If you’re reading this, you’re likely a parent who’s concerned (and rightly so) about choosing the right instrument for your child.
While the key to mastery of an instrument lies in copious amounts of practice, you and your child could have a much easier and more enjoyable time learning music if you help him or her select a more suitable instrument. In this article, we share some tips to choose the best instrument for your child by considering age, physical features, personality, instrument popularity, interest, and your financial position.
With age comes increased physical strength and height. Both of these should be considered when selecting an instrument with your child. While it is easier to learn music at a young age, some musical instruments are more suitable for your child when your he or she develops the necessary strength to hold the instrument in place and/or grows taller relative to the size of the instrument.
Instruments such as the tuba and the cello are bulky and heavy. Your child will need some strength to hold the instruments to play as well as to transport these instruments. Similarly, core and back strength are important, for learners to maintain their proper posture. For example, if drummers play with bad posture, they may sustain neck, shoulder, and back injuries.
Some instruments require your child to be of a certain size to be played. For instance, your child will need to be tall enough to be able to engage the full range of motion of the trombone’s slide mechanism to hit all its notes. Thankfully, most other instruments come in various sizes, such that your child can start learning early. However, this means that you’ll have to invest in properly fitted instruments as your child grows.
Beginner learners of brass and woodwind instruments will take some time to develop the necessary embouchure (mouth placement) for their respective instruments. While most, if not all, children will eventually get their embouchure right, they might need slightly more time to master the embouchure of the French horn and the oboe due to the instruments’ narrow mouthpiece and double reed respectively. Children with thin lips and even teeth will usually have an easier time contorting their mouths to fit these instruments. On the other hand, if your child needs to undergo orthodontic treatment (eg. braces), it may be better to avoid instruments that involve blowing because practicing could inflict pain.
Size of hands
If your child happens to have larger-than-average hands with long fingers, he or she will have an easier time playing the piano, especially at higher levels, where playing chords spanning more than one octave is common. Nonetheless, if your child’s hands aren’t particularly big, there are ways to get around that. Besides, learning the piano as a first instrument can help children get the hang of reading sheet music faster because the layout of the keyboard makes it easier to see the relations between melody lines and how they appear of staves.
This may be less apparent, but it’s also important to consider your child’s personality when choosing an instrument. Your child will have different experiences learning and performing different instruments. Extraverted children who love to be the center of attention may be more suited to learning the flute, trumpet, violin, or electric guitar as players of these instruments not only are commonly part of musical groups, but also get featured very prominently in these groups. On the other hand, reserved and contemplative children may be more comfortable with the piano, which is more commonly learned and performed solo or in small groups.