Friday, December 10, 2010

a new toy

for me Joel. He'll be learning at school next year. I brought his instrument home from school today so I he can get a head start.

I've got an interest in Joel going well on clarinet. The kids had to do a written test to see who'd qualify for the instrumental program. Joel didn't qualify. (Written tests aren't his thing.) He was pretty disappointed - he's been wanting to learn clarinet for ages. I made some noise about it and he was accepted - but I was told that kids who go badly on that test won't be successful on an instrument.

Joel played for half an hour this afternoon. After 10 minutes he knew how to produce a nice tone and play 5 notes.

I started clarinet today as well. My tone is inconsistent and I'm having issues going over the break. I also don't really get what all the little keys do. Brass instruments make more sense.


  1. How can a written test determine musical ability? That seems crazy.

  2. Brass instruments make more sense?! Only if you really like polishing things...

  3. My daughter started the clarinet last year and has loved it. Grade 3 exam tomorrow - I am a nervous wreck. Hope Joel enjoys his new toy and it brings much joy to him. And a written test - what is THAT about? My kids all started the piano before they could even write, so that seems like a really strange method of determining suitability for a music program.

  4. I prefer the saxophone - simple octave key and easier to get a nice tone out of it. Of course, maybe I've been given too hard a reed every time someone's allowed me to try a clarinet.

  5. In grade 5 I remember doing a test for the (wind) instrumental programme when I was at school. For each question they played two sounds. You had to tick a box: whether sound 1 or sound 2 was the higher note. Interesting: all of us students who had started violin (viola, cello) the year before scored the highest on the test. There was no test to get into strings. Playing and experiencing an instrument obviously made a difference to our ability to hear the difference between the notes. Now I really wonder about the value of that test, and after battling with my (very musical - sings in tune)oldest child over saxophone practice for three years (finally giving up - both of us) and watching my 'non-musical' brother play piano for church, I think that motivation is an enormous factor in 'success' on an instrument.

  6. I think desire to play is a biggy. Perhaps the biggest.

  7. I'd have to agree. I always said that I wouldn't go down the path of allowing a child of mine to have lessons unless they first spent some time begging for them. Learning a musical instrument is hard enough when you are desperate to learn, let alone if you have no internal motivation. I guess I've seen too much in my short life...

  8. My music teacher says to make sure you get a good tone in your base notes first and, when you apply the register key, make sure you don't twist your hands as you do it. Then there's more basic issues like strength of the reed... :-)

    Motivation is definitely the biggest in my book.

    When I was little I wanted to learn the piano because my sisters were taking lessons. My parents wouldn't send me for lessons until I was 7, by which time I was in year 3 at school, my desire had waned and I wasn't prepared to put in the practice hours. So don't leave it too late if your child shows an interest.

    Then when I was in high school I wanted to learn the saxophone. I think my mum saw dollar signs so she said I could only have sax lessons if I learnt the guitar first and here, I could use my uncle's old guitar that was warped so it couldn't retain a pitch. Of course, I had no interest in the guitar and they are played completely differently so I ignored it. So, don't try to divert your child's interest to some other random instrument just because you like it.

    I now take sax lessons that would have been easier if I'd started earlier when I didn't also have adult responsibilities.

  9. I'm with everyone else on that written test. What's with that? I think desire is everything. You may not get that good if you don't have much natural ability, but you'll get to be as good as you can be and have fun along the way.

    We also battled with our very musical son over violin practice and gave up after way too many practices at which he deliberately played out of tune. Then at high school he took up bass with only the tiniest of parental nudges and is now a fantastic bass player.

    Instruments that you blow or spit into don't make any sense whatsoever - but they sound soooo good!

  10. I think I failed the written test for the woodwind and brass program when I was at school. There may have been an aural test as well? My sister and brothers both got in later on, and they played clarinet, flute and trombone (none of which are still being played...sadly).
    So my parents asked (or put pressure on) the school to find out if there was something I was suited to play. So I ended up learning the glockenspiel and later the xylophone, and played in the school band. I didn't start piano till I was in very late primary school.
    I'm definitely not a brilliant musician, but I agree that determination and motivation are probably the most important factors. I still don't see myself as having a great ear for music, and my improvisation skills are appalling. But I can play most things I want to if I practise enough....

  11. Oh, and my music teacher also said that the written test as an indicator of success is a very old one that most people threw out long ago.