Starting my son in music

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by neal085, May 18, 2015.

  1. neal085

    neal085 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 6, 2012
    Ft. Worth, TX
    My wife and I have been kicking around ideas for a while about getting our oldest squid started in music, but haven't done anything yet. He just turned 7, and if you ask him today, he wants to play trumpet like daddy. I know kids can change their minds a lot as they get older, so I don't want to force a square peg in a round hole, but I do tend to think his personality lends itself quite well to trumpet.

    He has also, at times, expressed interest in violin, piano, and drums.

    Seems like I've heard from quite a few that piano is a great foundation to start them on, then they can pick possibly choose a instrument when they're older.

    After being blown away last night by a concert featuring the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra playing with the Ft. Worth Youth Orchestra, I reached out to FWYO today, and they provided me with information for stringed instruments. Here is a quote from their email, after I mentioned trumpet to them:

    "The school here focuses on string instruments, starting with violin and cello. Piano can be a good foundation instrument. If the eventual goal is trumpet I would still start with a string instrument. String instruments require that you play ‘in tune’ and tune your own notes, unlike piano and guitar. I’ve had several students start with violin or cello then switch to brass or woodwind instruments when they are old enough. Most brass and woodwind instruments require the student be a little older before they begin to make sure the shape of their mouth has formed first. You might contact a few brass teachers to see what age they suggest starting on trumpet."

    So I'm contacting a few brass teachers....
  2. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Interesting. I've never known a trumpet player to come from starting on strings, but I'm just one person. Piano is a definite yes. Wish I had started on it.

    By the way, we may report you to DHR for saying your son is brash, boastful, and egotistical - you did say he had the personality for trumpet.

    Best of luck. Maybe some others will chime in with ideas.
  3. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Whoever said that about starting a trumpet player on strings first obviously has no idea at all about brass instruments and their bewildering basic difficulty - transposition.
    All strings play in concert pitch -whether the violin or the double bass. Some use the bass clef - which trumpets don't use - and some, like the viola, have their own clef which is totally unnecessary in brass (someone will chime in with saying that the viola in itself is unnecessary... ;-))
    And most brass instruments (except the C trumpet) don't use concert pitch, but their own pitch which is transposed by whatever step is necessary.
    It is most bewildering to a young child that the notes that he/she has learned painfully on a concert pitch instrument now look the same on paper, but sound different on the hooter.
    A second issue is the learning of acquired muscle memory. Both in string instruments and - especially - on piano, fingerings follow a linear pattern. For example:

    On the piano, if you want to play upwards from bottom C, you may put your thumb on bottom C and then when you place your second, third fourth and so on fingers (up to # 22 if you're an alien), every note you touch will sound higher than the one before.
    With brass instruments, that would not be the case. As you well know, the sequence from bottom up would be 123 - 13 - 23 - 12 - 1 - 2 - 0.

    I know all these difficulties because I was started on piano and then, many years later, learned trumpet playing in concert pitch first, just because I had no idea about transposition... and then, when I first left the German Lutheran trombone choir world and entered a British brass band, I felt like I was sitting in an open boat in the Pacific with no resources whatsoever and a typhoon approaching...
    Re-learning trumpet playing the proper way was extremely stressful. Please save your kid from experiencing that kind of stress, and start your kid properly on one instrument at a time. Here in Germany, most schools give the kids a year's instruction on recorder first - an inexpensive instrument where fingerings don't always follow a linear pattern, and no need to form an embouchure. Try your kid's mettle on one of those.
    bumblebee likes this.
  4. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    There is no hard and fast rule. I started at ten. Chuck Findley started at 4 or 5. Sergei Nakariakov started on piano or violin and started trumpet later and was playing with virtuosity within a few years. If the kid has the desire and the physical strength, I'd get him a cornet and go for it. Cornet is better for young kids because the center of gravity is closer to the body and easier to handle.
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    But I have known a few strung out trumpet players.
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    My take: I strongly recommend a keyboard instrument, such as a piano or organ. The keys are a graphic display of scales, chordal progressions that form mental images. Strings are fretted and are less helpful in visualizing progressions.
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Transposition in and of it's self is a good reason for us Bb players to "pitch" a fit.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Before starting trumpet I find it important that the permanent teeth be in place. There is a precedent (albeit afew hundred years ago) for trumpet students starting on violin.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    My take - well, I kind of have two thoughts.

    My first thought, thinking back to the kid I was at age 7, I just wanted to play with my friends and have fun with the typical toys - toy cars, toy guns, toy trucks, etc. I'm not sure that I would have done well if my folks had stuck an instrument in my hands at age 7. I always loved music, but even after I started playing trumpet at age 11, I didn't start to really dig in and go anywhere with it until I was 13, pushing 14.

    My second thought is to start him on an instrument that he's actually likely to play after high school such as bass, drums or guitar, with piano following a close second. My son played trumpet for a few years and was decent at it, but he also played guitar, and I know that's something he's going to continue to do for a long, long time, simply because there's a lot more opportunity to do it. Christian churches these days are moving toward contemporary worship, so even church is dominated by amplified guitars, drums and vocals.

    Personally, I'd let the kid be a kid for a while - that's what I did with both of my kids and both of them continue to be involved in music.

    On the flip side, I had my daughter involved in competition dance for the longest time, and she was actually pretty danged good. She was involved with competition dance from about age 6-7 on. By the time she got into HS she was pretty burned out on it and begged us to let her quit. Her heart was no longer in it, so I acquiesced.
  10. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    My son started out on trumpet (as well having a bash on the bits of percussion he had as a really small child, and a ukulele, and sort of on our piano) but since being introduced to violin at school last year has really taken to that and is powering ahead. He still says he wants to play trumpet but his actions are speaking louder right now, and he seems to be a natural on the violin too. (He actually sounded good on the trumpet/cornet as well, so maybe he's got a more musical ear than some.)


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