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What musical instrument should we start with ?

(40 Posts)
Greengrass1982 Sat 02-Jan-16 16:01:08

My daughter is in year 1. She tried a piano lessons last term which she said she enjoyed and wanted to carry on... The feedback from the piano teacher was that she didn't feel she was 100% ready?

Can anyone suggest what musical instrument it would bra best to start with ?

Greengrass1982 Sat 02-Jan-16 16:01:50

Would be best to start with !!

YokoUhOh Sat 02-Jan-16 16:06:59

I started with recorder lessons when I was 6: I now have Grade 8 in four instruments and am Head of Music in a comp! I would definitely recommend the recorder as a springboard to other instruments (I started piano at 7, by the way).

AppleSetsSail Sat 02-Jan-16 16:09:51

My son started with piano in reception and his teacher quit after about 4 lessons.

I think year 1 is pretty young. Both of mine (now years 5 and 8) started in earnest in year 3 - my youngest with violin, my eldest with guitar. They're grade 2 and 4 now, respectively (about one grade per year, sometimes a bit less) but I think they both feel fairly committed, and that they had a hand in selecting their instrument.

I tried to get my eldest's guitar teacher to take my youngest on when he was around your daughter's age and his face said 'no fucking way' but he managed a polite reply. My various run-ins with music teachers has been pretty much the same.

My advice is to let her experiment for a while, maybe take her to an orchestral class or similar.

Slacktacular Sat 02-Jan-16 16:15:59

I started the violin aged 6, and was taught using the Suzuki Method - I now play to grade 8 standard and continue to enjoy both orchestral playing when I get time, and improv in a band/church setting. I was taught in group lessons until I was around 8 and then one-to-one. Suzuki trained teachers are often confident to teach children as young as 3! I think it does depend on the child, and, the method of teaching and the expectations of the teacher.

AuntieStella Sat 02-Jan-16 16:20:47

a) whatever you can bear to listen to
b) whatever you can bear to lug around until your DC is able and reliable enough to do it themselves.

On that basis, how about recorder, until ready to tackle piano again?

Wigeon Sat 02-Jan-16 16:28:37

I think Y1 is quite young to be learning the piano - my DD has just started lessons in Y3 (aged 7), and can now cope really well with reading music, understanding the instructions about how to play etc etc.

Do you have a county music service, or a music hub, in your area? They often do general group music classes, which can be a really good general introduction to musical concepts, and include listening, playing (percussion and recorder), even a little bit of composing simple rhythms etc. DD really enjoyed her Saturday classes, and I think they then prepared her for taking on an actual instrument now she's a bit better.

DH is a school classroom music teacher, so has quite a bit of ideas about this kind of thing!

Greengrass1982 Sat 02-Jan-16 16:48:37

Hi Thankyou for all your responses really helpful .
She currently has a general music class / club at school where they sing listen to rhythms etc sounds like piano should be put on hold till later.

I'm not sure but I haven't seen any of the children on recorders as daughters school...

TeenAndTween Sat 02-Jan-16 17:21:11

Not 100% ready in what way?

DD2 had piano lessons for a term when she was 9ish. But she couldn't cope with getting it wrong - not emotionally ready.

You also have to be willing to practice to make any progress.

roguedad Sat 02-Jan-16 17:31:04

Our son started piano around reception age and was fired by his first teacher as "not ready". Found another teacher soon after with whom he made great progress. I think there's a lot riding on the interaction here based on that one experience. So, OP, I'd start by trying another piano teacher and see if you get a better experience, especially if your DD is keen. Piano has the advantage of teaching two clefs and also basic note formation is not as painful as on violin recorder etc. Our son started violin later.

I do not think there is a fixed age to start or any general notion of "too early". It all depends on the kid. Kids often start Suzuki violin very early. Some kids start later and make fast progress. I do not think Y1 is too early in general but it might be for some kids.

BackforGood Sat 02-Jan-16 17:44:40

When mine were starting, all the advice was that piano is a great instrument to learn, but not before aged 7. You need to be able to read 2 lines of music at once, whilst 2 hands are playing two different things! - it's complicated!

I would also suggest recorder to start - it gets you reading music, you can get a "tune" after the first lesson, it doesn't need adult teeth or a large hand span, and - bonus - is quite pleasant to listen too from very early on. She can then move on as she gets older, with already having a good grounding in reading music. Flute is also the same fingering as a descant recorder (once her hands are bigger)

lostinmiddlemarch Sat 02-Jan-16 18:13:36

I also think piano is a good first instrument. It doesn't have expensive, complicated bits, it doesn't need huge lungs to fill, you don't need to hold it, and you can make a tune quite quickly. But I wouldn't generally start so early. Eight is time enough.

yearofthehorse Sat 02-Jan-16 18:17:28

Another vote for recorder. Once she's learnt to read music it will be much easier to transition to another instrument.

bojorojo Sat 02-Jan-16 18:44:13

My DD started recorder in YR and then piano in Y2 and violin in Y3. She also sang in a choir organised by our Music Centre from Y5. She took violin, piano and singing exams and can read music. She still sings in a choir now she is in her 20s. Don't forget voice! It is very cheap and gives years of pleasure!

Ferguson Sat 02-Jan-16 20:04:39

If you do MN 'Search' on my name, and piano, keyboard, music etc you will find I have replied on this topic many times.

