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Golden Music Center Blog
Three Ways to Become a Much Better Violinist

 

From Violinist.com

Over the years it has seemed to me that there are,  in the case of many players,  three basic, uncomplicated things they can do to become seriously better players.  Here they are:

1)  Learn the even numbered positions.  If I could have a dollar for every player even up to and beyond intermediate level who is not comfortable in the even positions I would be able to buy up the applecorp.  What an earth is going on dudes (especially teachers!)?  Why are you not learning /teaching this fundamental thing?  If you don`t know these you don`t know the fingerboard. Yes,  you don`t actually know where certain notes are on that long black thing in front of your nose.   Do you realize how much better an orchestral player you would be with this simple knowledge?   How much better your sight reading would be? You could stop posting about sight reading....;)  How many more musical and expressive possibilities would become available?  Material:  Kreutzer no2 in 2nd/4th and 6th position everyday for a year;  the relevant sevcik;  Schradieck;  Paginini Barucaba Variation in 4th position etc.  

2)  Learn to play at the heel.

Admittedly this may be a little different (but not really) for the Russian bowing school, but most people use Franco Belgian type these days and it`s never been an excuse anyway.  My main teacher`s teacher,  Albert Sammons said `Master the heel and you`ve mastered to bow.` He may have had a point.   Don`t compromise!  Move under the thumb.  You are using six inches too short a bow. It`s just not good enough. 

BTW the heel does not automatically equate with `loud.` Some of the most delicate ,  refined and musical touces can only be done at the heel or in the lower third of the bow,  not faffing around at the point because that is supposed to be `the quiet part of the bow.`

Materials:  Kreutzer no2 and the f major separate bows and various combinations. Sevcik bowing exercises.  Casorti etc.  Scales!

3)  Handle your instrument like your loved one.

The way people handle instruments often makes me sick.  A month back a semi professional player asked to try my violin and took it from me by the bouts leaving sticky fingers on the violin.  I make a very harsh judgement about players based on this simple thing.  If you can`t  respect the beauty and elegance of your violin to the extent you are happy to smear oil on it you probably don`t have that last 0.1 percent of dedication necessary to be a pro.  Respecting,  indeed loving your instrunment is fundamental and it should be the first things teachers teach.  In the same way I have amateur students who put expensive instruments on the floor,  hang bows down so the point touches the ground while at the same time fumbling in their case for this weeks scores and my pay packet.  The same players leave instruments unattended almost anywhere during rehearsal breaks.  The big differnce between a pro and an amateur (in the judgmental sense rather than the regular employment distinction):  an amateur behaves in an amateur way towards their instrument irrespective of how good they are.

Materials: half a brain,  commonsense,  respect  and a teacher who insists on this from the beginning.

D'Addatio NS Micro clip on tuners keep getting smaller

We've been selling D’Addario NS Micro clip-on tuners for a few years now because they are small enough to leave on the head stocks of instruments without getting in the way of playing or when the ukuleles are stored in their cases. D’Addario have a new version of the NS Micro tuner that clips to the sound hole of guitars, ukes and other acoustic instruments. The NS Micro Sound Hole Tuner is an accurate chromatic tuning device that uses vibration to read the string’s pitch. This tuner features a non-marring clip and a backlit display that shows the pitch of the string when you pluck it. A small power button toggles power to the tuner which also automatically powers down after 10 minutes of inactivity. Priced at $19.95, the D’Addario NS Micro Sound Hole Tuner looks like a cool little tuner that doesn’t stick out on your head stock and is easy to see in all lighting conditions. You can try them out in our store.

Amazing Collections of Music Soul Posts

Music and Its Effect on Body, Brain/Mind, and Spirit
A brief look at history
• Some archaeologists believe that music and dancing preceded language.
• Since the days of the Greeks and Romans, music has had a profound effect on the body and the mind.
• Healing and sound were considered sacred science. 
• Healing and music diverged in the 18th century, music was for entertainment, healing was practiced through science and medicine.
• Since World War II, the health benefits of music have become more recognized in mainstream medicine.
• Today, no human culture is known that does not have music. 

