How young is too young to start?

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How young is too young to start?

Postby Tpfairfax » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:44 pm

I am doing some work to encourage more young into the NSP fold and have been chatting to various people... to understand the issues....

There are a number of challenges to address....One thing that has come up in discussions with a number of folk, including a couple of school music teachers, is that up to a certain age (circa 7 depending on the child) many children are likely to be put off by instruments requiring more complex co-ordination, requiring simpler instruments that produce more instant gratification.....

Clearly there are exceptions to this rule like every other.... but it did make sense...

One of the things that has been suggested is that for children, who are not yet ready, that exposing them to the music and tunes on simpler instruments might be a good idea.... Clearly it needs to be fun..... The current entry level project for NSP is the excellent school pipe project, but when is the best moment to get people on this - and could / should we be doing anything earlier.

I note that there are (and have been) some pretty inspirational young players on the circuit.

I would be grateful for the thoughts of the NSP community.... - if you could indicate your perspective (e.g. (ex!)young player, parent, teacher or pipe tutor etc), this would be really helpful......

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Re: How young is too young to start?

Postby andymay » Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:35 pm

Hi Tom,

I must have started when i was 7 approaching 8. I guess i was an 'average sized' kid and i think much younger and even with a small set i wouldn't have been able to manage the pipes at all.

That said, i'd already been picking up some of the tunes for maybe a year beforehand on the whistle and harmonica. Or some of them just by singing them.I seem to remember a kids' toy which also proved great for learning pipe tunes, and sounded a bit the same!! I think that's a big help when you eventually get going with the pipes - that you've some tunes in your head already. It takes away ONE of the many things you have to learn at once!!!

I've taught a few kids though and i remember one of them even as an admittedly very small teenager struggling to manage the pipes in terms of size and co-ordination.

I've heard of people starting even younger - but really my opinion is that there's as much to be gained by learning some of the music, and listening to the pipes to begin with.

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Re: How young is too young to start?

Postby workers and drones » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:18 pm

W&D here!
The important issue here is not how young is too young but whether you feel old enough to start playing! and whether you feel a pupil is ready to start playing!. Its not a question of limitation but facilitation. Youngsters mature at different times and grow at different rates. Its imposible to put an age to this question. As an ex peripatetic instrumental teacher of a good number of years, there are factors which come into play with different instruments. A pupil who is struggling in terms of their physical size but is keen can be easily overtaken by a pupil who benefits from waiting until phyically more able. More importantly is the need to be mature enough to understand what is being taught. This too is a variable. There seems to be a quest in many fields to find a way to steal a head start in the hope that this brings brilliance. Tiger woods in golf is a classic example, as are the large number of piano and violin prodigies to come from the east. There are of course exceptions, however if I'd a fiver for all those early starters (too early) who fell by the wayside ........hello Bahamas!!. Pushy parents can kill any disire in order to get children started to soon and great care in assessing an individuals suitability to play any instrument should always be exercised.
As a piper of exactly 4years of playing, and one who started playing at the age of 57and a bit! I may have started too soon!! mmmm perhaps time to give up!
How old is too old to give up!?.
workers and drones
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Re: How young is too young to start?

Postby GrahamRB » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:48 pm

workers and drones wrote:...
How old is too old to give up!?.

Crem+30 minutes :o
N. Cambs/S. Lincs
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Re: How young is too young to start?

Postby Tpfairfax » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:17 pm

There's a lot of sense here....

Dangers of generalisation notwithstanding, I suspect its really a question helping the spark land in conditions where it can reasonably develop into a flame....

The real point of this - from a school's point of view, is understand the right moment (and way) to introduce groups of children to the pipes etc, and whether there are ways that we can make it easier for them to get the habit! I think Andy's point about learning the tunes is absolutely right.... and exposure to the music is something that can be done to feed the habit before people are ready for the pipes... lots of approaches! Of course, the whistle players can also play with pipers (given the right key whistle).... which is an elegant way of getting into the collective swing and learning the magic of the music....

I know the NCC music education tribe have done a lot of work on when to start - with some success....

Actually this does resonate - as an ex jockanese piper I came to the NSP with a repertoire of melodies which (some with a bit of imagination) could be played on the NSP, - so I could focus my limited cerebral resources on the subtly different co-ordination.....(!)

From a personal (family) point of view - I think it is probably easier to spot the moment when conditions are right with children.... though I think W&Ds pushy parent point is absolutely right (and not just in the field of piping!)

Thanks for the input - really useful - I will update as the debate develops.


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