As a Teaching Assistant I supported 'informal' music for twenty years; not serious Grade study, but giving primary children the opportunity for a 'taste' of music-making, on keyboard, recorder and percussion.

Yes, recorder is an inexpensive introduction to music, once fingers are broad enough to cover holes effectively. A child-friendly tutor book should enable a child to learn on their own, with a bit of adult support. It is important to 'tongue' the notes, and not just blow like inflating a balloon.

But I always suggest a good electronic keyboard - at least 61 full-size keys - as being the best instrument to encourage children to get involved in music. It is also important to LISTEN to as wide a range of recorded, and if possible live music, of ALL genres, not just 'pop'.

Helenluvsrob Sat 02-Jan-16 20:08:21

Ideal first instrument - voice of course !

Piano is awful hard for young starters. We are a musical family and the kids didn't start piano till 7 , they would have made faster progress at 8 and got to the same place by 16/18 I reckon.

kippersyllabub Sat 02-Jan-16 20:55:08

Recorder is an excellent instrument and children can make satisfying progress relatively quickly. Violin and cello are also good for young children but there's usually a term or so of not playing recognisable tunes.

I recommend recorder - it's a good way to learn to read music, and you can get a good quality instrument very cheaply. £16 will get you a good plastic Yamaha or Aulos: my dc got to grade 5 before upgrading to a more expensive instrument and even then it was only about £70. This is something to bear in mind as the cheapest violin that's playable will set you back £100 new, and your dd will probably start on a 1/4 or 1/8 size at that age so you'll have to replace it with a bigger and better model two or three times. Instrument hire tends to be around £30 per term where we are so there's not much to be saved by hiring in the initial years.

christinarossetti Sat 02-Jan-16 22:28:45

I'd wait a bit and give the piano another go if she wants to. The peripatetic music dept don't do recorder lessons at my children's school, although the LA runs a Saturday morning early musicians sessions on Saturday mornings for Y1-Y3 children which my Y2 dc goes to. They play a bit of recorder and a bit of xylophone - there might be something similar on your area?

I think the piano is a good starter instrument, probably from age 7 or so for most children. It's quick to learn a basic tune, it's very visual and doesn't take the patience of building technique that wind or string instruments do to get a decent sound.

I never learnt an instrument though, so I'd defer to those with greater experience, but piano lessons worked well with my dc from aged 7.

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Jan-16 22:41:25

"Not 100% ready in what way?"

In order to play the piano, a child needs to have independent control of her fingers - should be able to lift each finger independently from the others.

roguedad Sun 03-Jan-16 08:54:21

This is from the Wikipedia entry on Lang Lang:

"He began piano lessons with Professor Zhu Ya-Fen at age three. At the age of five, he won first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition and performed his first public recital."

And some here are trying to tell us year 1 is too early!

CoteDAzur Sun 03-Jan-16 08:57:55

It's not necessarily too early. Each child is assessed individually, on their own capabilities.

Knock yourself out looking up Wikipedia pages, though hmm

Wigeon Sun 03-Jan-16 10:33:04

Roguedad: but Lang Lang is clearly a child genius / prodigy, and although my DD is obviously very wonderful, and we are a musical family, we talk about music a lot and she is surrounded by music making, she is not a child genius and would have struggled with learning the piano and reading music before she could barely read words. She could have started piano in Y1, but her progress, starting in Y3 is much quicker, more satisfying for her and much less frustrating for her because she is just much more able to pick it up much quicker.

Perhaps your DC is the next Lang Lang though? wink

AppleSetsSail Sun 03-Jan-16 10:36:08

I think the prodigies are a bit different because they are born to play music - aren't they? I know mine aren't prodigies and they did far better starting a bit later.

catkind Sun 03-Jan-16 14:24:40

I think it's more a question of whether they're ready to learn the way a particular teacher wants to teach. And of course the child wanting to and having good parental support are key. There are great books for teaching small children these days.

I'm teaching DS piano myself, at his own pace, we started in the summer after reception so just over 5. He really enjoys it. He might progress faster if he'd started later, but as long as they're having fun and learning I don't see any harm.

DD asked for violin lessons aged 3. We found a child friendly teacher. It's completely different to the way an older child would learn, but she is making progress and having fun. I learned at that age and it's been such a joy in my life. Her fingers weren't strong enough to do some things at the start, but the teacher has lots of games that help strengthen the right muscles. I feel like piano is the easier of the two at this stage, but it's about what they want to do as well.

lostinmiddlemarch Sun 03-Jan-16 14:43:53

roguedad I do think that for many children, five is too early. If a child is very very talented and that shows itself early and they are keen, then of course they can learn when they want to. However, after starting a number of children off at different ages, I've found that seven/eight/nine is (usually but not always) best. Learning to play an instrument is a big commitment that requires a level of emotional maturity - it's not so much the practicing as the staying motivated and keen despite having to practice! It's better to do it when you're old enough to understand and accepted what's going to be involved, but not so busy that there are public exams to contend with at the same time.

I find it's also harder to learn to read music before you've mastered reading a language, and there are practical difficulties with little hands. An older child will either not encounter or overcome these difficulties more quickly. Consequently they will make progress through the early stages quickly, and so are more likely to stay keen and willing to learn.

Later than ten-ish and you are also in trouble - life is already busy so it's late to establish a daily practicing habit, and the beginning pieces can seem disconcertingly babyish.

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