Is there a best instrument to begin with? - Best instrument to begin music lessons

Play more than piano? Interested in a different instrument, including voice? Talk about it here.

Postby Stretto » Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:57 pm

As a piano teacher, I've had many parents want their child to start with piano as their first instrument when taking music lessons. The reasoning that parents have is that learning to play the piano first provides the foundation or basis for all other musical learning. I've had students who really want to learn to play the saxaphone, drums, take voice, violin, etc. but their parents want them to take beginning piano first before moving onto the students instrument of choice.

I took clarinet in school for a year before switching to piano and I think it actually helped in some ways because I already knew the "basics" outside of the bass clef notes, of course, and only had to read one line of music at a time to start, rather than two lines of music. I remember it being a pretty easy transition to piano after taking another instrument first.

What are some other's opinions about whether it is important to learn piano first? Is there some advantages to learning piano as a foundation before learning other instruments?

:)
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:25 pm

Far and away the biggest advantage of taking piano in the early stages of any music training is the fact that you have to confront the entire texture of the music yourself, instead of just a single line melody. This has nothing to do with the physical problems--I'm talking about the mental/ear thing.

You wouldn't believe how often in a university music department we see clarinet, trumpet, trombone and flute students--singers, too--who show up at the first rehearsal with an accompanist having no idea of what the harmony or other voice lines sound like. It's especially bad if their teacher doesn't play and can't accompany them in their lessons. So they are either confused to the point of paralysis, or else ignore the piano entirely and go their own way with no coordination of ensemble--even to the point of coming in again after just a few beats rest when they're supposed to have a pause of 16 measures!

These are probably extreme examples, but if you're going to perform a piece of music you have to have it in your head, and that means ALL of it. I don't mean they have to memorize the piano part or anything, but they need to know what the whole thing sounds like. And studying a keyboard instrument, where you are responsible for the melody, harmony, rhythm, and interplay of the voices all at once, is the best preparation for this.

Dr. Bill.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby pianoannie » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:51 pm

For me, the big advantage to starting on piano is the visual aspect. The layout of the keyboard allows students to see how one note relates to another, the half and whole steps, what a major and minor chord look like, how the notes sound higher up the keyboard.

I'm an extremely visual person, so maybe that's why I did much better on piano than other instruments I tried.
pianoannie
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:28 am

Postby 108-1121887355 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 4:38 pm

Outside of the sounds and challenges a piano offers, it definitely helps to have the visual - see it, touch it, hear it. No learning how to blow or bow!
I feel every child should have the opportunity to take piano lessons. I have heard back from older students who have taken up other instruments after the piano and they thank me for the start - 2 years, for most, on the piano.
Joan
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby minorkey » Sun Feb 26, 2006 2:48 pm

I began with guitar (3 yrs) and then found the transition to piano a breeze. The only tricky part was learning the bass clef, which did not exist in guitar. For me, I don't know if it would have mattered which instrument I began with.
User avatar
minorkey
 
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:22 am
Location: Massachusetts

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:24 pm

.....and there again, with guitar you are making chords and harmony, hearing cadences and chord progressions. I'll bet that was one of the main reasons it was relatively easy to transition to piano.

Dr. B.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby 108-1121887355 » Tue Feb 28, 2006 10:23 am

I still feel piano is the best first instrument. If you went on to the guitar, you would have been ahead instead of having to learn the bass. Of course you still have to learn the strings and how to play them, but starting with the piano would have given you a jump ahead. A second instrument will have new skills to learn - holding it, blowing into it, and so on. The piano experience, two years minimum, will make the next instrument a lot easier as you know the notes and harmony, chords, etc. as Bill mentioned.

I have two students, one learning flute and one on the french horn. They have the basics of music set, so can concentrate on how to blow and which notes!



Joan :D
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Stretto » Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:17 pm

Thanks everyone for the excellent insight. You all have some good points I never considered.

I was just wondering. Some of my students, especially the younger ones are almost set against learning the bass clef. I had one student practically flat out refuse to learn the bass clef and others a little resistant to it while some work at it but really struggle more than others. The one student who basically came out and said they didn't want to learn the bass clef went through an entire level 1 method book only playing with the r.h. (This was only my second student ever so I realize, I shouldn't have let them get away with it so long. Yes, call me a pushover if you want - one of my pitfalls!). I tried to "sneak in" the l.h. as much as possible and just kept encouraging her to try it. I finally told her that at the start of level 2, I would no longer allow her to play r.h. only in book 2. I told her that one could get away with it in level 1 but that one couldn't continue to learn to play the piano unless they would play the bass clef too. The student eventually learned the bass, got to level 5 (before becoming too busy in high school with other activities for lessons) and by level 3, the whole issue was long past and forgotten.

