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maestro mums; are violin lessons at five years of age a waste of time? Is piano any better/easier?

(21 Posts)
wheelsonthebus Wed 21-Oct-09 15:01:32

My dd's state school is offering (slightly) subsidised music lessons on either the piano or violin. We don't have a piano at home so dd can't practice it outside of lessons, and I think her interest in the violin may be a flash in the pan (though dd seems keen cos she saw one being played once).
Are lessons at this age a waste of money (we haven't got much). Should I go for the piano (we don't have to hire one - yet more cost) or violin or neither.
I realise this isn't a life or death question grin, but only sympathetic answers please! I never learned to play an instrument and always regretted not learning the piano, but remember my parents thinking it was pointless if we didn't have one at home.

KurriKurri Wed 21-Oct-09 15:36:23

Hi Wheels, from my experience I would say five is a little bit young for piano (I don't know anything about violin) I think 7-8 is a better age - they've got better concentration, hands are a bit bigger etc. I think also at some point you will need to get a piano or access to one so she can practice if she does take it up. Having said that, playing an instrument is a lovely skill to have and if she is showing musical inclination I would encourage her. Hopefully someone with knowledge of violin will be along to help you.

Katisha Wed 21-Oct-09 15:43:22

My DSs started piano at 6 and cello/violin at 7.
Although stringed instruments do need an earlier start that other instruments it may be that 5 is a bit on the young side.

CoffeeCrazedMama Wed 21-Oct-09 15:57:05

The younger the better with music. Especially violin, which is not a challenge for tiny hands (you would be hiring a violin to suit her size, eg 1/8 or 1/4). Mine all started instruments about this age and are still going strong (all in secondary school now).

MrsBadger Wed 21-Oct-09 16:11:29

if she is interested then have a go

I started at 4 and loved it

AMumInScotland Wed 21-Oct-09 16:12:01

I think you'd be better off with an instrument she can practice on at home, and piano keys are very big for 5yo hands, whereas violins come in various sizes. So, of the two, I'd go for violin. DS started about 6 or 7 I think, but people do start from younger.

OTOH Would she lose out on the possibility if she doesn't do it this year? 5 is quite young still, unless she's really keen and will practice properly. Another year or two might make her more ready to put the effort in.

marialuisa Wed 21-Oct-09 16:20:27

DD started violin at 5 (nearly 6) in Y1. She made rapid progress and at 8 plays another 2 instruments. I think violin is physically easier to manage than piano at that age if you can stand the horrific stage when they first from plucking to using the bow (ouch).

The only down side I can see with DD is that she has reached a point where it gets harder and needs more effort at a younger age. This is causing problems because it's not obvious that the violin is 100% the instrument for her and at 8 it feels more important for her to carry on trying new activities(e.g. hockey, riding) than committing to lots of music practise.

wheelsonthebus Wed 21-Oct-09 17:27:53

Great comments - thanks so much.

mathanxiety Wed 21-Oct-09 17:32:03

If you can get her to a suzuki class, they're great. Violins come is small sizes and you're not restricted to an uncomfortable seat in a draughty place for practice. Get yourself some earplugs either way.

schilke Thu 22-Oct-09 09:13:51

My dd1 is learning piano and she is 5. Admittedly dh teaches piano so it doesn't cost and we have a piano in the house. She loves it though.

Ds2 started violin at 8, but dd1 is very interested in that. I'd go with everyone else and say violin.

ApplesinmyPocket Thu 22-Oct-09 09:26:59

My DDs both played the violin (one went on to Music College) and had a highly regarded teacher who felt that 6 was the earliest sensible starting age for that insturment. (Suzuki is a different matter and can be started earlier as soemone said but it probably isn't Suzuki they are offering in school?)

Piano is more fun in the early stages and recognisable tunes can be picked out after a mere lesson or two! the lack of an instrument at home is a shame but at least at first a (full-size) keyboard will get her started (you would need to buy a piano later on though!)

If you can still get subsidised lessons in a year's time, I'd leave it till then and start violin.

I'm probably biased but I think learning an instrument is useful and enormously enriching for any child! so good on you for being so supportive. Good luck to DD!

madamearcati Thu 22-Oct-09 10:12:41

We couldn't find anyone who would teach piano to under 7s round here.I'd go for violin

LilyBolero Thu 22-Oct-09 10:16:54

There's absolutely no point in doing piano if she can't practise at home - she will just get frustrated in lessons, and so will the teacher! Go for violin. 5 is absolutely fine.

Madsometimes Thu 22-Oct-09 10:16:56

My dd2 started piano at 5 and a half. Her teacher is very happy to take on young children, and there are a number of piano books for this age group.

