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Year 4- which musical instrument to pick?

(40 Posts)
miljee Tue 04-Sep-07 13:25:53

Music teachers come in this week to assess the interested pupils for aptitude. If they're selected, they have small group lessons, 20 quid a term.

Our options are:
Keyboard
Woodwind (clarinet this year)
Brass
Percussion

I've chosen keyboard and brass as I think to play a clarinet you should be able to play a recorder first, and DS1 isn't that rhythmical. Am I nuts? Will the parping of a trumpet drive me mad? Or IF he's selected for brass, would another instrument be better? My DH used to play the piano many moons ago and I can play the classical guitar and recorder. We can both read music and we're keen that the DSs get the opportunity to try and learn (I think it's a good 'brain developer). How long should we stick at it as I KNOW we'll face rebellion!?

Any experience?

Alambil Tue 04-Sep-07 13:44:15

my sister played the Sax (altho started when she was older) but picked up a decent tune within 3 weeks... simple stuff though

She also did the flute (without knowing recorder fully) and did that really well

My ds is going to have drum lessons from the age of 5 cos he has an extreme sense of rhythm - would your ds pick it up ?

Keyboard is probably the "best" as you say your OH can play piano - may help with the practise if DS and OH sit side by side?

TheQueenOfQuotes Tue 04-Sep-07 13:47:42

oh blimey the dreaded aptitude tests.......my parents were told "totally unmusicial and will struggle to ever learn a musical instrument" after we did ours at that age..............turns out they were talking nonsense as I'm the Director of Music at Church grin

islandofsodor Tue 04-Sep-07 13:52:43

You don't need recorder to play clarinet. The fingering is different anyway unless you play treble.

Does your child have a full set of 2nd teeth, essential for brass and I would say for reed instrument too.

I failed the violin aptitude test too at junior school!!!

One music degree later!

portonovo Tue 04-Sep-07 13:59:54

Does your son actually want to play anything? It sounds like you're expecting trouble...

At our school children can learn an instrument from Yr3, and most seem to manage flute and clarinet well. Clarinet is totally different to recorder, so that shouldn't be a problem. One good thing with woodwind is that most children seem to be able to make a half-decent sound very early so, which is encouraging for them and good for their parents! I must admit, I always find that brass sounds awful for much longer...

Another thing to consider, if it might be a longer-term thing, will your son want to play in a group situation, or he will be happier messing around on his own. Keyboard can be a lonely experience, most kids like the whole school orchestra type situation.

I'm surprised there are 'aptitude' tests, that sounds really harsh at that age. At our school anyone from Yr3 who wants to play an instrument can do so as long as there is an available slot with the brass or woodwind teachers who come into school. £20 a term is dead cheap too - I thought ours were a bargain at £40, which in turn is a bargain compared to £120 at secondary school!

flowerybeanbag Tue 04-Sep-07 14:12:36

I second the playing in a group situation. I benefited hugely from being able to play in groups, orchestras, quartets etc, throughout my school and university life, it's great fun, gives you a whole new social life, and I went on residential courses, tours, did loads of concerts etc. Good for confidence as well.
My mum encouraged me to pick an instrument which is less 'common' so that I would have optimum chance of getting into any orchestra I wanted as well, which was great.
Of course I would have got in anyway grin but it was good thinking.
Based on that, I wouldn't go for clarinet, but otherwise that's a great instrument, and lack of recorder skills shouldn't be an issue.

Furzella Tue 04-Sep-07 14:50:39

There's a book that's meant to be brilliant for helping choose the right instrument for your child based on their personality, physicality, musical aptitude, etc. Here's the link to it on Amazon:

right instrument book

Peachy Tue 04-Sep-07 14:55:33

Rather sad that they test for aptitude sad, all kids at our school get a chance to try in year2 for free (violin, cello, recorder- and / or), and then a mahoosive list including items of Welsh origin unbeknown to me at £30 a term in year 3. Far better. Music is fine for enjoyment as well as talent.

IntergalacticWalrus Tue 04-Sep-07 14:59:43

I failed all juscical aptitude tests at primary school, and I didnlt start learning the Cello until I was 14.

I now have a music deghree and I teach the cello.

Don;t worry about DS1 not being "rhythmical" or having no technical skill, as that's why he will be having lessons!

I have taght kid (an adults) with absolute;y NO musucal ability at all, and, like everything else, if he works hard at it, he'llbe fine.

I think it is best if you get your DS inbvolved in choosing his instrument, as then he iwill be mpore likely to stick at it for longer. IME, the kids whoi quit are the ones "forced" into it. He is only in y4, so presmably 8/9, which is a good age to strat an instrument, but if you were to wait another year, it wouldn't be too late. If he shown no interest in learning at this stage, then do as other sufggest and ge him interestyed ina choir oir something (especiually if his chums do it too) He may well want to learn an instrument as a resuklt of this, esp if he sees other kids playing in orchestras etc.

To help him choose, listen to recordings of each oif the instuments, and see which one he likes the sound of best. Also, it might be helpful to see if there is any videiopos on You Tube or somthing of these intruments being played so he has a feel for it.

The most importnat thing IMHO is that he id the one who wants to do it.

