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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Curved soprano sax for soon to be 6 year old - thoughts?

My kiddo will soon be 6 years old. I would like for him to play the piano but he says he prefers saxophone, even though he has barely heard me play or perhaps because he hasn't. He obviously knows that I love saxes so that likely taints his preference. I was more or less inclined to stick to piano until a few weeks ago when he picked up his toy Bontempi saxophone and out of the blue played a scale with two 1/8 notes and a 1/4 note on each note perfectly up and down and then repeated it again after he saw my jaw hit the floor. I was hoping for him to grow up with much more music around him, but between school and after school and only having him 50% of the time, it really isn't that easy. The little man has a great sense of rhythm, which took a while to surface due to ear problems, which he now - touch wood - has outgrown.

I just saw in a thread that Paquito D'Rivera had a curved Selmer soprano that his father bought for him at this age. Hans Dulfer also got a curved soprano for his daughter when she turned 6. I am wondering if anyone here in the forum have tried something similar for daughter/sons/grandchildren and if it materialized in anything productive or was premature. My son has had some dexterity issues and gets special help at school and anything manual is recommended, so there is that to factor in as well.

A second question I have is whether any of the curved Chinese sopranos on eBay are any good; just for this very basic purpose. Even though my son is of gentle nature, there is no way that he will be able to properly care for a sax and it will get bumped into things. I don't want to spend a lot of money. If it takes on, he would switch to alto in a couple of years and need a proper teacher. It would just be to familiarize himself with a sax and help with his dexterity issues. Also, it is surely about time to retire the Bontempi. The latter by the way is still fully intact and has been worth every penny.

Any constructive thoughts would be most appreciated - thanks!
 

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My girlfriend bought a Tai Shan curved soprano sax on ebay and it was probably the best choice.
It certainly looks well made, and it played fairly well out of the box, although she did take it to her repair tech for some adjustments which cost $100.
The mouthpiece included is useable, but she did get a Morgan Classic upgraded piece which was clearly better.
I find the curved soprano much more comfortable to play that the straight one.

The soprano sax is more of a precision instrument than the larger saxes, so, in the hands of a 6 year old child, that could require some regular repair work!
 

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I started playing when I was 6 1/2 and am now a professional player...it did not effect
me negatively - I did have the two adult teeth top and bottom already which helped. It won't harm your son,
the pressure is not great enough to instigate anything.

I'm happy I started so young and directly on saxophone - I learned piano and theory of course along the way....

Having taught children with co-ordination problems, hearing loss and a myriad of concentration situations,
playing music can help more than most pursuits...with any perceived issue comes an opportunity to understand
one's mind and body in greater depth. Using the saxophone, your son could manifest a mind/body connection that could
help him in later life....not to mention a love of music and completely following in his dad's footsteps....
 

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The most famous example of a child's starting out on a curved soprano sax is probably Carina Rascher, and she certainly made a career out of it.

I'm not sure whether you're asking, "Is a curved sop OK?" or, "Is age 6 OK?" As to the latter, while 6 is a little below the standard starting age for wind instruments, it's obviously fine for music education in general. So as long as the horn is small, the child is physically ready (including teeth), and the interest is genuine, not merely the parent's wish, I don't see any potential harm in getting a head start. And if you see good progress, you could just add alto in a few years, rather than substituting alto for soprano.
 

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I think it's a great idea. I was considering doing it with my nephews but neither here in Colorado showed any interest in sax.

I'd put an ad in the Marketplace section under "Saxophones Wanted" and see if someone has one they've already had their tech go over and are ready to part with. These are small and easy to pack and ship. If you end up selling it at some point you'll get most of your investment back.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank for the great replies - much appreciated!!!

I started playing when I was 6 1/2 and am now a professional player...it did not effect
me negatively - I did have the two adult teeth top and bottom already which helped. It won't harm your son,
the pressure is not great enough to instigate anything.

I'm happy I started so young and directly on saxophone - I learned piano and theory of course along the way....

