How young is too young?

How young is too young?

This is a spin off from the "sessions with your kids" post.

How young is too young? We intend to teach our son trad. Ok - so he’s only 8 weeks old now..but we have to start thinking about it right ?

The reason for this is because I wish I had been taught and made to learn when i was younger - I got into the music when I was almost 18 and some of my friends have a 14 year head start on me. And you can really tell! You just cant gain back that kind of time. And also kids really do pick up things much better. 18 although ok age to start - still wasnt the ‘best’ age to start. And to be honest - I blamed my parents for a long time for not making me learn. They were the ‘She’ll pick it up if she wants to’ type- I mean - what good is having a musical family if no one teaches you to play?

So i was thinking the flute for my son, how young is too young? What about the stretch on the flute? Can a child technically learn at 4years or would they have to start on the whistle first? What would be a good instrument if not the flute - and not the button box or fiddle as we’ve already got those in the family🙂

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Re: How young is too young?

Start him on the whistle! Every kid knows how to blow bubbles at a young age…keep the tunes on, but never, ever push him into it…..even young children like to have some control of their lives….the music has to be theirs, not yours. Good luck!

Re: How young is too young?

If you are talking a Low D Flute, there is no way a 4 year old can make that stretch. There are some adult Women out there who can’t reach the holes on certain Flutes. A wooden Flute takes lots and lots of care. You may want to consider instead of getting your kid a pet, get them a Wooden Flute. The amount of responsibility it takes to care for a Flute is very similar to that of taking care of a small animal.

Now, you could start them on a simple system Piccolo at a young age. The fingerings are the same and all the embochure technique transfers over. I ca nthink of a couple Flute makers that make instruments in that range (an octave above a Flute. Some that come to mind are Hammy Hamilton, Skip Healy, and Terry McGee. Unless you or your spouse want to take care of their expensive wooden instrument, you could probably get one made out of Delrin.

I suggest starting them on Whistle around four. It is a lot easier to play Flute if one knows the fingerings already. I suggest starting them on Whistle around 4, in a couple years you could invest in an M&E in F as it will be smaller and easy to reach. When they get the hang of that and their hands are decent sized, get them a D Flute and see what happens.

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Re: How young is too young?

Whistle and then when he is 4 or 5, Suzuki violin lessons and then turn him loose on whatever he wants.

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"I blamed my parents for a long time for not making me learn."
I keep telling my kids that they’ll say that to me one day, after they’ve forgotten that they point-blank refused to learn.

Teach them while they’re pre-teen cos once they hit (espcially boys) the teen years they’ll reject everything you want for them.

At least if they’ve learned some skill earlier, when the desire finally hits them, they’ll be well-placed. But , ultimately, it has to come from within. Being around you and your friends from an early age playing music and having fun will implant the notion in them somewhere, to flower one day

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Re: How young is too young?

Hi David - funny you should that - we have the ipod on - listening loads of stuff, Lunasa, Red Hat band, calico to name a few🙂

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To recap all the helpful advice above:
Buy the boy a hamster and a large drum.

Re: How young is too young?

Beebs,
Relax, chill out and enjoy!
While I used to wish I had started learning earlier, I have changed my mind after realising that it just brings disenchantment on earlier (burn out)
Kids usually learn by osmosis. If you play around them a lot, it will infiltrate their developing grey matter and begin the creation of the necessary pathways. They will also learn that playing music is an enjoyable special pasttime…even better if it is done as a family 🙂
However, I find that if your kids are force-fed a monotonous diet of nothing but the tunes that you like and play, they will quickly turn off in search of any alternative. But as long as it is music that they enjoy…who cares.
No-one is going to bring up your penchant for Belinda Carlsile and hold it against you twenty years later!!!
My 5 year old son loves music.
His current favourites are some old sixties tunes like (I told the witchdoctor), Ray Charles, Peter Sellers, The Pogues, Micheal O’Raghallaigh and DEVO.
He has expressed a wish to learn the whistle, drums and accordion…anything except the instruments I play.
By a bodhran and leave it lying around…or a toy accordion or harmonica and let them express themselves.
But don’t leave whistles lying around as they have a tendency to walk around blowing them, and you don’t want them to fall over with them in their mouths.
If they see how much fun you are having, they will probably want to play anyway. Maybe you could start recording all the ëasy"simple tunes that you learnt with (that you probably now despise) and record a few of them a month and start making beginners tapes for Cian?
All the best
M

Re: How young is too young?

