Tag Archives: School Music

Focus on Flute

The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments of all and is generally regarded as the first ever wind instrument. It has been in use at least since the Stone Age.  According to studies, 40,000 years ago early modern humans could have spent their evenings sitting around the fire, playing bone flutes and singing songs. The early bone flutes push back the date researchers think human creativity evolved.

Today the flute is still a very popular instrument with youngsters who generally begin to learn from around 8 or 9 years old.  There are many opportunities to learn both at school and through private lessons, not to mention loads of ways to get involved with local orchestras.  In North Tyneside it’s worth checking out the free opportunities for children to get involved in performing through NTMEH.

If you’re interested in private flute lessons in North Tyneside, Newcastle or Northumberland we don’t think you can’t do much better than learning from Rachel Dawson.

Rachel has been teaching for over ten years and has built a busy and varied teaching practice.  She provides tuition from her own studio as well as in several local schools and at the Northern Music Centre in Heaton.  She directs The Twyford Tootlers, an adult flute choir consisting of both concert and harmony flutes.

As well as performing as a soloist, Rachel also performs as part of The Astor Flute and Guitar Duo with husband Simon, and is a founding member of The Astor Chamber Ensemble.

If however, you’re in South Tyneside, Durham or Sunderland we’d absolutely recommend the fab Sweet Symphony School of Music run by the lovely Louise.  They are based in the Washington area and have their own dedicated studios, enthusiastic teachers and a great reputation. Sweet Symphony offer professional and friendly music lessons to students of all ages and abilities, from preschool children to retired adults.

Are flutes expensive?  They can be but don’t have to be; according to reports online the world’s most expensive flute is a Verne Q Powell platinum flute thought to be worth a whopping £134,000!  Back in the real world, our student flute range starts with the John Packer JP011 at just £119. 🙂


How to get kids interested in music Part 2 – Primary School

Remember that children aged 6-10 tend to have a very narrow view of what ‘music’ is. So far, they have really only experienced classroom singing and whatever artists you enjoy listening to at home. If you would like your child to take more interest in music, take time to explore different styles and different instruments with them and look out for what gets a strong reaction. As well as listening to classical, rock, pop, jazz, film and choral music, watch videos online of people playing instruments and name them together so your child starts to build a picture of how an orchestra, rock band and choir are built and which instruments make the sounds they are most attracted to.

Your primary school child is the perfect age to begin taking weekly lessons on an instrument so once you’ve identified the main candidates, see what opportunities are available through their school. There might be group lessons or a guitar/keyboard club, for example. Schools also increasingly offer ukulele lessons, steel pans and world drumming so listen out for what’s inspiring your kids at school and see if there is a ready made opportunity you can help them to make the most of.

All good music shops will be able to point you in the right direction for private teachers of many different instruments and be able to help you choose someone who is good with children. Often, teachers can offer taster lessons or a meet-up where you and your child can get to know more about them and the instrument they teach to make sure it’s the right one. Also, consider rental schemes through school or your local music shop if you are concerned about buying an instrument straight away. Many children dabble with several instruments before settling on the right one(s) for them.

Playing an instrument isn’t the only route into music. Your child might prefer to sing in a choir or join a stage school to explore their musical potential. Dance is another great creative outlet, and often leads to taking up an instrument later on.

If your children are interested in taking up an instrument and you have any questions or concerns, here at enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop we’re open 7 days a week and we’re always very happy to have a chat with you.

Can Boys Play Flutes?

Back in 2008, I wrote a blog about how gender stereotypes affect young people before they even play their first note and the influences of parents, peers and the media on choosing an instrument (Read ‘What’s The Right Instrument For Your Child’ here). According to a recent study commissioned by the Royal Albert Hall, nearly a decade later, the steering of boys towards ‘masculine’ instruments such as guitars, trumpets and tubas and girls towards more ‘ladylike’ options such as the flute, is still just as common.

So why, when we have come so far in the last 10 years in our general attitude to sexism (women fighting on the frontline for example) do we still feel uncomfortable when a pink and dainty little girl announces she wants to play the drums?

Read more about the results of the Royal Albert Hall research here.

North Tyneside Music Hub Raffle Results

Thank you sooo much to everyone who bought and sold raffle tickets to support North Tyneside Music Hub. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back because we raised nearly £1000!!!

