The ability to play a musical instrument is a wonderful thing. Many people struggle with choosing an instrument to learn and at what age to start. The ideal match of instrument to a young musician may take some time. It is an important decision as you and your family will be hearing that instrument daily for the foreseeable future.
When dealing with very young children, clapping and singing is a great way to start and can be practiced regularly. You may even find a baby and toddlers music group in your local area to get the very young started. This will help to develop rhythm and co-ordination skills as well as listening and aural skills.
Children are often very curious and naturally interested in music. Many will be able to pick up basic musicianship skills very quickly and develop a love and enthusiasm for it. The ability to play an instrument and read music will be incredibly useful later on in your child’s life. Studies have shown that music can help make a child smarter, more motivated, independent, more confident and mature, as well as develop motor and co-ordination skills and improve dexterity.
When helping your child choose an instrument you will need to take several things into consideration.
YOUR CHILDS COMMITMENT- it is possible your child may lose interest quickly so take time choosing the instrument before you purchase an expensive one. Deals can be done with music shops, rental schemes, ex-rentals and beginner model instruments.
YOUR CHILDS SIZE- Your child’s weight, finger and arm stretch can have an impact on instrument choice. Eg. Don’t give a 7 year old a Tenor Saxophone, as they wont be able to hold it or support it.
SPACE IN YOUR HOME OR CAR – A harp, double bass, upright piano can dominate a room in your home. However, there are smaller alternatives available. Also when thinking of transporting your instrument to and from school or rehearsals, a tuba / baritone saxophone can take up a lot of room in a small car.
BUDGET- Instruments vary greatly in price. Clarinets and Flutes for example can be purchased at a very reasonable price but you will be unlikely to find an equivalent model Oboe for a lower price. I would recommend approaching your local Music shop to discuss rental schemes and beginner model instruments for musicians.
By talking to your child it should be apparent if they show a particular interest in certain instruments. If you play an instrument yourself or have played, you should demonstrate this in front of your child and answer any questions they may have. Discuss and share your experiences, your time in the school/county bands with your child. Show them photographs and play lots of music around the house and on the TV, to immerse them in sounds and create enthusiasm. Point out certain instruments and see how your child reacts. This way, you will have some idea of which family of instruments your child is most interested in: Strings, Woodwind, Brass and Percussion.
There will be further tips on ‘Steps to Choosing an Instrument’ and information on instrument choices here on the Music for Kids blog but also on our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/musicforkidsuk
Written by Michelle Parry MA Hons Cantab