Music affects the body and the brain
Music for Mind and Body (article) http://valleymusictherapy.com/research.html
Tuning the Brain for Music (article)  http://www.braintuning.fi/research.html
Music and the Human Brain (article)  http://www.silcom.com/~aludwig/Brain.htm
Music for Pain (Article and Video)  http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?article_id=218392834
The Healing Power of Music (article) http://www.myoptumhealth.com/portal/Information/item/
Music+Therapy%3A+Benefits+and+Uses?archiveChannel=Home%2FArticle&clicked=true
Can Music Therapy Affect your Health? (article)
http://www.scientificblogging.com/erin039s_spin/can_music_therapy_affect_your_health 
“Music medicine” has only begun to receive serious scientific consideration, with rigorous medical research beginning to build up in the late 1980s.
“Music Neuroscience, Physiology and Medicine.” Fall 1997. Musica(IV)2. (article) http://www.musica.uci.edu/mrn/V4I2F97.html#neuroscience
Music as Medicine (article) http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2002286998_healthmusic25.html


Music Medicine
Physical effects of music
• Changes in blood flow
• Speed of muscle reaction
• Lower blood pressure
• Lower heart rate
• Changes in cell structure
• Stimulation of chemicals in the brain

Music and its Effect on the Brain (links and websites) http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=music+and+its+eff
ects+on+the+brain&start=10&sa=N 


Music and its Impact on the Human Brain (article)
http://stanford.wellsphere.com/general-medicinearticle/doctor-blog-music-and-it-s-impact-on-the-humanbrain/18975

Music and the brain
Psychological effects of music
• Calms the body and the mind
• Facilitates visualization
• Diverts attention away from unpleasant situations.
• Entrainment enables individuals to experience commonality with feelings conveyed in music.


Music’s effect on the brain
• The cerebellum is connected to the ears. Music produces emotional responses and positively impacts movement.
• Watching musicians perform affects brain chemistry differently than listening to a recording.
• Music triggers reward centers in the brain, the same neural clusters that process pleasure also fire up for music.
• Brain neurons are hard-wired for music.
• Processing music is complex and not limited to the right hemisphere only.
• There is a strong connection between memory centers of the brain and those that process music

• Music is transported via the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex.

• The right side of the cortex perceives pitch, melody, harmony, and timbre.
• The left side of the cortex processes changes in frequency and intensity.
• Both sides are needed for rhythm, as in differentiating time signatures.
• The hippocampus differentiates between styles of music.
• Frontal cortex perceives other aspects of melody and rhythm; patterns of neural activity are seen that are affected by music.
• Research has shown that activity in regions of the brain, in addition to the cerebral cortex, are heightened while listening to music.
• The limbic system of the brain evokes a feeling from a certain piece of music .
• The rhythm of a song makes people want to tap out a rhythm, or dance, which is controlled by the brain’s motor functions.  
• The experience of a live music performance is perceived and responded to by the brain even more strongly than recorded music.


Music’s effect on the brain
Psychoacoustics is:
• The study of how humans perceive sound.

How we listen
Psychological responses to music
Physiological impacts on human nervous system
• In the spectrum of sound, there is a chain of vibration.
All atomic matter vibrates.
 Frequency is the speed at which matter vibrates.
The frequency of vibration creates sound (sometimes inaudible to
human ears).
Sounds can be molded into music.

Psychoacoustics
http://www.sound-remedies.com/psyc.html

Spiritual effects of music
• Music creates a point of focus for the mind.
• Music aligns energy fields, when coupled with intention,
vibration and resonance flow.
• Music allows access to inner resources:
• Renewed vitality
• Balance
• Clarity
• Inspiration
• Relaxation
• Creativity
• Transformation
In conclusion
• The brain is the CPU for all human thoughts and actions;
only now are we beginning to understand how it
orchestrates the symphony of music and its effects.
• The brain synthesizes music unlike any other “input” and
uses all of its parts to create pleasure or pain from the
sounds and frequencies we hear.
• From cancer to Alzheimer’s, to mentally handicapped, to
spiritually broken, as well as many other conditions, music
flows into the brain and aids in the healing of body, mind
and soul.
References