The winning tickets are:
1st: 1365 (Electric Guitar Package – claimed)
2nd: 0834 (£25 Shopping Vouchers – claimed)
3rd: 1108 (£25 Shopping Vouchers)
Congratulations to all our winners 🙂

North Tyneside Music Education Hub (NTMEH) offer brilliant music opportunities to young people across the county including orchestras, choirs, steel pan bands, training bands and loads more. Most of these activities are free of charge which is why every penny we raised is so important. If your children would like to get involved, you can find out more at http://www.ntmeh.org.uk/.

As the guitar package was donated by enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop and the shopping vouchers were kindly provided by the management at Royal Quays, the full amount of your donations will go towards supporting music for young people.

Thanks again for your support!

NTMEH Concert

Which is the right size violin for my child?

Violins are one of the hardest instruments to size correctly. Ideally, we love to see you in store with your young violinist so we can measure them up and give you complete confidence that you’re buying the right size violin. However, if it’s a surprise, we understand that’s not always possible. Here are a few things you can do to give you a great chance of choosing the right size AND keeping a fantastic present secret until the right moment:

1) If your child is renting or borrowing a beginner violin from school already, tell us what size it is when you come in, or bring it with you. There is usually a little tab on the case with the size on and many brands have it inside too.

2) It’s a great idea to ask the violin teacher whether they think the current violin will be the right size for a reasonable length of time. You don’t want to buy one and then find the teacher recommends moving up to a bigger size next term!

3) Come up with a sneaky way of measuring your child’s reach (pretend it’s for their school uniform!). If you do manage to do this, the perfect position is with the arm stretched out ahead, palm upwards, from the crease of the shoulder to the base of the middle finger.

We offer a great selection of student and intermediate Stentor violins in store and also on our website at http://www.enjoymuzic.com/acatalog/buy-violins.html

Girl Playing Violin

Learning music is cheaper than you think!

This time of year is a worry for many parents whose children are fired up with the idea of starting to play an instrument. There’s no need to spend a fortune however. Here’s a quick idea of the starting prices for beginner instruments at enjoymuzic this year. And remember, a bit of friendly advice is free so if you have any questions before you buy, just pop in!

Ukulele packages from £16.99
Recorders from £3.50
3/4 Guitars from £34.70
Flute & Clarinet outfits from £120 (or rent for just £36 for 3 months!)
Trumpet outfits from £135 (also available to rent)
Violin outfits from £79.99
Touch Sensitive Electronic Keyboard outfits from £139
Digital Pianos outfits from £324

There’s loads more to see instore and we’re open every day!

Check out our more detailed tips on buying a guitar, choosing a beginner flute or which ukulele to buy!

Which ukulele should I buy? (Part One)

Ukuleles come in five sizes. Here’s a quick round-up of the features of each and some of the reasons you might choose them…

Brunswick Ukulele Sizes

Soprano Ukulele: The smallest ukulele is often mistaken for a child’s guitar or toy. In fact, it’s a versatile instrument which is easy to master and ideal for adults and children. For anyone who is starting to play for the first time, the soprano uke is the perfect choice because they’re cheap and often come in a variety of bright colours. The easy chord shapes are a great lead in to starting to play the guitar. Start playing uke with your child at around 3-4 years old and get one for granny too!

Concert Ukulele: The concert ukulele is the next size up from the soprano. It has a longer fretboard so it lends itself better to more advanced playing. Because the tuning is the same as the soprano uke, many people, particularly men, who start with a soprano uke graduate quite quickly onto the concert size because it gives them more room to manoeuvre. The concert ukulele will normally ‘sound better’ than a soprano ie: it offers more resonance, and is great for both chord and melody playing. The perfect choice for someone who already plays other instruments or who has been playing a cheap soprano ukulele for a while.

Tenor Ukulele: The tenor ukulele is also tuned in the same way as the soprano and concert models, meaning that players can switch between the three with relative ease. The tenor uke is bigger than the concert ukulele. In some ways, it is the most versatile of the uke family as there are various string sets readily available with different combinations of wound and nylon strings and high or low G string. This makes it easy to find the sound you like best and also means it can be adapted easily to be a melody or a chord instrument. Great for guys who still feel cramped on the concert size and anyone who likes a slightly more guitar style sound.