Beebs, I think you need to cool off a bit. If the child shows and interest then feed that interest. But force feeding doesn’t work. My daughter showed more natural music talent than me and went to piano lessons for a while. She never practiced but managed to impress the teacher. When it started to get like hard work she gave up and then took up drums for a few years - anything as long as the instruments had nothing to do with me or my music. Mind you she did and still does do Irish dancing.
At 18yrs of age now she might sit a the piano for about an hour or so per year.
The message is that it is hard to make the kid like the music. Some will go with it and some will go away from it ( ‘it’ being your musical taste).
Good luck and as long as you have a happpy well adjusted child in 18years time, you aren’t doing too badly.
BTW I did send you a direct message asking if you are going en famille, to the National Festival next year??

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Yes - I know you cant force them to play. What I was looking for was more - how come when I was at the fleadh one time there was this tiny kid - maybe 8 or 9 playing killer flute - like. We were all standing there dumbstruck. How the hell did that happen? I bet you his parents werent hard core rockers or anything - they were at the fleadh for goodness sakes. I’d never force Cian to learn - but I do want him to learn, and I want him to have fun with it. So Greenwiggle - basically he needs a best friend who also plays tunes - what about your kids? hehehe.

Donough - I did get that email -but did forget to write back - I thought I had. Yeah - we’ll be at the national -though its going to be a whole new ball game with a 6 month old in tow!! Youre coming next year? You’ll have a great time - its my favourite festival in the word. And that is not a word of a lie….although having said that there is something wildy exciting and dramatic about having skunks following you around (at the catskills festival I mean🙂

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Re: How young is too young?

bb - thought you might be interested in these two quite different answers to your question.

As with most things, there is no absolute right or wrong answer to this question, because for a start, every child & every child’s situation will be different.

Just beware that if you do force feed them against their will, you could be building up a wee trace of resentment, for I’ve met many folk who say they spent years as children being forced to do something, Piano, Ballet etc which they absolutely hated, just because their parents didn’t get the opportunity themselves.

Ultimately, no matter how closely our children resemble us, they are not us, & personally, I would always be looking for, in a child of mine, ‘their own’ natural gifts & talents & trying my best to encourage & nurture those, rather than forcing my interests on them.

Just imagine if you forced your child to play ITM rather than follow their natural destiny as say a painter & in doing so, you deprived the World of the next ‘Leonardo da Vinci’.

Anyway, I’m sure you will have ‘your own childs’ best interests at heart & will ultimately make the right decision for your child.

So here are those two articles, I hope you find them helpful:

‘At What Age Should a Child Start Taking Music Lessons?’

“Joy in Music
Never force your child.
It is never a wise idea to force your child to do anything she’s not ready to do unless it’s a matter of utmost importance.
Learning to play an instrument should primarily be enjoyable. If your child isn’t enjoying it, then perhaps it isn’t for her.”

http://musiced.about.com/od/beginnersguide/a/atwhatage.htm

‘Should You Force a Child’s Hobby on Him?’

“It doesn’t seem like a 30-minute lesson per week coupled with 10-15 minute practice per day is too much stress or challenge for even a 5-year-old.
As long as you see that he’s progressing and enjoying his success and accomplishment, keep with it.”

http://lifestyle.msn.com/FamilyandParenting/RaisingKids/ArticleAB.aspx?cp-documentid=503248

Re: How young is too young?

Bring your child up with music around him. Let him see making music is a natural and normal thing that other adults and children around him do. Teach him nursery rhymns and singing games. Don’t decide what instrument he is going to learn - find out what he wants to learn (it may not be the same as you!). In other words, give him the opportunity and encourage him in whatever directions he has ability and interest.

My mother once came home from a visit to a friend and said that there had been screaming rows between the friend and her children as she forced them to do their music practice. My mother asked why make them play since they hated it so much. ‘You can’t expect to enjoy your childhood if you are going to have a full adult life’, said the friend. Presumably she expected them to get pleasure and fulfillment out of music as adults. I doubt it.

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Re: How young is too young?

On the basis of my experience I’d agree that the first step is to make music-making of some sort, any sort, a normal part of family life. It doesn’t seem to matter much what sort, as long as the idea comes across that music is something that you do, you don’t just listen to it.

I’m into music today because my father sat me down at age three and a bit and taught me to sing rounds, then a little later taught me German nursery rhymes and hymns in English and Latin and all sorts of stuff like that. He wasn’t a musician but loved a lot of church and classical music and sang hymns with a real sense of joy. We used to sing in the car on the way to and from church and it was something a bit special that he only did with me. (I had utterly utterly tone-deaf brothers!!!)

That’s a far cry from the varied playing I’ve ended up doing, but it all goes back to the wonder of discovering harmony singing Frere Jacques, Three Blind Mice, Everybody Loves Saturday Night and all those silly things as a three-year-old. Through that, I learned to love the idea of making music, which meant that when I heard music I particularly liked, the idea of trying to play/sing it myself was already planted. I got the idea very early on that music wasn’t just something other people did and I listened to, it was something I wanted to do myself.

