Music and little kids

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Fellow bass players, I'd like your opinions on music programs for kids. "Kids" to me here means younger than teenage years.

    I've got a 7 year old boy who's musical and interested in music. He sings melodies in tune, and he keeps a steady beat (with patterns, yet) on the little djembe drum I gave him. We sing together a bit and, of course, I'm always playing and singing in the house.

    Here's the problem: he's the type of kid who's a perfectionist, gets frustrated with hard stuff easily and therefore doesn't really like to try hard stuff on his own. I don't know anything from Orf, dorf, suzuki, bazouki...

    So, I'm wondering if any of you have ideas or tips to offer me here. What I'm not interested in is getting him going on the "virtuoso" track. Some days I think I should just get him going on piano, other days I wonder if there's some kind of good program that eases 'em in gently.

    Like I say, he's 7 so it's time to do something here. If I could just get him interested in something other than Pokemon!
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    DJ, my 12-year-old son, started playing piano around 7. A guy came to the house every week.

    On the other hand, has there ever been an instrument which is easier to start than bass guitar? Your kid could master the entire Chuck Berry repetoire PDQ, with you at the helm!

    FWIW, DJ switched to tenor sax two years ago with the school band program. As soon as he could play a C scale, we started on "St. Thomas" by ear. As soon as he could play St. Thomas I had him play it at a gig. So from close to day one, he was experiencing the fun of listening and blowing, in addition to the work required to move toward mastery of the instrument.

    He's a good little player for a 12-year-old and I'm never prouder than when we play together.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Mastery of any instrument is difficult. Your child's ambition and dedication are admirable, and good traits that will carry him far in life. Conversely, this may prove an excellent opportunity to help build those other skills which he seems to be no as strong in; patience, humility, acceptance. Obviously, life isn't perfect, so he'll need to be able to accept his imperfections as well as what he succeeds in. Remember, study after study after study all conclusively link children in music programs to children with increased math and verbal skills. Association with music at a young age can help develop teamwork and social skills, leadership skills, artistic creativity, analytical skills and confidence.
  4. My eight-year-old has been doing Suzuki violin for about 3 years, and I have to admit, we're having some problems. She has a good ear and loves to pick out tunes not only on her violin, but on the piano and her recorder. So I know she' got at least a modicum of musical aptitude.

    But she and I have differences of opinion regarding the frequency and duration of practice sessions. I think for a lot of kids, and it seems like my daughter in particular, it's tough to see the payoff of repetitious, incremental work.

    Often practice sessions are cut short or even end up in tears because she'll get frustrated that she can't play a passage, or when I point out errors in fingering or bowing or intonation, she takes it as personal criticism. She feels a bit humiliated because kids younger than her or kids who started later are already playing more advanced tunes.

    I've left the door open for her to "take up another interest," but she says she loves to play and loves to take lessons.

    Any advice?
  5. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I say start him on piano. My guy took up the keyboard at 4 and is still going strong. But along the way he developed ability on the sax, clarinet, guitar and bg. I think once you learn piano you can go anywhere. [I never learnt it] That's why I'm a lowly luthier.
  6. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    Another vote for piano. I took lessons for three years beginning in 4th grade. When I started band (clarinet) in Jr. Hi, I was ahead of the game. When I entered college as a music major (sax), I was ahead of the game. My entire conceptualization of theory was based on my knowledge of the keyboard. I think piano gives you a visual aspect of learning music to go along with what one learns by listening, which is a very important part of learning for most people, but especially children. In my case, it generalized to other instruments and areas of music and made them ealier to learn.
  7. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    There is a reason that most music schools require you to learn basic keyboard. I took lessons from the age of 5 through college, and although as a kid it was not what I wanted when I thought I wanted to be Yngwie Malmsteen, it made everything else I learned so much easier.

    Case in point: a local college has an excellent pianist/ organist. He was required to play in an instrumental ensemble, so they asked him to play doublebass. He stands next to me in the community orchestra playing 4th and it amazes me how good he has gotten in a few months. He was one of the few bassists that was at least reading the rhythms right in Rodeo the 1st rehearsal.

