There really is no golden rule in deciding which instrument to go for, but considering the following should really help.
- Motivation: The student must show an interest in the chosen instrument. This motivation can come about for many different reasons – perhaps a friend or family member plays that instrument, perhaps they love the sound, or the way it looks, or they like the teacher of that instrument in school, or they want to join a local group or band they’ve seen, or they have seen the instrument at a concert or on TV. The key thing is that the student wants to do it. Learning an instrument is not easy, so trying to learn one you don’t really want to do at the outset really won’t help!
- Making Music With Others: Consider whether your chosen instrument will offer opportunities to play music with other people or not. Students who learn instruments such as violin,cello, flute, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, cornet, trombone, baritone horn, tenor horn will soon be able to play in music groups with others, usually within 12 to 18 months – for example, see information on our Junior Orchestra. Playing music with others can open up all sorts of exciting possibilities, such as being able to take part in concerts with school or Music for Life music groups. Playing music this way is, for many, where the excitement of music lies. Being part of a music group is a great way to make lifelong friends! Group opportunities are also available for guitarists. Opportunities can be fewer for drummers for the simple reason that most bands only need one drummer. Both keyboard and piano are generally considered to be solo instruments and although there can be occasional opportunities for these instruments to play in a group, they are few and far between. However, on the plus side young people can find piano and keyboard to be more enjoyable to play on their own at home than instruments such as band or orchestral instruments. This can make home practice, playing for relaxation, and performing to family and friends at home really enjoyable. And, of course, keyboard skills are incredibly useful to musicians who start to compose their own music.
- Physical suitability and right age to start: The student needs to be old enough to learn successfully. Starting too early can be very discouraging. It is much better to wait until they are physically and intellectually able to cope with the demands of learning an instrument. These are general rules, and like all such rules there will be exceptions, but we feel this is a good guide. Music for Life does not provide lessons for children in Reception class at primary school.
- 6-8 years of age; violin, keyboard or piano suitable. These instruments provide an excellent introduction to music. Many families may already have access to a piano or a keyboard and violins are relatively cheap instruments to buy or rent and have the huge bonus that, within 12 months or so, children can be making music with others in a group. Guitar is best started at around 7 or 8 years of age, but some teachers will start children a bit younger than this.
- 8-9 years of age or older: children can start on wind instruments such as trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, clarinet when they are big enough to hold them comfortably.
- Availability: Find out from school which instruments are currently being taught there. We may find we are not be able to arrange lessons on other instruments right away, but will do our very best to do so should there be demand (usually six pupils or more).
Talk to other pupils or parents, go to a music shop to try an instrument out (but don’t ever be put off because you can’t get a good sound first time!), or come along to listen to MfL musicians in concert!!
Praise for Music for Life
Mr and Mrs Hughes, Macclesfield
Dr Sims, Upton, Wirral
In 2 short years, my daughter has progressed to now starting work on grade 4 flute. We are absolutely delighted with this and so very grateful to Mrs Oade who has inspired and encouraged Rebekah so much. The standard of her teaching has been second to none and Rebekah has consistently undertaken her practice with no prompting. We are now re-locating and can only hope that Rebekah’s new teacher is anywhere near as excellent as Mrs Oade.
Thank you to ‘Music for Life’. Rebekah was schooled in the private sector for prep and had music lessons arranged with individual instrument teachers. The system was nowhere near as efficient and required significantly more monitoring and intervention on my part. Please do keep doing what you’re doing, I’m sure it is changing so many young persons lives for the better!
Mrs Batchelor, Chester
I just wanted to say thank you to his tutors and MfL for inspiring my son and being brilliant, encouraging teachers. It has been a great experience for him. He is autistic and we have been amazed how he has progressed. It has given him confidence and been a calming influence for him.
Mrs Lavelle, Altrincham
Your emphasis on inclusion and excellence in seemingly equal measure is really remarkable. The performances were much more joyful and committed than anything we have seen before from people of that age and experience. Your choice of music, the type of arranging and the personalities of the people you employ clearly works very well and is something of a special formula.
Mrs Sadler, Crewe
As someone who has always taken a sympathetic and supportive interest in our daughter (whom you know to be severely /profoundly deaf ) we thought you would want to know that she has won a National competition for deaf musicians! Her prize includes a 2 day Masterclass, taught by specialists of national repute and then she is playing at the Birmingham Rep Theatre. Well done Mrs Turner and Music For Life!