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What Musical Instrument Should My Child Start With?

There are a lot of great instruments out there. Which one is best for your child?

What musical instrument should my child learn?

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Now is the time to get your child started playing an instrument! The younger they are the better, but no matter what age your child is, it's a great time to start learning an instrument.


 

Why Should My Child Learn to Play an Instrument?


Boy learning piano wth my music workshop piano lesson

1. There is tons of research that proves how important learning an instrument is.

According to research, these are some of the benefits of learning music during childhood.

  • Higher test scores

  • Better grades

  • Enhanced cognitive development

  • Improved social skills

  • Better memory

  • Boosted mood

  • Increased confidence

There are a lot more, but these few show just how important learning music can be for children.

Girl rocking on guitar

2. Playing an instrument can create a lifetime of joy. As a musician myself I can truly say that I still have the same passion for playing music as I did when I started learning. It's something that never goes away.


The ability to play an instrument is a creative outlet and a skill we get to keep developing throughout life.


The instrument also becomes a friend in times of need and a way that we can express and even feel emotion that is inside us.


The earlier kids start learning to play an instrument, the easier it is to learn, just like language.


 

What is the best age to start music lessons?

Girl playing piano My Music Workshop

In most cases, we recommend that a child start taking instrument lessons at about age 5 or 6.


If kids are in a musical family, or simple show high levels of interest and ability at a very young age, you could start instrument lessons at age 4. This also depends on the instrument they would be learning.


In most cases, we recommend that a child start taking instrument lessons at about age 5 or 6

You’ll know when it’s time to start lessons on an instrument when your child is ready to spend at least a few minutes, a few days a week, practicing their instrument.


When formal instrument lessons begin there will be an expectation to practice, improve, and stick with their instrument.


Remember, your child can start learning music before taking instrument lessons. That's part of what we do here at My Music Workshop.


Children as young as toddlers can start learning music. The lessons will be different than learning an instrument, of course, but will be a great foundation for them when they do begin to study a specific instrument.


Children as young as toddlers can start learning music

 

What Can Young Children Learn About Music?

These are the musical concepts that younger kids can start learning.


These are foundational concepts that are very important to being a well-rounded musician AND being good at playing an instrument.

  • High and Low Sounds (Pitch)

  • Fast and Slow Music (Tempo)

  • Quiet and Loud Music (Dynamics)

  • Rhythm

  • Emotions in Music

  • Kinds of instruments and how they work

  • Singing

  • Simple melodies

  • Identifying musical notes


Learning these concepts is a perfect way to prepare children to learn an instrument when they reach the right age.


When a child is young it's the perfect time to build success and create excitement for music. If we can build a love for music from an early age children will be much more likely to stick with playing an instrument later.



We have been teaching music to children young and old at My Music Workshop since 2009.


We have tons of lessons for younger kids that teach the concepts that are listed above in a fun and easy to understand way.


We also offer instrument lessons for piano, drums and ukulele.


Here's a preview video of our instrument lessons:



 

What are the best musical instruments for kids to learn?


In teaching music to kids for almost two decades we have found some good, and not so good, types of instruments for children. Keep in mind, instruments are a personal choice and each individual will gravitate to what they like.


Here's a quick list of the best instruments for kids to learn.

  • Piano

  • Ukulele

  • Drums

  • Guitar

  • Violin

Let's discuss the reasons for and against each one of these instruments.

 

Piano


The Good

  • It doesn't require as much finger strength as instruments with strings.

  • Kids can be successful quickly with just a few keys

  • The piano is laid out in an easy to understand way

  • Younger kids can learn the piano

  • The piano works in tons of musical styles

  • It's great for songwriting

  • After learning piano it's easier to learn other instruments

  • It's great for rhythm and melody

We think the piano is the best instrument for kids to start with. Read our blog post, where we discuss the reasons why here.


The Bad

  • Kids might prefer another instrument (that's ok)

  • Pretty much nothing else

Check out a preview of our online piano program for kids below!



 

Ukulele


The Good

  • It's a great size for kids and smaller hands

  • It has four strings not six, like a guitar, so it's easier to learn and keep in tune.

  • Kids can learn songs quickly with a few simple chords

  • Some chords can be played by pressing only one string

  • The strings are easier to press than some other string instruments

  • Ukulele's are not too expensive

  • They are portable

The Bad

  • Ukuleles don't fit into as many musical styles as some other string instruments like the guitar

  • As players advance they tend to move to other string instruments

Check out a preview of the Ukulele Lessons we offer at My Music Workshop.



