Jul-15 14:16:42

How far did she get with her previous instruments?

It's certainly not to late if she is motivated. My DD now aged 14 played recorder as a younger child but stopped aged 10 after reaching grade 4-5 standard. A year later aged nearly 12 she took up guitar, initially self taught, and then last year aged 13 she took up piano (also self taught to start with) and then sax. Assuming some musical background (hence the question above) progress should be pretty quick as an older beginner.

Your DD doesn't have to take grade exams - my daughter hasn't gone the exam route, her interests are composition, accompaniment (she sings), and ensemble playing. She is not interested in "virtuoso" playing.

Has your DD ever expressed an interest in a particular instrument? What sort of music does she listen to?

FastLoris Sat 04-Jul-15 17:30:05

Absolutely not too late.

Piano might be difficult, as the early stages can be quite painstaking, learning to follow two lines at once etc, and it wouldn't help her play in ensembles with her friends.

I would suggest a woodwind instrument, as these are great for ensemble playing and you can often get through the early stages very quickly, to the point of being able to play tunes in tune with a decent sound within a year or so.

Clarinet and saxophone are good for quick early progress and you would be able to help her. Sax also has ability to play jazz, rock etc. As mentioned above though, players of these instruments are a dime a dozen. If you want something a bit more out there, maybe the oboe? Oboists often start at a later age because the breathing technique is a bit more difficult. Very few kids take it up which means if you're good you can get into orchestras. It can be a bit frustrating though and definitely harder going than the clarinet. And very much classical-only.

As mentioned above, bassoonists are also highly sought after. Not sure if size could be a problem though in terms of hand stretch. Does she have small hands?

Mistigri Sat 04-Jul-15 17:55:32

If your daughter has played recorder for any length of time, sax might be worth considering - same fingering so progress would be quick once sound production is mastered. DD who started sax last September with previous recorder experience was able to play with an ensemble almost immediately.

Wafflenose Sat 04-Jul-15 19:46:34

Not late at all. I don't think it's ever too late, so taught a total beginner aged 72 once. He did his Grade 1 when he was 74.

I'd look at woodwind or brass for rapid progress. She will probably go fast at 12 in any case.

Clobbered Sat 04-Jul-15 20:03:05

Brass instruments are relatively cheap compared to others - maybe a consideration? However, they need playing every day to be successful, so not so good if she is reluctant to practice.
How about percission - either drum kit or orchestral percussion (timpani, xylophone, snare drum etc) - it's fairly quick to pick up and loads of opportunities to play in different ensembles. She can practice on a pad to keep the noise down.
Also perhaps consider singing lessons?

kua Sat 04-Jul-15 20:04:12

What about the guitar? It's one of only a few instruments that you can play solo in a social gathering in which people would be happy to hear.

Ask me how many times I've played my cello in the past 25 years or my sister with her trombone. ..

Ferguson Sat 04-Jul-15 23:01:01

What sorts of music does SHE like? Does she dance at all?

If there is some genre of music she is keen on, that could guide a choice of instrument.

Piano, or Keyboard for 'music technology', are easier to start to understand music THEORY than other instruments.

As others have said, having done some recorder could be a natural transition to saxophone, probably Alto. Some schools and LAs have 'taster' sessions for students to discover what suits them (and their parents 'purse'!)

LooseAtTheSeams Sun 05-Jul-15 12:25:04

Definitely not too late! DS1 started tuned percussion at almost 12 years old and after taking grade one has accelerated in just over a year - he's playing grade 4/5 material now on xylophone and and can do some more advanced technique. I think knowledge of the piano, however, rudimentary helps - DS1 hasn't had formal piano lessons but they teach keyboard at school and he can sight read quite well.

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