Having taught children with co-ordination problems, hearing loss and a myriad of concentration situations,
playing music can help more than most pursuits...with any perceived issue comes an opportunity to understand
one's mind and body in greater depth. Using the saxophone, your son could manifest a mind/body connection that could
help him in later life....not to mention a love of music and completely following in his dad's footsteps....
Impressive - thank you.

The most famous example of a child's starting out on a curved soprano sax is probably Carina Rascher, and she certainly made a career out of it.

I'm not sure whether you're asking, "Is a curved sop OK?" or, "Is age 6 OK?" As to the latter, while 6 is a little below the standard starting age for wind instruments, it's obviously fine for music education in general. So as long as the horn is small, the child is physically ready (including teeth), and the interest is genuine, not merely the parent's wish, I don't see any potential harm in getting a head start. And if you see good progress, you could just add alto in a few years, rather than substituting alto for soprano.
I am not asking about a curved soprano. I would venture into anything else. I am asking if age 6 is okay for a sax - thanks for clarifying!

I don't know if there is genuine interest. My kiddo seems to be developing rather unevenly. He is practically the youngest in his kindergarten class but could probably skip 1st grade when it comes to reading. In other respects, it is hard to tell. My thoughts of getting curved soprano was to gauge interest; not force it upon him. I just didn't know if others had tried and had poor experiences and if so what the reasons might be. Also, I am quite rusty and only have a BW soprano that I never play. So to set an example for him on soprano, might be hard for me, not to mention dealing with neighbors where I live. However, for a kid living right next to his school, I will have to upper hand as long as we stick to considerate hours.

I have a pretty good ear but rather poor theoretical skills and a career that is busy and unrelated to music. My thought was to simply let a curved sop replace the Bonventi (they are quite similar in length) and check out if there is interest for playing a bit together on weekends and days where I can pick up early from school. Who knows what might happen.

I think it's a great idea. I was considering doing it with my nephews but neither here in Colorado showed any interest in sax.

I'd put an ad in the Marketplace section under "Saxophones Wanted" and see if someone has one they've already had their tech go over and are ready to part with. These are small and easy to pack and ship. If you end up selling it at some point you'll get most of your investment back.
I thought about this too and will follow your - as always - great advice.
 

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My oldest daughter auditioned for her junior high school beginning band with my then-curved Conn soprano and a handwritten lead-line for an old trad-jazz tune called KING CHANTICLEER. We laugh about that to this day. She is near 55 now and still plays alto, soprano, flute, and keyboards regularly in various bands while working as an engineering manager at JPL.

But she was entering 7th grade with a solid piano background - not a small child of six.

I suppose you will receive a variety of opinions on whether or not six is too young for saxophone. Sure, there are always exceptions and we can point to them. But those few exceptions should not be generalized.

My take is that the child should start on piano with a promise of saxophone after he learns the basics. But what WE want is not always what is best - and if the child REALLY wants to play a small saxophone, then who are any of us to deny it? It won't hurt to let him try it. DAVE
 

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I have a pretty good ear but rather poor theoretical skills and a career that is busy and unrelated to music. My thought was to simply let a curved sop replace the Bonventi (they are quite similar in length) and check out if there is interest for playing a bit together on weekends and days where I can pick up early from school. Who knows what might happen.
I think this is a very good plan for a child this age - don't force it just make it an available option. I wouldn't worry about playing soprano either if you aren't comfortable on that voice. It won't seem strange to a kid that you are "playing a bigger sax than he has" (alto, tenor, bari) because as a kid everything that has to do with adults is "bigger" anyway.

Likewise, don't sell yourself short. You know a great deal about saxophone and playing music in general. You have plenty to offer and he would need to play for quite a while before there would be any real theory involved besides basic music reading skills. Not too mention if he does ask about something you don't know, all the better. You can research the answer and you'll both learn something.

