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Was going to post this in the other piano thread but started to see it needed its own.<br><br>
I'm considering starting my DD on piano. She hasn't asked, and she isn't particularly musical intrinsically--enjoys music, but has never seemed deeply excited by it and does not go out of her way for it-- so I'm a little hesitant, especially because it will be quite an expense for us. However, she has enjoyed and done very well with the basic recorder instruction she gets at school, and music does seem like a great outlet for a kid who isn't getting challenged otherwise, which she really isn't. Also, I think music is a great experience; DH is also very musical and feels lessons are important in general. But the core of it is, this is our idea, not hers. She does get quite a lot of music at school, too, since she attends an arts charter.<br><br>
I wonder how it will be for her to be assigned things that do not come easily (which is something she rarely experiences-the only other things she's had to struggle to conquer in recent memory were swimming and riding a 2-wheeler, both of which came QUITE hard but with eventual triumph) when she may not be all that excited about the final outcome. She can be very fiery and stubborn, and I don't want to have battles over practicing. On the flip side, she is very, very focused when her motivation comes from within. I have asked her about piano, and she says she's interested, but she is the kind of kid to be up for anything new, generally, at least at first.<br><br>
What do you guys think? Has anyone put their kid in music largely for the challenge/cultural aspect? I mean, obviously, I also hope she'll enjoy it, but perhaps I should be looking for something different that is more based in her passions (birdwatching and art, mainly)?
 

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<p>My kids always had a lot of musical exposure (DH plays, I play as well as my whole family, multiple instruments.) We didn't go with lessons until they started begging for them. My DD started violin at 5 after a solid year of asking. She just plays fiddle for fun now... bluegrass as opposed to classical since she's no longer in an orchestra. My DS started piano at 6 after campaigning pretty hard for it. Kids really don't succeed in music unless they want to do it.</p>
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<p>I don't think it hurts to try something if she's open to it... some lower key lessons, not too big a financial commitment. Have you asked her what instrument she'd be interested in learning? It may not be piano. I'd certainly see if there is any instrument she'd prefer first.</p>
 

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<p>Well, I'm a firm believer in exposure.  I think that I grew up loving music and eventually learning to play well because I was surrounded my music in my youth.</p>
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<p>DH and I have multiple instruments and a huge libary of CDs.  I finally got a piano recently (we didn't have one for years because we have always lived in apartments - but made the leap - even though we still live in an apartment!).</p>
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<p>I'm not going to force DD, who is four, to play.  Her interest has been greatly peaked, however, by just having the piano there.  She'll sit down and tinker around.  I was quite shocked the other week when she remembered the keys.  So the interest is there.  And, I'm of the camp that any aquisition of knowledge is a good thing.  Even if she never becomes a concert pianiast, I think there is so much mental stimulation derived from music itself.  I know that having music available to me when I was young was a huge catalyst for other positive things in my life.  Like myself, DD is more interested in the visual arts, but I personally think that music is one of those second tier things (food, water and shelter being first tier) that everyone should be exposed to.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #4
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">We didn't go with lessons until they started begging for them.</div>
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See, I think this is sort of how I feel, but I also think I'm probably in the minority? I don't know. DO most kids who take music lessons beg for them? I somehow doubt it...<br><br>
I don't know. I put her in drawing lessons because she begged for them. However, I put her in swimming lessons because swimming is a life skill and part of being a well-rounded person, IMO--I didn't ask for her opinion, although if she'd hated them, we would probably have pulled her and tried again later. So is music "swimming" or is it "drawing"? Know what I mean?<br><br>
As for asking her what instrument she would like to play...she's only 6, and the options are not limitless, either financially or logistically. I think it's pretty much violin, piano, guitar, really, right? In terms of not spending a mint and finding available classes?<br><br>
I also wonder if it would be better to wait another year, or even two. I do really try to protect her free play time.<br><br>
 

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<p>My personal feeling is that unless a child wants to take lessons, I wouldn't push it.  In addition to the weekly lesson, there is also practice.  And, IME, a child who isn't really invested in lessons isn't likely to practice and won't progress, so it'll become frustrating to everyone.  (And yes, my ds begged for violin lessons before he turned 5 for 6 months before we actually did something about it!  But music is his passion and he's been very committed to it since.) </p>
<p> </p>
<p>However, I'm all about exposure.  Is there a Kindermusik-like experimental class that you could enroll your dd in?   I know that our local YMCA offers these types of classes and so does our local Park & Rec. center.  This might be an easier way to see if she's interested and gravitates to a particular instrument before making the financial and time commitment.</p>
 

