Meri’s Musical Musings

More on how learning other instruments helps piano students: specifics on most instruments

Posted on: February 12, 2014

All instruments: Will likely improve student’s back and neck posture, particularly with wind instruments, and more efficient use of fingers. Student will learn how to shape their musical phrases. Will improve awareness of dynamics.

Flute: Students will quickly learn to read high treble clef easily. Often the most complex rhythms in solo and orchestral literature are found in flute music. Can be very competitive, especially in high level groups.

Violin: Students will learn to read high and low treble clef, down to G below middle C. Develop strength in fingers. Early start in key signatures, as starting keys are G and D major. Lots of complex rhythms in advanced solo repertoire. Often is very competitive for placement in high level groups.

Clarinet: First notes are in low treble clef, around and below middle C, lowest written note is written E below middle C, which is equal to the third space on the bass staff; students can practice transposing at sight on this instrument; this instrument will improve greatly low treble clef reading, particularly in the mid-intermediate level and up, which JS Bach does a lot of, such as the BWV 999, Little Prelude in C minor; early start in learning key signatures in most clarinet methods, because of being a transposing instrument. Many complex rhythms in orchestral and sometimes jazz pieces, particularly in the advanced levels.

Viola: aids in reading of alto clef, one of the clefs you need to know for advanced rudiments, especially for writing the section from piano score to string quartet on Advanced Rudiments exams. Develop strength in fingers. Early start to key signatures. Usually much less competitive than violin, so it’s easier to get into more advanced groups.

Trombone, bassoon, cello: improves bass clef reading, aids in reading of tenor clef, one of the clefs you need to know for advanced rudiments. All three instruments often in demand by orchestras and concert bands. Usually easy rhythms in beginning stages.

Trumpet: A good instrument for someone who struggles a bit with treble clef reading, rarely goes below and above the staff, but can master the sound and embouchure. Rarely notes faster than 16ths, except some advanced solo trumpet music.

French horn: early start in learning key signatures, develop fluency in complex key signatures and transposing, an instrument in demand in most bands and orchestras. Uses both bass and treble clef. Generally less competitive than most other brass instruments.

Oboe: a student who can handle the embouchure and breath control well but needs to develop reading skills on the staff without going much beyond it in the early stages would be wise to start on this instrument, especially if they get private lessons for it. Often in demand in orchestras and bands. Some complex rhythms in advanced music. Less competitive than flute or clarinet.

Double bass: strength in fingers, fluent reading of low bass clef notess, which the latter is part of many piano accompaniments from the Romantic era to modern pieces.

Tuba: fluent reading of low bass clef notes, part of many piano accompaniments. Usually easy rhythms in beginning and intermediate band music, so a good instrument for someone who reads pitch well but needs more practice with rhythm.


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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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