When your child begins to show interest in playing a musical instrument, it is exciting to imagine all the possibilities of what they might want to play. Depending on their age, however, some instruments may be better to start with than others. Generally speaking, the piano and drums are the best instruments for younger kids to start learning first. These instruments don’t have to be held and can teach young musicians basic skills like chords, musicality, and rhythm. If your child is a bit older and has the dexterity to hold an instrument while playing it, their options for learning a new instrument will broaden immensely. You can help them explore a variety of instruments such as guitar, trumpet, flute, violin, and other more complicated instruments.
What to Consider When Choosing a Musical Instrument
There is a lot to consider when helping your child decide which instrument to begin learning. Here are some top considerations to keep in mind as the “right” instrument will differ for each individual child.
- Age – Younger children simply don’t have the motor skills to both hold an instrument and play it at the same time. Take into account their physical strength and dexterity before selecting an instrument. Additionally, some instruments are far more complex in terms of playing them and caring for them, which can be overwhelming to a young child.
- Height – It’s important to consider the height of your child relative to the instrument they want to learn. A shorter child will not have the arm length to play a trombone or cello, for example, so children longing to play these instruments can start with a smaller, similar instrument instead.
- Physical Strength – Some instruments are heavy, making them difficult to hold up while playing and to transport. If your child is unable to lift an instrument, they will likely not have much success in learning to play it. While they will gain some strength as they play, certain instruments are best left for older youth or adults, such as the tuba or the bass.
- Mouth – Some instruments, like the flute and trumpet, will need specific mouth formations and positions to play them well. Most children can be taught these formations, but some instruments, such as the oboe and clarinet, have more complex mouth positions and techniques that younger children will struggle to master. Additionally, children with fuller lips or with braces and other orthodontic treatments may have a harder time playing instruments with thinner mouthpieces or double reeds.
- Commitment to Learning – Some kids only want to learn to play an instrument until they realize how much hard work and practice it takes. Others understand the effort it will require and commit wholeheartedly from the start. Gauge your child’s interest and commitment level and select an instrument accordingly.
- Personality – Some children love the idea of loud drums whereas others are more attracted to delicate instruments of precision, such as the violin or piano. Take into account your child’s personality and what instruments and sounds he or she is naturally drawn to.
Best Age For Children To Start Playing An Instrument
If your child has shown any interest in playing an instrument, you’ve likely asked yourself, “How old does a child need to be to start playing an instrument?” According to experts, the best age is sometime between 4 and 7 years old. This age range is generally a great time to introduce your child to music, but every child is different. As such, you’ll need to explore a few different factors to determine the best age for your particular child.
Starting early, between ages 4 and 5, will provide your child with an early love of playing their instrument. Kids at this age love to learn and tend to soak up new information like sponges, meaning they will learn thoroughly and quickly.
Older kids, around 6 or 7, will still have that love of learning, but with an added bonus of better concentration and more physical abilities. While a younger music student may struggle to reach from one piano key to another, an older child can extend their reach and play more advanced songs from the start.
If your child is beyond the age of 7 and hasn’t started playing an instrument yet, don’t worry! Any age is a good age to start if your child is passionate and committed. In fact, older kids between the ages of 8 and 10 will often get off to a quicker start due to already having a basic knowledge of music, scales, notes, and so on.
Having your kids learn an instrument during their childhood will foster a lifelong love of music and can even provide great opportunities for their future. While joining a band may be at the forefront of their mind, you may be thinking about them getting college scholarships, joining the worship band at church, or even beginning a thriving music career that combines their passion and talent.
How Big A Child Needs To Be To Play An Instrument
You can have your children start playing an instrument whenever you feel they’re ready, though experts agree that sometime between the ages of 4 and 7 is the ideal time to begin music lessons. But just because they may or may not fall in the ideal age range, what do you need to know about how big they are?
Your child’s body type, physical size, and physical ability all play a role in their instrument selection and the optimal timing for beginning lessons. Smaller kids generally need smaller instruments, while bigger kids can manage bigger instruments. But some instruments are available in child sizes, so how do you know what’s best for your child?
For ages 4 to 7, piano is the number one choice when it comes to learning to play an instrument. It doesn’t need to be transported or held, even the smallest fingers can play it, and it gives kids an excellent foundation of musical knowledge. If your child’s personality doesn’t suit the piano, you might consider letting them learn drums at this age. Even if you don’t want to start with a full drum set, your child can still learn about notes and rhythm right from the get-go. Although some experts recommend that children wait until they’re closer to 11 or 12 to begin learning the drums, they can be a great starting point for some kids.
For kids between 8 and 10 years old, the guitar is a common favorite. It again provides a solid foundation of musical know-how, and kids this age can generally manage holding an instrument while learning to play it. Guitars come in a huge variety of sizes and prices, making it easy to find one suitable for your young musician, and guitar sheet music is also easy to come by.
For those looking for a brass instrument, kids 10 and up should consider beginning with the trumpet. One of the most popular brass instruments, it’s relatively easy to begin learning and can be exceptionally fun and versatile to play. Trumpet sizes vary and you can often purchase used trumpets for a fraction of the price, allowing your music lesson budget to go farther.
