best first instrument for 6 year old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 01-13-2011, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are starting "first grade" in the fall and was wondering which  musical instrument to introduce to my dd. I do not know anything about music. My dh said any musical  instrument is good to introduce to a 6 yo.

 

sorry my English is a little rusty tonight.

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#2 of 13 Old 01-13-2011, 09:00 PM
 
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My son, who is now five, began suzuki violin a few weeks after he turned three. He had a great time with it but we moved and he wasn't able to continue. We bought a violin for our six year old and one for me and we are learning ourselves from his old suzuki method books. I started piano at the age of seven and enjoyed it.

 

If you're looking for something to do at home the recorder is great. You can get a nice once for around $10. I took recorder in college as my music requirement and had fun. It's super easy to learn and a great introduction to playing music.

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#3 of 13 Old 01-14-2011, 07:02 PM
 
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My son just turned 7 and has been taking piano lessons for 5 months now. He likes it. 


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#4 of 13 Old 01-14-2011, 09:12 PM
 
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I plan to start with a recorder .. because that is what i learned on starting when i was about 7 .. i learned to read music and theory and all that then moved to a clarinet at age 10 .. i think piano would be good too but i think recorder would be easier to learn together if you don't have the background or you don't want to do lessons..


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#5 of 13 Old 01-14-2011, 09:22 PM
 
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ukelele!  my ds (age 6 next week) is taking ukelele and piano lessons with a local musician (well, his formal training is as a librarian but he's been playing music for decades). 10-15 minutes on piano, 5 minutes theory, 5-10 minutes ukelele, 5 minutes "pick anything you see in this room and you can play it"  though usually, ds decides to keep working on learning a new tune.

 

we picked up a ukelele a few years ago (when ds was 1?) for $30.  BEST INVESTMENT EVER.  it keeps its tuning and it is the perfect size.  he really wants to play guitar but that is a much larger instrument - plus, we already had the ukelele.

 


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#6 of 13 Old 01-15-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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Both of my kids play violin.  I teach them at home (and 20 other students at our Music Institute).  I highly recommend looking into Suzuki method.  The time that you spend working and learning with your child is an invaluable gift.  If you go to www.suzukiassociation.org, you can find a teacher locator.  Teachers who have space in their studios post their contact information there.

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#7 of 13 Old 01-15-2011, 11:19 AM
 
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We are another Suzuki violin family, but I would say the best first instrument is one (a) which your child can get excited about learning (b) which exists in a form that is sized appropriate for small children's bodies and (c) for which you can find an inspiring and developmentally appropriate teaching arrangement.

 

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#8 of 13 Old 01-15-2011, 05:54 PM
 
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I've had DD in a Kindermusik program since she was a baby.  This year she has been in KM Young Child 1 where they are learning to read music and they just started out with their first "real" instrument--a glockenspiel.  I love that they start with this because it will make for a great transition to piano.  I can't say enough good things about the KM program.  DD is getting an incredible foundation in music and has really developed a love for it. 

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#9 of 13 Old 01-15-2011, 09:44 PM
 
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Ah, my area of expertise.  :)  I've been a professional music teacher since the mid-90s, with a BMus and and MMus degrees, blah blah blah.  :)

 

If you're just talking about teaching something at home, with no musical knowledge yourself, I would recommend the recorder for sure.  There's even programs out there specifically for homeschooling parents who don't know anything about music.  :)

 

If you're looking into taking outside lessons, then it's pretty much whatever the child is most interested in -- with a few exceptions.  A 6yo is not ready for instruments which require larger lung capacities or "wind power" -- most band instruments, in other words.  Flute, trumpet, etc.  Also, they require a complex adjustment - in fingering, in embouchure, and in breath support - for every single note, whereas piano and strings are more straightforward -- plunk fingers, pull a bow, note comes out.  Generally, age 9-10 is considered a minimum starting age for band instruments, they have more mature bodies and can handle the coordination and control of sound production.  

