Starting my son in music

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

  1. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    I started trumpet at 8 and took to it like a duck to water. And I wasn't a big kid for my age by any means.

    One thing I do remember from my final year at school is watching this little 11 year-old first-year climb onto the stage at a school concert lugging a trombone that was nearly the same length he was. 20 or so bars into Rimsky-Korsakov's Trombone Concerto, we knew we were listening to someone who was truly destined for stardom. His name was Ian Bousfield. Read the link. It gives a good insight into the learning curve and timeline common in the heartland of the British Brass Band movement. Their rule is "start 'em young".

    If your son is enthusiastic about learning trumpet, then my view is that you should grab that opportunity with both hands before interest wanes and he becomes distracted by other things.
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I like the piano idea myself. I can see the "stringed instrument-gotta play in tune" thing for developing the ear, but, if your piano is in tune, then playing with the trumpet, learning to play in tune isn't an issue. And since his daddy plays trumpet (and in tune ;-)), y'all can do the bells pointed at each other tuning technique. :thumbsup:
  3. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    We started both our kids on piano and, over the years, they have always done well with music theory topics and been able to add new instruments fairly easily.
  4. Furcifer

    Furcifer Pianissimo User

    Jul 26, 2010
    It's perhaps less about the instrument and more about setting him up for success. I didn't like piano as a smaller child because I didn't have the patience for it and just taking lessons, alone, even with an occasional recital, would have been painful for me. Even that little bit that I tried turned me away from music for awhile until I got a paper drum kit from Sears, LOL! I liked playing along with records and still do. Much later in life, I went back and dropped a small fortune on an 8-piece Pearl kit with Paragon cymbals and a chromatic set of kitchen sinks that takes up 120 square feet and would make even Neil Peart at least nod with a slight grin... It's a blast to beat around on, but I'm still a trumpet player at heart because I ultimately decided when my first band director asked that I didn't want to stand in front of one snare drum for seven years of grade school before I got to really play something. I intuitively knew that a melodic/melody instrument like trumpet would FORCE me out in front of everybody, and never be boring. Although it does require more physical dedication than just about any other instrument and a much greater need to PLAY WITH A GROUP to keep me practicing with any modicum of discipline, I never regretted that decision. What turned out to be most important to me at that time was that I was 1st chair in beginning band. That's it: Early success and approval. People enjoy doing what they find themselves to be good at, but they don't really know if they're good until somebody besides Mom&Dad tells them so.

    Starting early - as in before he's even got a chance to play in a band - risks turning him off from playing a unisonal instrument, especially when so much can be done with electronic instruments these days. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and who knows what one's destiny really is, but I'd be careful. Stewart Copeland's father played trumpet, and after collecting a roomful of various wind, string and percussion instruments, he now has that horn, too. But he doesn't play it, because, as he says, "Trumpet is HARD!" And it is. There are a lot of easier, more popular instruments to get a pleasing sound or establish an infectious rhythm with. More and more school bands are using electronic instruments and amplification, even on the marching field. There's really no good reason to select the trumpet as one's main instrument anymore, unless you're just a masochist with an ego the size of Texas and a genuine, inexplicable love for it, LOL!
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Did you ever gig that monster kit? At this point I can't even fathom trying to lug that much stuff around, never mind keeping good heads on it and keeping it properly tuned. I have a pretty basic setup - either a 4-piece or a 5-piece, depending on the music I'm doing that week - all church praise band stuff. I also have a pretty small selection of cymbals - quality stuff, but fairly basic. I can't imagine trying to gig anything bigger because for the playing I do, having more stuff doesn't equate to better music. I'm more of a meat and potatoes drummer, and I use only enough salt and pepper to add a bit of flavor and spice.

    Anyway, back to the original topic, I had one more thought I wanted to add. When I was a senior in HS, I was a teacher's aid for the band director, and the class period I was there for was during the 6th grade band class. There were a number of kids in there playing instruments they didn't really want to play. It wasn't that they didn't want to play music, but they were stuck on their instrument because it was what their family had - mom had an old clarinet, or some cousin or other relative had some instrument, and the kid was playing that instrument not because it was what they wanted to play, but because it was what was available. I always thought that was a travesty because if your heart is set on playing trumpet but you are relegated to clarinet, or whatever the school instruments happened to be, (in our case, tuba, euphonium/baritone, bass clarinet, percussion, and maybe one or two other things) then it just zaps any motivation toward music a beginning player might have.

