A.M. asks from Lansing, MI on October 08, 2008
My Daughter Wants to Play an Instrument?
Hello lady's ok here is my issue my kindergartner wants to play an instrument, I am ok with that but what should I pick for her we don't have room for a piano and I want something that she wont get bored with I am not into quitting. When we start u finish! I would hope that she could keep it up and use it to pursue her education. I know thats far away but hey I can hope. SO any advice would help thanks!
M.A. answers from Detroit on October 09, 2008
Actually, that is a good age to start the violin. Many studies show that playing the violin helps brain development. That is why they are making it mandatory in inner schools in NYC. If you want to just try it out, call Flint institute of Music for an introductory class. Best Wishes.
B.S. answers from Grand Rapids on October 09, 2008
I don't think there is anything wrong with her taking piano lessons, and she can practice on a nice keyboard since you said you don't have room for a piano, plus they are expensive. However I wouldn't go out and buy an instrument (like a trumpet) as they are expensive and she is only in kindergarden and you don't want to battle her for the rest of her years at home to practice and get good at something she doesn't enjoy anymore. She is probably in a phase, but may very well want to play an instrument a couple years from now as well, but at least then you know. Plus if you have her take piano lessons she will learn notes, rhythm, all that good stuff that she'll need for any instrument.
I would just be wary of paying for an instrument, lessons etc... just to have to make her finish what she started when she was 5 and thought it just looked like fun to play the trombone :-)
Hope that helps
K.W. answers from Grand Rapids on October 09, 2008
In my opinion the benefit of learning music at an early age is learning to read the notes and beginner music theory. My suggestion would be piano or guitar. They are great baseline instruments and she would be able to expand to other instruments later in life. I also suggest a private teacher who also does young children. She will benefit the most from this since they know what your child needs.
I am concerned by parents who are too stearn about sticking with it in music. If you are gruff about it she will completly lose interest and may never want to do music again.I value your desire to teach 'no quiting'. Be positive and help her to have fun when practicing gets hard. It gets hard for all of us and it is natural for a little one to want to give up.
L.R. answers from Detroit on October 09, 2008
I would suggest buying some cheap, used instruments-guitar, violin, keyboard,whatever. You can try Freecycle to get some for free and they're cheap used, especially since you wouldn't be buying anything nice to start with. Then let your daughter decide which she likes best. My husband who played trumpet and tuba in high school and college just bought a small trumpet for $60 to let our two year old daughter play with and for him to play when he and his friends get together. She loved it for about a week and hasn't thought about it since. Our plan is to provide her with a variety of cheap, but functional instruments. Hopefully, she'll end up playing something. If not, oh well.
J.K. answers from Saginaw on October 09, 2008
It is great that you want to get your daughter an instrument but at that age it is going to be very rare that they pick something that they will stick with. I have four kids and they have all changed their minds about instruments and sports at least three times before settling on the right fit. At this age it is all about experimentation until you learn what it is you really like, and what you choose for her at this age may not be what she wants in three years. I don't like to encourage quitting either but at this age it is very unlikely that she will stick with it. Your best bet is to find a very inexpensive instrument (places like target or walmart sell quite a few) so that if she decides she doesn't want to play anymore then you are not out alot of money.
J.G. answers from Detroit on October 10, 2008
What about buying a musical set for at home? We have the Parents brand set that has a drum, tamborine, etc. and then we also have bells & whistles that my daughter likes to play with. We also have a keyboard that she's allowed to play when she wants. AND a recorder! I got that from scholastic- so look for it in your daughter's book order form. It has a book to teach you how to play & read the music! I don't want to push lessons on my daughter yet because like you I want it to be something she enjoys. Sorry if that's not much advice in regards to lessons, but get things that she has access to-that SHE chooses- and see if she keeps interest in it. Then go from there on the lessons- let her just play with it for now!
J.H. answers from Grand Rapids on November 05, 2008
How fun that your daughter is showing an interest in music at this age, and how supportive for you to be looking at what to do!
I have been playing the trombone and ringing English handbells for more than 25 years each, have a B.A. in trombone, am self-taught on the piano, and worked for 8 years in a music retail store which rented primarily band and orchestra instruments. The question you ask is one I have had posed to me hundreds of times by parents, so I'd like to offer some feedback.
The most important thing for a child interested in music at this age is that it is FUN! Believe me, I know all about practicing and lessons...but SO many kids get turned off from music at an early age because of the pressure parents put on them.
I've seen it over and over, in teaching students of my own as well as watching those that used the services of the company's music studio. I understand that it's important to set boundaries and encourage children to finish whatever they start; however, at this age, if a child loses interest and is made to continue, the results are often disappointing.
At the very least, it is a waste of the teacher's time and the parents' money if a child doesn't want to play, has to be forced to practice and doesn't like/want lessons. Sometimes, it carries even further than that, and the child is completely turned off from music altogether.