“The Importance of Music and Brain Research.”
http://www.centerformusicmedicine.org/pdfs-music-andbrain/THE_IMPORTANCE_OF_MUSIC_AND_BRAIN_RES
EARCH.pdf
• “The Role of Music and Sound in Healing from Cancer:
Developing Your Own Sound Healing Practice.”
www.healingmusic.org
• Sancar, Feyza “Music and the Brain: Processing and
Responding.”
http://www.centerformusicmedicine.org/pdfs-music-andbrain/Music_and_Brain-Sancar.pdf

This article is from:  http://www.musicforhealthservices.com/Music_as_therapy/Pages/Module%2007_Creative_Applications_of_Music_and%20_Sound/7.2_Music_and_its_effect_on_Body_Brain_and_spirit.pdf

Golden Music Teachers on Thumbtack.com!
You can now find out about our Music School teachers through Thumbtack.com!

Thousands of people daily are heading to Thumbtack in search of everything from
photographers to handymen, and also professional Music Instructors!
Our highly trained teachers specialize in their primary instruments and have a passion to
develop and inspire eager musical minds!
We've recently been awarded as a Gold Member on Thumbtack,
and our very own Fran Piazza has been named in the top 3 among flute teachers in Denver!
So if you're interested in learning to play the Flute or know someone who might be,
let us know and you could be learning with Fran!

Or check out our other fantastic teachers specializing in
strings, voice, piano, brass, guitar and drums/percussion and more.
Should Your Beginning School Band Student Take Private Lessons?

The quick answer is YES! Private instruction is when a student is able to work one-on-one with a professional musician, the private teacher is able to work more in depth with the student on their instrument. Students will get help with developing a more professional tone on the instrument, fundamentals of playing their instrument correctly with better technique and help with a set of goals that will help your student excel on their instrument. Of course, the student must do their part and practice the lessons and assignments that the private teacher assigns to the student. Over the years, we know that when a student studies privately, they will improve as a musician. We have never witnessed a student become a worse musician when studying privately. What could be easier to help your student improve on their instrument by taking lessons?

How to Help Your Child Choose a Musical Instrument to Study

From WikiHow

The ability to play a musical instrument is a wonderful thing, and you can never start too early. Children are curious and imaginative by nature, and many will be able to pick up music very quickly, and develop a love for it. The ability to play an instrument and read music will be infinitely helpful later in your child's life, and studies have shown that music can help make a child smarter, develop giftedness, more mature, and more confident. If they're not yet out of elementary school, a good musical background will help them to succeed in middle and high school bands, setting an example for all of their peers.


Step 1: Set an example and motivate your child

If you have any musical talent, play your instrument in front of your child, and answer their curious questions. Let them experiment with it (within reason really young children probably shouldn't be messing with your oboe, especially unsupervised). Talk about your days in school band, how much fun you had back when you took piano lessons, and other things that will pique their interest. Take note if they show a particular interest in a certain instrument.


Step 2: Expose your child to music

Start early - when your child is very young, play quiet music for them and let them fall asleep to CDs of classical music. Once they're older, take them to school and professional concerts, and point out certain instruments. You can also listen to music or watch videos of concerts together. Try to teach them to "feel" the music, and take note of the many things going on at once. Get into the habit of playing classical music in the background when you read, sew, or do something else relaxing. Try to teach them to "feel" the music, and take note of the many things going on at once.

Step 3: Talk to them about music lessons

Forcing your child to learn an instrument, or signing them up for lessons without telling them first, is not going to help foster the love and commitment to music that you want your child to develop. If you had any success with the previous step, they'll probably be eager to start. Ask if there's a particular instrument that they'd like to learn. They may want to try the same instrument you play, or they may say "I don't know", in which case, proceed.

Step 4: Look into your options

If your child is going into middle school, check to see what kind of band and/or orchestra programs are offered. If they're in elementary school, check and see if some of the older grades have a music program. Many elementary schools teach recorder, which is a great starter instrument. Some schools may even offer piano or guitar classes. Otherwise, what lessons are available in your area? To find music instructors, you may want to ask a band director or member of a local band or orchestra.

