Choosing a First Instrument
for Your Child
is a wonderful time to learn an instrument. Children have a
limitless capacity to absorb information. In selecting your
child's first instrument you must keep in mind their age, finger
dexterity, size of hands, length of arms and ability to carry the
certain instruments that a small child will not be able to physically
hold because of the weight. In addition, they may not have the
physical strength to produce a tone on certain
In general, band instruments, like the flute and clarinet,
are best if started in fourth or fifth grade. These woodwind
instruments require finger dexterity. The small size of a child's hands
and arms will definitely make it impossible for them to play even a
simple melody on one of these instruments. Small fingers will not be able to properly cover the tone holes
on a clarinet. The flute requires long arms, since the instrument is
held out to the side. The saxophone requires larger hands and
fingers to reach the keys.
The brass family, require a lot of wind which
is physically impossible for children under 9 years old. Brass
instruments work best with firm, straight, permanent front teeth and thin
lips. Trombone playing will require long arms. Tubas are heavy and bulky
to carry, so a small child will have difficulty.
Traditionally the first instrument of choice is the piano.
The instrument requires fairly simple movement and you can get immediate
gratification from simple combination of notes. The downside of
the piano is that the instrument is large and you need to have the space
to keep it. A child does require good coordination to be able to
play the piano.
The string instruments are also a very good choice for
young children because they come in a variety of sizes to fit any age
student. Violins are smaller than Violas but both require
sufficient arm strength to hold up the instrument. In addition, they are
small instruments that will not be difficult for your child to
transport. Cellos are larger and more difficult to transport.
Guitars come in left
or right handed and acoustic guitars come in different sizes. The guitar however is
difficult for young children because it will make fingers very sore.
An electric guitar with solid bodies may be too heavy for a young child
instruments normally start at the age 7. You will find that they
come in a variety of forms from small hand-held drums to complex
systems. Practice pads are an alternative to a full drum set.
It is also
important to keep in mind that the lessons for some instruments can be
more expensive than others. Also, the cost of purchasing or
renting the instrument will vary. Some instruments can have high
repair costs and others may need additional equipment.
important thing to remember is that changing from one
instrument to another is quite common and easy to do once your child has
been taught basic music theory.