I guess Cian is going to grow up surrounded by lots of music-making!

(And … drum roll … I think I’m going to the National next year!)

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Beebs just leave him with me. I’ll make sure he learns. I’ll also teach him to speak Japanese. Stop being such a softie with your "I know we shouldn’t force him" thing. Of course we’ve gotta force him. We’ll totally force him. That kid’s gonna be playing whistle before he’s 2, I swear to god, and then we’ll get him his first flute and make him be in a cool band. Just stop playing him stupid tunes on that ipod and make him listen to some decent stuff. Some mother you turned out to be, god honestly.

Re: How young is too young?

Oh and make him stop crying as well, will ya?

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BB,
I’d say you were quite fortunate to have parents of the ‘She’ll pick it up if she wants to’ type. That is after all, the best reason of all to learn something. You could have been turned off perhaps by a more structured approach and hey!, you’ve so many years to look forward to. I only took up an instrument in my 40’s - I could look back with angst on the years I’ve ‘lost’ but prefer to think of those to come!!
On the subject of child prodigy’s: it’s hard to know. In times past, when life was simpler, no TV or video games, little transport … people made their own entertainment. So kids growing up would likely have become fairly proficient in a musical household in a natural way because of the limited competing attractions. Nowadays, I’m not so sure .. a diet of lessons and competitions seem to be an integral part of the ITM scene for children in Ireland. I recall a TV series a couple of years ago which profiled various well know trad musicians and at least two recalled that there was a strong element of coercion in their childhoods back in the 60’s & 70’s as regards practice. I think it might have been one of the Glackin’s who recalled being pulled in off the road from playing ‘footie’ with his mates to go and practice. ‘No pain - no gain’ .
Our youngest is 3 and he loves singing : will start up quite happily by himself. He also likes to sit in my lap and blows into the whistle while I finger out Twinkle Twinkle or Happy Birthday, Barney song etc. His little fingers grip around the top and the fingers fly up and down. I’ve no doubt, as he’s quite keen of ‘do it myself’ that he’ll dispense with my assistance in due course.

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Re: How young is too young?

My entire family, except me, were all sent to music lessons, piano and such, at a young age. I was not. I am the only one who plays any instruments.

In short, many a child has been put off music because they are being forced to learn it. Just like other school subjects, most people have no interest when they are at school in French, History, politics, geography, but may get interested later in life.

Obviuosly there are thousands of musicians who started young still playing, so there is no hard and fast rule. I believe in the Rousseau approach, let children learn on their own, if they wish to learn.

Re: How young is too young?

On subject but off topic, who remembers thinking their first baby was a genius?

Encouragement and providing the means is 1000000000000% better than deciding what they are going to play or do and forcing them to do it.

Kids prefer to do anything with their parents, some even go on to do better. As a parent, I say by all means encourage them, foster any interest - whims are easy to seperate from desires. As the talented child I say back off, let them learn what they want at their pace.

Once upon a time I was a horse rider with olympic potential, by the actions of my now estranged parent I threw the whole lot in rather than spend one more minute of her trying to live her dreams through me and the problems that came with it.

Chill out

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Re: How young is too young?

Congratulations on the birth of your son. Ref: How young is too young?
Here’s how it goes. You expose your son to Irish traditional music and some classical from an early age, you get him lessons costing a fortune in money and time, trekking him there and back every single week for years and years. If he gets any good the decent teachers are of course miles and miles from where you live. All this if he will practice for you, if he likes it at all, if he has an aptitude for it. If you don’t end up tearing your hair out with frustration by the time he is 16 he will then reward you by dumping your chosen instrument in favour of a Gibson SG Standard Electric Guitar
complete with Fender Vintage Reissue ‘65 Deluxe Reverb Guitar Amplifier or some such thing and will look at you like a vampire exposed to sunlight if you ever, ever mention Irish music or the word ‘session’. That’s only if he actually will practice and does like music, more than likely he’ll become a soccer fanatic, a boxer, a train enthusiast…anything to stamp his individuality. From the moment of birth they are their own very individual identities the best you can do is point them in the right direction and give them all the encouragement you can for their choices.
However there are plenty of families around where parents and children play Irish music, I would love to know the secret too.
Good luck.

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Re: How young is too young?

Just play them lots of good music, not just ITM ( important point ), take them to lots of live music - lots of folk festivals have very good kids bits these days, let them make their own minds up, offering music lessons is good, insisting is bad.
Any parent who tries to live vicariously through harangueing their kids on the road to success deserves all they get in return - I heard of a girl who scratched a very rude word on the back of the very expensive violin her mother had bought for her. Shame about the violin, serves the mother right.