If your child has his or her heart set on a string instrument, it’s best to begin with either the violin or viola. Significantly smaller than their string cousins, the cello and bass, both the violin and viola take precision and dexterity to master. However, they are available in a variety of sizes and can get even younger musicians excited about practicing and honing their craft.
Taking Your Child’s Personality into Account
Your child’s personality will go a long way in exploring possible instruments for them to learn. A quiet, calm child likely won’t enjoy playing the drums, whereas an active, energetic child probably won’t have as much fun playing the cello or clarinet. While some kids will surprise you in their instrument selection, starting with their personality is a great place to begin looking for the perfect instrument.
It’s not only about the noise of the instrument, however. You also should look at what types of instruments tend to be featured in compositions, as well as the group settings in which the instruments are played.
Piano is generally a solo act, so kids who may thrive on their own as opposed to in group settings will probably enjoy this instrument more than exceptionally social kids. Flutes, violins, trumpets, and guitars tend to play the melody in many pieces, so they are often featured more. This can bring more attention to these musicians, which may not suit a shy or introverted child.
Some children may prefer to play a more popular and common instrument due to the social aspect of it. Others, however, may opt for a more uncommon instrument due to the unique aspect of the skill they will acquire.
Another thing to take into consideration is your child’s musical tastes. While this will likely change a great deal as they age and are exposed to more musical variations, it’s still something to keep in mind. If your child loves country music, perhaps guitar is a great choice. If they love classical tunes, maybe piano is the best option. Think about what they enjoy listening to and note that this is the type of music they will most likely want to learn how to play.
Talking to Your Child’s Music Teacher
Getting your child connected to a good music teacher is a huge part of the overall experience. If your child has someone they enjoy being with and learning from, they are far more likely to practice consistently, learn more thoroughly, and enjoy their time playing their instrument. In fact, many famous musicians attribute their passion for their music to an early music teacher.
Here are some tips for finding the best music teacher for your child.
- Get Recommendations – If you know someone taking music lessons from a teacher they love, get their information! Even if that teacher doesn’t provide lessons for your child’s instruments, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.
- Interview Possible Teachers – Find out the logistical things, like their cancellation policy, their credentials, how much they charge, and so on. But you should also find out about their personality, approach to music, how they handle an unmotivated child, and so on.
- Practices and Performances – Does your child want to perform what he or she is learning? If so, do potential teachers offer that opportunity? Ask music teachers what kind of practice requirements they have and how they would handle a child not wanting to participate in a mandatory performance.
- Music Theory & History – Some teachers are huge on teaching music theory even to their youngest students, while others are not. The same goes with teaching music history. If you have a preference either way, make sure your child’s music teacher is on board.
- Musical Style – Will the instructor teach different music styles? What if they are a classical pianist and your child wants to learn how to play jazz? Who decides what they work on and learn, and how much influence do you or your child have on the musical style being practiced?
- Sit in on Lessons – Be sure to ask if you can attend a few lessons so you can see how your child interacts with his or her teacher. Gauging your child’s interest during the lesson is an important part of helping them grow and succeed in learning their instrument.
Cost Of The Musical Instrument
Understanding the cost of playing an instrument is an important factor to consider at the start of picking an instrument. Many things go into the overall cost of playing an instrument, but the actual instrument your child chooses and how you go about getting them lessons will contribute a great deal to the cost. Here are some things to think about when budgeting for musical instrument lessons for your child.
- Instrument – The instrument itself will be one of the most important upfront costs. You can rent many instruments or you can purchase one outright. You may also be able to purchase one secondhand if you are able to find one that fits your child. You’ll most likely need a carrying case for your instrument. If the instrument is particularly large, like a cello, bass, or tuba, you’ll need to think about transportation costs that may be associated with it as well.
- Extras – Sheet music, accessories, a music stand, and more can often add additional costs that parents weren’t expecting. Talk to someone at a local music store or discuss additional necessities with your child’s music teacher so you can get an accurate gauge of how many additional costs you may incur.
- Care and Upkeep – The care and upkeep of an instrument should be taken into consideration as well. You’ll need cleaning supplies and maybe some extra parts as well. If your child is too young to adequately clean and care for their instrument, you’ll need to account for the time it takes you to do it, or you’ll need to consider paying someone to do it.
- Lessons – If your child is older and taking lessons at their school, your out-of-pocket cost for lessons may be minimal or non-existent. But if you are putting your child in private lessons, whether at your home, online, or at a music school, you should consider how frequently they will have a lesson and how that impacts your overall budget.
- Performances – If your child is granted the opportunity to perform what they’ve learned on their instrument, you may have some costs associated with that. Clothing, shoes, a music stand, and more may need to be purchased for performance events.
Best Musical Instrument for Beginners
True beginners can be any age, from the youngest preschoolers to senior citizens. But regardless of the musician’s age, some instruments are simply easier to learn than others. Here are the top five best musical instruments for beginners.
- Piano – The piano is a great starter because it offers a foundation of musical knowledge. It doesn’t need to be held, which means all of your physical exertion goes toward actually playing the instrument. If you don’t own a piano, you can practice on a keyboard that will be a fraction of the cost and take up far less space in your home. You’ll also acquire a great grasp of music theory, and the piano is one of the most versatile instruments you can learn.
