5th grader considering band - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,

We are having a hard time deciding whether or not to let/encourage ds be in both orchestra and band.  Currently, he plays the cello and is in the school orchestra since last year.  He loves the cello and will keep playing it.  Now that he is in 5th, band is an option and he is really interested.  The band teacher was a classmate of mine from elementary school, and he keeps emailing me personally trying to get ds involved.  I loved band when I was a kid, but we did not have an orchestra at my small school.  Ds was interested in a couple of band instruments, but we kind of narrowed it down to one because of cost.  He is taking private cello lessons, so we would have to rent an instrument through the school ($60 for the year instead of $60/month for the other instrument).  

 

We were ok with the extra practice, etc., Then, I talked to new private cello teacher.  I thought he was going to drop us from lessons because we had the audacity to consider more than one instrument.  Had to work hard to convince him that ds did indeed intend to keep playing his cello and was dedicated to practice. He did also point out that it is hard to focus and get good at one thing when doing too many.  So asked ds's psychologist about her thoughts, and she said her kids did 2 instruments, too, but that it was time consuming.  She was more worried about time spent on each.  

 

Meanwhile still getting emails from the band instructor and he is talking to ds at school.   Not sure what to do.  Not sure whether to encourage ds to give it a try or to just stick with one instrument.  What would you do?  Thanks

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#2 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 07:40 AM
 
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What is the band instrument?

 

Most musicians play more than one instrument. I just saw a band over the weekend where the keyboardist played the guitar, harmonica and the clarinet, too. I wouldn't be surprised if he could play a few more. If you feel like your DS has the time and drive to do it I think it's okay. It's not like all kids only do soccer to the exclusion of any other sport ever. Many kids play soccer and basketball or baseball and run track. Sometimes when kids get to upper levels they do need to focus, but I think if his other activities outside school aren't overwhelming you could let him try out a new instrument, too. The cello teacher is probably being a little possessive. 

 

It may be that he will try it out for this year and decide to drop it and just concentrate on the cello. That needs to be okay, or vice versa — he may love his new instrument and want to drop cello. Would you be okay to that if he's feeling overwhelmed and wants to go with just the new one next year?

 

All that said, it would probably be too much for my kids, especially my 10 yr old, but she needs a lot of unstructured down time. Her only activity after school this year so far is dance. She's in a performance company for the first time this year as well as taking class(es) so she's over there two or three times a week.


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#3 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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Well, this is probably one of those "it depends on the kid" things, his personal goals and learning style, and how he handles competing demands on his time. 

 

How strong is his interest in learning a band instrument? Is he willing to put in the practice hours? Will it interfere with school work? Does he have trouble completing homework now? Will it make it difficult to participate in other activities he likes to do? 

 

Will he need or want private lessons on the new band instrument? If so, then aside from the impact on schoolwork and other activities, there are the costs to consider. 

 

DS played double bass starting in middle school and played in the orchestra and a couple of smaller string ensembles. He also sang in a couple of choirs. Around the same time, he picked up electric bass and guitar and played them outside of school, taking private lessons. He had/has many friends who played both string and band instruments. Some of them simply took advantage of the school's music program, but some of them took private lessons on a couple of instruments. From what I observed, they were encouraged by the music teachers to play different instruments. 

 

At the time, DS expressed an interest in trying a band instrument, but for a variety of reasons it didn't happen. Last year, as a high school senior, he tried saxophone, but was too busy to really progress with it. I have some regrets that we didn't help him with it sooner. 

 

DS has also been a counsellor at a residential music camp for middle schoolers for the past couple of summers. Quite a few of the other counsellors played multiple instruments. It helped them land the job. 

 

If he loves music, enjoys the variety and is having fun, and he can afford the time and you can afford the expense, then I'd probably let him try if I was in your shoes. Unless, perhaps your DS is developing a concert career, and he needs to devote himself to a single instrument. Or perhaps he has specific learning style that it better for him to concentrate on one instrument. Those are factors you could discuss with him and with the professionals involved in his life. 

 

 

 

 

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#4 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds is considering the baritone.  He also really liked the saxophone, but it is too expensive for us right now.  Since he like both instruments, we narrowed it down.  Plus, band teacher thought he might do better with baritone music since it is also treble clef like the cello, but when I asked another friend, who sells instruments he said they were indifferent keys and that it might lead to confusion. The friend selling instruments was ds playing another instrument as long as he was excited/interested in it.    

 

Ds has not done a lot of extra curricular activities.  My work conflicts with most after school sports and luckily the music is before school, so it works better.  I was leaning towards letting him try, but just do not want to get him over his head.  

