Starting a new instrument at 13(14 Posts)
My dd already plays classical guitar at grade 3, and she loves music at school. She's good at practising and has passed all of her exams with distinction.
Now she's decided she'd like to learn how to play the trumpet as well. I think mostly she wants to be involved with orchestra/jazz band/big band activities at school, and has picked an instrument that fits the bill. There aren't any group activities for guitarists.
Can anyone advise before I fork out for instruments and lessons? I think she will practise pretty diligently. Is the trumpet very difficult to make quick progress with? Would another wind instrument be better?
I don't teach brass, but woodwind. However... if she wants to play the trumpet, I'd go with that. It's not hard to pick up - my daughter did it with the rest of her class in Year 4 (wider opportunities) and although they were much younger than your DD and some hadn't read music before, they could all play a variety of simple tunes within a term, and were sounding good by the end of the school year. I'm sure your DD would progress quickly if she is good at practising, and the trumpet is useful in all sorts of ensembles, as you say. Trumpets aren't particularly expensive either.
Thanks waffle, I'll probably let her have a go then. I don't know much about wind/brass instruments (apart from a brief spell learning the oboe when I was her age. I wasn't very good! But nor did I practise much....)
Trumpet does require quite a lot of 'puff' and the way the lips and tongue are used (embouchure) take a while to master and build up the muscles, but it shouldn't take too long to learn the basics. Using the three valves is pretty straightforward.
It is a 'transposing' instrument in B flat, so that playing C on piano music, will actually 'sound' as B flat, but the student doesn't need to worry about that, as the 'score' will be written to take that into account.
Flugelhorn is a bit more mellow, but is played in the same way as trumpet. Trombone is larger, but I understand can be easier to play.
If she has ever played recorder at all, that knowledge can transfer quite easily to saxophone as the fingering is very similar.
A different genre of music, but Alison Balsom is one of THE top trumpet players:
A lot can be learnt from this famous piece:
And this is one my favourites:
If she's motivated to practice for a band, that will help enormously.
I think a lot of the difficulty of taking up a wind or brass instrument at this age, and with a decent amount of prior musical experience, is that the ability to play the instrument is likely to develop faster than "stamina" ie the physical ability to play for prolonged periods. That was certainly the case for my dd who took up saxophone 18 months ago, and progressed very quickly from a technical point of view (grade 5 ish) but still has difficulty playing continuously for any length of time. It would be better for my DD if she had more time to attend band practices but there are only so many hours in a week (she also plays guitar, bass and piano).
In the case of your dd I would say go for it, and encourage her to do as much ensemble playing as possible! Good luck!
Thanks for the great advice and links! I'll warn her that building stamina will take time and might be frustrating. I can see that would be the case.
I think trumpet is much much more difficult than guitar
Do you play both then maydancer? I was hoping the music knowledge at least would be transferable. I realise technique will take a long time to master. My worry is that she'll take so long to be good enough for the orchestra/ band she'll be leaving school by then!
I think most wind/ brass instruments are easier than classical guitar, though I don't specifically know about trumpet. General music knowledge is very transferable and for an able musician who practices and spends time playing in ensembles, the learning curve is likely to be steep.
Among my handful of regrets is that I didn't learn a second instrument while I was at school and join some form of ensemble. The lack of group music-making has left a real hole in my general musicianship. Do go for it. Whenever I've spoken with music teachers about DS doing a second instrument, they've always emphasized how good it is to do two.
Re transferable music knowledge, as Mistigri says, loads of it is transferable, and the general increased musicality will also feed her guitar-playing.
DD was playing in the senior wind band after a term of sax lessons (admittedly slightly different as she did have previous experience on the recorder). She just sat out the hardest pieces, not so much because she couldn't play them, but because her sound production wasn't always reliable. I'd expect an able and keen musician on a second instrument to be capable of ensemble playing within a year - probably much less - and I imagine her teacher will positively encourage this
Plus, a 13 year old will learn much quicker than a primary-age child (the difference is huge). My DD is 14 and no musical prodigy, but she's playing grade 7 piano pieces comfortably after 18 months of lessons. I think a big difference is that teenage beginners - especially if they have another instrument - know how to practice and use their time more effectively, and they are also presumably much more self-motivated.
I took up the oboe aged about 15. Got to grade 7 in about 3 years despite not being a natural oboist. I made quick progress because I practised and because I could already read music (pianist). One line was so much easier than 2!
So I'd say go for it. Is there any chance the school can lend you an instrument
or is that a thing of the dim and distant past ?
My DD played the cornet for a while - her teacher thought it was a bit easier than the trumpet.
My DS plays baritone, but it is a bit big and heavy to carry around.
I played flute a little reluctantly from 11 having played recorder at primary school a little piano. I then took up Sax at about 15/16. Was grade 8 in less than 2 years. If she can already read music and wants to play the instrument it'll make a huge difference.
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