- Violin – If you love the sound of classical music, the violin is a great choice for beginners. While it is a bit more intricate than some other instruments, the best violin teachers will ease you into playing and help you find success along the way. Particularly if a child wants to play another string instrument but is a bit too young or small, the violin is a great beginning instrument.
- Drums – Understanding rhythm is a huge part of any musician’s success, and the drums will provide that baseline from the start. While younger students may not be able to manage all the different aspects of playing a full drum kit, it doesn’t need to be held and can be versatile as well.
- Guitar – A popular choice for a good reason, guitars are one of the most common instruments that beginners pick up. It is relatively simple to teach yourself some basic chords, making it easy to get started and feel like you’re making progress pretty quickly. Another variation that young musicians may enjoy is the ukulele.
- Trumpet – With a basic mouthpiece and only three valves, the trumpet is an obvious choice for beginners. It is fun to play, versatile in style, and relatively easy to get started with. While you will need direction from a professional music teacher to master the trumpet, it’s a small and enjoyable instrument that many beginners of all ages love. It’s important to note that trumpets and other brass and woodwind instruments are ideal for slightly older beginners since they require breath control that younger musicians may not yet have.
- Voice – Do you consider your voice an instrument? We do! Although best suited for kids 8 and older, voice lessons are a great way to learn and grow as a musician. Even in early piano lessons for kids as young as 4, we sing A LOT! Learning to utilize your built-in instrument is a fantastic way to explore another variety of musical talent and instruction.
Best Musical Instrument for Toddlers
If you’ve ever spent time with a toddler, you know how much they love to make noise. From banging spoons on pots to shaking boxes of noodles, anything with unique sounds is their new favorite toy. If you want to get your toddler started with an instrument before they reach elementary school, you’ll likely need to take a different approach than you would with an older child.
First, it’s important to note that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a toddler size instrument. There are plenty of musical toys that are perfectly suited for your little ones to jam out with to their heart’s content. Instead of selecting one expensive and specific instrument, instead, opt for a set of several instruments (or musical toys) so they can experiment and play with a variety of options.
Second, think about the noise. With older kids, the noise an instrument makes will be fine-tuned over time. For younger ones, they want the instruments to make a cool sound right now. Don’t think as much about the quality of sound they will be producing as much as how they can learn to adjust their breath and hand speed to create unique and different sounds.
Third, embrace the chaos. A toddler with an instrument is bound to be a noisy, chaotic masterpiece of sound. Embrace that and get in on the fun. Let them play and have fun while learning basic musical skills like rhythm, melody, and more.
Finally, here are the best instruments for toddlers to get them started on a lifelong journey of loving music:
- Guitar or Ukulele – Get them something they can strum and move their fingers around on to experiment with sound.
- Xylophone – What kid doesn’t love running the mallet down the entire xylophone to make a quick scale?
- Piano or Keyboard – Purchase an inexpensive keyboard or child-sized piano to let them practice hitting the keys and making a melody.
- Tambourines and Maracas – Anything that shakes and makes a cool sound will likely be your child’s new favorite toy. Practice keeping the beat and trying out new ways of making unique sounds.
- Drums – While it’s not recommended that you get your child an entire drum set until they’re nearly a teen, a child-sized drum set or a few small drums are a great way to encourage their musical development.
Best Musical Instrument for 3 Year Old
Your three-year-old may not be ready for full-blown music lessons just yet, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t start playing an instrument at home! While a number of different instruments can be a great choice for a three-year-old, here are our top picks.
- Xylophone – These often colorful toddler toys are a great starter instrument for your three-year-old. They can explore different pitches, rhythms, and chords, all while having a grand old time simply playing with a toy.
- Keyboard – Similar to a xylophone, a piano gives kids a basic understanding of scales and how notes change based on the location of your hands. A keyboard is a small investment that will allow your child to begin fostering a love of music from an early age.
- Handbells – A more unique instrument, handbells can be extremely fun for the whole family. Many sets come with multiple handbells and a book on how to play some classic songs. They promote coordination and musical ears, so they’re also a great way to gauge your child’s musicality even when they’re young.
Best Musical Instrument for 4 Year Old
Four-year-olds are often just beginning school and organized learning, so it’s best to let them wait a bit longer before starting official music lessons. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a number of instruments in your home for them to experiment with! Here is our breakdown of the best musical instruments for 4-year-old children.
- Ukulele – Young kids will love the ukulele’s similarity to a real guitar, and they’ll enjoy strumming along to their favorite song on their own pint-sized ukulele. While they may not master any chords yet, they’ll be able to practice rhythmic strumming and listening for changes in the music.
- Drums – Don’t think of a full drum kit–instead, think more like a set of bongos. Kids love to drum on anything and everything, so why not foster that energy and teach them about rhythm? Drumming can get quite complex as musicians master basic skills, so start your four-year-old off on the right foot with a quality set of bongos that they’re sure to love.
- Harmonica – Put all that lung capacity to good use with a kids harmonica. Your four-year-old child will enjoy practicing breath control and learning how to hold a note for as long as possible, all while naturally exploring pitch.
