Beginners’ instrumental classes at EYM are open to children who have completed the Musical Workshop classes, which form a year’s course for children in Primary 2 or sometimes Primary 3. At Primary 3 or Primary 4 level, EYM offers beginners’ classes in recorder, violin, viola and cello as well as Choir. It is not possible for new members to join a beginners’ instrumental class without having completed the Musical Workshop year, but it is sometimes possible for an experienced recorder player to join a more advanced recorder class.
“All the teachers over the years have been fantastic”
Recorder classes have no upper age limit; currently the oldest members are 16. Descant recorder is taught to beginners in groups of up to 8; after about three or four years, those that wish progress onto the treble recorder. Once they have a good grasp of both descant and treble, they can easily adapt also to sopranino, tenor and bass recorders and are then grouped into consorts. There is also a larger recorder ensemble, like a recorder orchestra, which combines several of the more advanced classes. It is sometimes helpful if a parent/guardian attends classes with their child in the early stages, in order to be able to help with daily practice at home during the week, although this is dependent on individual teachers and the dynamics of each particular group. Many of the more advanced players also take individual lessons with their EYM recorder teacher, either on a regular basis or occasionally; these lessons are not organised by EYM, but may be arranged privately with the EYM teacher. EYM owns a small number of bass recorders which can be lent to suitably advanced pupils. All other recorders must be bought by the pupils.
Violin, viola and cello classes are offered for two years only, normally Primary 3 & 4 or Primary 4 & 5, in order to give children an introduction to these instruments, and to give them a chance to find out whether they want to study them more seriously in the long term. If so, they should take individual lessons after they have finished their EYM classes, but should not attend individual lessons while still a member of an EYM class; although EYM does not provide individual lessons, it can recommend private teachers. It is sometimes helpful if a parent/guardian attends classes with their child, in order to be able to help with daily practice at home during the week, although this is dependent on individual teachers and the dynamics of each particular group. There are up to four children in each group. Young string players play on small instruments to suit their size. EYM owns a small number of cellos, which are available for hire to beginner cello pupils. Violin and viola pupils are expected to buy their own instruments, with advice from EYM.
“Thank you so much for all you have taught me & all the fun of playing in the concerts”
Classes are taught by Jean Murray & Simon Rennard (recorder), Anne Giles & Heidi Kuehne (violin & viola) and Sarah Kegerreis (cello) with help from student assistants. During the 2023/24 session recorder classes cost £10.40 per week; violin, viola & cello classes cost £15.10 per week.
Choosing which instrument to learn and when can be a difficult and important decision. All instruments require practice and dedication if they are to be played well; there is no such thing as an easy instrument, although it is true that an individual child may find that (s)he is more suited to one instrument than to others. The guiding principle should be children’s own wishes, based on which instrument they like the sound of best. A child choosing to learn an instrument should realise that little progress can be made without regular daily practice at home. In this respect, learning an instrument is different from most other extra-curricular activities, where attendance at a weekly meeting is all that is expected. It is important that parents/guardians and children understand this before taking on a commitment to an instrument, so as to avoid the frustration which inevitably results from lack of progress. Different children will be ready to start at different ages; it is usually better to wait until a child is really keen to play an instrument, rather than push him or her into it before (s)he is ready.
Piano and orchestral wind instruments are not taught at EYM, but private teachers can be recommended; children who choose to learn these instruments are encouraged to join an EYM chamber music group as soon as they are ready. Primary 3 is a good age for most children to start piano lessons, following on from the Musical Workshop classes; orchestral wind instruments should not normally be started until Primary 5 at the earliest, depending on the individual child and instrument. Children who wish eventually to learn an orchestral wind instrument are encouraged to start on the recorder and/or choir and/or piano at Primary 3 level. Private teachers can be recommended for any other instrument a child may wish to learn, such as guitar, clarsach, percussion, etc.