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Every time I get my horn out to practice my 4 year old daughter is right next to me wanting to help. She will press the Eb key down while I am playing, because that is the only one she can touch while I stand and play. She is enamored with the saxophone. When I am playing a tune she dances around and has a good 'ol time enjoying the music. She is always asking me if she can practice with me. Most of the time I tell her sure and give her a plastic penny whistle or some egg shakers, and she has fun with that but gets bored quickly and is really wanting something more. My question is this, what can I give her to get her started towards the saxophone at this early age? A cheap plastic toy sax, a recorder, clarinet, an ol beater curved soprano? Have any of you faced this dilemma? I really want to give her something with a reed, so she can get used to that. Maybe one of those Xaphoon things, Ive seen on the internet. One thing I have done is instill in her a love for good jazz, she has been listening to good jazz since she was in the womb. I'm very curious of your thoughts on this, thanks.
 

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I bet there are plastic recorders made in the sax shape.


I doubt she's prepared to deal with reeds. A fipple flute (recorder) just requires blowing into and fingering. She can make actual music on an instrument that doesn't make demands beyond her 4 year old capabilities. The "Xaphoon" is not in my opinion a good choice as it violates a lot of acoustical rules and while an experienced reed player can make use of it, I question a kiddo being able to do much musical with it.

I think it's important that a child's first experiences with making music have success. She will, I believe, be happier with an instrument that makes a pleasing sound with minimum effort and allows her to play simple songs along with daddy, than with something that's hard to play and makes awful squawks for the first month.

The Yamaha "Venova" would be something to look into after the fipple flute, if and when you think she is ready to deal with having reeds.
 

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turf3, I totally agree with the "when you think she is ready to deal with having reeds" comment. However, I think it is me that will need to be ready for her having reeds. I just let her try "making a sound" on the clarinet. well.....lets just say it was rather obnoxious. It might be a while before we go there again. Are there specific brands of recorder to stay away from?
 

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A melodica is another great wind instrument for small kids ..... it still requires air to make a sound but doesn’t require any specific embrouchure like a reed instrument or finger placement to cover tone holes like on a recorder.
 

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A melodica is another great wind instrument for small kids ..... it still requires air to make a sound but doesn’t require any specific embrouchure like a reed instrument or finger placement to cover tone holes like on a recorder.
Melodica was also my first idea.

You're lucky to have such a music-enthusiast kid ! :)
 

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Melodica was also my first idea.

You're lucky to have such a music-enthusiast kid ! :)

Thanks, I am very excited about her enthusiasm and I really dont want her to get discouraged by not being able to make music in some way. I also dont want to discourage her by telling her to "leave me alone, Daddy is trying to practice", even though it is pretty hard to concentrate and focus when she is there. Thats why I was thinking that there has to be some way I can let her feel like she is practicing with me or even helping me practice.

Thank you all so much for your input, I really appreciate it. I just ordered a $5 yamaha soprano recorder and a book to start her out. The book is called "Its recorder time"?? Hopefully it fans the fire of musicality in my daughter.
 

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I think it’s awesome that she is showing so much interest, and great of you to introduce her to jazz at such an early age.
Music is so important in life, and it’s fantastic that she has a love for it already.
I think a plastic saxophone or Melodica is a great idea, and she will feel like she’s playing like you.
Nothing more heartwarming than being a parent.
 

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Strange thing.....she is my only child that I actually played music for while my wife was pregnant with her. I would put some Getz, Desmond, or Cannonball, even Miles Davis and she would move around and kick like crazy. My wife and I translated that as meaning she liked it. If I played a different genre of music, say rock, pop, even classical. She wouldn't move. Anyway, none of my other kids like music as much as her and she is the only one who likes Jazz. I wasn't a believer in this kind of the before, but with her I believe playing the music to her in utero really shaped her love for music. Maybe I'm crazy and it was just coincidence but who knows??
 

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My kids joined a "music for young children" group, its was really great. They went from that into piano, which is a fantastic musical grounding I wish I had had, and then when a little older into band instruments (flute, clarinet and currently bassoon) on top of that.

I cant speak of MYC highly enough, perhaps there is a teacher near you.
https://www.myc.com
 

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Give her a drum and / or other percussion. You two be making music together quickly, and she will be learning rhythm - an integral part of making music, no matter the instrument you end up with.
 

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I second the idea of letting her learn to play a recorder. There is a great deal of transfer of finger placement to the saxophone. Another suggestion when she is physically ready is to give her piano lessons. The big advantage to that is learning to read music in both clefs and count rhythms without having to deal with the difficulties inherent in tone production on a woodwind instrument. I taught beginning band which started in 6th grade for many years and observed that the students who had taken piano lessons progressed much more quickly in the beginning. There are some inherent "pitfalls" that come with having a youngster try to learn to play an instrument they are not physically ready to handle. As I see it, the role of any teacher or parent is to remove any obstacles that may get in the way of having a positive experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
saxoclese, I've got the recorder coming in the mail. Should I teach her how to read music with the recorder by going through a beginners book with her, or should I just wait until she is ready to start playing the piano and have her learn music reading with the piano lessons?
I tried giving her some very simple piano lessons a couple of months ago and It was quickly apparent that she wasn't ready for it, so I told her that we would try again when she was five. When I say she wasn't ready, I mean physically her little hands weren't large enough to press the keys with the 4th and 5th fingers and she was having trouble with the thumb also. Her dexterity just isnt there yet. In addition her attention span was like 10 seconds, and she was wiggling around on the bench and driving me mad.
 