Best Musical Instrument for 5 Year Old
Some five-year-olds may be ready for legitimate music lessons, while others may just be beginning to explore their musical interests. Depending on where your child is, you may wish to opt for a more grown-up instrument. Either way, here are some of the best instruments for 5-year-old kids that will keep them excited about learning.
- Piano – Learning the piano is great for just about every age, but five-year-old children can grasp the idea of scales and chords that younger kids cannot. They will also learn to read music in a similar fashion as learning to read books since they are sponges that will soak up everything new. Piano provides a fantastic foundation of musical theory and skill, so piano skills will translate to every other instrument should they play something else in the future.
- Recorder – Every elementary music teacher seems to love the recorder, and for good reason. Kids understand them visually and can adapt their understanding of music to be able to play them relatively well. They are simple to play and most kids can learn recognizable songs on them relatively quickly.
- Violin – We can’t stress enough how fantastic the violin is for young kids. Five-year-olds are mastering fine motor skills and are the perfect age for understanding basic musical concepts that are easily demonstrated on the violin. With several sizes of violins easily accessible in most areas, the violin is a child-friendly favorite for many reasons.
Best Musical Instrument for 6 Year Old
If your six-year-old has expressed interest in learning an instrument, know that it’s a great age to start! While choosing an instrument at this age can be a bit daunting, remember that anything that teaches basic musicality and a good work ethic with practicing is going to be a great choice. Here are our recommendations for the best musical instruments for 6-year-old children.
- Violin – While the violin is not for everyone, young kids often thrive at learning to play this beautiful stringed instrument. With child sizes easily accessible and a strong foundational knowledge at its core, learning the violin is enjoyable and fun for many six-year-old children.
- Piano – It cannot be restated enough that piano is one of the best instruments for young kids and beginners to learn. It provides a strong grasp of music theory which translates to every instrument, and it doesn’t require students to hold an instrument, which is great for little hands and smaller kids. If you don’t own a piano, your child can practice at home on a keyboard.
- Percussion – An entire drum kit is not necessary for a child this young, but any variety of percussion instruments will be a great choice for a five-year-old. Maracas, cymbals, xylophones, and bongos are just a few of the excellent percussion instruments that will suit this age group well.
Best Musical Instrument for 7 Year Old
Seven years old is one of the best ages to begin learning to play an instrument. With solid motor skills, bigger hands, and a not-too-small body type, seven-year-olds have a world of possibilities when it comes to selecting an instrument. Here are our top choices for the best musical instruments for 7-year-old children.
- Cello – Seven-year-olds are likely tall enough to begin learning the cello, whereas younger kids are probably still a little too short. While transporting this instrument may be a struggle, the cello is a great starter instrument for this age group.
- Piano – Have we convinced you that piano is great for young musicians yet? It’s on every list because it is truly the best instrument for kids and beginners. Seven-year-olds will love to practice piano and show off the musical knowledge they acquire while learning their instrument, and it will give them an excellent foundation should they choose to explore other instruments in the future.
- Guitar – While you may need to purchase a smaller child-sized guitar for your seven-year-old, this is a great instrument to begin learning at this age. Kids can quickly grasp basic skills and learn to play recognizable songs that they’ll love to play for others.
Best Musical Instrument for Child with Autism
Children who have autism may be just as excited as their peers about playing an instrument, and there’s no reason for them not to begin learning to play as well! While some children with autism may struggle with sensory processing issues, there are plenty of instruments that are well suited for their individual needs and preferences. As with anything, try out a few options and make changes as needed. Here are the best musical instruments for a child with autism to begin learning.
- Piano – With gentler sounds, smooth keys, and a simple setup, the piano is a great option for a child with autism. Playing notes on a piano makes perfect sense, making it logical and easy to understand, all the while providing a wonderful baseline of knowledge and musical foundation.
- Voice – Although most children won’t go on to become professional singers, learning to use the voice as an instrument can be quite empowering. Particularly if a child with autism struggles to speak with peers or adults, taking voice lessons can bring about huge benefits. While recommended for those 8 and older, voice lessons offer confidence and new skills that your child may not realize he or she is capable of.
- Ukulele – With its small size and only four strings, the ukulele can help with motor skill development. It rarely makes a harsh sound, it’s small enough for even young children to carry and hold, and it can be extremely relaxing to strum it and hear the nice noises it makes.
Best Musical Instruments by Age to Learn
If your child has expressed interest in learning a particular instrument, you may be wondering if they are old enough for that particular skill set. We’ve broken down the ideal ages for when children can begin learning a particular instrument or begin a certain type of music lesson. Certain children may be ready before the age listed for their particular instrument, while others may not be quite ready at the age listed. Some children are more excited learners whereas others are a bit more hesitant. It’s important to know your child and their needs and desires when it comes to learning a new instrument.
While the information below is not set in stone, it is a good guide for most children.
- Piano: 4-5 years
- Violin: 4-5 years
- Viola: 6-7 years
- Cello: 7-9 years
- Guitar: 7-9 years
- Drums: 7 and up
- Voice: 8+ years
- Trumpet: 8-10 years
- Trombone: 8-10 years
- Saxophone: 9+ years
- Flute: 9+ years
- Clarinet: 9+ years
- Bass Guitar: 9-10 years
What’s the Easiest Instrument for a Child to Learn?
