Selecting An Instrument To Study

When my wife first suggested this topic, I was very excited for I realized how important this subject could be. Then, after thinking about the mass of information and the myriad of directions one could approach this post, I realized that an entire book would be needed to touch on all the important issues. After careful consideration I have decided to tackle the topic anyway. I have never been accused of shying away from the imposable so please realize that I will try to structure this topic from several views and in doing so, the number of post will be more numerous than any I have written before. To begin, we first need an outline-

Selecting An Instrument To Study

A.    Early Bloomers

B.     Traditional Students

C.     Late Bloomers

D.    Influences

1.     Social

2.     Economical

3.     Political

Early Bloomers

The youngest entries into this category will be the people who are influenced by friends and family members around them. Examples of this influence can easily be seen in Branson, Missouri. We are currently inundated with family shows and when I say family shows I mean shows which feature members of a family as the entertainers on stage. We currently offer the families of the Haygoods, Six, Jim Stafford, Lowes, Lennon Brothers, Lennon Sisters, Clay Cooper, Rankin Brothers, Hughs Brothers and the Magnificent Variety Show which either began as early bloomers or are currently featuring young musicians in the three to eight year old category. These musicians were guided by family members either through their love of music or the love of commerce.

A more traditional approach to starting very young musicians can also be found through the influences of education. One such method which is popular today is the Suzuki Method for Strings and other instruments.Traditionally reserved for string players, this technique has been expanded to include other instruments as well. There have been many variations on this concept but due to the fact that most instruments cannot be manufactured in the smaller than normal sizes, the inclusion of brass instruments has been impossible. The basic concept of parent involvement in the young players practice routine can be used and is highly encouraged.

If you are determined to start your child’s musical development at a very early age, I would recommend starting them on a keyboard first. With a qualified instructor, your child would be able to play recognizable melodies in a short time and if you feel that the Suzuki method has merit, many keyboards can be found to  fit the small fingers just as the half-size Suzuki violins fit the younger string player’s fingers. Keyboards are inexpensive and you might enjoy playing along with your child at home while they practice. The real challenge will be to find the best teacher for too many piano teachers try to develop prodigies who will make them look important rather than teaching your child to play well and enjoy the experience. An additional benefit your child will experience is the ability to see how notes and harmonies work together. When the young performer sits at the keyboard, everything is laid out in front of him/her. Each note has a position and relates to each note next to it. Melody and harmony is more easily seen on the keyboard than on any other instrument. The relationship of high and low pitches is understood more easily and producing an acceptable musical sound is also a benefit to the youngster, as well as their parent. I strongly suggest that you consider the keyboard as your child’s first instrument and later in their musical career consider an additional instrument. And with that said, we will next discus the traditional student in my next blog.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.