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<p>I feel differently about swimming. That was one area where we really enforced lessons. We live in an area where people swim all year long. We are 20 minutes from the beach. Many of the kids friends have pools in their backyards. My DD liked swimming but DS HATED the lessons and only recently (at 9) was able to swim across the pool comfortably (with lessons I finally enforced and he fought the whole way.)  However, he would always jump in the pool with his friends and hope something floating would save him from drowning, he was first to race out into the water at the beach.... sorry, you don't get to do those things unless you can swim in my book. I enforced swim lessons and I don't regret it. You don't live in our area without learning to swim for pure safety.</p>
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<p>The kids we know that have played more than a year or two (and there are many) DID ask to play. Some asked early, others asked later but they asked. Those that were forced into lessons ended in frustration for both child and parent. It's OK to mention it. She doesn't sound opposed to trying. Like I said, I just wouldn't invest too much. Violin might actually be cheaper as you can rent a decent instrument short term, there are some group lessons available, ect. Piano... well, unless you have one, it's pricey. We happened to have one so that made sense.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Instruments at 6 are limited but it's still nice to have a choice.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh, I wouldn't force her. She is up for it, but she tends to be enthusiastic about trying new things. Also, we wouldn't initially buy a piano--just a keyboard (obviously, I would research this first). There is a long complicated reason why violin is not a good idea, but guitar would be okay (is guitar really playable at this age?)<br><br>
I actually just emailed her music teacher at school to ask if she thought it would be a good idea or not.
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>loraxc</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282811/spin-off-starting-piano-lessons-mostly-to-provide-intellectual-challenge#post_16085352"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br>
Oh, I wouldn't force her. She is up for it, but she tends to be enthusiastic about trying new things. Also, we wouldn't initially buy a piano--just a keyboard (obviously, I would research this first). There is a long complicated reason why violin is not a good idea, but guitar would be okay (is guitar really playable at this age?)<br><br>
I actually just emailed her music teacher at school to ask if she thought it would be a good idea or not.</div>
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<p><br>
A keyboard is a good place to start - and most major retailers sell them.  Guiltar might be a little to cumbersome depending on the size of your DD.  DH bought a madolin for DD and that was a perfect size.  Different than a guitar, but a good string instrument to start with.<br>
 </p>
 

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<p>No. Even small guitars are really more for 8-year-old size. I'd hesitate on a mandolin. They are small enough but they are double string which can be difficult for little fingers to hold down. Keyboards are OK but they can be expensive. Look used first.</p>
 

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<p>My kids started violin because it was expected. Expected by me, in that I wanted them to have the intellectual challenge and also access to the culture of music and music education that my family is part of. But also expected by them, because they happened to be growing up in a family and a household where almost everyone played a stringed instrument. They didn't have any particular burning desire or passionate affinity for the violin. They were excited by the prospect of having lessons because they saw that as part of growing up: big kids (or at least most of the big kids they knew) had violins and lessons, little kids didn't.</p>
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<p>So my kids started out as music students primarily because I thought it was good for them. They started out interested. They became excited by actually beginning to play. There were bumps here and there but overall as their abilities grew, their enjoyment, interest and self-motivation grew as well. They're all pretty passionate about it now. I never have to nag them into practicing. No one has ever said they wanted to quit.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Miranda</p>
 

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<p>There are some lovely fractional guitars for very young kids, down to about age 4-5. I don't know much about them, except that they're much smaller than regular half-size "children's guitars" and they have a lovely sound, though not a big tone. One of my musical acquaintances near here is a Suzuki guitar teacher and I've seen some of his little kids playing: 5, 6 and 7-year-olds on appropriately scaled-down guitars.</p>
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<p>Edited to add <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWhEDej76HU" target="_blank">link to a small guitar performance</a> by a 5-year-old.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Miranda</p>
 

