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Any music teachers about - could I have some advice, please?

(20 Posts)
PandasRock Sun 11-Jun-17 10:56:10

Dd2 (10) is very musical.

She plays cello (touching on grade 5), piano (approaching grade 3) and recorder (done for fun and extension, no real idea but around grade 3-4 I'd say). She also sings, and is in both standard school choir and extra (by audition) choir. She also does a musical theatre thing at weekends and LAMDA during school (added for info, as relevant)

So far, so good, and she is considered scholarship potential for secondary.

The thing is, she would like to take up another instrument (clarinet). In theory, I am not opposed to this, but obviously apart from lesson time there is practice to factor in, and she does a LOT of extras already. However, she started cello because her school had a Strings initiative, and she has played since reception. Clearly, she enjoys it, and has an aptitude (always get rave reports, and her teachers are all very positive), but it doesn't really feel like it was a freely chosen instrument, iyswim? Piano was added in yr3 for musicality, and again she enjoys it (it's not her natural instrument though). Recorder was added as an extra with the head of music to stretch her performance wise. She doesn't want to give any of them up. Which comes back to the time issues. But a part of me is torn - I don't want to stop her exploring other instruments either.

Any advice?

Helenluvsrob Sun 11-Jun-17 11:03:08

How many lessons are you willing to pay for?

I was your dd I guess. Started violin and recorder age 7. Piano shortly after. Added cornet at maybe 10. By end of primary my parents were paying for piano and violin lessons. Picked up clarinet myself after a fashion as we were given one. No lessons. Ended up grade 8 violin and 7 piano / trumpet. Played in youth orchestras and bands. Had a great time.

Did absolutely nothing with it post uni. Now sing in choirs and play recorder.

Money and time are the issues. If she gets a scholarship school will expect her to be contubuling heavily to school musical life. She will be expected to do well academically too. That's a big time commitment.

I'd say stick with cello recorder and piano, maybe get a clarinet for her to self teach?

PandasRock Sun 11-Jun-17 11:10:21

We pay for cello and piano currently. Recorder is kindly given free by the head of music.

Costs are obviously an issue, but not the main one, we are fortunate to be able to afford it.

I was wondering about just having a clarinet at home for her to play around with.

One reason she would like to play is so that she can stay playing cello in school string band, but potentially switch to clarinet in the orchestra. Sounds good - a nice variety of orchestral playing (and I think she'd like to be carrying the tune occasionally grin)

Scholarship issues are ok. She will be fine with the level,of commitment, and ok academically too - no worries there.

Partly I am battling with my own issues - I played oboe, and we couldn't afford anymore instrument tuition. So no double bass, no piano, no French Horn (just to list the top 3 I'd have like to try out).

But I do feel as though she hasn't had any free choice in instruments either (maybe should let go of that one, as she could have switched cello at any point, and she does love it) as she was led into being a strings player. Maybe some of it is also me NOT being a strings player grin although I did pick up some violin as we happened to have one lying around at home.

Fleurdelise Sun 11-Jun-17 11:21:39

I would probably allow her to naturally progress from recorder to clarinet, so stop recorder lessons and move to clarinet. I wouldn't do more than 3 instruments as I'd rather dd be good at 2-3 instruments than spread her time across so many and not progressing as fast.

It makes sense that you are then left with a string instrument, piano and a wind instrument (plus voice). It sounds like a no brainer to mesmile

P.S. I'm not a piano teacher, just an overly involved parent into my dd's musical education. smile

W00t Sun 11-Jun-17 11:25:20

Ha- I have a similar dilemma. DD plays piano (g5), clarinet (g4) and sings in the children's arm if a professional chorus.
She wants to begin a new instrument in September in transfer to new school, wants saxophone.
I am worried about her fitting in the practice, as she'll begin G6 and G5 at same time.
She does a lot of other extra-curricular activities too, and I don't see how she could find time for another instrument, given she will have travelling time to/from school on top.
Though I'm thinking addition of sax to clarinet is probably pretty straightforward?

PandasRock Sun 11-Jun-17 12:32:13

W00t, yes looking ahead, extra travel time to/from school will be a factor too.

Flour: yes, I agree, that is the natural musical progression. BUT. Dd2 has ASD, and the relationship between her and head of music (who gives recorder lesson, voluntarily, during a break time) is a really good one. HoM also stretches general music theory etc, it's a real catch-all lesson. This has helped dd2's confidence no end, in both choirs (led by HoM) and in general music performing (orchestra led by HoM too). Which is why it's a tough choice. Clarinet teacher would be a new teacher - dd2 knows of and likes so not a major issue - so she would lose out on the mentoring aspect, iyswim.

Hmm. Will continue pondering.

Fleurdelise Sun 11-Jun-17 14:27:06

Pandas in this case if the recorder lessons are free and you can afford clarinet lessons why not? She'll have to become really good at focus practising but I think it is doable. This is something I am trying to encourage dd to do now, learn how to target practice towards what is important rather than play the pieces on and on IYSWIM. Dd is playing piano and clarinet and as she progressed (grade 5 piano and 3 clarinet exams on Tuesday) she can't spend hours practising as this is how long it would take to do all the scales, all the pieces plus sight reading. We tried it once or twice and it took her over 2 hours to practice all of them and the practice wasn't detailed. So now she is learning to prioritise the bars that need practising, the scales that need practising and sight reading.

gillybeanz Sun 11-Jun-17 14:32:25

I think she has enough on tbh.
There's the old saying of "jack of all trades, master of none"

I do sympathise my dd was like that and still is to a certain extent, however her school will not allow any more instrumnts and lessons now.

carolmusic Sun 11-Jun-17 15:04:23

I'm a music teacher and I would personally recommend she carries on with the instruments she already learns. She's done extremely well to get the Grades she has for her age. The exams will get a lot harder and will probably need to extend her daily practice time on those instruments. If she wanted to give up an existing instrument then maybe swap to Clarinet but she doesn't so I would achieve as much as she can on those instruments.

goldenlilliesdaffodillies Sun 11-Jun-17 15:21:13

I'm also a Music Teacher. My DD was in a similar position a while back. DD won a Music Scholarship recently to a very well know school. She learns 4 instruments to a high standard as do most of the other music scholars in her year. One of her instruments is unusual but if that one isn't needed, then she can easily switch to the other orchestral one in a concert if needed. She did have to give up one of her other extra curricular activities to focus on Music though.