True, there are benefits in terms of brain development, discipline and mastery that come with music...but the expectations should always be measured by the age of the child. And, statistically, at such a young age, I would expect a child to move around and explore different options. That's just in their nature at this point.
If you had come to me at the music store, I would most definitely have discouraged you from starting your daughter on a band instrument (flute, clarinet, trumpet, etc.) for a couple of reasons...
First of all, she would almost certainly be too small physically to be able to do what is required to play any of those instruments. They aren't sized the way stringed instruments are, and it's usually 5th or 6th grade before kids are big enough to play them (and my arm never felt like it was long enough for the trombone slide, even years later!).
The other reason is because band instruments are usually played in a group setting. Statistics we saw from different studies on this issue actually showed that students who started a band instrument a year or two (or more) ahead of the "norm" actually had a higher drop-out rate than those who started with the rest of the group.
The reasons considered had to do primarily with the fact that it's not very rewarding for most students to practice and practice and practice -- and then not have a concert to play in, etc. Also, they tended to get bored in band class b/c they had already learned how to play the instrument, so they weren't challenged enough to stick with it.
Piano and the smaller-sized stringed instruments are okay choices at this age, if that is what you're interested in. Maybe it sounds silly to find a teacher first, but I'd actually suggest you start shopping for either/both and ask them questions about how young they will teach and what they will expect.
I've known piano teachers who start children as young as 5; others require them to be a little older, or to attain a certain level of reading. Some are okay if you have a keyboard at home to practice (let's fact it -- they're not going to be playing the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 on the first lesson!) while others will want you to have the full 88 keys available.
Many parents like the smaller-sized string instruments (once the children get past that "squeaky" phase) and a rental program is definitely the way to go for one of those because they usually offer exchanges to the next size with little or no cost to you. That certainly beats shelling out $500 or so for each instrument as you go up -- and the resale profit on most used instruments is minimal.
Some parents like the Suzuki method for strings b/c it gets the child playing right away. Some teachers I know offer criticism on the instant gratification...and also often find it challenging to help those students transition into reading music later. Pros and cons on both sides, obviously.
I don't know if you've checked out local music and movement classes through KinderMusic or Gymboree Play & Music -- or whatever others are out there. That might also be a way to whet her interest and give her some options before plunking down serious money.
There are also "kid friendly" instruments (read: cheap) in many toy catalogs. I've seen guitars, recorders, drum sets, hand-held percussion, harmonicas and the like. Personally, my son LOVES watching me play bells and always wants to get involved when I practice at home. So, for his birthday this fall, I shelled out a whole $30 and bought him the brightly-colored, metal, tuned set of 8 bells and he can play along, too! He loves them, and they are quite durable. They've already been dropped a number of times and are still going strong.
Best wishes as you pursue options that will work for your child, your budget and your family. I hope that you find a creative solution that is fun for her and affordable for you. Feel free to send me a message if you'd like to discuss this further.
C.P. answers from Lansing on October 09, 2008
You have many options,1- say no. 2- Buy an inexpensive instrument for the purpose of gaining basic music skills, or making noise (recorder, harmonica, tambourine) and see if she sticks to it first, then go for something to invest money in (Instrument and lessons)
If piano is your (or her ) choice, and you don't have space for one, a small keyboard will do as a start. (If you are taking lessons, all she really needs is a cardboard or plastic keyboard that folds up and can be put away. It doesn't make any noise, so she may not like it and quit.)
BUT before you start anything, keep in mind that she is only five years old, and most piano teachers will not even teach anyone younger than six (because they need to be able to have the concept of reading) and know the alphabet, and sit still for twenty minutes.
She is very young. If you wait, (like until fourth or fifth grade or middle school)some schools, or districts will let you rent instruments and switch them if she decides to switch at no extra cost. (check into marshall music...they might have a program like that.)
You sound very serious. Just let her have fun making noise with cheap stuff. She may be completely happy with that. Otherwise wait one year. There are a lot of instruments smaller than a piano.
V.G. answers from Grand Rapids on October 09, 2008
We're running into the same situation. She want's to play the same instrument that I played in school - so, although they don't make one small enough for her (I played the Viola) there are ways to make it work. What I would recommend is two things.
1) Have her think about it for a while before making the final decision. We told our daughter that she has 3 months to think about it. If she still wants to do it, then we'll lease her one.
2) Go to a local music store that sells or leases instruments. Talk to them and determine what would work best for your daughter. I was amazed at their knowledge and advice. If they have a lease program, find out how it works. I know that the store we're looking at going through offers a lease program that rolls the money into the purchase of the full size instrument when the time comes.
K.A. answers from Detroit on October 08, 2008
I really don't have a specific instrument in mind, but what about an instrument that she would be able to use in junior high and high school bands. My son is in all kinds of school bands and his favorite is marching band.