April 09, 2015
Four Tips for Choosing the Right Instrument for Your Child
Whether your child has never played an instrument before or its time to transition from renting to owning, there are a few things to keep in mind. Choosing the right instrument can seem intimidating, but with the help of your child’s music teacher, helpful sales representatives, and this guide, you’ll be headed in the right direction towards finding your child’s future instrument. From considering the size of the instrument to your child’s age, here are four tips for choosing the right instrument for your child.
Instrument Size Matters
When it comes to size, there are two things to consider: a) is the instrument too large for your child, and b) is the instrument too large for your space? A lot of children express an interest in learning the drums, but not every household has enough room for a full-size drumset. Space aside, be sure not to purchase an instrument that’s too large for your child. Some parents purchase full-size instruments for young children with the mentality that “they’ll grow into it anyways, so why not save money?” While this may make sense for sweatshirts and other items of clothing, purchasing the wrong size instrument for your child can lead to fatigue, disinterest in the instrument, and in some cases, even injury. If you want to save money by only purchasing your child a full-size instrument, consider renting an instrument until they’re ready for an upgrade. Here’s more information about instrument rentals.
Experiment Before Committing
Instead of selecting an instrument at random and forcing your child to play it, let them be involved in the decision making process. Do they already enjoy learning guitar chords from dad? Have they always admired their violinist aunt? Have they already taken flute or clarinet lessons in the past? If you start them off with something they already show an interest in, they’re more likely to find the right instrument than if the instrument was chosen at random. If you aren’t sure where to start, head to your local Music & Arts store with your child and ask the sales representatives questions about the different instruments. Encourage your child to hold the different instruments and get a feel for what they feel like in his or her hands. Most instrument stores are excited to share their instruments with you, so learn everything you can about different instruments from those who are willing to share things with you.
Your Child’s Age
Age is an important factor when it comes to choosing the right instrument for your child. If your child is under the age of six years old, you need to be realistic and understand the physical limitations of a child that young. Many music instructors recommend the piano or violin for a child this young because they’re easier for small hands to play and will help build a foundation for your child to choose a different instrument at a later point in time. If your child is under four, start them out with small percussion and rhythm instruments that’ll help them develop their aural, pitch, rhythm, and coordination skills. Many well-intentioned parents begin their children’s music lessons before they’ve had a chance to develop their coordination and concentration skills. Since these skills are essential to learning music, make sure your child is physically and mentally ready for music lessons before enrolling them.
Stick to Your Budget
Last but not least, go into the instrument buying process with a specific budget in mind. If you don’t have a budget, you can easily spend upwards of $5,000 on a new instrument, a sturdy case, and all the right accessories. The truth is, your child really only need the instrument, a case, and a few essential accessories to start- the rest you can pick up along the way. If you’re wondering if you can save money by purchasing a used instrument, the answer is ‘yes’ with some caveats. If you do want to purchase a used instrument, we recommend taking someone who is familiar with the instrument with you when you go shopping, as they know what to pay attention to. If you do want to save money or are sticking to a strict budget, we recommend renting an instrument or participating in a rent-to-own program instead. For more information about rent-to-own programs, check out our guide.
Once you have an instrument, you’ll need to find a music instructor, too. Before you do, check out our tips on How to Choose a Music Teacher.