All children learn in different ways, and what’s simple for some may be a little more difficult for others. So when you’re selecting an instrument for your child to learn, you need to take into consideration their personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as what they are interested in. If your child has her heart set on playing the violin and you bring home a trumpet, she may not be as excited and motivated to learn. But when starting younger children on their musical journeys, it’s good to pay attention to the simplicity of an instrument and how easily a young child can learn how to play it. When they see progress early, your children will be more likely to continue on with their lessons and practicing. Here are a few of the easiest instruments for children to learn how to play, regardless of their age or current musical abilities.
- Ukulele – This instrument is on a lot of lists for kids because it is truly quite simple. While chords and frets and strumming do take some getting used to, kids love the small size and relaxing sound of the ukulele.
- Violin – While the violin grows in complexity as one masters playing it, the foundational application of this instrument is unmatched. Children will learn the names of notes, understand scales, work on rhythm, and quickly understand a variety of music theory terms and concepts. It’s simple for children to begin learning the basic skills of the violin, and it’s an instrument that will grow with them as their skills and abilities increase.
- Piano – By far, piano is one of the best instruments for new musicians. It doesn’t have to be held, so smaller kids or young kids with less coordination can play it more easily. It also makes a lot of sense–scales on a piano are obvious and simple whereas they can be quite confusing and complex on other instruments. Piano can help start students off with a fantastic musical foundation, including learning to read sheet music, learning both treble and bass clef, understanding music theory, learning pitch, and more.
How Easy Is It To Learn The Flute
While the flute isn’t typically recommended as a starter instrument for young kids, older children can definitely learn how to play the flute, even without much musical experience. Because of the breath control and mouth position required to play the flute well, it’s generally a better idea to wait until a child is a tad bit older to begin flute lessons. Experts tend to agree that it is of medium difficulty to learn.
In most cases, children ages 10 and older can learn the flute with relative ease, provided that they are willing to practice and attend regular music lessons. To start with, learning how to hold the flute properly and master breath control are two of the biggest challenges. Thankfully, flutes are available in a few different sizes, meaning you can purchase a smaller flute for a younger child to make balancing and holding it a bit easier.
Playing the flute requires kids to utilize different fingers on various keys in order to create specific notes, providing a motor skills challenge for younger musicians. Older kids may enjoy the puzzle-like aspect of playing the flute, and many flutists love that they often get to play the melody in many of their compositions.
While learning the flute can have its challenges, as any instrument can, it is an extremely rewarding and fun instrument to play. It’s a popular choice for many middle and high school students who are joining the school band, and those age groups can generally navigate the instrument with ease.
How Easy Is It To Learn The Drums
The drums can be quite a complex instrument to play, as drumming as a whole includes a wide variety of percussive instruments. Unlike other instruments where only one or two items are needed to play, drum sets contain several drums, cymbals, sticks, and more. Some percussion instruments are relatively simple to play, such as the triangle and cymbals, but playing a drum set is quite a complicated feat.
Young musicians love percussion instruments and should be encouraged to try as many as possible. The bongo drums and xylophone are popular choices for younger children who are interested in the drums, and they can both help kids learn about rhythm and keeping the beat. However, actual drum sets are best left to older kids, simply due to their complexity. Young children can learn drum patterns and exercises to work on their rhythm, with the hopes of eventually mastering the full drum set.
A lot of the most common drum beats you hear, also known as drum grooves, are similar across a number of songs and genres. The more you practice those particular beats, the easier they will get and the more you will be able to grow in your abilities. Mastering the basics can feel overwhelming to begin with, but as you take drum lessons, learn more, and continue to practice, you’ll see progress and success along the way that encourages you to continue pushing forward. This is the case with just about anything, and it certainly applies to learning to play the drums too.
How Easy Is It To Learn The Piano
Piano is one of the best starter instruments out there. For kids and adults of any age who are true beginners, learning the piano is the perfect introduction to reading music, understanding rhythm, grasping music theory, and so on. The piano creates a beautiful sound and can create a variety of musical styles with varying levels of difficulty, making it an instrument that can be played for an entire lifetime.
The youngest beginner musicians can learn to play recognizable songs on the piano with relative ease, and more advanced pianists can play entire compositions full of gorgeous melodies and complex rhythms. Since the piano offers so many foundational skills, it is perhaps the number one best instrument for beginners. While some children may not name the piano as their first choice of instrument, many will enjoy the quick success and significant progress they make in playing, leading them to stick with it and continue learning.
Taking piano lessons from an experienced piano teacher from the beginning will offer a number of benefits as your child undertakes learning a new instrument, making it easier for them to learn how to play. Piano teachers will make stylistic corrections to ensure your child has a great foundation of skills, and they will help them establish good habits, like posture, finger placement, and practicing.
How Easy Is It To Learn The Xylophone
Xylophones are fun instruments that kids and adults of all ages love to tinker with. But if your child has a legitimate interest in learning to play the xylophone, you may be wondering how easy it is to learn this instrument. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy! Even young kids can grasp the concept of playing the xylophone, making it a great first instrument to learn.
Since the xylophone has each note separated (and often labeled), it is easy to play a recognizable tune pretty quickly. Young kids will love hitting the bars with their mallets and experimenting with different patterns of sound and rhythm. Some xylophones will be smaller or larger, offering more or fewer octaves and providing musicians a visual of a scale. Kids will quickly learn about scales and octaves, as well as basic music theory, tempo, and more. Kids who master the xylophone are often incredible at picking out even the slightest shifts in pitch and tone, and they frequently go on to play other percussion instruments with relative expertise.
Why A Child Should Play An Instrument
There is no doubt that learning to play an instrument can bring about a myriad of advantages. From reducing stress to optimizing brain development to improving coordination, there are countless benefits of playing a musical instrument, no matter your age. For children, however, the benefits are even more far-reaching and include the following:
- Improves memory and IQ
- Teaches perseverance and personal responsibility
- Improves coordination and motor skill development
- Improves math, reading, and comprehension skills
- Enhances cultural and historical awareness
- Encourages self-expression and creativity
- Improves listening skills
- Improves social skills
- Increases brain development
- Improves focus, concentration, patience, and commitment
- Improves test-taking and multi-tasking
If your child is hesitant to pick up an instrument or learn a new skill, there is a lot you can do to encourage them. You can introduce multiple instruments in a fun, playful, and laid-back way to see what they are drawn to and enjoy. You can also take them to a concert to inspire them or even learn to play a new instrument yourself. Getting your child a passionate music teacher can help motivate them as well.
Benefits of Music in Early Childhood for Learning New Languages
Studies have found that when kids learn to play a musical instrument before they turn 7, they are more likely to have a higher IQ, have a larger vocabulary, and a better grasp of grammar. All of these skills directly correlate to learning a new language, so it’s safe to say that young musicians have a leg up on their peers when it comes to learning to speak another language.
Musical training that begins at an early age primes the brain to recognize subtle changes in sounds, including both musical notes and language pronunciation. In fact, this doesn’t just apply to kids. Adults who have musical training tend to have an easier time learning a new language than other non-musical adults as well.
In addition to these significant benefits, early musical exposure offers other advantages that directly relate to learning a new language as well. Enhanced memory, better motor skills (including in the mouth and tongue), a better grasp on reading and writing, and more are just some of the perks of having young children learn musical skills early on.
While young toddlers won’t be able to grasp complicated aspects of music theory, they still love to clap, dance, sing, and play toddler-sized instruments. All of these playful things they do to interact with music are helping their little brains grow and develop more effectively, preparing them for enhanced learning in the future.
How Playing a Musical Instrument Affects Your Brain
Playing an instrument is like a workout for your brain. It requires the use of almost every part of the brain and enhances several areas of the brain’s overall function. Here are some more specific ways that playing a musical instrument affects your brain.
- It increases blood flow to the brain – Increased blood flow leads to more oxygen in a given area, which increases strength and function in that area. Just a thirty-minute period of music lessons or playing an instrument can bring about increased blood flow to the brain.
- It improves memory and reading skills – Both verbal memory and literacy are improved when children learn how to play instruments.
- It enhances brain development at a young age – Babies who participate in music classes or musical play at home show enhanced communication skills and more frequent engagement with other people.
- It improves multisensory skills – The skills required to play an instrument include motor skills, visual skills, and auditory skills, so it only makes sense that musicians can more adequately handle multi-sensory experiences. This means they can multitask more effectively and navigate sensory overload more easily than a non-musician.
- It improves neuroplasticity – Neuroplasticity is simply your brain’s ability to change. People who took music lessons as kids have more brain plasticity and a faster brain response as adults, even if they discontinued music lessons during adulthood.
- It helps the brain recover from injury – Musical therapy has long been used to help individuals cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. But studies have also found that individuals who suffered from a stroke or traumatic brain injury can also benefit a great deal from musical training. Even with no prior musical experience, patients saw a significant improvement in motor control.
- It strengthens executive function – You rely on executive skills like self-control, problem-solving, processing, retaining information, and more. Executive function is directly linked to academic achievement and overall productivity in life, and music directly influences those important executive skills.
How and When to Introduce an Instrument to Kids
If you have your heart set on your child playing an instrument, start introducing them to musical instruments and musical play early on in life. While they may not be ready for legitimate music lessons until they are between the ages of 4 and 7, you can do a lot in those early years to foster their love of music and their desire to learn more. Here we break down the how and when of introducing an instrument to your children.
- Surround them with music – Play music on the radio, on your phone, on your TV, and in any place you can. Clap along, dance to the tunes, and sing as you go about your day. Make musical instruments out of things at home, like a spoon and a pot, a tissue box and rubber bands, and so on. You can also purchase toddler-friendly musical toys to let them play around with and create their own music. The more exposure they have to music and the more fun it is, the more likely they are to choose to play an instrument and stick with it in the future.
- Let them choose – Even if you have strong feelings or insight into the best instrument for your child, do your best to let go of the reins when it’s time for them to pick an instrument. If they have their heart set on a flute or trumpet, even if you know it will be hard, let them try it out. You don’t have to commit to an instrument for life, so give them a chance to try out a few and see what clicks with them.
- Find a good teacher – As with anything in life, the right teacher can make a huge difference. Be willing to be flexible and try out a few teachers if the first one isn’t a good fit. Ask to sit in on a lesson and ask your child how he or she feels about the teacher and approach to learning.
- Encourage them – You’re not the music teacher; you’re the cheerleader. Hold them accountable for practicing and remind them of their commitment when they get frustrated, but be sure to encourage them as well. Ask them to play what they’re learning for you, invite family members to performances, and otherwise encourage them and show them that you’re proud of them.
- When they’re old enough: You can start introducing music and musical instruments at any time, but actual music lessons shouldn’t take place until they are at least 4 years old, maybe older depending on the instrument they want to play.
- When they show interest: Forcing your child into playing an instrument before they’re ready is likely to backfire. While you can encourage them and try to motivate them, they may only resist if they aren’t committed to taking the lessons.
- When they can consistently practice: You will probably need to hold your child accountable for practicing their instrument no matter their age, but a child should be old enough to understand the importance of practice. Additionally, they should be able to commit to a consistent practice schedule and keep themselves on task during a practice session.
Questions to Ask When Your Child Wants to Switch Instruments
When your child tells you they are interested in switching to a new instrument, what should you do? While your knee-jerk reaction might be to insist they continue with their current instrument and close the discussion, this actually provides an opportunity to talk with your child about their thoughts and feelings. While children do not fully grasp the investment you have made in their musical journey, this could be a great way to introduce your child to how to communicate their interests and commit to goals.
For young kids, their first instrument introduces them to the world of music. Once they learn about all their opportunities, they discover an instrument more suited to their interests and skills. Children may get excited at the thought of a fresh start or new challenge. They may feel bored with their current instrument and not know how to manage those feelings. Perhaps your child finds the learning curve frustrating or has a hard time connecting to the type of music they are playing. The following questions will help you start a conversation to learn more about why your child wants to switch instruments and whether that is the best choice.
How Much Time Has Been Spent on Instrument?
When a child first starts learning to play an instrument, the challenge is often new and exciting. They may initially spend a lot of time and invest in this exciting new musical adventure. However, as the “honeymoon” phase starts to wear off, your child’s attention may wander. How much time has been spent on the instrument plays a significant role in choosing whether or not to switch instruments. If the challenge no longer feels fun, then your child may try to avoid playing an instrument they don’t feel they can conquer immediately.
Learning the fundamentals of music and the instrument provides building blocks for your child to develop more musical competency and skills. Your child may not want to do something they feel they aren’t good at, when in reality, this is just part of the learning process. Whether they find the initial learning curve too challenging or quickly grow bored trying to master the fundamentals, then it may be time to help your child understand the importance of committing to a hobby or activity like playing an instrument. Encourage your child to spend time with their new instrument as they develop a love and appreciation for music.
However, if your child has been playing the same instrument for a few years and has mastered the fundamentals, then they may be ready for a new challenge. When your child has invested a lot of time and energy into learning an instrument, they will recognize the thrill of achievement in reaching milestones and musical goals. As a parent, you may want your child to continue with the same instrument until they master it. However, your child may want to experience achieving the goals of mastering fundamentals and learning a new piece for the first time with a fresh perspective. At this point, talking to your child about their reason for wanting to switch can also help encourage a healthy conversation.
What Is the Reason for Wanting to Switch?
Ask your child about their reasons for wanting to switch to a new instrument. This will help you understand their motivations and identify any potential roadblocks that may prevent them from enjoying their current instrument. If your child is itching to try a new instrument, then ask probing questions to find out more about their “why.” Here are 3 examples of why your child may want to switch to a new instrument:
- Struggling to Learn Something New – People of all ages experience the struggle of learning a new skill from time to time. For children, learning a new instrument may not come naturally right away. They may hope to lay their fingers on the keys of a baby grand piano and expect magic to flow through their fingertips. While the first time playing an instrument can be a magical experience for some, others may find it difficult to learn something new. Your child may expect to be perfect on their first try and want to avoid feelings of frustration when they cannot get it right after a few tries. The struggle with learning a new skill is a challenging but important life lesson for building confidence and committing to your goals.
- Frustration with Current Progress – Once your child becomes more comfortable with their instrument, they start to settle into more of a recognizable routine. Going through fundamentals and practicing are foundational skills for playing an instrument. However, your child may become frustrated with their current progress once the newness of the experience has worn off. As they achieved what may have felt like insurmountable goals of learning to play a new instrument, those successes felt life-changing. Once they have established a baseline skill for their instrument, the maintenance phase of learning a new instrument can feel less challenging to some children.
- Looking for a New Challenge – Your child may be looking for a new challenge once they feel like they have mastered the fundamentals of their instrument. Many instruments provide children with basic skills and knowledge for playing and reading music that can translate across multiple instruments. The piano is a great first instrument to learn that can make learning other new instruments easier, like guitar, violin, or voice. Learning a new instrument will allow your child to diversify their instrument library while improving their musicality and technique.
Is This Their First Time Switching Instruments?
