Choosing the right musical instrument for your child can be difficult, since there are several thoughts to consider. It is an extremely important choice that will play a huge role in his or her musical success. Let’s face it-a major reason to play music is for enjoyment. If a child is guided into an instrument that they are not remotely interested in or that may not be a great fit, the outcome may not be a love for music.
So…where to start?
!) A very important point to consider is the child’s age. For a young student, there will be some instruments that are too challenging due to physical limitations. Things like strength and size should be considered. If the instrument is too heavy or too big for your student, it’s probably not the best choice to begin with. Is the instrument overpowering your child? Can it be comfortably held in the proper position for practicing? If it isn’t comfortable for your student, this will lead to lack of interest for practicing and instruction.
For young beginners, the piano and violin are both great choices. These instruments offer the introduction to music theory and coordination, and they provide a foundation for many other instruments.
The violin is a smart choice as there are a range of sizes, even for tiniest of students (even toddlers!). This makes it easier for your child to gain an understanding of proper posture and handling of the instrument, and it will grow along with him. In addition, The requirement for both hands to be used for different skills will develop coordination, and the student’s ear is trained for proper note placement, since there are no frets or specific places to ‘feel’ where the fingers should be placed. Musicality will be developed with the use of the bow, as your child learns to control the tone (crunching and squeaking are typically frowned upon… ). All of these skills lay the foundation for other instruments.
The piano is also a popular choice for a young beginner, and for good reason! Students will learn both the bass clef and the treble clef, and they will play both the melody and harmony simultaneously, developing crucial ear training skills. Piano also provides a fairly fast paced level of accomplishment (compared to other instruments) since students can begin playing recognizable melodies within a few lessons. (Mary Had a Little Lamb, anyone?)
2) Another important factor in choosing the right instrument is the sound the instrument, and the types of music typically played by that instrument. Think of it in terms of a choir: Soprano (higher voice) and Alto (mid/lower voice) cover the female voice ranges, and the Tenor (higher voice) and Bass (lower voice) cover the male voice ranges. If your child does not like the high pitched sounds, the violin or flute probably shouldn’t be a consideration. If your child doesn’t prefer the ‘voice range’ of the instrument, he probably won’t enjoy playing it. Some instruments tend to be more ‘classical’ or ‘jazz’ based. For example, the strings instruments often play more ‘classical’ pieces. The band instruments lend themselves to opportunities in the marching band. This is by no means restrictive-of course any instrument can work with a number of types of music genres, but it’s worth considering! If your child doesn’t like the sounds of the instrument chosen, he will lack the motivation to practice, and this can affect his interest and participation with music in the long term.
3) Social Status
To a child, one of the most important aspects of choosing an instrument is its “social status”, meaning that a child may tend to like an instrument that they think to be a ‘cool’ choice, even if it may not seem to be a great fit. For some students, it may turn out to be the best choice. Your student may LOVE the instrument after learning and developing musically. For others, it may be problematic. The ‘cool’ factor often might disagree with the other points mentioned above, and it could very well be more of a turn-off than originally expected. For example, the student may love the idea of playing the cello if his friends are cellists. After insisting on this instrument, he may find his hands cannot reach the finger patterns, or he may not be able to comfortably hold the instrument, since it one of the larger instruments available.
When finding the instrument for your child, these points should be considered, along with the student’s interest. Ambition and discipline toward the instrument can always overcome physical limitations and preconceived ideas, but these points are important to discuss to narrow down the many musical opportunities available. Visit a local music store and ask questions and find out what instrument might be best suited for your child. Music will offer a whole new perception on life, and it’s worth the time to find the best fit for your child!