Reply To: Starting on horn in 4th grade–yea or nay?
I am a mother whose children have been involved in public school music programs for almost 20 years. I have been a school choir accompanist for nearly 15 of them. It is through my work as an accompanist that I now am a choral music education major. I add to this post because my youngest child began the horn in 4th grade. However, it was not through public schools, because they didn’t offer horn. “It’s too hard of an instrument to start them on.” Not only that, there weren’t any horns available anyway. But, readers need to understand this. We are a musical family where all sing, play the piano and at least one other instrument. Well, when our youngest was 9 months old, we got the news that he had suffered a stroke and they didn’t know what he would be able to do, or not do, as he got older. Among other things, the stroke caused for a lack of fine motor skills in his right hand. How would he be able to feel a part of our family in regards to music? THE FRENCH HORN!! This instrument was our answer for him and thankfully, a private teacher didn’t consider it too hard for someone of not only his age, but his deficit. We were gifted a double horn and off he went. He was able to join band in middle school. The last two years he has been in our County honor band. (Last year he was first chair.) He is now a freshman in high school. He is second chair and his teacher has made accommodations for our son to march, competitively, playing the horn instead of some other brass instrument. As a mother, I am grateful to his private teacher who was willing to take him in the first place and his public school teachers who have helped him become part of a community of musicians. He LOVES this instrument and has announced he wants to earn a Masters in Horn Performance. So, what’s the point of our story? As music educators, either choral or band, we have the opportunity to influence many young lives. Through music, we also influence our communities as they come in support of our concerts and performances. Is learning the horn hard? Frankly, I don’t know. I haven’t tried it. But, I do know that kids can do hard things. Why not give them the chance? We may be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!