Baritone Ukulele: The baritone ukulele is tuned like the top four strings of a guitar (although you can buy strings for it which are tuned like a standard uke). The baritone uke is very popular with guitarists who find it easy to pick up and play and because it tends to have two wound strings, it sounds very like a guitar. The compact size makes it a perfect travelling companion. It’s also a good harmony instrument, often used to play the harmony line, or chords, in a ukulele group.

Bass Ukulele: The largest of the ukulele family is the most expensive and least mass produced. Normally only used to give extra depth to the harmonies in group playing.

Visit Part Two for our top tips on the best brands of ukulele to buy and how to get the best uke for your budget.

How to choose a guitar for your child

It can seem quite scary when your child first shows an interest in playing guitar, especially if you don’t play yourself.  Here’s a handy guide to making sure you choose the perfect guitar for your child:

How much is it going to cost me?
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good beginner guitar. We offer beginner guitar packages starting from £39.95.

Remember smaller guitars will need up-sizing in 1-2 years anyway. By then you’ll know whether they’re serious about it and you can think about spending a bit more. Also, so many kids start and then give up, you’ll always make something back if you need to sell it on – just ask around at school. There’s bound to be someone else who would like to start.

What size should I buy?
Our rough guide to sizing is…

  • Age 4-6/7 = Half Size Guitar
  • Age 7-9 = 3/4 Size Guitar
  • Age 10+ = Full Size Guitar

However, it really depends on the size of your child! We also take into account other things like the size of their hands and the length of their arms.

You are welcome to bring your child in to enjoymuzic so we can tell you what size guitar will be right even if you’re not ready to buy yet. We’re open every day at Royal Quays, North Shields.

Steel or Nylon Strings?
Nylon string guitars (also called Spanish or Classical Guitars):

  • Originally meant for playing Classical and Folk music.
  • Used by most beginners up to age 10-12 because the strings don’t hurt the fingers too much.
  • Generally much cheaper to purchase.

 Steel String Guitars:

  • Sound better, particularly when playing modern/pop music.
  • Can hurt the fingers to start with but, on the plus side, the pads harden up much faster!
  • Ideal for teenage and adult beginners who want to play the music they listen to.

Even if your child is using an electric guitar in their lessons, most teachers will be happy for them to play an acoustic at home – the technique is very similar.

Or Electric?
Most parents have two concerns about electric guitars…

Isn’t it expensive?
Since you need an amplifier and other accessories, it does cost more than an acoustic, but many people are amazed to find we offer an Encore starter pack including everything you need for £139!

What about the noise?
There’s no need to worry about what the neighbours think! Most amps have the option of plugging in headphones like the Kinsman Classic Headphone set.

What about Lessons?
Many children first show an interest because the opportunity arises at school and this can be the easiest way to get access to lessons. However, there are other options. We can give you information about a range of local guitar teachers or if you are looking for a lower cost option, we recommend trying group guitar lessons at the Yamaha Music Point in North Shields.

It’s very hard to get an idea of whether a child is going to do well playing the guitar if they’re just trying at home. Another option is to start by asking a friend or relative to give them a few lessons and make sure the interest persists before you commit to paying for tuition.

Just ask…
If you’re not sure about the right size or style of guitar, the best thing to do before purchasing is to ask advice, either from the guitar teacher if you have one already, or come and talk to us – we’re always happy to help.

Of course, if you’re an adult beginner, most of this information is just the same for you – and it’s never too late to start!

Ukuleles are HOT!

So, ukuleles are just little guitars with 4 strings for babies, right? Wrong! Ukes are fab little instruments that are easy to play, sound great, incredibly cheap and SO funky! And best of all? They are trashing the recorder!! Schools are wising up to the fact that kids are loving the uke (and so are their grannies). Anyone can do it – why don’t you?

Here’s a couple of links to some of the cutest uke designs we’re offering and the coolest accessories for your ukulele;

The UK has been a hotspot of national pride since the Olympics and the Jubilee, so how about a Union Jack uke?

It’ll sound great if it’s bang in tune – the Snark Clip-On Ukulele Tuner is a great little gadget to make tuning easy.

Anything from Adele to ZZ Top, with Black Sabbath in between. Bring your favourite tracks bang up to date with sheet music for your ukulele.

If you would like a taster of just how cool the ukulele can be, check out this video of the Ukulele Orchestra playing Nirvana!