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 All Star Activities Press Releases

All Star Activities
45 Memel Drive
Thornton, PA  19373

Phone:  (610) 455-1919
Fax:       (610) 455-1951


THE TREND. Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Journal & Courier. Sunday, August 26, 2007

(By John Terhune/Journal & Courier)
Abbie Heim practices piano Wednesday at Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette. Heim's piano instructor is Janet Whipple.

Here is advice on different types of instruments:

  • Band/Woodwind instruments

    In general, band instruments, like the flute and clarinet, are best if started in fourth or fifth grade. These woodwind instruments require finger dexterity. The small size of a child's hands and arms will definitely make it impossible for them to play even a simple melody on one of these instruments. Small fingers will not be able to properly cover the tone holes on a clarinet. The flute requires long arms, since the instrument is held out to the side. The saxophone requires larger hands and fingers to reach the keys.
  • Brass instruments

    The brass family, require a lot of wind which is physically impossible for children under 9 years old. Brass instruments work best with firm, straight, permanent front teeth and thin lips. Trombone playing will require long arms. Tubas are heavy and bulky to carry, so a small child will have difficulty.
  • Piano

    Traditionally the first instrument of choice is the piano. The instrument requires fairly simple movement and you can get immediate gratification from simple combination of notes. The downside of the piano is that the instrument is large and you need to have the space to keep it. A child does require good coordination to be able to play the piano.
  • String Instruments

    The string instruments are also a very good choice for young children because they come in a variety of sizes to fit any age student. Violins are smaller than Violas but both require sufficient arm strength to hold up the instrument. In addition, they are small instruments that will not be difficult for your child to transport. Cellos are larger and more difficult to transport.
  • Guitars

    Guitars come in left or right handed and acoustic guitars come in different sizes. The guitar however is difficult for young children because it will make fingers very sore. An electric guitar with solid bodies may be too heavy for a young child to handle.
  • Percussion Instruments

    Percussion instruments normally start at the age of 7. You will find that they come in a variety of forms from small hand-held drums to complex systems. Practice pads are an alternative to a full drum set.


    Making the talent work: Creating a young musician

    When Abbie Heim started playing piano nine years ago, she wasn't convinced it was for her.

    "I didn't like it much," she said, "but no kid likes to practice."

    Heim stuck with music, though, and somewhere along the way she fell in love with it. Now the 16-year-old is planning to pursue a career teaching others to play piano.

    Heim is one of numerous talented young musicians in Greater Lafayette. Many started playing when they were only 5 or 6 years old.

    Like players on a basketball court or a football field, musicians have to spend long hours honing their skills. Chaconne Klaverenga has already become an accomplished classical guitar player at the age of 15. She says being a young musician requires both talent and hard work.

    "It's about half and half," Klaverenga said. "Because you could try really hard and not have any talent at all or you could have great talent and waste it by not doing anything. You have to have both to really make it work."

    Harold Hooper, an instructor at McGuire's Music in Lafayette, has been teaching guitar for more than 40 years. He's worked with students for as long as nine years straight, but said the real secret to developing a musical talent is having a passion to play.

    "You need to look for music you want to play," Hooper always tells his students, especially those first starting out.

    Piano instructor Janet Whipple of Lafayette, who's working with Heim, agrees that picking familiar music can often help hook younger students. Especially with some of her younger male students, Whipple has sometimes turned to sports themes or other catchy songs.

    Whipple remembers needing a little motivation herself when she was learning to play years ago.

    "Three years into it, I wanted to quit," she recalls. "But I was afraid to tell my parents because we'd invested all of this money into lessons and stuff."

    Just adding some Disney songs and familiar church music to her repertoire helped get Whipple through her slump and her interest in piano ultimately blossomed into a career.

    Darrell Hunt, a guitar instructor with McGuire's, credits the great music he listened to growing up -- including Van Halen and Led Zeppelin -- with building his interest in playing. He started teaching himself guitar in the sixth grade and it eventually became his main interest.

    "It's what I did. School, homework, friends, family kind of all just got in the way of it," he said, with a laugh.

    Hunt said it's rare today to see a truly dedicated young musician. He thinks it's partly due to the busy schedules children keep and the many distractions they have -- such as computers, video games and TV.

    Both Heim and Klaverenga stay busy with schedules centered largely around their music.

    In addition to the piano, Heim has played violin since age 5 and the trombone since the fifth grade. She's active in her school band, church orchestra and the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony.

    Klaverenga has been performing on her guitar in national and international competitions during the past year. She spends about three-and-a-half hours practicing classical guitar each day and additional time working on the piano.

    Klaverenga knows she's had to give up some of her free time and time with friends to focus on playing, but says "it's worth it."

    And Heim agrees, adding her advice to other young people getting started with music: "Wait it out. The first few