If you can afford the tuition and your DD is willing to practise, then I would let your DD at least try the clarinet- maybe have a trial period? If it doesn't work out, then she can always stop or give up one of the others. Otherwise she may spend years regretting at least having ago.

gillybeanz Sun 11-Jun-17 16:51:43

I think it also depends on your school of thought and what the child wants from music.

If you see a grade 8 as the end, several instruments are fine. Or if it's to reach a certain level for a Scholarship, it's not that important.

If it's a career in music then a grade 8 is the start, and it's far more important to specialise in one or two, the second an accompanying instrument.

Mistigri Sun 11-Jun-17 17:02:32

One option would be to continue recorder with the intention of adding the alto recorder as soon as her hands are big enough (DD who has very small hands could manage the alto from about age 8/9).

The advantage of this is that playing both descant and alto recorder means you already master the standard fingering for other wind instruments.

PandasRock Mon 12-Jun-17 12:03:46

Thanks everyone.

All the pros/cons put forward are prettty much what have been circulating in my mind since this issue was raised, but it's good to know I'm not missing anything, and to see it from others' fresh perspective.

It is a good point to focus on what she wants from music.

Also re: alto recorder. She has dabbled, but a lot of the point of the recorder stuff was to boost her treble clef reading/knowledge, as her bass clef is much more secure due to cello being her main instrument. The fingering is something not to be overlooked, though, you are right. I will make sure my recorders are all available for her to play around with too, now and as she grows.

I talked to her again about the issue yesterday. She would rather (if she HAD to) give up piano than recorder in order to take up clarinet. I'd rather she didn't! And she doesn't actually want to, just that piano would be the one she sacrificed if made to.

Hmm. Will see if I can grab HoM for a quick chat (again).

goldenlilliesdaffodillies Tue 13-Jun-17 13:49:17

I would encourage her to keep learning the piano and not give that up if she enjoys it.

hertsandessex Wed 30-Aug-17 11:25:10

Similar situation with my daughter - piano, violin and recorder until year 6. She started saxophone in year 7 and dropped recorder. Much more fun than recorder and gives her the chance to play in concert/wind/jazz bands as well as orchestras/ensembles with violin. How about just adding in clarinet and doing all four and seeing how it goes?. Most likely the recorder will fade away and not many playing opportunities.

Malbecfan Wed 30-Aug-17 15:09:59

Definitely keep the cello going. You rarely have too many cellists and she would get both orchestral and string playing opportunities. At her level, she should be able to secure a music scholarship.

I'm afraid I am not a fan of the clarinet. When the DDs were small, I said they could learn anything they liked other than flute or clarinet because there were so many others playing them. For every flute place in an orchestra, you can have 10 violinists. First DD plays the cello - she is now 18 and earns money either at choral society gigs, shows or weddings. At 11, she decided she wanted to learn the saxophone too, so went for it. That opened up the jazz band world for her, as well as getting additional pit work. Second DD is a violinist and has dabbled with piano, French horn and voice. Again, she gets lots of orchestral and string opportunities but also does a fair bit of choral singing.

The skills your DD has on recorder are quite transferable to other woodwind instruments. However, learning one of the "endangered" instruments (bassoon, French horn, double bass etc.) would set her apart if you are considering the music scholarship route - one of my bass students walked into a scholarship at 13+ with grade 5 bass and grade 5 Theory and was utterly bone-idle

Broken11Girl Wed 30-Aug-17 15:45:58

I'd leave it for now. Assume she's going into year 6. You're right, imo, that it would be too much. It would be best to focus on her existing instruments and getting that scholarship - and of course academics - this year. It's really good she has that mentoring relationship, presumably that won't continue when she moves up to secondary so she should make the most of that.
She can always take it up in y7 or y8 if she still wants to...or at the age of 70 smile The clarinet is best left until a bit older anyway, in terms of hand size, lung capacity, strength, articulation etc.

Trumpetboysmum Thu 31-Aug-17 06:41:03

I think it depends what she wants to " get out" of her music. It's great to try out and enjoy playing different instruments and she's still really young but if she wants to get really good ( and it definitely sounds like she has potential) then playing fewer instruments is probably better as she will be able to focus her efforts more. Ds has just started on a CATS scheme for music and they will only let them focus on 1with them ( they all play more) because on the whole that's how you get really good.

RandomHouseRules Sat 02-Dec-17 23:53:15

I would say no to an extra instrument at the moment. She's ten. Playing recorder means she will find clarinet relatively easy to pick up in a few years time if she is still keen (and yes, I know the fingering and key is different). Sounds like she is doing brilliantly. She may be someone who at times needs to be encouraged to slow down and enjoy the things she is currently doing.

RandomHouseRules Sat 02-Dec-17 23:53:42

p.s. I was that child : )

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