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<p>Our child begged for music lessons. I don't know that I'd have that as a requirement as there are kids who may not think of it as an option unless it is offered.  I would consider though, piano lessons are a very significant long term financial commitment. Unlike a lot of activities (like soccer or drama classes) it isn't a seasonal activity that kids typically pick up and let go many times. So, I'd be realistic about whether or not you can afford it and if it is too much of a stretch look for other options. I know for our family it would be hard to stretch to pay for lessons for years on end for a student who wasn't really passionate about music. While music has been absolutely fantastic for our child, I think private music lessons can be oversold as a way for gifted kids to develop self discipline or work ethic. In reality, kids can do that with all sorts of different activities. In my opinion what is most important is that the child finds support for developing passionate interests where they will see over time that putting in dedicated work makes a difference. I also see a lot of value in the experience of working one on one with a good teacher or mentor. That experience can come from a lot of activities though...it could be wildlife rehab, volunteering with old folks, woodworking, etc. There are lots of ways to get that experience. If the goal is more musical exposure and she likes to sing looking for a choir may be another may be another lower cost way to get more musical experience.</p>
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Discussion Starter #13
DH does play guitar, pretty seriously, so she might choose that if given the choice. She sits and "plays" with him sometimes and enjoys it, but isn't obsessed or asking to really learn. Again, her pattern is to enjoy all things musical, especially live performance, but not to hyperfocus or get really intense about it. This is how I am--music is important to me, and I enjoyed playing an instrument for years and was decently talented, but not gifted per se. However, there are major musical genes in the family and perhaps it would develop with DD as she played.<br><br>
The expense is nothing to sneeze at, and the thought that this is potentially years of money has definitely occurred to me. I do think you could get "this" somewhere else--however, I think this is a way to get it that is easily accessible and readily available anywhere--you know? It's a culturally normal thing and not a lot of work to seek out.<br><br>
moominmamma, your perspective was very interesting to me, as I know your kids feel quite passionately about this now. I could see this happening with DD. She wasn't especially wild about swimming before taking lessons, but now that she is pretty good at it, she's very excited about it and wants to join a swim team. She gets very motivated when she gets engaged by something where she makes clear progress after working hard.<br><br>
She is getting plenty of music at school--they perform quite an elaborate musical as a school, she learns recorder and how to read music, and they sing and do music "theory" all the time. So there isn't a lack of music in her life--we've very fortunate that way.
 

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Our DD begged for piano lessons for one year. She's been in lessons for 8 months now.<br><br>
She really loves it and has done well. We were told to make sure we use the word "Play", not "Practice", with her. So, before we signed her up (she's 7) we made her agree to play for 30 minutes daily. She has stuck with it and even puts the timer on herself. She started out with a keyboard because we wanted to make sure she was serious before we invested in a piano.<br><br>
We plan on getting her a real piano for Christmas. <img alt="joy.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/joy.gif"><br><br>
I want to add that learning an instrument has been one of the only things so far that has challenged her. This is worth its weight in gold.
 

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<p>One season, I was told I had to pick a sport as one of my parks and recs classes. I chose fencing, out of about 10 different available choices,  and stayed interested for about 8 years (mostly stopped because of time/equipment constraints as I entered college.)</p>
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<p> </p>
<p>How about figuring out what classes are available and letting her choose? Tell her that it's important to you that she have instrumental experience and what would she like to learn to play?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Also, music is something you can generally return to over time. The skills don't totally evaporate with time because they are muscle memory.</p>
 

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<p>I wouldn't do it just to provide stimulation/challenge. But if its something that you value, that's a fine reason to try it out. Can you sit in on lessons, recitals, or group classes? That will give both of you a sense of how the potential teachers work and whether it seems like a good match for you and your DD. FOR MY KIDS, I want to find a very non-mainstream music setting, when its time. I want their music instruction to be creative, interesting, and to truly focus as much on ensemble/group playing, improvisation, and composition as on technique. I think it will be hard to find a teacher who can do this, since its not the way most people are taught music in a formal setting (though its absolutely the way that people might learn music in a traditional culture or if they are lucky to live in a family of musicians!)</p>
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<p>I did suzuki and then attended a well-regarded music conservatory as a prep student (I did saturday music school from age 8-18). I learned violin, viola, singing, sight-reading. I played in chamber groups and orchestra. I performed regularly (which probably carried over most as a useful skill in life). BUT, in a lot of ways it was both a boring and negative world-view of music that I experienced: very acheivement oriented, very competitive, and not at all focused on learning music as a life skill and something that brings joy and pleasure to the player and the audience. It really felt like a chore, like something I did b/c it was somehow "good for me". I still hesitate to play my violin and I almost NEVER just pick it up for fun (though I sing for fun all the time). And I still get nervous playing in front of others- I always feel I am being judged. But... DH can't carry a tune, and can't read music or play any instruments. This seems sort of sad to me and I would like my kids to have the ability to engage in music because it can be such a wonderful thing in our lives.</p>
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<p>I am thinking now about what (or whether) to "add" to DS's life. He just turned 6 and goes to a very stimulating and wonderful school, where he is very appropriately challenged. Currently he also takes a boys dance class on Saturdays, where there is live music. I think that there is a ton of benefit in down time, self-directed activities, family time, etc. So I am loath, in some ways, to add more to his plate. I also see that there might be benefit in developing new abilities, focusing and working with existing strengths...</p>
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<p>So, your thread has touched on something I've been thinking about I guess!</p>
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<p>As for expense... at many music stores and most music schools you can rent instruments, that might be the way to go if you aren't sure she's going to stick with it! Or, simply choose an instrument where you can get a free/loaner one.</p>
 