It's not easy being a parent. I've watched my brother, sister and several friends struggle with it at times. There's no way to know for sure what the "right" thing is and what's right for someone else's kid may not be right for yours. The one common thread I see among a lot of folks that strike me as good parents is that they want to give their kids opportunity to experience things if at all possible. What you don't want to have as a parent once your kids are older is regret. If the kid is showing interest and it's within your means reasonably than go for it.

From what I can see watching my nieces and nephews (spanning ages 7-24 presently) is that they start "checking-out" now as pre-teens when societal pressures and social media get a hold of them. Once they reach that level of awareness your ability to influence them wanes until their early 20's when they mature enough to realize they don't know everything like they think they did at 16 or 17.

You said above "Who knows what might happen." That's exactly right. All you can do is plant the seed, try and water it once in a while, and see if it grows into something. He may be a little young but kids grow up fast these days surrounded by all the technology they're exposed to. You may get another chance when he's older and a bit more mature or you may not and you're in the best position to make that call.
 

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Some school band programs begin as early as 4th grade when students are 9 or 10 years old, but most begin in 5th and 6th grade when the students are 11 or 12 years old. There are several reasons that these are the optimal ages to start on a band instrument including, size, coordination, stamina, and large and small muscle control. Students in this age group have learned enough mathematics to understand note values and counting.

As a former beginning band teacher my advice to parents wanting their student to start on an instrument at a younger age is to give their child piano lessons to become musically "literate" for a few years before starting on a wind instrument. In my classes, students with a piano background progressed much more quickly than those without since they could concentrate on the fundamentals of tone production, articulation, etc. without having to worry about reading notes and counting rhythms.

In my view no experience with an instrument before age 11 or 12 is far better than a negative experience because the student isn't physically developed enough to succeed because that student is lost for good.
 

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You’ve gotten some very good advice here so I will just touch on your question about Chinese curved sopranos since I’ve owned about five of them. It was a very frustrating experience. All of them had serious intonation problems in the low-end of the horn that cannot be fixed. They are putting the tone holes in the wrong place at the factory.

The only inexpensive curved soprano that had good intonation was the Unison model 100/200 which I believe were made in Korea, not China. So get a Unison or second-hand Yanagisawa which are expensive as you know. Otherwise, start him off on recorder or even clarinet. Good clarinets are easily found (YCL250). One of the biggest problems will be keeping your son from breaking reeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again to all! I will definitely give it a try.

My take is that the child should start on piano with a promise of saxophone after he learns the basics. But what WE want is not always what is best - and if the child REALLY wants to play a small saxophone, then who are any of us to deny it? It won't hurt to let him try it. DAVE
Thank you! This echoes what I rationalize spot on. The caveat is that I had a miserable experience starting on piano, which turned my interest away from playing an instrument for two decades, so I really do not feel in position to do a whole lot more than offer options.

You’ve gotten some very good advice here so I will just touch on your question about Chinese curved sopranos since I’ve owned about five of them. It was a very frustrating experience. All of them had serious intonation problems in the low-end of the horn that cannot be fixed. They are putting the tone holes in the wrong place at the factory.

The only inexpensive curved soprano that had good intonation was the Unison model 100/200 which I believe were made in Korea, not China. So get a Unison or second-hand Yanagisawa which are expensive as you know. Otherwise, start him off on recorder or even clarinet. Good clarinets are easily found (YCL250). One of the biggest problems will be keeping your son from breaking reeds.
Thank you!. My soprano is a lowly straight Bauhaus (AI), but even I can play it in tune and it seems darn well built. I will look for a Unison, but otherwise I could try a curved Bauhaus. I have saved absolutely nothing on my little guy to date, but a Yanagisawa does strike me as overkill at this point.
 

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The only inexpensive curved soprano that had good intonation was the Unison model 100/200 which I believe were made in Korea, not China.
Unison curved sopranos are made in Taiwan. I had an S200 that was stamped “Made In Taiwan”. Their earlier student models were made in China.


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Never played a Bauhaus but they do get good reviews.
 
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