I just wonder sometimes, for those students who seem to have more difficulty or "protest" with putting the bass clef together with the treble clef, would they be better off learning an instrument or voice in which they could just concentrate on one line of music at a time until they learned the initial musical concepts and then went ahead and learned piano?




Edited By Stretto on 1141170710
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:33 pm

I feel just the opposite. I think students starting note reading at the piano should immediately learn the concept of the Grand Staff and how treble and bass clefs fit together. Where did the term "Middle C" come from? Not from the keyboard (the middle is the crack between E and F), but from the fact that it's the 'missing' middle line between the two staves.

This will sound old-fashioned, but when I was a conservatory freshman the Teacher Training course used the First Solo Book by Diller-Quaille as beginning material. It's probably out of print, and most of you never heard of it, but I thought it was a terrific idea: the whole first half was single-line melodies, but divided between the two hands (both thumbs over M. C.), and the notes of each tune went constantly back and forth between the two clefs, with left hand playing the bass clef notes and right hand the treble. The hands didn't have to play together or get out of position, but it was both hands and both clefs right from the start. I used it with kids with few problems, and never had later hassles over learning the bass.

Dr. Bill L.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby Stretto » Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:41 am

Dr. Bill Leland wrote:This will sound old-fashioned, but when I was a conservatory freshman the Teacher Training course used the First Solo Book by Diller-Quaille as beginning material. It's probably out of print, and most of you never heard of it, but I thought it was a terrific idea: the whole first half was single-line melodies, but divided between the two hands (both thumbs over M. C.), and the notes of each tune went constantly back and forth between the two clefs, with left hand playing the bass clef notes and right hand the treble. The hands didn't have to play together or get out of position, but it was both hands and both clefs right from the start. I used it with kids with few problems, and never had later hassles over learning the bass.

Dr. Bill L.

There is a lot of material out there like the book you described with the melody split between the clefs and the hands in a simple position. Faber and Faber and Bastein have some supplemental books with great tunes split up this way. I can't remember if I tried these types of tunes on my one particular student or not. But I have wised-up and used them more.

For students in which it's harder to get them to try playing both hands together, somedays it would be easier to send them off to learn another instrument! :laugh:

- I'll keep in mind all the advantages of learning the piano mentioned on this thread as I persevere in teaching them. :)




Edited By Stretto on 1141195794
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby Cy Shuster » Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:33 am

I played piano first as a child, then French horn in college. For me, the visual layout of the keyboard helped tremendously to understand that an interval is a relative distance between two notes, and that for example all octaves are similar in that way, regardless of what their starting note is. It's much harder to decipher this from looking at the staff.

I can't imagine starting with a horn, where pressing down the first and second valves doesn't guarantee what note you'll get! With a French horn, it's almost obligatory to take sight singing first. If you can't sing a line (or at least hear it accurately in your head), you'll never play it!

That cardboard note speller that slips behind the keys is the single greatest music teaching tool, in my book.

--Cy--
New grandpa -- it's a girl!
Cy Shuster
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:32 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Postby 108-1121887355 » Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:33 am

I have some Diller-Quaille books from Dr. Burrows collection! I have used them some. As I begin with rote and chord teaching, the first bass the student reads is solid chords, on to single notes within the chords and broken chords. The students learns to recognize the I and V7 abd then IV chords fairly quickly. There is a "Chord Song" in the book I use, playing a song in the broken chord, both hands, one at a time, and ending with a solid chord. There is also A "Harp Song" which is an arpeggio, left, right, left over, right over, up the keyboard. (Minor chords too.)

This helps get a start on the bass staff. It is imortant to show them middle C on the staff. Most have already counted to find the middle note on the piano! I also show them how the music staff was first written as it is hard for some to visualize middle C being the middle of the staff as it is so far away. We empathize with how hard it was for people to read music the 'old' way!

Some students balk at adding chords to a piece just because it is harder and they can play the piece faster without them. I explain how music needs melody AND harmony. We listen to it alone, play as a duet, and they decide, (with some help), that it sounds better the the harmony. So when a student asks at a lesson, "alone or with chords?", the reply is always, "with chords".

Keep perservering with piano, Stretto. Try playing a song as a duet, switching parts, and singing while playing the bass alone. I am working on the staff game with tape and lids.This will be a another fun way to learn the bass clef. Pieces with the melody in the bass are good, too.

Joan
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:31 am

Dear Cy:

French Horn is a notoriously difficult instrument to learn--I don't envy you!

Eugene Ormandy, long-time conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, used to say, "When you bring the horns in, you don't point--you just smile."

Bill L.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:57 am

I will pass the quote on to my 11 year old student who began the French Horn this year. She was talked into it and enjoys it, She brought it to a group lesson and played very well, I thought, for a beginner!
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:59 am

I will pass the quote on to my 11 year old student who began the French Horn this year. She was talked into it and enjoys it, She brought it to a group lesson and played very well, I thought, for a beginner!
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Next

Return to Multi-instrument

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron