How to Choose an Instrument for Your Kid

Featured image of cute girl playing piano

Children are curious and imaginative by nature, and it’s a fact that they love to dance and sing. So, if your child is like that, there is a great chance that they would like to learn to play an instrument. You as a parent should allow them that ability because playing an instrument is something beautiful. Plus, it can really help with your child’s abilities in various kinds. What is more, it has been proven that knowing how to play an instrument and read notes helps with improving academic skills, developing physical skills and cultivating their social skills.

However, not every child would like to play any instrument, or they’re simply not built for it. So, before you decide, learn how to choose an instrument for your child from these factors.

Consider Your Child’s Age

Children older than six can learn to play a variety of instruments. On the other hand, younger kids are limited in their choices of instruments that they can physically handle. So, to learn how to pick an instrument for your child under 6 years old, you should consider their physical abilities and go for obvious choices, such as a piano or a violin.

A piano is great for younger kids because it provides foundational skills and your child will be able to better understand music theory and music by playing the piano. Violins are also great because they can be made in smaller sizes and a younger kid can handle them with ease. Also, a violin will help a young child learn how to tune the instruments and better develop musical skills.

Consider Their Body Type

It’s a fact that certain instruments require a certain body type in order for the child to feel comfortable playing that instrument. So, when reading up on how to choose an instrument for your child, take their body type into consideration. For example, height is a big factor when it comes to making a choice. Smaller children will have trouble with handling a very large instrument, like a bassoon or an accordion.

Also,  if you’re considering instruments that are played with the mouth, you have to consider the size of your child’s lips. Smaller lips do better with such instruments for example. The last factor to consider is their fingers. Long slender fingers are great for playing the piano, violin or the guitar.

What If They’re Wearing Braces?

If your child happens to wear braces or will get them soon, it will greatly impact your choice of musical instruments that they can play. Basically, children with braces will have trouble playing instruments that are played with the mouth. This includes clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, french horns and baritone instruments such as the tuba.

However, there are some instruments played with the mouth that need an adjustment period for braces but can be successfully played. Such instruments include bassoons, oboes, and flutes. Also, the rest of the instruments are perfectly fine, including the piano, guitar, violin, and other string instruments and well as drum sets. Just make sure to consider other compatibility factors.

Consider How Well Your Child Can Coordinate

Some instruments will request better movement coordination from your child. If your child is well-coordinated then woodward and percussion instruments will work great for your kid.

On the other hand, if your child still struggles with coordination, you should stay away from such instruments and opt for other options. But if your child insists on playing the drums, for example, these will help them work on their coordination and improve it fast.

Personality Factor

This may seem like not an important factor, but it needs to be considered when it comes to learning how to choose an instrument for your child. Every instrument brings different experiences in learning and performing, so choose wisely. For those kids who like to be the center of attention and are extroverted, you should consider signing them up for flute, trumpet, guitar or violin lessons.

This is because these instruments don’t require your child to part of a bigger group while performing and they will enjoy showing off their skills. However, when it comes to more reserved and introverted kids, they will probably be more comfortable with the piano, which is most commonly performed solo or in smaller groups.

Be Considerate About How Much Time They Have for Practice

Learning how to play an instrument takes practice and patience. So, when thinking about how to choose an instrument for your child, consider how much time they have or can withstand in order to practice enough. The instrument should be practiced for about 20 to 30 minutes a day in order to see progress. So, pick an instrument that your child is able and willing to practice for that time each day, either at school or at home. 

If you choose a larger instrument that cannot fit into your homes, such as piano or drums, make sure they have a safe place to practice them or simply don’t offer that option. Also, consider how loud a certain instrument is and if it’s safe to practice at home. However, you don’t have to completely rule out such instruments, especially if they can practice at a friend’s house or at school. Your job is to simply keep them motivated to practice.

Image of boy in blue playing flute

The Popularity of an Instrument is Important

Since your child would like to present their skills to their peers and appeal to them, you should consider their desire and opinion about how popular an instrument is. Generally speaking, the piano, flute, guitar, violin, and trumpet are certainly on the top of the list of popularity. The rest of them, are pretty low. So, when deciding on how to choose an instrument for your child, consider this factor, because it will impact how motivated and interested your child is in playing it. 

Popular instruments

Children will be more interested in learning how to play a popular instrument as they may meet more friends who play the same instrument or they would get better recognition from their peers. Also, popular instruments have more teachers available and accessible, so you can take your pick wisely. Plus, there might be more teachers available nearby so your child doesn’t have to commute for long hours with their instrument. However, the downside is the fierce competition or your child might struggle with getting a position in a desired musical group. 

Uncommon instruments

On the other hand, maybe your child doesn’t want to be just another learner of the guitar, piano or violin. Some children actually prefer to be unique and recognized for having a very special skill that not every child has. If your child’s desires are unique, then you may want to consider signing them up for lessons in oboe, clarinet, bassoon or something like that. The downside here is the struggle to find a good teacher or resources for learning such instruments. Also, you may have to be prepared to travel further in order to attend those lessons.

Explore Their Interests

First rule here is not to force your child to play a certain instrument, or any at all if they strongly don’t want to. Your child should be at least remotely interested in the instrument in order to be successful and have a positive experience. It is, however, normal for a child to gain and lose interest quickly, but the only thing that matters is that they are enthusiastic in learning at the very beginning. If your child has experience with musical toys or enjoys the sound of some instruments, then it’s a great chance they are going to have fun and enjoy learning how to play it. 

So, when exploring your options, you should let your child experience each instrument at a shop before you decide on one together. Even though your child might seem indifferent to several different instruments, you will be able to figure out if they prefer melody, harmony or rhythm, and start from there.

What About Music Theory?

Last but not least, in order to play the instrument, your child will have to learn how to read notes. The most common question by the parents is whether their child actually needs to learn this or not, and the correct answer is that they absolutely should! If your child engages in studying and getting the knowledge on music theory, they will be able to better understand music, their instrument and the context in which the instrument is played.

Plus, it will turn them into more sensitive and well-rounded musicians. What is more, knowing music theory is important if your child will play in a bigger group in the future and it will give them better insight into what other members of the group are doing and how to achieve harmony.

Playing an instrument and creating music is one of the most beautiful things in the world. And your child deserves to experience this. However, not all children are created in the same way and they don’t have the same interests, so when thinking about how to choose an instrument for your child, consider all these factors.

There is a lot to think about, but the child’s interest is your best helper. Especially if you’ve exposed to music at a young age. So, give this a thorough thought, consult with your child and enjoy the music together!

Author: Stan Marsh
Author: Stan Marsh

Hi all, I’m a toy reviewer, a father, programmer and an occasional sketch artist from Washington D.C where i live with my wife and wonderful 4-year-old daughter. Although i have a bachelor’s degree in Child’s Psychology, i didn’t pursue a career in that direction. Nonetheless, the experience and knowledge i gathered during my studies helped my tremendously with life challenges.

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