IntergalacticWalrus Tue 04-Sep-07 15:00:32

I obv wasn';t that great at typing at school either, was I wink

EmsMum Tue 04-Sep-07 15:03:19

In some cases 'aptitude' will be whether they have sufficient dentition for brass or
can make any sound with a flute mouthpiece!

Shouldn't it be more DS's choice than yours though?

Pollyanna Tue 04-Sep-07 15:03:59

my ds who is in year 4 has chosen the clarinet. He tried the trumpet last year and really wasn't very good at it - couldn't really get a noise from it.

he is also desperate to learn the drums grin

dd who is only in y2 has already decided she wants to learn the flute when she gets to y4. They both already do the piano. I grew up learning the piano and also dabbled (badly) with the violin

I think the secret is to ensure that he practises every day. Make it the same time of day (we do after breakfast) and then he will improve. I remember being forced to do piano practice when I was growing but was pleased once I got more advanced.

Peachy Tue 04-Sep-07 15:06:33

The way they did it at our school, was over s eries of days at the end of term, thos going into year 2 had performances (term loosely!) from those a year above, and a chance to try the instruments- I think thats somewhat friendlier than the phrae aptitude test

Parents do need some input in choice, you can get a decent enough starter violin for under £50 but other instruments can be so much more- and that excludes some

IntergalacticWalrus Tue 04-Sep-07 15:06:55

btw, don;t worry about instruments being "useful"

They ar all uselfu, unless it's somrthing oike the Sengalese Nose Flute, then you might find buying music is a bit of a chore.

miljee Tue 04-Sep-07 15:51:12

Yes, by 'aptitude' I think it's more about hand spans and front teeth! I actually don't think DS knows much about any of the available instruments so we must find some examples. I want to apply a variation of my Six Week Rule where the DSs HAVE to stick something for 6 weeks- gym club, beavers etc before we will discuss quitting. In this case, a term I think!

I'm interested in the idea of clarinet- I didn't realise it might be possible for an 8 year old to make a sound out of one! And it's true it may be less -um- offensive to listen to in the early stages!!

Thanks for the input everyone!

TheQueenOfQuotes Tue 04-Sep-07 19:07:14

hand spans?? Oh you mean like people with tiny hand spans (DS1 - nearly 7 - has hands nearly as big as mine now blush) can't play the piano/organ wink - not helped by having a crooked little finger on my Left hand grin

amicissima Tue 04-Sep-07 19:52:19

The advantage of the keyboard is that all the notes are spread out before you so you can see the relationship between a semi-tone, a third etc. and you get the exact right note by hitting the right key. It also requires learning the bass and treble clefs and gives and idea of how the tune and the backing work together, so it's a great grounding for learning music.

On the other hand, no child is going to work at an instrument if he takes against it, so you need to take his views into account.

snorkle Tue 04-Sep-07 20:43:22

worth thinking about what sort of music groups he might want to play in when he's good enough: keyboard gives very limited opportunity for ensemble playing until you're really good; woodwind can play n a wind band or orchestra (but v. competitive for flute/clarinet places); brass is great: you can do brass bands, jazz groups or orchestra - very versatile; percussion - orchestra or bands. Does he have any particular tastes in music to listen to? He's really only likely to stick with something he likes so do choose carefully.

PussinWellies Tue 04-Sep-07 21:04:37

We've had a lot more success with brass for my cack-handed DS2. He tried clarinet and piano, but finds it hard to coordinate both hands. By the time he'd even tried to assemble a clarinet the lesson was pretty much over.

He now plays the euphonium, which is really easy to put together and is the size of a suitcase, so easy to find in the morning rush. DH thinks these are not valid grounds for choosing your musical instrument smile and has been heard to murmur wistfully that he'd rather hoped his children would one day want to play chamber music with him. hmm

slowreader Tue 04-Sep-07 21:53:38

Surely the one the child likes to listen to most is the one to learn?

WendyWeber Tue 04-Sep-07 22:00:12

DD2 started piano at 6-7 and managed fine until it got complicated - ie chords - when she just got stuck; same thing happened with tap-dancing (not chords, but complicated)

However she subsequently started flute, aged 7-8, and went on to do really well at that (one note at a time is the way to go grin)

WendyWeber Tue 04-Sep-07 22:00:46

(Flute also did wonders for her asthma - her peak-flow readings gradually doubled)

Beetroot Tue 04-Sep-07 22:03:33

I think your child will know with a little encouragment. however, I would suggest indivuual lessons are by the far the best way to go.

Group lessons ime do not work - it is soooo slow they get bored!

tortoiseSHELL Tue 04-Sep-07 22:12:14

Let him listen to them and see what he likes the sound of. Or go down to the local music shop and ask if he can try them. Or see if your council does a 'taster' session.

In a group session, I would go for an orchestral instrument. Are you sure 'keyboard' means piano - keyboard could be quite different!

The aptitude tests are rubbish imo. I failed my first one, passed second, am professional organist/pianist.

portonovo Wed 05-Sep-07 11:04:17

Ditto about flute and asthma Wendy. My eldest started flute 2 1/2 years ago and within a year no longer needed any inhalers. Her asthma was only ever mild, but still.
At school a few months ago her class did various tests to measure lung capacity, holding breath etc. She was far ahead of anyone - her teacher asked was she a swimmer, she said no, I play the flute!

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