We do not have a piano either, but use a cheapo keyboard (which does have full sized keys). This will not be sufficient when she gets better but will do for now. If you regret not learning an instrument, then I suggest that you learn alongside your dd (you don't need to go to the lessons, just do the practice too). That is what I do grin

linglette Thu 22-Oct-09 19:34:36

not before 6 for violin unless Suzuki and willing to make her practice.

keep an eye out on Freecycle/your local auction house/supermarket notice boards. People are often trying to shift pianos for nothing or next to nothing.

Having a piano in the house is a good thing.

Violins are not supposed to be played on their own - they only really make sense when they are talking to other instruments. Solo violin practice is not music making whereas slo piano practice is. So she'd need an orchestra or a buddy playing the cello.

You could start piano yourself and learn with her. You can't do this on violin as you'd need two instruments (and more ear-plugs).

Always watch out - the frustrated "I never had a chance to learn" parents tend to have offspring who devoutly announce "I will never force my child to practice violin" ... and so it goes down the generations.

Teddimac Thu 22-Oct-09 20:10:46

Agree that 6 is a good age to start - I did, but it was still a couple of years before I was really into it.

Linglette makes an interesting point about violins not being designed to be played on their own. I was about to disagree, but when I think about it, I always had lessons with 1 or 2 other classmates, which meant we could play different parts. Then by the time I had individual lessons in secondary school I had joined the school orchestra, which was great fun and kept my interest going far longer than lessons alone would have.

Wish I still had a violin sad - gave it up around GCSE time but would love to take it up again someday! Pity my neighbours...

A question - what is Suzuki? I've heard of it before, but have no idea what it actually involves. Why is it suitable for younger children?

Kayran Thu 22-Oct-09 20:17:11

We bought a piano and my DD started learing at 5. She is getting really good and enjoys it. I started lessons at the same time as had always wanted to be able to play. I on the other hand am finding it really hard An instrument to practice on at home is essential. My DD does 10 minutes every night and that is enough to progress. One other point is that my DD is actually struggling with other elements of her school work so she is not a genius - she just has her (father's) rhythm grin

whizzylala Fri 23-Oct-09 13:19:26

I think you probably have your answer but just to add - at our school they actively discourage piano early on and suggest other instruments. The reason being that they reckon what a 7 year old can achieve on the piano in 2 yrs takes a nine year old about 1 term due to increased manual / mental dexterity. Quite an interesting thought!
My DD is 5 and loves tinkering on our piano but I am in no rush to formalise it.

mumtolawyer Fri 23-Oct-09 13:39:23

My daughter started piano at 5 or so but we used a small table top keyboard for the first year and a half as we didn't want to get a piano proper till she was sure she really wanted to carry on. That was fine until she started on the Grade 1 syllabus. I don't mind that she's going slowly but I have noticed that things are much easier now she's both older and has a "real" (electronic) piano.

snorkie Fri 23-Oct-09 14:46:00

Teddimac, suzuki is a method of teaching music that is geared towards young children. There is a lot of emphasis on watching other people learn and listening to music and often the actual instrument isn't introduced for some months initially (sometimes cardboard violins are used to get posture & bowing correct etc). The music is all learnt by ear to start with and playing from memory is encouraged a lot later on as well. This means the young child doesn't need to learn to read music until much later on - critics say this means they never get good at sightreading for example, but in my experience they can do. Also, that they tend to all play exactly the same way (as on the example CDs) and without individual expression. I'm not entirely sure I agree with this either, but the sample of children I know who learned suzuki initially is admittedly very small. The emphasis on early listening skills often means they develop very good intonation skills and are usually very good at memorisation.

As all suzuki children learn the same pieces they often organise group concerts & performances which everyone can participate in and I'm told are very good.

The instrument most often taught by the suzuki method is violin, but it is also possible to learn cello, viola and even piano the same way.

To the OP I'd say don't learn piano without one to practice on & 5 is usually considered too young to start on piano - it's an easy instrument to play (hit a key & the note sounds) but the music for it is more complex: 2 clefs and several notes at once so I've heard it recommended that ordinary reading should be very good before attempting to start to learn it (around 7 is the minimum age most often suggested).

On the other hand, I think violin seems to work well started quite young although again often a child starting at 7 or 8 will catch up with those who started at 4 or 5 within a couple of years as the initial progress of the youngsters isn't usually that fast.

Ds started piano in year 3 and cello in year4/5 (first year was taster sessions only) and that worked well - I myself would go for the same/similar starting ages again given the choice - unless the lessons wouldn't be available later if you didn't take them up now.

Teddimac Mon 26-Oct-09 22:15:12

Thanks for the info snorkie.

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