 

Drums


The Good

  • Great for coordination and rhythm

  • Easy for kids to feel successful right away

  • Drums are fun to play

  • There are a lot of variations to the drums as an instrument. The drum set, marching snare, marching quads, bongos/congas, lots more... kids can go a lot of different directions.

  • Drums fit into almost every musical style

  • Drummers are the drivers of the band

  • There are nearly infinite variations of a drum set. Drummers can essentially make their own instrument.

The Bad

  • Drums are loud (check out electronic drum sets to help this)

  • Drum sets are big

  • Drums can be expensive (they don't have to be though)

  • You can't play melodies on the drums

  • The drums are not very portable

We offer drum lessons at My Music Workshop. Check out a preview below.



 

Guitar



The Good

  • Guitars are very versatile, they work in lot's of different music.

  • Guitars are not that expensive

  • Guitars are fun to learn songs on

  • Acoustic and Electric guitars are very different and students can choose the one they prefer.

  • After learning just a few chords you can play thousands of songs

  • Guitars are not loud (unless the amplifier is turned up to 11!)

  • Guitars are relatively portable

The Bad

  • They require more finger strength and bigger hands than the ukulele

  • Guitars can be too big for younger children (you can get smaller sized guitars though)

  • Guitars have six strings while ukuleles have four. Six strings are harder to play and keep in tune.

  • Guitars are harder to carry around than ukuleles or violins.


 

Violin



The Good

  • They are small and a great size for kids

  • Four strings make them easier to visualize and understand than instrument with more strings.

  • Violins are beautiful sounding instruments (when played by an experienced violinist :) )

  • Violins play the main melody in many classical pieces

  • The violin can also be played as a fiddle. It's the same instrument, fiddles just fit into different musical styles.

  • They are small and portable

The Bad

  • It can be harder to find good violin teachers than some other instruments

  • Violins don't fit into a huge range of musical styles

  • Violins don't have frets (the little lines under the strings), that makes it harder to play the right note or pitch.

  • Violins require a lot of finger and bow technique. This makes them harder for kids to learn until they reach at least 6 or 7 years old.

While these are not the only good instruments for kids, they are some great ones to start off with.




 

What About Wind Instruments?



We don't recommend wind instruments like the saxophone, flute or clarinet (woodwind), or the trumpet, trombone or french horn (brass instruments) for young kids.


They require a lot of technique to play correctly, and kids can't sing and play.


There is nothing wrong with them, at all. We just have found that they aren't usually the best instruments for kids to start with. But, if your child loves one of these instruments and wants to learn, go for it!

 

Summary of the Best Kinds of Music Lessons by Age


Age 2-4:

  • Group music lessons and/or

  • Online music lessons

  • Have some instruments for them to play at home

  • Listen to a lot of music around your kids

Age 5-6:

  • Usually the right age to start instrument lessons, can still be on the young side

  • Do either private lessons or

  • A reputable online music lesson program

  • See the instruments above for the best one's to start them with

  • Encourage your kids to play their instrument, practice and support them in their musical endeavors.

  • Play lots of music around the house and in the car

Age 6-7:

  • Children this age are usually ready to start learning an instrument

  • Do either private lessons or

  • A reputable online music lesson program

  • See the instruments above for the best one's to start them with

  • Encourage your kids to play their instrument, practice and support them in their musical endeavors.

  • Play lots of music around the house and in the car

Age 8-9:

  • Most all 8-9 year old’s are ready to play an instrument. Kids this age can choose from a wider variety of instruments.

  • Can start violin

  • Might want to play a wind instrument

  • See the instruments above for the best one's to start them with

  • Encourage your kids to play their instrument, practice and support them in their musical endeavors.

  • Play lots of music around the house and in the car

  • Do either private lessons or

  • A reputable online music lesson program



 


Elias Berlinger from My Music Workshop

About the Author

Elias Berlinger is the co-founder of My Music Workshop, a music education company founded in 2009. Having taught music to hundreds of students ranging from toddlers to senior citizens Elias has an understanding of what it takes to start playing an instrument at any age. Many of his students include sports and music celebrities and their children. Elias, along with his musical wife, who is also a teacher, Lianna have created My Music Workshop. A world of learning music available conveniently online. Be sure to check it out here, if you haven’t already!






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