Step 5: Help your child choose an instrument

You'll want to take several things into consideration... among them, your child's commitment to music (it's possible that they'll lose interest next week... maybe it's not the best idea to go out and buy them a sousaphone), their size (don't give an 8 year old a tenor saxophone, as they won't be able to hold it or support it), and maturity (perhaps the most expensive instrument isn't a good idea, if it'll be in danger from reckless behavior). Once you've got a general idea of what you might be looking for, take them to a music store or arrange for them to meet with a band director to try a number of common "starter" instruments - these are as follows:

Recorder - The recorder is commonly thought to only be for beginners, but is in fact a professional instrument (listen to recordings of Piers Adams, Dan Laurin and Michala Petri). Basic plastic recorders are fairly cheap, and should be purchased for beginners instead of wooden ones, which usually cost hundreds of pounds if they are good quality.
Clarinet -. Bigger and somewhat heavier, but fairly easy to get a sound on and operate. From the clarinet, many students switch to other instruments, such as bass clarinet, oboe, or bassoon.
Flute - Another common instrument in concert bands, the flute can be fairly easy to learn. Keep in mind, however, it can be pretty hard to get the first tone out of a flute, and your child may be discouraged if it takes days or weeks to get it right. Advanced, dedicated flute players may have the opportunity to move up to the piccolo someday, usually after four or five years.
Keep in mind, if you start a very young child on flute, they may need a curved, or J-shaped head joint. A flute with a straight headjoint is about two feet long, and that can hurt small children's shoulders if they play holding it up for a long time. A J-shaped headjoint is shaped like the letter J and takes about 6 inches off the length of the flute. When they're ready, they can graduate to a regular, strait, headjoint. Some student flutes come with both a straight and curved headjoint.
Alto Saxophone - When most people say "saxophone", they're referring to the alto sax. It's the most common saxophone, and is of a size that can be handled by many different ages of people. From the alto sax, students often switch to other sizes of saxophone, such as the soprano (smaller), the tenor (somewhat larger), and the baritone (even bigger than that).
Trumpet/Cornet - The trumpet is a common brass instrument, and the cornet is a smaller instrument that is very similar. Both are popular with beginners and experienced players alike.
Trombone - The trombone is another common brass instrument, that is unique from the others in that it uses a slide instead of valves.
Baritone/Euphonium - These two instruments are often described as "small tubas", and some music programs believe in starting children on baritone or euphonium before switching them to a full-sized tuba. The main difference between the two is that the euphonium has four valves, but the baritone only has three.
French Horn - The French Horn is said to be a more difficult brass instrument to learn, so the choice to start a student on one from the start or to start with another instrument and then switch is usually up to the band director or instructor.
Percussion - Percussion actually refers to many different instruments - drumset, snare drum, timpani, keyboard percussion, auxiliary, and plenty of others, depending on what you can buy or what the school offers.
Violin - The violin is the smallest instrument in the violin family, a popular instrument among younger children who wish to be in an orchestra program.
Viola - The viola is similar to the violin, but a bit larger, has a lower pitch, and plays on a different clef most of the time.
Cello - The cello is a low, bass string instrument, played in an upright position, as opposed to under the neck.
Step 6: Buy, borrow, or rent an instrument
Once you've made a decision. Many music stores offer a rent-to-own program, which may be your best bet if you're not sure your child is dedicated to the instrument yet.

 

Step 7: Encourage your child to practice

Once they've started taking lessons or practicing with a group, the best way for them to excel at playing is to practice for at least half an hour or so every day. Don't be too harsh about forcing them, but make sure they understand how important it is to practice. Encourage and motivate them, and be sure to congratulate them when they do something exceptionally well.

As your child gets older and more mature, they might want to take up a second instrument, and become a multi-instrumentalist. If you think they can handle it, let them give it a try. Although they can't play both instruments in the same orchestra, they could play their current instrument in the band and just take regular lessons on a different instruments.

Be reasonable when helping the child choose an instrument. If your child could fit into the case, or the instrument is twice as tall as they are, you might want to go a little smaller. You also don't want to pick a rare or less heard-of instrument, such as a contrabass clarinet or mezzo-soprano saxophone. Instruments like these will be hard to find, even harder to find music for, and may be practically impossible to find a teacher for, and most band programs don't have a place for them. Why let them learn the contra-alto flute, only to find that they'll have to switch to a concert flute when they start playing in school.