Re: How young is too young?

Okay, okay - where are all the people who took up trad as kids and still play. I’d be very interested in what they think. I know loads of people like that (though they are not on this site) Anyhow - I’d make it fun for Cian and also he isnt allowed to watch any American tv and he wont be allowed to play any computer games. So he’ll have plenty of spare time.

Also I noticed that alot of the kids who are homeschooled on this site play trad - do you think there is something in that as well?

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Re: How young is too young?

Hold on a sec - I am by no means the kind of parent who would force my child to learn if he didnt want to - what I want to know is the secret of the parents who have kids who started young and still play today. Thats what I’m looking for - anyway - I love Football (soccer as we call it here) so if he went in for that I wouldnt mind either!

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Re: How young is too young?

softie. you need to stop him from watching any telly at all let alone american stuff, except of course the young ones, little britain etc.

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One aspect missing from many of the replies is the need to have peers playing the same music. Learning music on your own when all your firiends are doing something different I more likely to fail . Most Comhaltas branches have their Grupa Ceol (Junior music groups ) at different age groups so the kids play music together and have other activities i.e dancing ,singing and visiting other branches . This gives the kids a circle of friends that play and enjoy music. Even if there is not a branch near you mightbe able to create your own version . The parents of kids in one music class I know organise that one of their houses will host a gathering of the kids in the class each week. There might only be 15 mins of music played in the beginning and the rest spent playing games etc. but over time the ratio improves. In this type of environment kids are more likely to continue playing.

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Re: How young is too young?

I was dancing at ceilidh all through my pregnancy and playing in sessions. The day I brought my daughter out of hospital (at 6 days old) we went to a session and she slept in the moses basket under the table! She’s 5 now but still not learning an instrument despite having piano, guitar, flute, whistle, mandolin, button accordion and bodhran in the house. We go to at least one session a week and the local CCE where she sees all the other kids learning music, Irish language and dancing. She doesn’t join in, but watches intently. I’m not going to push her for fear of putting her off, but she has every opportunity and I’m sure she’ll come to it when she’s ready. The main thing is that she learns to enjoy our culture and appreciate it. The rest will come in time (I hope!).

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I had posted earlier, but don’t see my comment, so I will try again. I have an 18 month old granddaughter who loves to dance whenever she hears a lively tune or song, swaying back and forth, waving her arms. She also likes to sing little two or three note "songs" as she plays, and loves to have them repeated back to her.
So the spark is there.
The challenge is to nurture that spark, to add fuel, and blow on it so it eventually blossoms into flame. Too much of any ingredient, and the spark is snuffed out.
My advice has largely been addressed above in some form or another. Expose a child to lots of music, which is easy for many on this board. Sing, play and dance often. Make sure instruments are available. Offer instruction when interest is shown. Include the child in musical settings where they can play along with peers.
Most of all, relax and enjoy!!!!

Re: How young is too young?

Well, I don’t know about homeschooling being encouraging to Irish music playing- it certainly seems as if a lot of the other homeschoolers I know play it. I think it’s more to do with the parents, though. I have wonderful memories of listening to Irish music, and I always associate it with my early childhood- even though neither of my parents plays an instrument, they’ve always listened to music constantly.

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Kind of like the way I love 80’s music because it reminds me of back when all was right with the world, no jobs or bills, no responsiblites and the highlight of the week was a birthday party of something or nuffin.

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Re: How young is too young?

bb,
I would guess you haven’t a chance in hell in keeping young Cian away from American TV or computer games especially!! Unless you cut yourself off completely from society. Our children are/ were home educated up to primary level and therefore not subject to the same degree of peer pressure. But it works like osmosis - they seem to instinctively know and tune into whatever is going down for children their age. There might be a slight time lag but there’s no escaping the crazes and fads that sweep along.

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I wasnt allowed to watch anything but the ABC when I was young (kind of like BBC but Australian - no adverts, mainly British programs etc) But as I went to public school I used to love ‘Salt and Pepa’ and I used to yearn for a bubble skirt 🙂

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Re: How young is too young?

About the homeshooling thing:
I think that had a lot to do with my taking up Irish music. I never had the expectations of my peers to like whatever the popular music was. And I never did like whatever the popular music was. I thought I only liked classical music, and then one day when I was 14 I heard some Irish music, and it was like something clicked in my head. I realized what it meant to really love a particular kind of music. I remember thinking "I have to play this music." And I just did it. My parents had nothing to do with it, they still don’t undertand, although they are generally supportive. I’m 19 now, for what it’s worth, and I fully intend to keep playing.