 

So a 6yo is probably ready for piano and for string instruments.  That being said, not every 6yo is ready for "traditional" private lessons.  I've had some students younger than 6 who definitely were, and students age 8 who still weren't.  So a lot depends on the TEACHER and the class/lesson methodology, more than it depend on the particular instrument.  :)  

 

Suzuki classes, Kindermusic, MYC, these are all great options.  And if she's REALLY keen on, say, the piano, then ask around -- find the local music teachers' association -- and try to get recommendations on what teachers are really good with young kids.

 

Oh, guitar -- can depend on the teacher as well.  I've known guitar teachers who won't take kids under age 10 or so, for various reasons, and others who would.  

 

And I would seriously recommend -- if you don't know music yourself, do NOT try to teach your child anything beyond things like the recorder.  I know this is contrary to what we usually believe as homeschoolers!  But I see music as more like a trained skill, than a knowledge subject.  Anyone can learn ancient history on their own from reading the right books, watching a few movies, etc.  But you won't learn how to figure skate very well by yourself.  You need a coach.  You can learn some basics, like what the notes on the page mean, to a certain extent anyway, on your own.  But to play an instrument, you need a *coach*.  I've seen first-hand the problems that happen from bad habits formed early -- either from self-studying kids or unqualified teachers!  It is SO much harder to fix later on after the habit or misunderstanding is entrenched.  They just miss out on so much.  It seems easy to say "oh we'll just start with the easy stuff ourselves, then get a teacher when we start to struggle" -- but it rarely ever works that way, even with the best of intentions.  Either the eventual teacher has to fix things and start from scratch ... or else the kid becomes frustrated and/or bored and quits.

 

(And of course there are exceptions, my own son has been a mostly self-studied musician so far, I try to help him out with some things but he does most of it on his own... however, he has an exceptional innate talent, above what most kids have -- this isn't 'stage mama' talk either, everyone is astonished by him, myself included!! -- therefore most kids do need music teachers to guide them through stuff they can't figure out themselves)

 


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#10 of 13 Old 01-16-2011, 10:47 AM
 
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Quote:
And I would seriously recommend -- if you don't know music yourself, do NOT try to teach your child anything beyond things like the recorder.  I know this is contrary to what we usually believe as homeschoolers!  But I see music as more like a trained skill, than a knowledge subject.  Anyone can learn ancient history on their own from reading the right books, watching a few movies, etc.  But you won't learn how to figure skate very well by yourself.  You need a coach.  You can learn some basics, like what the notes on the page mean, to a certain extent anyway, on your own.  But to play an instrument, you need a *coach*.  I've seen first-hand the problems that happen from bad habits formed early -- either from self-studying kids or unqualified teachers!  It is SO much harder to fix later on after the habit or misunderstanding is entrenched.  They just miss out on so much.  It seems easy to say "oh we'll just start with the easy stuff ourselves, then get a teacher when we start to struggle" -- but it rarely ever works that way, even with the best of intentions.  Either the eventual teacher has to fix things and start from scratch ... or else the kid becomes frustrated and/or bored and quits.

As someone who had to unlearn a lot of bad habits from poor initial instruction, I agree completely with this.  I studied piano for 20 years and even taught lessons for several, but I still want my kids studying music from other teachers. 

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#11 of 13 Old 01-17-2011, 05:54 AM
 
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Violin here too. Suzuki but currently without an outside teacher for reasons below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kristin0713 View Post

 

Quote:
And I would seriously recommend -- if you don't know music yourself, do NOT try to teach your child anything beyond things like the recorder.  I know this is contrary to what we usually believe as homeschoolers!  But I see music as more like a trained skill, than a knowledge subject.  Anyone can learn ancient history on their own from reading the right books, watching a few movies, etc.  But you won't learn how to figure skate very well by yourself.  You need a coach.  You can learn some basics, like what the notes on the page mean, to a certain extent anyway, on your own.  But to play an instrument, you need a *coach*.  I've seen first-hand the problems that happen from bad habits formed early -- either from self-studying kids or unqualified teachers!  It is SO much harder to fix later on after the habit or misunderstanding is entrenched.  They just miss out on so much.  It seems easy to say "oh we'll just start with the easy stuff ourselves, then get a teacher when we start to struggle" -- but it rarely ever works that way, even with the best of intentions.  Either the eventual teacher has to fix things and start from scratch ... or else the kid becomes frustrated and/or bored and quits.

