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about DS and instrument learning?

14 replies

Biscuitsneeded · 02/06/2013 14:59

So DS is 8, in Y3, and has been learning clarinet since last September. He's getting ready to take his Grade 1 exam. Sometimes he'll practise happily; other times he makes a big fuss and it's all a bit stressful. DP is sick of trying to make him practise so I have said I'll do it exclusively. DS is no musical genius but he isn't hopeless either; he can now make simple tunes sound quite nice. We've had the form through from school to commit to lessons next year. DP has just (unbeknownst to me) had a chat with DS and said "OK B, you've got 3 choices. 1. Carry on with clarinet, 2. Stop clarinet lessons or 3. Stop clarinet lessons but try another instrument."

AIBU in thinking Option 3 is total madness? It would be the same hard work and gnashing of teeth all over again to master a new instrument (which he would probably also want to drop by this time next year). And I think it's wrong to raise a child to think that when the going gets tough with something you can just jack it in and dabble in something new. DP thinks I am being like a dictator and DS should be able to choose; but although I would be disappointed if DS stopped the clarinet I would accept it. I wouldn't force him to play it if he really disliked it - although much of the time I think he does like it and is just a bit disinclined (like many kids) to practise when it's a new and tricky piece. What I can't condone is this idea that he should drop one thing and try another.

AM I being unreasonable? To me that's just lazy parenting, but DP says I am being a dragon...

OP posts:

squeakytoy · 02/06/2013 15:04

Some people get on great with one instrument but not another... I can play the piano, had lessons for years and passed a few grades. On the other hand, I was utterly useless at playing the flute, and abysmal at playing guitar sadly.

I would let him go for option 3.

There is no enjoyment for anyone in learning to play an instrument when you struggle.


pinkballetflats · 02/06/2013 15:07

There is a possibility DC could be better at a different instrument? I was far better at piano and cello than I was trumpet and clarinet. Clarinet especially I really struggled with for a few years, but when I got interested in the cello I was flying after a year of playing. If DC displays some musical talent it could be worth trying something different, especially if after a year DC still isn't particularly enjoying the clarinet|?


WorraLiberty · 02/06/2013 15:08

I'd say option 3 is the best

My DS can play the violin and the guitar but he really loves the guitar...whereas the violin is just something he keeps his hand in at in school and hardly ever practices.


FormerlyKnownAsPrincessChick · 02/06/2013 15:23

Oh definitely option 3. I played several instruments at school and enjoyed all for different reasons but my instrument was the violin. I'm glad my parents didn't think that you can only try one instrument and then have to give up if you're not committed enough to it!! My bro started out on the violin - dreadful for him - picked up guitar a few years later and is now on his way to getting a first at music college. DH is very musical too, started out with clarinet and is an amazing sax player / teacher (he also plays clarinet, flute, bass , guitar & piano) It's up to your son what he fancies / gets on with best and he will never know until he's tried a few instruments. He may go back to clarinet or find it useful one day and don't forget his current knowledge of reading music / learning rhythms and playing ensembles crosses over all instruments.


mrsjay · 02/06/2013 15:33

does he have to do exams for it maybe he feels pressured by the exams and maybe just playing for fun would be better for a while , TBH i would stop and give him a break and he can either take it up again or sell the clarinet and go for something else, I do think children shouldnt just dump things at a whim but if he is miserable it would be daft to force him, DD1 didnt take up an instrument till she was 11 and it was a taster thing at school (she plays electric guitar) she was never interested before then she had tried a few instruments, dd2 wasn't interested in music at all and gave up keyboard lessons


alpinemeadow · 02/06/2013 15:33

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AllegraLilac · 02/06/2013 16:13

option three. Struggled for years with a bloody french horn, hated every second but love the piano now.


whistleahappytune · 02/06/2013 16:16

Biscuit, I understand your stance and the wish not to encourage a child to give in.

However, I'm involved heavily in musical education, and I believe that it's very very important for a child to choose their instrument. Sometimes the parent can prepare a shortlist - for instance I gave my DD the choice of piano, cello, bass or violin for her first instrument. After trying them all, she unequivocally chose violin even though arguably it was the most difficult.

Children naturally gravitate to some instruments more than others. It's the combination of the sound it makes, the feel of the instrument in their hand and their own capabilities and taste. It may be that clarinet wasn't the best choice for your DC.


Christelle2207 · 02/06/2013 16:32

if he has got somewhere with the clarinet it will help him with a second instrument (at the very least he should be able to read music by now) so it won't be like starting from scratch.
On the other hand my parents nagged me to practice for years and it eventually "stuck" and I got a lot of enjoyment out of playing in orchestras and still do. if he's nearly at grade 1 within a year it sounds like he's doing ok to me and I would see how he gets on in the exam and take things from there.


Biscuitsneeded · 02/06/2013 16:47

Thanks, that's all very helpful. Maybe I am being a bit unfair....

OP posts:

IvanaCake · 02/06/2013 16:59

I would also let him try something else if he wants to. I have grade 8 flute but my attempts to learn anything with strings were laughable!


stealthsquiggle · 02/06/2013 17:08

If there is something he feels strongly that he wants to do, then option 3 is valid, IMHO. I have been trying for a couple of years to get DS to take up a second instrument (as well as piano, I thought it would be good for him to have something more ensemble friendly). He rejected all my suggestions, until we took him to a family concert that DB2 was playing in. Whilst DD was fascinated by the harp (God help me), DS homed in on the timpani. He has now started percussion lessons (well, drums, initially) and he absolutely loves it. I am not convinced it fits my original spec of "sociable instrument", but that's another story...

FWIW, my acid test in battles over practice is "no practice, no lessons". So far both DC love their lessons so, faced with this ultimatum, they practice.


Theas18 · 02/06/2013 19:17

Argh! Has he actually showed any desire to change or is it just sometimes he doesn't want to practice , so you think this means he wants to stop ir change? I feel your frustration.

If he's been playing less than a year and is taking grade 1 he's making good progress. Don't stop just because sometimes he doesn't want to practice. I have kids who are musical and we have gone through phases of wanting to practice and not wanting to...

I'd say yr 3 kds do always need a guiding hand when practicing though.


Elquota · 02/06/2013 19:48

Give him the choice to change to something else if he wants to.

Also, don't nag him to practise. He knows he'll have to practise, but it sounds like he might prefer to decide himself when this will be. Tell him he's old enough to take responsibility for it himself and then don't mention it again until after the exam - it's up to him.

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