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Music lessons. When? What?

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I took piano as a kid. And French horn for one year. Mostly sang in choirs. DH played guitar.


DS wants to play guitar, but he's 4. Can he? Do I buy a tiny one?


DD is almost 7. I think she is ready for something for sure.


I think music is important and want regular instrumental practice in our lives, but what and when?


There is a violin teacher in the area (I'm not sure if she has room or not, but possibly). So that might be possible.


I'd love it if one of them played the sax, but I think it's a little early for that.


DH says I should just buy a basic recorder kit and teach them that for now. Is that a good start for now?


Can you tell I'm really unsure about how to approach this? :)

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They could both start violin now if you/they want (you can hire the 1/2 and 1/4 sized violins and buy when they get to a full sized one), or piano if you want to teach them. With saxaphone, I think it's more usual for kids to start with the clarinet for a while first. Your 7yo could do that, the 4yo probably wouldn't be ready yet but could certainly start the recorder. The 7yo could play an ordinary guitar. I know you can get half sized guitars, but I haven't seen or tried one, so not sure about that.


Another option would be to do general musicianship stuff until you have more of an idea of what they might enjoy. You could either enrol them in a fun kids' music class, or play musical games with them at home using voice, clapping, and simple percussion instruments or home made shakers, rhythm sticks etc. There are lots of CDs for this kind of thing, and it would be cheaper than formal lessons if that's an issue.


Also if you do tons of music appreciation and expose them to a lot of different musical instruments and styles, they will let you know what takes their fancy.

Edited by Hotdrink
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My daughter is 6.5 and has been doing violin for almost a year now. She loves it. She's also been begging for guitar lessons, and piano, and drums, and when she gets older she's apparently going to take flute and sax.... :glare: (Is it too early to force her to get a job to pay for her own lessons? :lol:)


Violin is a great instrument to start young, since they make smaller instruments. She started playing completely by ear, but is learning to read notes now. Piano is good also, if you actually have a piano. I don't think it's actually any fun taking lessons if you don't HAVE the instrument, which is why we went with violin over piano. :D


The one thing I did for DD that you might be interested in, check local pawn shops for guitars. I got a 3/4 size guitar for like... $60? The guitar is one of those instruments you can pick up and pluck around on and still make a nice sound (unlike say.. the violin! :001_huh:) and it's satisfied her need for lessons for now. She also has a nice keyboard to play around on (a real keyboard, not a child's one), various percussion instruments, and I make sure to play a wide range of music styles.

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Recorder is a good, inexpensive way to start if you can't afford or aren't ready to commit to piano or violin. At 7 or 8, piano would be my #1 recommendation. It lays a great foundation for all future musical study, whether it's singing or playing other instruments. Violin is good too (and can be easier to start with younger kids), but with piano you're learning both bass and treble clef as well as combining different rhythmic patterns rather than being restricted to just one at a time. A kid with a piano background has a huge headstart when it comes to learning a wind instrument (and even percussion), which usually starts around 5th grade (about 10 or 11).


ETA: About the saxophone--although many sax and clarinet players can cross over, I've never heard of necessarily starting on clarinet before going to the sax (I play sax, or did once upon a time ...). If anything, the sax is easier, even though it's larger. The fingerings are a little simpler, and there aren't any open holes for the student to have to cover with just a finger. That said, it's generally better to wait until kids are a bit older to start (like I said, 10-ish) simply for physical reasons--they're bigger and can handle the instrument more easily, and younger kids are probably not generally ready for the breath capacity and control needed to be able to play.

Edited by Kirch
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There are Suzuki guitar programs in some areas (none near us though) that start kids very young on guitar. My ds started guitar at 6yo, his choice of instrument, but we listened to a lot of music in the home and sang/danced around the house prior to that.


My dd started on violin at 3yo and it has been a wonderful experience for her. She was asking to play violin at 2yo so was completely ready and enthusiastic about it.


If you aren't ready to commit to a particular instrument, I would recommend listening to a lot of different music at home and seeing what instrument your children would like to play. They may change their minds later in life, but I think kids will enjoy practice more if learning to play something they like.

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We started the kids around... wait. The girls started the year they came home for school - 6th grade and 4th grade. We started ds at K - he's always been home for school. They all had to take a year of piano first and then they could branch out. Oldest switched to guitar. Youngest switched first to trumpet, found out his mouth wasn't right and switched to clarinet. Middle stayed with piano and has now added voice.


Based on what we've done with oldest, they will be required to take lessons through the end of junior year. Optional senior year.


I have to say that every young person I know who started violin early has been brilliant. I don't know what violin has to do with it, but every single one. So I'd say start on violin if they have interest.

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I'm a saxophone/clarinetist, and I'd suggest waiting on both until about age 9-10. Saxophone is just plain big, and clarinet requires having big enough pads on the fingers to cover the holes. It's fairly easy to move between the two-the fingerings change and the embouchure needs to adapt, but otherwise, they're closely related instruments. Saxophone/flute is also a common crossover.


Really, age 4 is too young for recorder to be successful for most students as well. Suzuki does begin that young, but the breath control is just plain hard that early. You're better off with piano or violin.


I tend to encourage piano as a first formal instrument simply because it makes music theory so logical. However, violin is better for developing the ear, so either isn't a bad choice. DD showed a strong preference AWAY from violin early.


Suzuki guitar is an option for a 4 yr old if you can find a teacher, but they're rare. I wouldn't start traditional guitar until much older because it focuses on chording and a 4 yr old, even with a small guitar, isn't going to be able to chord. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT buy a toy store guitar, like First Act-they cannot hold a tune for love or money! A good small guitar is, like a good small violin, a specialized item. At 3/4 scale, there are a lot more options, but a 4 yr old will need a 1/4 or possibly a 1/2 at most.


And, as an early childhood music specialist, a good ECED music class is never a bad choice!

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