 

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#5 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 08:58 AM
 
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I'd let him do baritone. It's not super hard. I played trumpet through school and could play most brass instruments and get a noise out of most of the others. French horn or trumpet or trombone have some complex parts, but I don't think most baritone parts are very tricky. He might actually get more out of another instrument if he likes melody and the lead. There aren't many lead melody parts for baritone. Those go mainly to the saxes and trumpets/trombones and some to the clarinets, IIRC (but it's been a long time). I'd let him do it if he's interested, but you know your kid best. 


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#6 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 09:04 AM
 
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Well, what about a non-string instrument that can also be played in an orchestra? Orchestras don't generally have saxophone or baritone parts, but they do have tubas, trombones, and trumpets. As do bands. It would give him more options down the road.


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#7 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 11:14 AM
 
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Sounds like he thinks band will be fun and it is. You get to march in parades, play at football games, go on lots of field show trips. You get to play more pop music and there is nothing like being in front of that drum line! Plus, band tends to be more social and slightly "cooler" to the outside public...... And yes, I spent a lot of time in both through college.

 

It may be that he continues cello seriously and barely practices his band instrument. He may not need to in order to keep up with the standards of the group he's in if he has natural musical ability. As long as he's not going in totally unprepared, it's really fine not to be first chair. It could be he decides one is "art" and the other is "fun." He might decide he likes one more than the other and drop one. Who knows, he may end up outstanding in both!

 

Music teachers with the "all or nothing" attitude drive me crazy. I get it. Those that go pro do live and breath their instruments. They are passionate and they want everyone who touches an instrument to feel the same. However, most people that learn an instrument never go further than their school programs and that doesn't make the experience less valuable.

 

Our whole family plays multiple instruments. My DS 10 is starting band this year and we have no qualms about the fact that he's 4 years into his piano training already. My DD 14 played the violin seriously from the age of 5. She stopped taking lessons last year because she wanted to focus on theatre (her true passion.) She still plays fiddle for fun and is picking up mandolin on the side. I know her 2nd private violin teacher would kill her if he knew she'd not continued to pursue it at the level he felt she could be at but it's not his life... it's hers!

 

If it's something he can try at school at little cost to you, I don't see why not give it a shot. I'd keep it low pressure. I'd not expect the same level of commitment to both instruments. Like I said, as long as he's not dragging the rest of the group down and keeping up with the basic level of the group, it doesn't really matter if it's not his "main" instrument.


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#8 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 11:29 AM
 
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I don't think 5th grade band is that much of a commitment. Baritone is not a hard instrument to play and with his cello training, your son already knows all the notes rhythms, etc. There are going to be kids who don't have any music trainig so it's not like they are going to play hard music. The bottom line is he is not going to have to practice his baritone for hours a day. If his school has band practice every day, he probably won't have to practice at home at all. My DD started clarinet in 5th grade. During 5th and 6th grade, there wasn't a band, just lessons once a week. She would play at her lessons and maybe 2 or 3 times during the week for 20 min and that was it. Once she got to jr high (7th grade), they started having daily band and she rarely practiced at home. She did take private clarinet lessons this summer because she had more time to devote to it but she is not taking them now that school started again. She rarely brings her clarinet home even. 

 

ETA: My 6th grader did percussion last year (which is pretty boring in 5th and 6th grade because no band practice = no fun percussion!) He has a drum set at home but his lessons at school are just on a drum pad (yawn). He was taking private percussion and his teacher suggested he take up a new instrument this year because he is about 2 years ahead of the band in percussion. So he is now learning guitar but will keep up percussion for band. I'm sure percussion will be much more fun in jr high when he gets to play every day at school. But he is easily playing two instruments. Although I'm sure some people don't think of percussion as an "instrument" but it isn't as easy as it seems.

 

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#9 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melissa17s View Post

Ds is considering the baritone.  He also really liked the saxophone, but it is too expensive for us right now.  Since he like both instruments, we narrowed it down.  Plus, band teacher thought he might do better with baritone music since it is also treble clef like the cello, but when I asked another friend, who sells instruments he said they were indifferent keys and that it might lead to confusion. The friend selling instruments was ds playing another instrument as long as he was excited/interested in it.    

 

Ds has not done a lot of extra curricular activities.  My work conflicts with most after school sports and luckily the music is before school, so it works better.  I was leaning towards letting him try, but just do not want to get him over his head.  

 


Baritone is an easy instrument to learn. I was an oboist and learned baritone for marching band. Not quite sure what the band teacher meant about clefs--cello parts are *mostly* in bass clef, though advanced players also play in tenor and treble, depending on the range of the part. Saxophones are written in treble, even when the sounding pitch is low.

