Reply To: playing trombone at age 6

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I would strongly advise against starting a 6 year old on a brass instrument. Like you, I teach private lessons outside of school (trumpet and trombone) at a community music school. A few years ago, I got a similar request from a family for trumpet lessons for their 6 year old. It was much the same story, child loved the brass sound, grandpa was an accomplished trumpet player and still plays in lots of local bands so the child has been around trumpet his whole life, wanted to start music lessons but the child had no interest in piano, plus the family had other siblings taking lessons at the school so they really encouraged me to take him on. I agreed to try it (if the child is enthusiastic, why not harness it?)……. and it was just a disaster. They got him a cornet to play which was a bit smaller and easier for him to hold, but still he could barely hold the instrument up for very long, he got the buzz alright but even after months of lessons and apparently consistent practice could only play C-D-(sometimes) E, the concept of adjusting his embouchure, tonguing, supported air were way above his level of cognition and physical control at that age. And, I don’t blame him, but he got pretty bored with the material. I gave him all kinds of different mouthpiece buzz exercises, but with only three notes it’s really hard to keep challenging and engaging a student. As a teacher, I mostly just felt frustrated and a little guilty for agreeing to take on the student in the first place. Luckily, I didn’t have to break it off, the family moved out of town after a few months and that was the end of that. But I certainly learned my lesson. At that age, I will teach piano, I might even teach guitar, but no brass! 4th grade is the youngest I will start.