Stereotypically, flute players are obnoxious, self-centered girly girls. However, there are plenty of successful male flute players, and most females aren't nearly that bad. Trumpet players are said to be big-headed, obnoxious guys, and have a general "I'm better than you" attitude", as well as egos that can be seen from space. Don't listen to this - girls can play the trumpet too, and there are plenty of nice trumpet players with much smaller egos. The list goes on. Although in every section, there may be a few players who conform to such stereotypes, most of the blanket statements just aren't true. Or fair.  Avoid stereotypes and the old standards. There's no rule that says your child should learn the violin, or that you have to force them to take piano lessons until they're teenagers. Many children learn to play other instruments such as the tuba or oboe as young children. Perhaps that kills some of the common stereotypes of child musicians, but if they do well with it, stereotypes should be the last thing on your mind.

 

Choosing An Instrument For Your Child

I have to tell you–I’m THRILLED to hear those questions, because it shows a parent who a) understands how important music is and b) shows me that this is a parent who really cares about the “choice” of instruments, rather than just going along with a whim, or…what the neighbor’s kid takes! So, where to start?

First — AGE. Not all instruments are appropriate for all ages.

Ages 4 – 8

In this age group, typically the instrument selection is developmentally narrowed down to:

Piano
Violin
Viola
Cello
Guitar

Why those instruments?

Piano is always a great “first” (and last!) instrument. Since the piano keyboard is set up exactly like the musical staff, it makes learning notes and understanding music theory very intuitive and natural. PLUS, you learn how to read both the Treble Clef (high sound) and the Bass Clef (low sounds). So, if your child ever wants to try another instrument, they can choose just about any of them and already know their language.

String instruments come in several sizes. This doesn’t affect the notes they play at all, nor does it affect the “positions” of the fingers. It simply shortens the instruments to various sizes appropriate for different arm lengths. So, remember: if you DO choose a string instrument, you must bring your child to the rental place to be “sized.” Don’t go “eBaying” an instrument — you’ll usually waste your money.

What about Brass and Woodwind instruments at this age? Usually out of the question, as they take a much larger body to blow through all of the tubing, and better embouchure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embouchure) in the jaw/lips/mouth/tongue. Not to mention they can be pretty heavy! Sure, most kids could lift those instruments (except perhaps a tuba!), but lifting for a few seconds, versus lifting for at least 30 minutes while blowing through the instrument AND putting fingers in the right place — that is a totally different thing altogether. Now, before the woodwind teachers shoot me down, I DO realize that some kids may start with a piccolo before going to flute (and the piccolo is about 1/2 the size of the flute).

After Age 9

Pretty much anything is available. Once the children are in 4th grade (about 9-10 years old) the world opens up to them. That is why most schools don’t offer band til that age — the instruments are just not developmentally appropriate for the majority of kids before that age.

Special Concerns for Voice Study
I’ve had some parents downright MAD at me for not being willing to teach their 5-year-old a private singing lesson. I know that other music schools will do this, but MusicMakers will not. Now, if you want to pair piano with voice (what we call a piano/voice combination lesson), that’s different — no more than about 15 minutes of voice for the children under 10 years old is appropriate. And, take it from a vocalist, it is virtually impossible to really learn to read music and understand music theory without an instrument. Voice alone, as wonderful as it is (and it is!), just won’t cut it. Too abstract, need to put your fingers on something!

Why not so young? A lot of people want to sing, kids are very innately musical, and love to sing around the house, in the car, etc. Well, that’s great, and I strongly encourage this in my own children, as well. But, starting formal lessons TOO young can be detrimental to your child’s singing voice, not to mention a waste of money.

Beware of the Flute – Trumpet -Saxophone -Violin Conspiracy
Ok, there’s really no conspiracy. BUT, you’d think there was, just looking at the numbers of kids who choose one of those instruments. My theory is that they choose those instruments because they’ve been exposed to them A LOT and probably have a friend (or two) who plays it. There’s nothing wrong with choosing an instrument because a friend plays it, IF AND ONLY IF the child actually enjoys the sound. But, again, go with what the child feels naturally drawn to (by ear, not by peer pressure)

The Case for Percussion!
When I was in 4th grade, I was SO excited at the prospect of studying drums in the school band and orchestra (we were lucky enough to have both). I had finally, FINALLY, talked my mother into letting me write “percussion” on the form that the music teachers sent home. And, I went on to become a fabulous percussionist (didn’t you know?)….NOT. Nope, this was the 1970s and the two (male) music teachers looked at this very shy, pigtailed, plain little girl and handed me a clarinet! STILL want to take the drums. (gee, it would be so nice if I had instant access to really talented music instructors, like, for instance — owning a MUSIC SCHOOL!). Yeah, I really need to fulfill that dream!!