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saxoclese, I've got the recorder coming in the mail. Should I teach her how to read music with the recorder by going through a beginners book with her, or should I just wait until she is ready to start playing the piano and have her learn music reading with the piano lessons?
I tried giving her some very simple piano lessons a couple of months ago and It was quickly apparent that she wasn't ready for it, so I told her that we would try again when she was five. When I say she wasn't ready, I mean physically her little hands weren't large enough to press the keys with the 4th and 5th fingers and she was having trouble with the thumb also. Her dexterity just isnt there yet. In addition her attention span was like 10 seconds, and she was wiggling around on the bench and driving me mad.
By all means teach her to read music on the recorder, but start with helping her to learn to play some tunes familiar to her by rote. Once her fingers are accustomed to putting three down on top, then introduce the name "G" for that "fingering". After a while with knowledge of the fingering and the name, the symbol on the page that represents those will be easier to grasp and remember. When learning the notes on the staff, a fun way to learn is to have her hold up her left hand with the fingers apart and teach her that beginning with the little finger they are Every Good Boy Does Fine. Next the spaces between the fingers spell the word F A C E. Good luck with the "attention span thing". It does get better as they get older. My 6th graders could focus for up to 10 minutes on a good day on any given lesson.
 

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Both of my children started classical piano lessons once a week when they were 5 years old and continued them until they graduated from high school. Lessons were 45 minutes long because, in their teachers words “at that age sometimes they have to stop and tell a story, or fidget a bit”. In addition to the lesson there was “class” once a week where all of the students at all levels played for each other.

Both kids have graduated with honors in engineering, and perhaps the musical training helped in their math and general scholarly activities. But to me, ancillary benefits are beside the point as music has its own inherent value.
 

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At 7 my grandson continually asks to play the sax especially when he hears me practicing, for that matter most of my grand kids have expressed some interest in playing, for this reason I have kept a Yamaha electric keyboard specifically for their use, I also have a student alto sax around, now my 7year old grandson has taken a much deeper interest then any of the others and asks me to practice with him once or twice a week, he also likes jazz and some blues ,
so currently we are working on just the C scale both playing and reading, his attention span, maybe 10 min. and physically he is still a little small for the alto, he needs to sit with it with the bottom bow supported, I must say I am overjoyed with him and his interest and hope that he continues to keep and develop that interest.
after his attention starts to wane he just wants to noodle around, I just let him go in hopes that will increase his interest and enjoyment, so maybe total 20 to 25 mins. oh but what fun
 

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Strange thing.....she is my only child that I actually played music for while my wife was pregnant with her. I would put some Getz, Desmond, or Cannonball, even Miles Davis and she would move around and kick like crazy. My wife and I translated that as meaning she liked it. If I played a different genre of music, say rock, pop, even classical. She wouldn't move. Anyway, none of my other kids like music as much as her and she is the only one who likes Jazz. I wasn't a believer in this kind of the before, but with her I believe playing the music to her in utero really shaped her love for music. Maybe I'm crazy and it was just coincidence but who knows??

In that case, she may have perfect pitch even though she can't yet name the notes.

On Rick Beato's youtube channel he has an amazing demonstration of this with his young son. He states that within the first 1000 days of life is the critical time for developing this ability. Maybe check out his videos on this topic and others, which are very enjoyable.
 

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Speaking as a person with no experience, expertise, or training on how to teach music to children...

would it be a terrible idea to give a kid a mouthpiece and a saxophone neck to practice on? Get them used to how it feels to play a reed. Play call and response games where you bend the pitch and get them to copy. It would be less obnoxious than a full horn wouldn't it? Its kind of the inverse of trying a recorder.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
would it be a terrible idea to give a kid a mouthpiece and a saxophone neck to practice on? Get them used to how it feels to play a reed. Play call and response games where you bend the pitch and get them to copy. It would be less obnoxious than a full horn wouldn't it? Its kind of the inverse of trying a recorder.
I had the same thought! This is why I was having her try the clarinet, if for no other reason, this way they can feel how the reed vibrates when they blow. I like your idea with just a sax neck though!! Less to hold on to and not as obnoxious sounding as just the mouthpiece. I'm thinking I may do this with her just for a small amount of time, a few minutes, in addition to the recorder stuff when she can actually make pleasant sounds.
 

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The first time around with my grandson I did exactly that, first gave him a mouthpiece with a reed then after awhile graduated to the neck and mouthpiece then the horn, I am pretty sure that him being able to produce sound did instill a margin of confidence when he did finely get the horn, what was great was the look on his face when he was able to produce those first notes
 
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