Baritone parts can be in either treble or bass clef. My recollection is that treble clef parts are transposed as for a B-flat instrument (written a whole step up), while the bass clef parts are written in C. The student learns the fingerings appropriate to whatever clef they'll be playing in. Baritone T.C. parts are frequently the same as tenor sax parts, at least for marching band. smile.gif

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#10 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 01:18 PM
 
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When I was in orchestra in school I would say most of the kids were also in band.  

 

Also 5th grade is not a lifetime commitment.  He can try and then stop if it doesn't work out.

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#11 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 01:32 PM
 
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At that age it should be fine. If anything it may enhance his appreciation of the cello. He currently plays a string instrument. Learning to play a wind instrument could improve his phrasing and musicality as he will  need to use different skills to play a phrase beautifully.

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#12 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 05:56 PM
 
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I think you should ask him to give it two months then assess which instrument he likes best and stick with that one if playing two isn't working out.  I really wanted to play the violin in school but I got stuck with the flute for four years before my mother finally let me quit the band.  I really think that letting kids choose the instrument they want to play is important even if music lessons themselves are non-negotiable.

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#13 of 17 Old 09-07-2011, 06:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post

I don't think 5th grade band is that much of a commitment. Baritone is not a hard instrument to play and with his cello training, your son already knows all the notes rhythms, etc. There are going to be kids who don't have any music trainig so it's not like they are going to play hard music. The bottom line is he is not going to have to practice his baritone for hours a day. If his school has band practice every day, he probably won't have to practice at home at all. .

 


We are in a similar situation -- DS has been playing violin for 5 years, and had to choose between either band or choir this year for school.  He chose band.  And the sax.  At school orientation the band teachers made it abundantly clear that they were going to go very, very slowly because they knew that there would be kids without any music training.  At first the time commitment for practice will be 5 - 10 min./night.  By Nov. it will be 20 min./night.  I imagine that it will never be more than that for ds because he has a natural ability for music.  We are treating that nightly practice just like homework for any other subject.  

 

However, we decided a hiatus from violin, with his violin's teacher's blessing, for the first couple of months of school to allow ds some time to get into the routine of middle school.  I fully expect that ds will be anxious to pick violin back up by Nov. or Dec., but if it lasts longer, we're ok with that, too.  

 


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Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I think you should ask him to give it two months then assess which instrument he likes best and stick with that one if playing two isn't working out.  I really wanted to play the violin in school but I got stuck with the flute for four years before my mother finally let me quit the band.  I really think that letting kids choose the instrument they want to play is important even if music lessons themselves are non-negotiable.


ITA.  Even if your ds stuck with baritone exclusively for 2 or 3 years, it wouldn't be like he couldn't ever play the cello again if he changed his mind at that point.  And a little OT, but I've always been in awe of musicians who could play more than one instrument.  Or play an instrument and sing at the same time :)

  

 


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#14 of 17 Old 09-08-2011, 07:46 AM
 
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Let him try band. I know high school kids who have done both since 5th grade. Yes, it is a time commitment to practice both, but if he likes it and isn't involved in a lot of other activities, that's fine.

 

As others have said, this isn't a permanent decision (and your cello teacher is being obnoxious).


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#15 of 17 Old 09-08-2011, 01:43 PM
 
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I think it would be fine to do both.  In my dd's class, there is a fifth grader who has been playing the trumpet for quite a while, and he started string bass lessons last January.  He's picking it up really fast, and shows a lot of aptitude.  Still serious about the other instruments, as far as I can tell.  Going from string instrument to a wind/brass instrument might in some ways be easier than the other way around.

 

As for the cello teacher, that's annoying.  I was in an internationally recognized youth orchestra in the third grade, and when I switched violin teachers to a new teacher, the new teacher made me give up the orchestra and girl scouts and all of the other activities.  Part of her argument was that she wanted me to concentrate on practicing, but even back then I knew that most  of it was petty.  The new violin teacher and the orchestra leader were sworn enemies.  My parents let me make the decision, and I kept the teacher, and gave up the orchestra.  I joined other orchestras later, but to this day, I sometimes regret my decision.  So I vote for interviewing other cello teachers with the eye towards at least considering a change in cello teachers in case this becomes an issue for you.

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#16 of 17 Old 09-08-2011, 01:48 PM
 
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Ooops.  Double Post.

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#17 of 17 Old 09-08-2011, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for your input.  It is good to know that the baritone is not overly complicated; I played the flute and later the bass guitar, so I am not sure about brass at all.  It is also reassuring to know that so many of you feel two instruments is not  too much.  I told ds that it is up to him, and he thinks he wants to do this, but says he is still thinking about it.  I think he will probably do it :)  (our deadline is next Tues.)

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