  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Thanks, guys.

    We're going piano. I've always known that every musician should play some piano (even though I don't -- I write and work out harmony stuff on guitar. Works but piano would be better), but that's not the reason. It suits his temperament 'cause he won't sound bad right from the start, and the interface is easy enuf... We've been talking about it a fair bit, and his face actually does light up at the thought of playing piano like his cousins.

    And, I found a cool choir / singing program for 7 and 8 year olds downtown at one of our funky arts centres. We're checking that out right now.

    Sam, I hadn't thought of giving him a bass guitar while I play guitar, but it's a great idea. I think it's real important that learners get to have the fun of playing tunes, of learning what it feels like to ride that wave. My Warwick's way too heavy though, and the other axe is fretless. Hmmm, have to work on that.

    And, I'm a believer in school band programs, but those don't come around for my guy for another 5 years or so.

    Nobody's come forward to say anything good or bad about particular programs, though, and that's the type of thing I was looking for in this thread. That's great, 'cause it says to me that there likely isn't anything wonderful out there I've simply not know about all these years.

    My daughter's a different story. She's a dynamo: sings, paints, dances, tries anything, talks back with an intelligent vengeance. You couldn't hold her back if you tried... She'll get the pie-ano too.

    Thanks again mates.
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Hey Damon-My kids got a Charizard to sell-interested? lol
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Don't get him started, the long distance bills will kill me! He's into water pokemon these days...

    BTW Jeff, a lowly luthier? I know I just had a rant on another thread about luthiers where I got a bit disrespectful, but you gotta know that we love you Gods of the Gouges. Make the wood sing, baby.
  11. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    My feeling has always been you should provided an environment in which it's wasy for kids to learn to like and study music... and then stand back. If they want to go farther, get them lessons, but if they want to back off, let them.
    (I've heard people say "I'm glad my parents made me study piano/clarinet/etc." but were they really happy at the time? )

    When my nephews were little we used to play together at the piano. I'd sit them in my lap and we'd sort of improvise together. I also showed them how I put together multiple layers of music on the PC, and encouraged them to sing along, which I also recorded. I also bought a lot of cheap instruments for them to just play with an bang on- a set of kiddie drums, a yard sale trumpet, xylophones, etc.

    They're 9 now, and have gone in different directions. One- who has the better ear, really- likes the idea of playing, but doesn't really have the drive to practice. He tried violin for a while, was doing well, but felt too pressured by the llessons, so he's doing Suzuki now in a class. The other taught himself to play piano with his mother's old books! He decided he also wanted to play the same instrument as his uncle, so I bought him a 1/8th sized bass, which he will be trading up to a 1/4 size soon.

    One thing I noticed that really motivated both of them was playing duets with my sister (their mother) on piano. Putting their simple exercises in the context of a real musical performance is something they both find very exciting and motivating.
  12. Link


    Jul 6, 2002
    Latrobe, PA
    yeah, i'm probably a way bit young to have any real say or opinion... but here goes...
    --first off, the area where i live is "sports" - music programs aren't plentiful w/ out some travel- we don't even have a string program in my school district :mad: so no start there... anyways... my dad used to be a music teacher-so he provided me and my two older sibs w/ opportunities to play music. I really think that mje said it best...
    my dad started some basic piano on my older sibs and I... and each of us play/have played in instrument in school bands, were involved in chancel/bell choirs, etc... so there was a little of a "push"... but in speaking from experience... dont "force" a child to play an instrument... my mom made me play flute [rather than a brass and/or strings -like i wanted] --- i hated it... with a passion... but after a few years [ 8th grade...?]I got sick of it and I started teaching myself french horn [w/ some help from my awesome band director]... I loved it, and with much work I started playing horn rather than flute in band in a little over a month... i've expanded into piano [again], violin, viola and upright/electric basses as well as some odds like the dijeredoo and pan flute... and voice... all of which I decided to take up myself [although some i wish i had sooner]... no one made me continue on with music... althought there were some influences... I made the decision myself
    -- i think if the child has the drive to really get invovled in music he/she will... it's never bad to encourage and expose a child to music... just don't force... .02
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Hey, no one's too young to have any say in this. Step right up.

