It’s surprising how what’s seemingly a straightforward decision for children and parents, often governs the course that the musical learning journey of the child takes. How do you ensure that you help your child in identifying and choosing the right instrument for his/her musical motivations and aspirations? Here’s some guidance.

The Right Instrument for the Right Age

Arguably, the most important consideration that you, as a parent, need to keep firmly in mind, is that of the age of the child, when you are motivating him to enter the world of musical learning. Age is a limiting factor both in terms of mental prowess to learn complicated instruments, and physical prowess to practice at long stretches, that too with instruments that involve multiple motor skills at the same time.

This often means that for children in the age bracket of 6 and below, the two choices that parents often boil down to are the violin and the piano.

girl playing violin
Image Courtesy of PBS

Violins are available in all sizes, a lot of them are convenient and comfortable enough for little children. Of course, even guitar makers offer smaller sizes of the instrument, but not many instruments match the inherent simplicity of the violin, which does not involve any frets and keys.

This helps the child connect quickly and closely to the pure concept of musical sound. Learning the violin involves the quintessential bowing of the right hand, which is an important lesson in the skill of musical phrasing. This lays the foundation for advanced musical learning for the child because musical phrasing is relevant for all major musical instruments.

boy learning piano
Image Courtesy of Mindful Mum

Playing the Piano

Though some consider a piano as a little too sophisticated for children, parents often fall for the charms of the instrument, and kids don’t resist because of the soothing sound and the comfortable playing postures that the piano offers. They are able to sit down!

Despite there not being the lesson of ‘bowing’ and musical phrasing with the piano, children can still learn a lot in terms of developing musical and perceptual skills. That’s because playing the piano involves understanding the melody and the harmony together. Learning the piano is also fantastic since it helps make kids understand the theory and visual representations of music.

The Question of Physical Prowess

Growing children, out of their zeal to get their hands on a variety of instruments, as well as because of their enhanced physical ability to play the more physically demanding instruments, could pose some tricky questions of choice for parents. If your child is growing into a fine physical specimen, you can consider exposing him to heavy brass instruments, or sophisticated large string instruments, even at a tender age. But hey, even large people can master the piano!

girl playing brass instrument
Image Courtesy of DMA Music

More often than naught, it’s about filtering down to a few choices, and then picking the best one in terms of what matches the physical ability of your child the most. For instance, it might be a strong bet to motivate your child to try out the French horn instead of the trumpet if he’s moderately built up.

Also, you might want to check if your child’s physical attributes, such as smallness or largeness of fingers, motor skills with feet, and sensitivity to sharp material impact, are interfering with his learning, and his enjoyment of playing a particular instrument.

It’s natural for your child to enjoy playing an instrument that he/she is most comfortable with in terms of physical factors such as convenience of holding, the manner of playing, etc., especially considering how sincere learning will involve long hours of practice. These are just pointers for you to keep in mind; if your child’s zeal to play a particular instrument flays the physical mismatch, so be it. Give them the green light.

The ‘Social Coolness’ Factor

Trust us, nothing is more important to a child than the ‘coolness’ quotient of the music instrument, if you let him/her make the choice, that too at a tender age. Is it bad? Not at all, because at the core of successfully learning music is an unflinching desire to excel, which will only come if the kid is actually playing an instrument they love.

child learning guitar
Image Courtesy of DMA Music

Of course, as a parent, and as a source of guidance, you’ll need to factor in the age, physical abilities, availability of professional tutors, and of course, the scope of growing in the field of music with the particular instrument, and help your child arrive at the best match for his personality, physical abilities, and musical aspirations.

Here’s a suggestion worth trying out – take your child to a professionally run music academy, expose him to the different instruments, and involve an expert trainer into gauging as to what appeals to your child and what excites him the most.

Featured Image: Image Credit

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