    Of course we're still early in all of this - I think that 7 years old is a bit young, but some kids are able to handle it and excel from that point, although from what I've seen, a lot of kids at that age flit from thing to thing for a good little while before they really settle on what it is they want to do. Again, I was almost 14 before it really started to click for me, and I don't necessarily think I was at any kind of disadvantage by getting going that much later. Once a kid starts to click with an instrument, the learning rate and acquisition of abilities can literally be exponential. That's how it was for my son too - the year he was 14, his abilities with the guitar and his understanding of how to play it took off like a rocket. He went from kind of hacking his way through very basic stuff to full out playing some fairly chopsy, complex stuff (System of Down, Tool and Killswitch Engage are a few that immediately come to mind) in just a matter of a few short months. Unlike a lot of young players who sound like they are just playing at it, he always sounded right - the right sound, the right phrasing, the right attacks. I'm very proud of what that kid can do with the guitar, and I never had to push him. I always encouraged him and never discouraged him, but his drive to be a better musician all came from within, all the way down to asking me if he could get a guitar and take some guitar lessons.
  6. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    Start on a keyboard instrument (Piano) and wait until 4th grade to start him on trumpet.

    Learning piano does a few things:

    1. Teaches how to read music
    2. Teaches discipline of practicing
    3. Forces you to make your brain REALLY work by playing multiple notes on two clefs at the same time
    4. Develops great finger dexterity and hand-eye-muscle coordination

    Because of number 3 alone, playing the trumpet will be a breeze for ANY person who has learned piano and music first, given the right motivation and instructor.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    What if the kid hates playing piano and doesn't want to go to lessons? That would describe more than a few of the kids I grew up with, none of whom wound up going into music to any real degree - maybe a former girlfriend who now runs a worship band for the church where her husband is the pastor, but she doesn't play keys - she sings.
  8. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    Force him...(just kidding).

    But according to the OP ("He has also, at times, expressed interest in violin, piano, and drums"), he seems to be interested.
    It can't hurt to START him on piano. If he hates it, he hates it. But you can't begin by asking questions like "what if he hates it?" You need to start by just starting. And if he doesn't take to it (or "hates it") then of course, evaluate the options.

    The OP was asking for suggestions on how to possibly move forward. I say to start on piano (as do many others on this forum).
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Keep in mind, this is a 7 year old kid - they are going to express interests in a lot of thing because that's what a 7 year old kid does. When I was 7, I expressed interests in tractors, and bicycles, and cowboys, and horses, and guns, and policemen, (my Dad was both a police officer and firearms enthusiast) and swimming, and frogs, and monkey bars, and Hot Wheels cars, etc, etc, etc.

    Can we really put that kind of weight on it because he likes to please his Dad by saying he wants to play trumpet like him?

    When I was little, I used to literally introduce myself to people by saying, "Hi, my name's Pat! My Dad's a cop!" I LOVED the fact that my Dad was a police officer and couldn't imagine doing anything else - I wanted to be JUST like him. I wanted to wear a cowboy hat and a badge, and wear a pistol on my hip....until I didn't. By the time I got to high school, at that point in my life I was almost a polar opposite of who my Dad was at the time. By my Junior year I you couldn't have convinced me to do anything like that - I was a musician by golly, and anything structured like a police department or the military was not for me. Little did I know that in only about a year's time I'd be enlisted delayed entry to go into the Army as a trumpet player.

    Don't get me wrong - by all means, put a horn in his hands, or sit him down behind some drums or a piano, and let him try it out, but don't expect it to stick because it may not.
  10. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    I don't believe I said I expect anything to "stick" for anyone. I merely said that you should start him on piano before trumpet.

    The unspoken, but understood (at least to me), assumption is that the OP wanted to start the kid on SOMETHING and was asking for guidance on what that something was. I say Piano. You say nothing - just let him play with whatever (trucks drums, trumpet, dirt, etc.).

    I didn't say to expect playing piano to take over his life.
    I didn't say to force him to play piano
    I didn't say not to expose him to trumpet
    I didn't ask for any "weight" to be put on anyone

    I just said to start any music lessons with piano, and mentioned the reasons.

    If this forum isn't for responding to requests from folks, then why should I even bother to respond?

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