Getting back to YOUR child — I LOVE the drums, and love percussion instruments in both band and orchestra. However, in most cases, its not the best place to start. For similar reasons to voice, it is just pretty hard to learn to note read and train your ear melodically and harmonically on just the drums. Piano is a percussion instrument — do some piano, do some drums, and be a double threat!

Getting a good “read” on your child’s preference
So, what is a parent to do if they want to get a good “read” on their child’s instrument preference? There are a few things you can do:

  1. Call a local music school and see if they are open to you bringing your child in to sit in on some lessons featuring different instruments. We do this all the time at MusicMakers, and it works very well. The child might just hear something that strikes them as “wow!” and voila — you’ve got your instrument
  2. Call your local high school and ask to come sit in on a band or orchestra rehearsal.
  3. Look at the website of your local orchestra. They often have a family series where you can actually watch a rehearsal, or attend a dress rehearsal. The tickets (if any) are usually pretty inexpensive, and you’ll get to hear pros play!
  4. Go to my favorite orchestra website: http://www.nyphilkids.org. There is a plethora of information about instruments, including fun games and graphics. Also, check out my friend John Bertles’ instrument lab to better understand how those instruments work.

And, the Dallas Symphony has a wonderful kids’ webpage with links to hear each instrument.

Again, when in doubt — take piano! It is NEVER a waste — all transferable skills! Any questions, or need some specific help? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply personally!

Thanks for reading!

Paula Penna, International Academy  http://ow.ly/ApjdB 

SuperNanny: What should I Play?

What should I play?

IThe orchestral instruments that are featured below fall into three main categories – String, Woodwind and Brass. Each has its own attractions and disadvantages, and most (but not all) instruments are available in smaller sizes so that children can start early and then move up to the full size instrument when they are bigger.

String Instruments

Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass

Smaller versions of string instruments are available in different sizes as your child grows into the full-size version – there are even small versions of the double bass. Progress on string instruments can be slow in the early days so parents should be prepared to help out with practise at home and should observe lessons to pick up tips to help their children practise at home in between lessons. Children need to be fairly co-ordinated and mature enough to cope with comparatively slow progress at the start. 
Although it is usually possible get hold of an inexpensive string instrument to start with, on as your child progresses, good quality instruments can be very expensive.

Violin
"Starter" violins are relatively inexpensive to hire/buy. Many music shops will do good deals on hiring violins so that you can replace a violin that your child has grown out of with a new one as your child gets bigger. There is vast repertoire of classical and popular music for violin. Some violinists swap over to learning the viola when they are older.

Viola
The viola is played by far fewer children then the violin and so viola players are always in demand. Perhaps a reason for the relatively small numbers of viola players is that they have to learn to read a different clef – the viola clef. The viola looks the same as the violin but is a bit bigger and heavier. Try to listen to some viola music and compare it to the sound of the violin. The viola makes a very warm rich beautiful sound. 

Cello
Cellists read the bass clef which is the same one that is commonly used for the left hand in piano music. As with the violin, starter cellos are relatively inexpensive to hire/buy and most music shops will do good deals. Good quality instruments can be very expensive to buy at a later stage.

It is worth bearing in mind that the cello is an awkward instrument to carry. Most days my 15-year-old daughter walks to school but on days when she needs her cello I provide her and her cello with transport. A full size cello takes up at least one seat in a car but a cello is not as large as the double bass..

Double Bass
The double bass is a very versatile instrument and is suited to many different kinds of music ranging from classical to jazz. Its large size could deter some children from learning to play although it is now available in smaller sizes for younger children to learn. Most double bass players that I know drive an estate car!

Woodwind Instruments

Clarinet and Flute

Playing the clarinet or flute is an exciting option for lots of children as young as year 3. Both instruments can be adapted so that small children can hold and play them comfortably.

