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How do I choose the right instrument for me and my child?

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

Music is culture, and many parents would like their children to learn how to play an instrument. Aside from the fun of learning an instrument, aspects such as the positive effects on coordination, language, and social skills are also important to parents. There are multiple ways to determine which one is suited for you and/or your child. This article will discuss the important factors when it comes to choosing an instrument, regardless of whether you are looking for one for your child or yourself.

Instrument, Musik, Auswahl, Finden
Piano, guitar, or bagpipes? Which instrument is the best fit for you and your child?

The pragmatic approach

It’s possible that, for some reason, you already have an instrument at home which you could consider using. However, you should also recall why this instrument is even there in the first place. Maybe it’s a family heirloom? Did you play it in the past but stopped for various reasons? Of course, you can get back into it and have fun playing it. It might bring back old and fond memories. It’s also possible that your child has always been interested in this instrument. In this case, you should check if it is the right size. When it comes to the piano, this is usually no problem. However, regarding other instruments, choosing a smaller version that fits your child’s size is generally advisable.

You may also have an instrument that doesn’t pique your interest right now. But don’t fret! You can just look for the right one for you or your child.

The traditional approach

Do you know families that always say phrases like “We all work as XY” or “That instrument has been a tradition in our family for a long time”? It’s not surprising that something you keep hearing as a child can become a part of some people’s lives. You simply join in on some traditions. Aside from being fun, it can bring people together. Because it feels nice when you sing together, form a small flute combo, or start a band by playing different instruments.

At the same time, a tradition can also turn into something that limits your options, thus, taking away all the fun of making music. After all, some people choose to break away from tradition to start something new. This could very well be you or your child. Therefore, be independent of other people’s opinions. Making music should be about fun and less about preserving traditions.

piano child learning play

The individual approach

Choosing an instrument is a very personal decision. But how do you find the right one – for you or your child?

  • Early musical education: Many teachers and music schools provide early musical education. Here, children from 3 years of age get the chance to gain their first experiences with music. They can try out instruments and explore which interests them early on.

  • Trial courses: Some teachers and music schools offer trial courses which are also known as mini subscriptions or other names. The idea is to get a first impression of the instrument as well as the teacher. This allows you to either stick with the teacher and/or instrument, or keep looking if it’s not the right fit.

  • Open house: The offer of a trial day or open house is even more accessible. Local music schools often offer such events since this gives teachers the chance to introduce themselves and their instruments and offers. This option has the advantage that you don’t have to commit immediately and that the cost is reasonable. At the same time, you get the opportunity to explore and get a sense of whether your search is over.

  • Carousel of instruments: Offers like this allow you to get to know different instruments over the course of a year. For about a month, you will be taught to play the respective instrument, and at the end of it, you will have a good overview of each option. An approach like this can be especially useful if you have no idea which instrument could be suited for you.

violin instrument play learn

Which instrument is right for you?

When choosing an instrument, there are certain factors you should consider.

  1. Age: Parents often think that the earlier the child starts playing an instrument, the better. However, this applies to the minority of instruments since many have dimensions a small child can only handle with difficulty, making it more difficult to practice playing the instrument. If you are unsure if your child is old enough for a certain instrument, it can help to ask a teacher for advice

  2. Physique: The physical aspect is often overlooked when choosing an instrument. Yet many wind instruments, require the child to possess sufficient pressure while breathing, and their front teeth should be fully developed. And others again need the player to have enough strength to even hold the instrument.

  3. Mental maturity: This factor plays a crucial role in many aspects, but above all, it’s relevant when it concerns practicing. Does your child even understand why it is important to practice? Can they concentrate after kindergarten or school? What are their other weekly activities like? Especially if children have busy afternoons, they will lack the motivation to learn an instrument on top of that. Wind instruments like the recorder, transverse flute, clarinet, and trumpet are comparatively easy to learn. Since they are played one note at a time, meaning no harmonies need to be created, they are especially suitable for impatient children.

  4. Personality: Personality is crucial for choosing an instrument; this applies to adults as well as children. This includes personal feelings. For instance, some wind instruments create vibrations when played, which should be taken into consideration. If you don’t like the feeling of playing an instrument with your mouth, you won’t enjoy playing a wind instrument. If you like to create harmonies and want to be able to play entire songs on your own, you should choose the piano or guitar.

  5. Practice opportunities: This aspect should not be forgotten either. When it comes to a flute, violin, piano, and many wind instruments you can usually practice anywhere. However, in the case of brass instruments or drums, you should be certain that they can be practiced in your living environment due to their volume. If it is not possible to practice at home, sometimes there are specific practice rooms, but first, you should research if there are any in your area.

  6. Personal budget: Musical instruments can sometimes be quite expensive. Wind, string, or keyboard instruments are already expensive in the standard version, which not everyone can afford. However, there are good rental deals for children who are still growing or for adults who first want to test an instrument for a few months.

cello learn play teacher child

Learning an instrument for children

Every child is different. This thought quickly takes a back seat when it comes to emotional matters like choosing an instrument. You only want the best for your child. Thus, if your child is more interested in physical activities right now, it may make sense to put off learning an instrument for a bit.

Once your child wants to learn an instrument, it depends on their personality. Is your child more introverted or extroverted? Do they enjoy loud sounds? Or rather soft tunes? Do they tend to invest a lot of effort to achieve success? In that case, even an instrument like the violin can be ideal. Or does your child need quick achievements to stick to something? Then, wind instruments might be a great fit since they count among those instruments that promise quick results. However, if your child likes to be physically active and loves challenges, then drums might be perfect.

Think about what music your child likes to listen to. This can then also influence the choice of instrument. If the child already loves the music, they will be more motivated.

However, the choice of an instrument does not depend exclusively on the child – even if this should be the main aspect. Practicing should also be supported by the parents because if you like the instrument, you automatically encourage your child to practice. But if the sound bothers you, sooner or later, your child will notice. And because children like to please their parents, they will find reasons why they don’t want to disturb you all the time.

transverse flute play instrument child

Do the test

We know there are so many aspects to consider when choosing an instrument – including personality, cost, practice environment, and more. To help you make this decision, we’ve created a quiz. Simply answer a few questions, and we’ll email you the results, giving you a starting point in your search for the right instrument. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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