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DD(7) wants to learn an instrument - some advice please

(27 Posts)
mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 08:57:35

DD has been asking about learning an instrument recently. I'd like her to enjoy playing music (I started learning the flute a couple of years and it's a brilliant way to relax) but I don't want to waste a lot of money and I'm not sure the best way to go about it. These are my concerns:

She has said that she'd like to learn the keyboards but I'm not sure whether that's just because she knows that they can have keyboard lessons at school rather than really liking the instrument.

She probably can't start lessons at school until September so we'd have to wait or look for a private tutor. The school lessons would be less hassle for us but they are still expensive and are short and in groups. Would they be okay or are private lessons better (value)?

I think you need to play a little every day to improve and enjoy playing but I don't want to splash out a lot of money on a keyboard for her to get bored in a few weeks. It would be good for her to try it out first but is she more likely to lose interest without being able to play at home too?

Thanks for any advice. I want to give her the best chance of getting a good start and really loving playing.

SmurfPants Tue 18-Apr-17 09:03:28

She definitely needs to be able to play at home or else she just won't get any better. Do you know anyone who could lend you an instrument?

I think group lessons would be ok to try it out, but I'd prefer to move on to one to one lessons quite quickly so she could be taught at her own pace.

You think she doesn't actually like keyboards, do you have an idea which instrument she would like? From my own experience I would say let her choose as it's rubbish having to do the instrument your mum wants you to! She's more likely to practice if she's chosen it.

SmurfPants Tue 18-Apr-17 09:05:36

Btw, for us in NW, group lessons at school are about £7 per 30 minutes (term time only), compared to £10-£15 private one-to-one.

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 09:09:57

Thanks SmurfPants, I haven't a clue which instrument she'd like to play. It might be that the keyboards are the instrument for her, I'm just worried she only chose them because she knew she could have lessons at school rather than thinking which instrument she likes. I'd love her to be able to try a few things out and see what suits her but I don't think there is any practical way to do that. If she wanted to play a brass or woodwind instrument then we could hire from the local music service for a while but they don't hire keyboards and I don't know anyone we could borrow from.

Bringmesunshite Tue 18-Apr-17 09:11:49

Start with ukulele.

CaulkheadNorth Tue 18-Apr-17 09:14:25

Look up what Music For Children* events are in your area. Our local orchestra put on loads which means children can see other instruments and you can chat to the musicians after

*this might be a local term. It's worth googling anyway and the name of your city

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 09:16:58

Thanks CaulkheadNorth, that's a good idea. I'd looked on the music service website (they do the school lessons and lots of band/orchestra/choir stuff) and couldn't see anything but I hadn't thought about googling. I thought there might be something on over the summer holidays.

glorious Tue 18-Apr-17 09:23:14

Many music shops hire instruments out so you could probably get a keyboard that way.

Personally I would suggest she learn piano rather than keyboard. If she learns piano she can do both, but if she learns keyboard she won't have the dexterity in her left hand to play piano. There's a much wider choice of repertoire that way.

Otherwise what about playing her Carnival of the Animals or Peter and the Wolf or Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra or something and seeing what she likes the sound of?

Clarabell33 Tue 18-Apr-17 09:39:59

I think keyboards/piano is a good choice actually, especially in terms of learning to read music in two different clefs and not having to worry about embrasure or fiddly keys for a complete beginner, so good for confidence - if you press a key on the piano, a note plays, regardless of skill, and you'll know from playing the flute that that's not the case for many instruments...

There are usually a lot of keyboards/pianos for sale on Gumtree etc quite cheaply, so even if it's not fancy you could probably pick one up easily enough.

Also worth checking out lesson prices from students from mid-teens up. When my friend was at uni, she gave lessons for less than the going rate on the basis that she wasn't as experienced - even though she was an excellent pianist. My first flute lessons (for about six months, just to get a hang of the basics) were from a 15yo my mum was teaching piano to.

Fleurdelise Tue 18-Apr-17 09:49:42

Our local music service has an open day over the summer term when the kids can try all instruments and decide if they want one. My experience on talking to other parents is that you progress faster with individual private lessons compared to school group lessons. Also the communication is better with private lessons as you see the teacher every week before and after the lesson so you can support your dd with the practice requirements.

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Tue 18-Apr-17 09:53:48

Get yourself on u tube and listen to a selection of badly played instruments. .
Select the one that grates on you the least.
Tell dd to choose that one. .
Because that's what you will be listening to day and night until she is no longer a beginner!!

ChocChocPorridge Tue 18-Apr-17 09:56:40

I learned the flute (well, recorder first), and then took on Piano - but whilst I could read way above the top of the stave from the flute, I never got used to playing more than one note at once, or the bass clef - so if you think she'll be into music, I think I might encourage the keyboard first, so she doesn't get set in treble clef ways smile

Try ebay/one of those free stuff sites - my BIL just got an electric piano thing for a song - lots of people start, then give up and find they have some enormous thing clogging up the house - and keyboards have been around 30+ years so I bet there's some bargains to be had.