If this is your child’s first time switching instruments, then they might be in for a shock! Certain reasons for switching instruments can actually make learning a second instrument more challenging. When your child becomes bored or frustrated with their current instrument without feeling like they have mastered the skill, they may continue that experience with a new instrument. While a new instrument might seem like the right answer to your child, it could be a case of “the grass is greener on the other side.” Before switching instruments for the first time, it is important to discuss their commitment to sticking with their instrument to reach certain goals instead of opting for what may seem like an easier option.
Your child may not realize how much progress they have actually made with their current instrument until they switch to a brand new option. Restarting the process of learning something new and fighting perfectionism and frustration, may actually negatively impact your child. You want to encourage them to find joy in their activity and look forward to all their successes and achievements along the way. If they have not felt the inspiring “a-ha!” moments with their current instrument, then they might end up doubly disappointed when they swap to something completely new.
Encouraging positive experiences with music can help promote a better connection between your child and their instrument. Find ways to challenge your child’s way of learning their instrument with more than simply drilling scales for a set number of minutes per day. Innovative and exciting ways of learning their instrument will keep them coming back for more challenges. When your child has a good connection with their instrument and musical experience, they are more likely to want to explore new instruments out of piqued interest rather than frustration.
Have They Enjoyed The Instrument?
One key question to ask your child is to share how they enjoy the instrument they play. Oftentimes, what your child may communicate as not liking their instrument has more to do with the type of music they are playing! While it might seem like starting with the classics would be best, you might engage your child better by choosing music they currently enjoy.
Provide your child with more autonomy and choice over what types of music they learn to play on their first instrument so they can truly invest their own interests in the experience. Once they learn to master music they enjoy, they will often be much more willing to branch out into other genres that may once have seemed boring or intimidating. Learning to master the fundamentals of something completely new can be more engaging when your child connects with the content involved.
Present your child with new and exciting ways to experience music with their instrument. Going through the motions of the same warm-ups, fundamentals, and scales every week will help your child grow in their skills and knowledge of their instrument. You also want to provide them with opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned and gain confidence in sharing their instrument with others.
How to Help A Child Learn In Music?
As a parent, you play a large role in supporting your children as they learn how to play a musical instrument. You will always be your child’s first teacher and they will naturally look to you for encouragement and support as they learn something new. Help your child learn music by maintaining a positive attitude and creating space for your child to explore and enjoy their music education. You do not have to be heavily involved in their music lessons to still have a large influence on their learning process.
Parents of young children can promote a love of music and learning by spending time listening to music and singing songs together. Participate in a group music class that allows your children to freely participate while practicing social skills. Model skills like practicing what you have learned in “school” by singing songs around the house after you learned them in class.
Children of all ages can have a successful learning experience when their parents instill a love of music and learning through lifelong engagement. Let your child explore music they enjoy and introduce them to new styles and genres along the way. Avoid punishing your child for not practicing or forcing them to perform when they aren’t ready. Instead, remember that parents can help support their children’s musical development by creating an environment where enjoyment is key.
Frequently Asked Questions
We understand parents have a lot of questions and concerns when it comes to doing what is best for their children. Check out these frequently asked questions we receive from parents who want to support their children in learning an instrument.
Should I Force My Child to Play an Instrument?
While learning to play an instrument is such a valuable skill, you should never force your child to play an instrument. Learning an instrument is a great way for your child to explore interests, achieve goals, and build confidence. However, forcing your child to play an instrument can ruin their interest in music and end up wasting their talents and your money. If you are determined to enroll your child in lessons to learn an instrument, then work on fostering an environment of engaging in activities that bring your child joy and challenge them to learn new things.
What’s the hardest instrument to play?
There are several types of instruments that can be challenging to play, though it doesn’t mean these aren’t worth trying! Some instruments have a more challenging learning curve, while others have more technical or physical demands while playing. The oboe is one of the most challenging wind instruments and requires more maintenance, which can increase your financial investment. The violin is not always an easy first instrument to learn because it requires incredibly precise fingerings without frets to use as a guide. Drums might seem like an easy first instrument, but once you master the basics, you will see that it requires much more than simply maintaining a tempo. Instead of avoiding these instruments, you can also view these as a challenge for your next instrument of choice.
Should Children Stick With Music Lessons?
When you encourage your child to continue with music lessons, you provide them with external motivation. However, in order for your child to choose to stick with music lessons on their own, they will need to find their own motivations. This typically comes in the form of enjoying what they do! Instead of pushing your child to continue learning music, try pulling them along instead. Parents can also help their children set manageable and achievable goals for success. Encourage their progress in music lessons and show them how practice can turn into exciting musical opportunities. Introduce them to new styles of music and visit music venues and concerts for inspiration.
What Is the Cheapest Instrument to Learn?
Consider these easy and affordable instruments to get your child started on their musical education. Parents with young children may want to introduce their children to the tambourine or xylophone to encourage their coordination and mobility. School-age children may appreciate learning the basic fingerings on the recorder and how to use their breath to create sounds. Parents of children interested in band or orchestra may want to consider the flute, which is the most economical woodwind instrument. A keyboard is also a cheaper instrument to learn how to play piano.