Have you been considering musical instrument lessons for your child? Not sure what’s best for them to learn? Will it be too difficult for your child’s age? Will it prove too costly?
These are some of the questions I’ve been having as my eldest child started to show more interest in music lessons at school, and reminded me of days spent learning the piano from around age 7.
I wondered if there was a particular instrument that might be easier for a younger child to learn, which might give them a good foundation for moving onto something a bit trickier as they progress. Perhaps, I thought, a difficult instrument might put them off learning too soon.
Why is learning an instrument good for your child?
While doing my research into the best instrument for my child to learn, I found that learning an instrument has multiple benefits, for example: improving memory, concentration, hand-eye coordination, perseverance, maths, reading and comprehension. It gives a sense of achievement, teaches your child to persevere and be responsible for something and can allow your child to express themselves.
Such a list of worthwhile reasons leads me onto my next question:
What instrument is best for my child’s age?
I have found out that certain instruments are better than others when it comes to age.
There are other factors too, which may influence what you and your child choose for them to learn.
Take into consideration issues such as asthma or breathing difficulties, your child’s natural coordination, perhaps consider what your child’s goal is i.e. do they dream of a future in music? And cost – both the cost of the lessons and the cost of the instrument.
Taking those into account, here is a list of some instruments which I have grouped from younger to older children.
Youngest Children (from Preschool)
There’s nothing stopping even the youngest of children from enjoying music. Though it may be worth saying that they will be much better suited to a group environment than private tuition.
Instruments such as
- Hand percussion
- Shakers and hand drums etc
Can all be fun instruments to play with and explore.
Other instruments might be a bit too tricky to start learning at this stage, but early strings to consider might be the ukulele due to it having only 4 strings, or violin due to its size.
Woodwind and brass instruments are not suited to beginners but may have advantages later on.
Young children (Primary/elementary school)
Slightly older children who may be ready to start private lessons around this age range, may consider:
- Piano – great for learning the fundamental skills such as learning to read music, pitch and so on. It’s good for fine motor skills, and good for performing.
- Ukulele or guitar – the ukulele has only 4 strings and can be good for learning melodies and chords, as well as being inexpensive. A guitar may be suitable but as it is ‘fretted’ it does require more finger strength, but they are still portable and nice for singing along to.
- Drums – need good coordination and a set can be expensive, but it’s great for rhythm and kids love throwing all their limbs into action with a drum set.
- Recorder – an early wind instrument which is very light and cheap, often seen in primary school music lessons – this is the first thing I remember using. It does require coordination but has less holes than other wind instruments and is easier.
Older Children (Late primary and upwards)
From around 8-10 years and upwards, one to one lessons may be most beneficial, and there are a greater number of instruments suitable for your child to learn. Once over about 10 years, your child can pretty much try anything they show an interest in.
Worthwhile instruments to try from around 8 onwards include:
- Clarinet – as long as your child can cover the finger holes then it is a great woodwind option from this age.
- Flute – If your child can hold themselves in the required position with arms elevated, and cover the finger spaces, this is another nice lightweight woodwind instrument to learn.
- Trumpet – Once your child can manage the breathing control and the mouthpiece then trumpet is a great introduction to brass.
- Guitar – as aforementioned, by this age your child should have the finger strength for fretted instruments by now, it’s great for teaching the basics, and is pretty cool!
- Voice – We can’t forget that our voice is an instrument too! If your child loves to belt out a tune, it may be worth considering, taking note of the limitations such as voice changing over time and potentially missing out on fundamental music theory.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and of course there is such a wide range of instruments to try. However it is a good place to start when considering a musical instrument from an early age.
There is no doubt that an instrument can be a worthwhile addition to a child’s education, with wide ranging benefits, so listen to your child and choose something you both think they will be able to manage and get the most enjoyment from.