    I really do dig what you guys are saying about standing back. As a Dad, I'm walking the line between gently providing him some fundamental skills and turning him off. The "turn off" danger is high with any kid, but I think I gotta be extra careful with my boy 'cause of his personality. The way he's wired.

    I didn't get any real musical motivation until I was in my teens, and I think that's common enuf.

    He'll do what he wants, that's for sure. Hey, if he thinks he's gonna turn pro on that Gameboy, though, he's got another thing coming....
  14. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    The commonality with anything you pick is that it needs to provide an element of joy besides the hard work. I learned piano from an early age, and I am glad I did since it is the basis for my knowledge of some theory. However, I did not enjoy the way it was taught - with the focus on rote learning of various pieces and not as much in the way of melodic fragments and exercises, and talking about the *why* of tihngs. This was probably just my teachers, but it was never as pertinent as I wanted it to be - of course a lot of that was my immaturity. I guess all I am saying is that no matter what you pick, make it relevant, and explain the why of everything in addition to the how.
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Argubly not. But.....

    By making a child stick with something (especially music) after the novelty has worn off gives the child a much greater gift: discipline. Discipine is needed throughout life - to stick though something when it's tough, to accomplish things that are difficult (what's that about anything worth having?) to follow those things that (later in life) really mean something. All of that can be learned on a piano bench when you're 7 years old.

    Sure, let them quit when it gets tough. But by doing that, are you setting up what could be a pattern? I'd be curious to see data (I know data exists arguing that music lessons help children achieve later in life...)
  16. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Speaking with one of my professional hats (psychologist) on, I will say there's room for disagrreement here, but you have to decided what's important and what isn't. Reading, yes. Arithmatic, house cleaning, personal hygeine, all important. Playing a musical instrument? Optional. And the choice iof instrument is something that make take time to get right. I started on percussion as a child and gave that up out of high school. I played around with flute, saxophone, and a lot of stringed instruments before I settled on bass (and a few others).

    Music should be a source of pleasure, and not a tool for instilling other values. There are millions of ex-piano players out there who still shudder when they look at a keyboard.
  17. I'd just be pretty careful in dealing with my own kids. It has been my experience that some advice or criticism from me might be taken more personally than it would coming from another source.

  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Quick response before I lock myself in that gawd-awful meeting room for the day:

    If you've been there, you know that parenting is often confusing. Left or right? Hard or soft? Iron hand or velvet glove? You call 'em as you see 'em and you try to be decent, loving and consistent. Be a good person for them to look up to.

    Personally, I think music is an excellent vehicle to develop those skills that appear to be lacking in my boy (as jazzbo said way up there.) I can't force him, and if he really doesn't like it, we'll try something else. If music is a strikeout, I think we'll try karate. AND I'll keep singing with him and keep the music happening at home. But we're going to give music a real good shot.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts, all.
  19. My 13 year old daughter expressed interest in music at age 10. She started by playing the snare drum (not very musical) with the school band. She then picked up the bass and became very interested in that, I supported her by purchasing a suitable instrument for her. She then started hammering the piano keys and has been taking piano lessons once a week for a year now. She plays the bass at her school jazz band, and has a drum kit of her own in our music room. She is well on her way to becoming a well rounded musician, and I give her all the support that I can, without dictating to her what instrument she should play. Perhaps, when she's older, she'll settle on one. Better yet, she may excel in all. I feel that it is my responsilbility to make it possible for her to explore all avenues and make her own decision as to choice of instrument(s).
  20. Progress!

    This morning, my daughter (mentioned above) got out of bed early so that she would have time to get ready for school and get in some time on her violin.

    She's working on the Bach Minuet in G, and I've been backing off from stopping her to work through every little section that needs cleaning up.

    She definitely needs to feel that she's accomplished something, and for her, that means getting to the end of the piece, mistakes and all.

    It's just nice to see her getting so fired up about it.