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<p>Well, since my responses/suggestions were poo-pooed...you can always try percussion.  There's a couple of guys who are great in the subway - they use old plastic paint cans.  Recycled materials, totally loud, free-form.  No pressure.  Plus they make a decent living.  <img alt="2whistle.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/2whistle.gif"></p>
 

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Discussion Starter #18
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Well, since my responses/suggestions were poo-pooed...you can always try percussion.</div>
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?? I don't think I pooh-poohed you, did I? Sorry if you felt that way...not quite sure where the tone of this post is coming from.<br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">. I want their music instruction to be creative, interesting, and to truly focus as much on ensemble/group playing, improvisation, and composition as on technique.</div>
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This sounds wonderful! I want this too!<br><br>
For the record, DD's music teacher did email me back, and said she thought DD would do great with piano lessons as she's very enthusiastic in music class. However, as it turns out, she herself is a piano teacher (I didn't know this) though she's full up at present, so perhaps she is a bit biased. <img alt="wink1.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/wink1.gif">
 

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<p>Dd is in piano and it was mostly "my" idea. She's musical, she loves to sing and I hoped that she would take to piano. Like your daughter, she'll say "sure" to anything because she likes to try new things. So we signed her up for a year to see. At the end of the year, she still wanted to. This year is the year that she's finally getting it and is starting to take off. They've learned enough chords and theory that she's beginning to be able to play in different keys. She's learned 2 songs for the Christmas program at church (two completely non-religious songs, mind you, but they were her choice: Jingle Bells & Deck the Halls) and that was outside the 'regular' piano songs.</p>
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<p>I don't think it's bad to sign your child up for something to try it out, even if they haven't asked specifically for it. My kids don't know what's out there and what's possible. If they're willing to try, and you can afford it, why not? It's not a lifetime commitment.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>That's how we got ds interested in baseball -- asking him, signing him up on an "OK" not a "sure, absolutely, I really want to do it!" That's how we got ds interested in the after school program. In the afterschool program, he was put into theater (NOT his choice) and it turns out he loved it. My slow-to-warm up introvert had a BLAST (the teachers were phenomenal) and it made a huge difference for him. Now, if he'd come home and said "I hate it, I don't want to do it" we would have asked him to finish out the session (9 weeks) and let him be done. Dd tried t-ball last year (same time her brother was trying baseball). She hated it. She won't be back next year.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>So if your dd is interested, you can find a good teacher or program (our dd does group lessons, actually and it's much cheaper) why not?</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>loraxc</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282811/spin-off-starting-piano-lessons-mostly-to-provide-intellectual-challenge#post_16090056"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Well, since my responses/suggestions were poo-pooed...you can always try percussion.</div>
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?? I don't think I pooh-poohed you, did I? Sorry if you felt that way...not quite sure where the tone of this post is coming from.<br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">. I want their music instruction to be creative, interesting, and to truly focus as much on ensemble/group playing, improvisation, and composition as on technique.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
This sounds wonderful! I want this too!<br><br>
For the record, DD's music teacher did email me back, and said she thought DD would do great with piano lessons as she's very enthusiastic in music class. However, as it turns out, she herself is a piano teacher (I didn't know this) though she's full up at present, so perhaps she is a bit biased. <img alt="wink1.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com//images/smilies/wink1.gif"></div>
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<br><br><p>Sorry loraxc...I didn't mean to have a tone and it wasn't directed at you.  I was having a bad  snark attack, because I love music and I don't really think you can pigeon hole a child into something or not because it may be too hard or too boring or too "whatever" for someone else.  People have had good ideas but I think it is important to keep an open mind.  Remember that all children are different and just because something doesn't work for someone else, doesn't mean it can't work for you  and your child.  </p>
 
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