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 10:00:16

Thanks all. I'll look out for any events over the summer term/summer hols and speak to my flute teacher too. She might know about events coming up.

I'm a bit wary about looking on Gumtree/Ebay when I don't really know what I'm looking for but I'll keep an eye on them and see what comes up.

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 10:02:32

Justmadeperfectflapjacks - I think she is looking forward to getting her own back on me after listening to me learning the flute wink. It's not as quiet as I'd imagined and atm I'm still forcing the highest notes out which is fairly earsplitting blush.

Fleurdelise Tue 18-Apr-17 10:02:34

If she is choosing piano you are looking for a digital piano with 88 weighted keys, I would go for a Yamaha but make sure it is a digital piano, not a keyboard (if she's learning the piano).

Fleurdelise Tue 18-Apr-17 10:05:33

Oh and learning the piano would have a few advantages, you can play duets together with you playing the flute and your dd the piano accompaniment, she would learn to read both clefs, piano doesn't sound bad as the notes come out in tune as you play them (unless of course you have an acoustic out of tune piano). I found that dd finds learning another instrument really easy after learning how to play the piano.

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 10:07:54

ChocChocPorridge - I'm still struggling to read above the stave (anything above a high E still takes a bit of working out) so I can imagine adding bass clef would totally throw me.

I'm seeing the benefits of learning the keyboard now even if she changes later. It's not that I have a problem with her learning piano/keyboard, just that I don't want her to choose it just because she thinks I'm more likely to agree if she can have lessons at school. We've been trying to limit her out of school activities as she is so keen to try new things (which is great) she ends up tiring herself out.

Fleurdelise Tue 18-Apr-17 10:13:34

I'd make sure the lessons offered are piano not keyboard, you can move to keyboard from piano but not the other way around if it makes sense. At least that is my understanding.

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 10:13:51

Thanks Fleurdelise, I keep x-posting but I appreciate the advice. She loves singing along when I play the flute so I like the idea of duets.

I'm looking for a teaching job for September so I'm not sure what my schedule will be next year. If we went for school keyboard lessons until we are settled could we have a digital piano at home to practice on or is a digital piano totally different to a normal keyboard? Sorry, I don't know anything about pianos or keyboards.

mayathebee Tue 18-Apr-17 10:15:29

Argh, cross posted again. So it wouldn't be ideal to have keyboard lessons then switch to piano? If it was just for a term would it matter? I'll have to talk to DD again.

Fleurdelise Tue 18-Apr-17 10:21:44

I don't have much experience with keyboard but dd plays the piano, my understanding is that a lot of people are confused thinking it is the same thing but while they are obviously related they are not transferable, easier to quickly understand the keyboard if you are coming from a piano background but not the other way around.

I don't think a term would matter but she would have to start from scratch again, not sure a 7 yo would find that motivating. Also you would need two different instruments which would be costly.

irvineoneohone Tue 18-Apr-17 10:30:52

My ds is learning piano for little over a year, but because of unfortunate circumstances, had keyboard teacher for while, and went back to piano teacher recently. Seems like he got into a lot of bad habit, especially the posture.
Also we bought keyboard instead of digital piano, since we didn't know if he pursue or not. Keyboard is fun(can do lots of different things) and my ds enjoys it, but he says feel is totally different, so we have to buy (at least) digital piano in the near future.

muffintopsausage Tue 18-Apr-17 10:38:26

If she is adamant, get ear plugs.

Enidblyton1 Tue 18-Apr-17 10:47:01

I would start with either piano, recorder, drums or violin. Other instruments involve doing tricky things with your mouth or are too big for little fingers to cope with.
Of those, the piano is definitely easier on the ears!! But recorder is the best if your DD wants to progress on to a woodwind instrument like the flute or clarinet - because the fingering is v similar.
Piano obviously good for learning two different clefs.
When I was little I started group recorder at 7 and private piano lessons. That was a great combination (although I hated piano lessons!). I didn't learn the flute until age 9/10 and then alto saxophone until I was a teenager - a younger child would struggle with the size of a saxophone.

Enidblyton1 Tue 18-Apr-17 10:51:56

A digital piano is totally fine to learn piano with - assuming it's the same size (or nearly) as a standard piano? You need to have enough keys. Though when you are a beginner you're not going to be using the very high and low notes on a piano.
I don't think it would matter to have a term of keyboard lesssons and then move to piano, if you are keen to keep up the motivation until September. More important is finding a good teacher - a bad teacher can really put a child off learning music! Better to wait and make sure you find a really good one.

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