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Choosing Musical Instruments for Kids: How Parents Can Help

musical instruments for kids
Photo by Flickr user tony kearns

The ability to play a musical instrument is a great talent that takes time and dedication. Learning to play music is a lot like learning to read—the earlier it starts, the better.

When your child shows interest in taking up an instrument, try to resist the urge to pick for them or let them pick on their own. Picking the right musical instruments for kids is a commitment that should involve both the child and the parent.

Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for the right musical instruments for kids.

Physical limitations.

A child with asthma might not have the best luck with a wind instrument, and a child with braces probably wouldn’t have much luck with a brass instrument.

Take into account your child’s physical characteristics—are their arms long enough for a trombone? Are their hands strong enough for a string instrument?

Cost.

Musical Instruments for kids can be extremely expensive, but just because your budget is tight doesn’t mean your child can’t play an instrument.

Do some research about the maintenance of each instrument and see what you can comfortably commit to.

Clarinets and oboes require reed replacements and string instruments need their strings replaced quite often. Brass instruments are costly but relatively low maintenance.

Personality.

Helping Your Child Choose a Musical Instrument
Photo by Flickr user ptcentrum

Does your child like to be the center of attention or prefer to hang back with the crowd?

Some instruments, like trumpet and piccolo, are more prone to have solos or leads while others such as percussion and tuba create more of the backbone of the music. Which fits your child’s personality better?

Instruments like piano require personal rehearsal time while other instruments are better practiced in a group.

Does your child have the dedication to practice alone or would they prefer a group rehearsal?

Availability.

Your community may not have an oboe or accordion teacher to help your child master their skills. Perhaps your town is known for their impressive jazz band.

Your child may be better suited to take up something that provides opportunities in the area.

Look into what sorts of specialists you have locally. However, don’t discourage your child from playing an instrument because of a lack of opportunities in the area. Being the only bassoon playing in the metropolitan area might mean a greater chance of a scholarship in the future!

Introduce new instruments.

Which instruments has your child been exposed to?

Are they interested in the drums because they played them at a friend’s house?

Most kids haven’t been exposed to many instruments so their interest in a certain instrument may be ill-guided.

Take your child to a music instrument store to see and learn about all sorts of instruments. Some stores will even let kids handle and test the instruments to see which best suits them.

Musical preferences.

Helping your Child Choose a Musical Instrument
Photo by Flickr user Crystal.

Does your child have a love for jazz music or rock and roll?

Kids are more prone to be interested in an instrument that fits their musical preferences. Asking your children what sort of music they like listening to and what their favorite part of that music is can help to uncover what the right musical instruments for your kids are.

Your expectations.

How important is learning an instrument for you?

Is it important to you that your child study classical music or will you allow them to choose their own path?

Think about the practice time at home—if there are instruments you can’t stand, you probably won’t be too keen on hearing it for hours in end. Choosing an instrument should be a group decision.

Written by Sarah Antrim

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After-School Activities

3 Signs that Kids Music Lessons Are Right for Your Child

Most parents know the benefits for a child who studies a musical instrument. Academic grades can improve, ill effects of attention disorders may lessen and the child is learning a timeless skill that teaches them commitment and responsibility. However, how do you know exactly when your child is ready for kids music lessons? Fortunately there are a few telltale signs that can help you make the decision.

Sign #1: Focus

The first sign to look for is how long your child is able to focus on a task. Children must be able to focus on an assigned task for at least 15 minutes in order to successfully learn an instrument. For this reason, most kids music programs will not accept children younger than 5. Age 4 is usually the youngest that children are able to keep up an adequate amount of focus and attention.

Sign #2: Enthusiasm

Another sign that your child is ready, is his own personal level of enthusiasm. Going to an establishment that offers a personalized assessment of each child, like The Music Place located in the South Bay, will usually result in the instructor recommending what instrument is best for the child to begin lessons. Is your child excited about this particular instrument? If not, he will quickly lose interest. However, if he’s apt to happily give it a try, then his maturity level and ability to trust the judgment of an instructor may be primed and ready for the first steps of a music career. The two most common “starter” instruments your instructor may suggest are the cello or violin, as they both come in a smaller size. Piano Classes are also popular.

Sign #3: Thrives in a Group Environment

Finally, it is important to note that while your child may not be ready for the focus and individual responsibility of private lessons, he may thrive in a group environment. Group lessons are a great way to try out an instrument because they are more affordable, and also allow for the child to model his behavior after other children who may be older and more adapted to a music class environment.