Choosing an Instrument
There are many reasons for learning a musical instrument (and this includes singing), including:-
- it’s a skill for life (many of us return to it later on in life)
- it’s fun
- it feels good to ‘make music’ with others in a group situation
- it’s different to school or work and a relaxing diversion
- it’s therapy
- it helps develop parts of the brain that benefit other subject areas e.g. maths
- someone else you know plays and you’d like to join in with them(a precious chance to bond with the kids, perhaps)
- you like learning new things
- you already take someone to music lessons and are fed up with merely being seen as a source of ready cash and transport
- you didn’t get the chance at school or earlier in life, for whatever reason
What you may not realise is that the Huntingdonshire Music School is one of the largest music schools in the UK and, apart from sitting humbly on the doorstep for some 38 years, offers many benefits that are very difficult to get elsewhere:-
- a wide variety of instruments ranging from singing to electronic to orchestral instruments
- a complete package - not just the instrument but help with music theory and the ability to get involved with a range of different styles of group playing
- all ages ranges catered for (currently 4 to 83) - adults and children treated alike - adults/children need not have learned or played before(there are few, if any, schools in the country that cater for adult and children learners)
- the ability, if you choose, to take nationally recognised music theory and practical examinations
- the ability, if you learn an instrument elsewhere, to join for thegroup playing
Having decided that you or your offspring is interested in learning music, what is it that you/they wish to learn?
Whilst we cater for most instruments (and if enough come forwards for the Mongolian Nose Flute we could probably add this as well..), there are factors worth considering before taking the plunge, including
Instrument popularity fluctuates and fashions are established. For example, nationally within the UK there has been a fall in the number of those playing the Oboe and stringed instruments e.g. violin, viola,cello. Wanting to learn a popular instrument might mean that there are plenty of potential tutors, but few spaces as they are constantly over-subscribed.
At HUMS we do monitor closely and can bring in extra staff if this looks to be happening. A popular instrument will have a larger second-hand market and therefore more choice when buying privately. Getting hold of music books isn’t a problem since these can always be ordered of the phone from a local music shop or online via the Internet.
This isn’t as daft as it sounds - whilst it’s not like buying a baby pet to later find out that it fills the kitchen, you do need to think about this.
- Carrying. A flute is obviously small whilst a double bass is very large. Their carrying cases add to the bulk and the weight. In general the more protection a case offers, the worse it gets.
- Playing. Can the person learning play the full-sized instrument or will they need a smaller version, if available? Classical and acoustic guitars,for example, can be bought as 3/4 size for the smaller child. On the other hand if you’re under 5 feet tall you might struggle with a double bass.
- Storing. Do you have the space to store it at home?If you want to play the piano but don’t have space for a grand piano or upright then you might think about a keyboard or electric piano which can be collapsible. A drum kit will probably need to have a permanent space.
- Transporting. Can you fit it in the car with passengers to attend lessons?
The first certainly comes before the other! The sorts of sounds we all produce at first are far removed from the final polished version- can you and the neighbours cope? At first you’ll probably need to allow for about 15 minutes practice a day. This gets longer as you/they get better (but so does the sound and musical pieces!).
Do you want to join in a group, such as an ensemble, band or orchestra?You therefore need to consider the sorts of instruments that they play- there’s no point in learning the recorder if you really wanted to play in the Swing Band. Equally, some instruments fit in with more than one type of group. Another solution is that many people play more than one instrument.
|Guitar Ensemble||Classical Guitar|
|Prep./Intermediate/senior Concert Band|
|Rock Band||Electric guitar, keyboard, drums|
|Saxophone Ensemble||Saxophone - Alto, Tenor, Baritone|
The cost of learning a musical instrument consists of:-
- instrument. Instruments can be bought new - outright or as a rent/buy agreement, second-hand or simply rented. We also have a small stock of loan instruments which surface from time to time. For school age children help is available. Instruments also need to be maintained as parts wear out and need adjusting.
- books. This includes music tutor books, theory aid and exercise books.
- tuition. This is the same irrespective of instrument. The tuition fee increases at Grade 5 and beyond simply because the lessons are twice as long. Beyond Grade 5 you don’t strictly need the theory element, other than as practice.
- exam fees (if taken). If your tutor enters you for an exam there is a registration fee payable. Again,this increases with Grade since the exam is longer and you’re paying for the external examiner’s time.