The smaller and lighter C Clarinet is ideal for small hands, and children who start on this usually progress to the larger and heavier Bb clarinet after a year or so.

The normal flute can be fitted with a curved head joint so that the stretch out to the side is shorter. When the child can reach out to the side comfortably the curved head joint is replaced with a straight one. The body of the flute remains the same whichever head is used.

Fast initial progress on both instruments means that your child will quickly be playing familiar tunes. Beginner instruments are relatively cheap to purchase and it is not too expensive to upgrade to more sophisticated instruments later.


The compact size of both instruments when disassembled is definitely an advantage as they can be easily carried by a child.

Valuable lessons learnt on the flute or clarinet pave the way for a relatively easy transition to the saxophone at a later stage.

Both instruments are comparatively popular and played by many children so yours won’t necessarily stand out in a crowd. Having said that, I love watching and listening to my 9 year old daughter in the midst of her hundreds of ‘flute friends’ all playing together!

Oboe and Bassoon

Other wind instruments to consider are the oboe and bassoon. Both are double reed instruments which require the children to be really careful with how they play and handle them – reeds break easily and cost money, and if they break need to be replaced in order to make the instrument work.

The oboe has the most beautiful haunting sound but also the reputation for being one of the most difficult instruments of the orchestra to play. As an oboist myself I would encourage an interested child to learn but not until at least age 10. I started on the clarinet at eight and then switched to learning the oboe at age 11. By learning the clarinet first I made very quick progress on the oboe and was old enough to appreciate the fact that I had to be careful with how I treated the reed of the oboe.

The bassoon, a large heavy instrument, is now available in a small size ‘baby bassoon’ for young hands. If your child learns the bassoon they will be in demand to play in orchestras and wind bands the breadth of the country! The bassoon takes quite a long time to put together as it is in several large pieces – this can be off putting at the start.

Brass Instruments

As second ‘front teeth’ are needed before starting to learn brass instruments, children typically need to be in Year 4 onwards. Most brass instruments are available in small sizes. The repertoire is varied and brass players fit into many different musical groups eg. jazz groups, brass bands, orchestras, windbands etc. Most beginner instruments are relatively cheap to buy and are moderately expensive to upgrade.

Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone and Tuba


The French horn, along with the oboe, has a reputation for being one of the most difficult instruments in the orchestra. This is because many of the notes are made by just changing the embouchure (the lip shape) and so the notes can easily ‘split’, which means you hear a sound exactly like a ‘split’. The French horn is sometimes a little awkward for young children to hold so the smaller size suits beginners.

The trombone comes in a mini version so that the reach out in front is shorter.

If your child is desperate to learn the trumpet when they are still quite small then a start on the cornet is a solution. Both the trombone and trumpet are versatile instruments with many different musical personalities. All the huffing and puffing is quite hard work in the beginning and tired lips can be a problem.

The tuba is only available in its original size – and a rare opportunity for the right child. Sometimes children will learn the euphonium first and later swap over to the tuba.

Angie Davies, Monkey Music
Supernanny Expert   http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Travel-Play-and-Lifestyle/-/Gear-and-products/How-to-Choose-an-Instrument-for-Your-Child-.aspx
From CNN: Picking The Right Instrument For Your Child... Tuba or Flute?

Tuba or flute? Picking the right instrument for your child 
Music educators use body type and personality to determine best instrument for a child
Experts look at how outgoing a child is, lip size, height to make best match
Best advice for parents is to first let the child decide what he or she wants to play
Researchers say music training turns kids into more effective learners

(CNN) -- Most parents are probably so focused on just getting our kids to play an instrument that we don't give much thought to the question: "What's the right instrument for my child?"
Quite honestly, on the list of things I'm supposed to keep in mind as a parent, I never knew such a question existed. Until now.


Ron Chenoweth is the band and orchestra division manager for Ken Stanton Music, a Georgia-based music education company with nearly 100 teachers providing more than 1,000 lessons every week.  Part of Chenoweth's job includes managing a team that regularly goes into schools to help band directors determine what instrument each student should play. Two things he and his colleagues are always looking at are body type and personality.  