As someone who had to unlearn a lot of bad habits from poor initial instruction, I agree completely with this.  I studied piano for 20 years and even taught lessons for several, but I still want my kids studying music from other teachers. 


I do agree with this but I think it's easy to be too cautious. DD had one lesson from a teacher we both liked but then we moved two hours away. When we finally found one in our area she really wasn't right for us and I forced my poor DD to stay with her for months longer than I should have. It was hugely detrimental to DD's relationship with violin. She really wanted to play but this teacher's interpersonal style really didn't work for her. She kept begging to "do violin at home with you Mama!" and I kept saying no because I am a flautist, not a violinist and I've had too many flute students who had to struggle against problems caused by poor initial instruction. In the end I gave in because I could find no other solution (no other Suzuki teachers in our area and DD wanted to continue learning). I really should have done it sooner. After all, I have a masters degree in music, I did take a semester of string pedagogy in my undergraduate degree and I have no shortage of violin playing friends I can ask technical questions of. So yeah, it's posible to be too cautious in this area.


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#12 of 13 Old 01-20-2011, 03:31 AM
 
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I think your starting point should be whatever instrument she wants to play. Take her to live concerts, play her youtube videos, take her to a music shop and see what she responds to. You and her are going to be hearing this sound a LOT. 

 

You might also be able to rent a series of instruments through the schools music scheme to see which one holds her.

 

If she falls in love with a particular instrument I think you should try to go with that. You might have to get her on an interim instrument if you are keen for her to start now, but if she loves, say, the flute, the recorder would be an obvious choice for the next few years.

 

If nothing is too obvious I think you should think about temperament and strengths. Is she going to be prepared to put in a lot of work (in 6 year old terms)  before she gets a nice sound (violin), or does she like quick feedback (piano)?  Would she be better suited to playing with others (most instruments, but possibly particularly strings?) or solo or accompanying work (piano)? Do you have the resources and space for a large instrument (piano?)-what about your neighbours (maybe not tuba if you live in a tiny flat?) 

 

What do you hope to achieve? Are you basically looking to give a good general musical education through learning to play an instrument? I think the piano might be especially good for this. OTOH I think the violin is really good for developing/retaining a good ear.

 

I'm not an expert here and I bet there are books that will help you decide but what I'm trying to say is that there is no one perfect instrument. It will depend on a lot of factors.

 

My own feeling about self teaching btw is that its better than nothing. But if you yourself don't play, it might not be THAT much better than nothing. I dunno, i can see how if you really really can't get to a teacher, recorder ukulele or piano could be pretty much ok in the early days-you'd need to read up on technique and maybe look at some youtube videos but I think it would be better than not doing it at all. However I think for a string instrument it would be better to get a teacher and I think I'd actually suggest that a child didn't start unless they had an experienced instructor in place. But then I do a lot of folk fiddle stuff and there are a lot of self taught semi professional fiddlers out there...


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#13 of 13 Old 01-20-2011, 07:15 AM
 
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As far as strings go DH (who is a traditional music teacher for students ages 6-adult) has come to the conclusion that fiddle/violin is the best instrument to start with.  It seems to have worked best for his students.  Ukele is another possibility.  My daughter 5 strums a banjo, but she doesn't make chords.  I just bought my 2 1/2 year old a learner's guitar that she plays with.  I like the idea of recorder too.


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