Age is probably the first consideration when choosing an instrument. Starting with an instrument that is physically not manageable could cause your child to lose interest in making music altogether. Remember that being able to hold an instrument for a minute or two is one thing, but practicing and rehearsals will require the physical stamina to maintain control for at least a half hour at a time.
Does your child like to do activities on their own such as puzzles or drawing? Or do they thrive more in group settings such as Lego club or sports? Are they shy? Outgoing? Are they physically active and energetic? Or are they more drawn to quiet activities?
Just as most children likely enjoy a wide range of activities to some degree or other, certain instruments compliment certain personalities better than others. Each instrument group has a certain character that might give clues as to whether your child would be drawn to it or not. While we list some generalities below, these are very broad, and if your child expresses interest in a certain instrument, by all means, go with that!
TRY IT OUT
BMS holds Instrument Petting Zoos at regular intervals during the year that are excellent opportunities to have your child get hands-on experience with instruments guided by a faculty member. You can also take your child to a local music store and most have instruments available for in-store demonstrations.
|Group||4-5 and often 6||The piano is always an excellent choice as a foundation instrument, and an understanding of the piano develops musical skills that are easily transferable to other instruments. Piano is appealing to a broad range of personalities and can be either a solo or collaborative instrument.|
|Private||7+ (and sometimes 6)||Students should enjoy working on their own to some degree, as the piano is largely a solo instrument. Students need to be at a solid intermediate level before they will be ready to regularly play with others in a group setting.|
|Accordion||7+||You can play any style of music on the accordion, and it is a portable instrument that doesn’t take up too much space. The accordion, like piano and guitar, is an instrument that can play melody, harmony and bass all by itself.|
|Suzuki Violin||4-6||The violin is the smallest instrument in the violin family, and is a popular instrument for young beginners. Producing a sound and learning to hold the instrument correctly take attention, so young beginners need help from a parent or caregiver to ensure success.|
|Violin||7+||Violin is a solo and ensemble instrument, and has the advantage of being portable. Students play with others in group settings from the beginning, so this is appealing and motivating to children that enjoy a social element. Violins often play melody lines, the part one would sing along with to a tune.|
|Viola||7+||The viola is similar to the violin, but a bit larger, has a lower pitch, and plays on a different clef most of the time.|
|Cello||7+||The cello is a low, bass string instrument, played in an upright position sitting down, as opposed to under the neck, as the violin and viola. In an ensemble, this most often has supporting notes rather than melody (the main tune).|
|Double Bass (String Bass)||9+||The double bass is the largest of the string instruments and has the lowest sounds. It is played upright and players sit on a stool. Students often start with cello and move to bass if this instrument appeals to them. It is versatile in terms of style, so if students are interested in jazz music this might be a good choice.
|Harp||7+||Harp is a beautiful instrument both in sound and appearance. Drawbacks are that the instrument is large and hard to transport, but mastering this instrument is well worth the trouble.|
|Recorder||4+||Recorders are a good choice for young beginners that enjoy the sound of wind instruments. Beginner instruments are fairly inexpensive and are portable. Although many students transition to other wind instruments as they grow older, recorder is not just for beginners and can be taken to the professional level. Recorders are widely used in early music and can be solo or ensemble instruments.
|Suzuki Flute||4-6||The flute is a popular instrument that can be fairly easy to learn, although it can be difficult to initially get a sound. Young beginners will need help from a parent or caregiver to support home practice. Students play both solo and in groups from the beginning.|
|Flute||7+||Flutes have high sounds, usually play melody lines (the part one would sing to), and they are portable. They are versatile in terms of style and are used in orchestras and bands.|
|Oboe||9+||Many students move to oboe from another instrument. It has a unique tone and tends to be somewhat temperamental, so it fits best for a personality with patience and perseverance. It is a less popular instrument, which gives students more opportunities for playing in groups when spaces are lmited.|
|Clarinet||9+||Bigger and somewhat heavier, but fairly easy to get a sound on and operate. From the clarinet, many students switch to other instruments, such as bass clarinet, oboe or bassoon. Clarinet is used extensively in classical, jass and pop styles, and has a warm, rich sound.|
|Bassoon||9+||The bassoon has a wide range distinctive tone, and unique character. Like the oboe, it is one that students often move to after a foundation from another instrument. Students spend quite a bit of time making reeds, so it fits a personality with patience and perseverance.|
|Saxophone||9+||Sax is used in many forms of music, from concert band, to jazz, pop and rock-n-roll. It comes in many different sizes and shapes, from soprano through contrabass. These different versions are intended to play in different registers and not based on the size of the performer.
|Harmonica||4+||The harmonica is easy to learn, fun to play, and easy to carry. This can be a fun instrument for young children to explore.|