Best instruments for kids who like center stage
If a child likes to be the star of the show, Chenoweth might steer the child to the flute because flutists tend to stand in front of the band.  "I look for the kid that's smiley, happy, sometimes talkative, rather than just very, very quiet," said Chenoweth, who has been with Ken Stanton Music for 16 years. "They usually are asking questions and they'll say, 'Well, I want to do this because ... ' and so they're telling you their story.  Other instruments for extroverts, Chenoweth says, are the saxophone and trumpet.  "They tend to be lead instruments, whether a jazz band or a show band. They play that higher melodic part, and these kids tend to be almost uncontrollable at some point," he said with a laugh. "But they just are very outgoing. You don't really see the quiet ones go that way."

How body type factors in
Physical characteristics can determine the best instrument for a child too. Take the bassoon, for example, which isn't ideal for small kids.  "The bassoon, when assembled, is almost 6 feet tall, and the spread of the finger holes is ridiculous," he said.  Someone with very small lips might be better suited for the trumpet or French horn, while someone with larger lips might have trouble playing those instruments, according to Chenoweth.  "The cup size of a trumpet or a French horn would be too small, and they wouldn't actually be able to produce a good sound," said Chenoweth, who played the French horn in his high school and college marching bands and has been involved in music education ever since.  "And then sometimes you're surprised. ... Somebody you thought 'Oh, they'll never get the sound out of this trumpet,' and away they go."
I asked Chenoweth what personality and physical attributes might lead to success with other instruments:
• Oboe: An important trait for mastering this "very intricate" instrument is "above average intelligence," according to Chenoweth.  

  Tuba: An excellent choice for students with larger lips, he said.
• Trombone: The player's front teeth should be even. "You want a nice bite that shouldn't be in need of orthodontia," he said.
• Violin: Kids can start playing as early as 2 to 3 years old. "I think because they have varying sizes, it makes them rather universal," said Chenoweth, who started playing the clarinet in the fourth grade.
• Piano: Long fingers or large hands are desirable, and so is being a good thinker. "Physically they're going to need good dexterity with their hands," said Chenoweth. "You would probably look for a propensity to something analytical, somebody who might show a little bit of inquisitiveness."

 

Let them play what they want to play


Even before you start assessing whether an instrument matches your child's personality, or if they have the right body type for success, you should let your child be the guide, Chenoweth says.
"My first thing is you have to get them onto an instrument that they first are interested in because if there's little interest in playing it, there will be the same amount of success -- very little," he added.
Try not to push them to play what you played, said Chenoweth. "Private lessons at home with the parent are not necessarily going to be successful," he said with a laugh.
And always try to be supportive, even when it just might not be music to your ears.
"We all know that the sounds are not going to be great," said Chenoweth, but parents should try to stay positive. That means avoiding comments such as, " 'Oh here we go. Here's something new to try for three months and then you're going to give it up. Are you ever going to pick something that you're going to stick with?' "
The importance of music education in schools   Why music matters
Dr. Nina Kraus, professor of communication sciences, neurobiology, and physiology, and the director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, has been studying the impact of music training on a child's cognitive development for almost a decade. Her extensive research has been published in more than 200 journals and media publications.
Defining a musician as someone who plays music twice a week for 20 minutes, she and her team compare how the brains of musicians and non-musicians respond to sound and the impact music playing has on the musician's attention, language, memory and reading abilities.
"The same biological ingredients that are important for reading are those that are strengthened through playing a musical instrument," said Kraus. "The ability to categorize sounds, to pull out important sounds from background noise, to respond consistently to the sounds in one's environment ... these are all ingredients that are important for learning, for auditory learning, for reading, (and) for listening in classrooms."
Her findings, she said, have a clear message for policymakers and parents.  "It's not just about your child becoming a violinist," said Kraus, a mother of three whose children all played an instrument growing up. "It's about setting up your child to be a more effective learner for all kinds of things."
And the benefits continue even after a child stops playing, says Kraus.
"The brain continues to profit long after the music lessons have stopped," she said. (To visualize Kraus' extensive research and comprehensive findings, check out her slideshow.)
If my girls weren't already signed up for music lessons this fall (we're starting with piano!), I'd be signing them up today.   http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/09/living/parents-kids-body-type-music-instrument/

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