Best Instruments to Learn at Every Age
Learning a musical instrument is demonstrably good for a child’s development. Studies have found that learning music improves concentration, memory, coordination, academic performance, and so much more. Adults can also learn a musical instrument and receive its benefits as well.
To make learning music fun for your child (or yourself), you need to pick the right instrument. The rest of this article explores just that. Let’s dive into the best instruments to learn at every age.
Best instruments for babies and toddlers
You can, and should, introduce music to your child as a baby. However, be careful not to put too much pressure on your baby or toddler to learn a single musical instrument. Music should be fun for everyone, but especially babies and toddlers. This will be their first exposure to music. You want to ensure it is a good one.
There are plenty of music classes out there for this age group. Most focus on exploration and not a single instrument. However, a couple of instruments could work well for this group.
What child doesn’t love banging on anything they can get their hands on. Percussion instruments are a great way to engage your baby and toddler in music. These instruments are very easy for children without fine motor skills to play, which makes them ideal for babies and toddlers.
Another great instrument for this age group is the piano. The piano is sometimes classified as a percussion instrument. As long as your baby or toddler can comfortably (and safely) reach the keys, they can easily create noise on a piano. The piano keys are great for small hands. Owning a piano may be an investment, but it could be the only instrument you ever need as it will grow with your child’s skill level. There are many places to find online piano lessons like this one.
Best instruments for early elementary
Preschool and early elementary school-aged children can begin learning a musical instrument formally. Often schools will begin music classes at this age, as children are more able to concentrate for longer periods. Learning music contributes to child development and can help with greater gross and fine motor skills, which makes learning an instrument easier.
You will still want to ensure that learning the instrument is fun for your child. Choosing an appropriately sized instrument is also crucial. Here are three great options for this age range.
Violins may seem like a very complicated instrument for a young child. However, its small size is great for an early elementary-school child’s tiny hands. If the violin is a little too high-pitched for your family, you could also try the viola.
If your child is interested in wind instruments, you may want to try the recorder. Recorders are the simplest wind instrument on the market. This is why so many elementary schools teach this instrument before introducing others.
The recorder’s long, slim body is easy for young children to hold onto. There are only three to six finger holes, which is less complicated to learn than other instruments like clarinets, oboes, or saxophones. The techniques your child learns from the recorder can easily be transferred to those larger wind instruments as your child ages.
A final great instrument for a preschool or early elementary-aged child is the ukulele. As with the recorder, the ukulele is a smaller and simpler version of the guitar. There are fewer strings and frets for your child to learn. The small size of the ukulele makes it easier for young children to hold than a guitar as well.
Best instruments for later elementary
Later elementary is typically defined as grades 4-7. In many schools, this is when the band and orchestra instruments are introduced. Children in this age-range follow instructions very well. They are also getting larger, which makes finding them an appropriately sized instrument easy.
Some good instrument choices for later elementary children include
If you started your young elementary child on a recorder, the clarinet is a natural progression during their later elementary school years. The clarinet is held similarly to a recorder. It just has more fingerholes. Make sure to start your child on a properly sized clarinet. A clarinet is also a great jumping-off point for children who want to learn the saxophone.
Larger children will have a better time learning the cello. The violin and viola are still options. However, as a larger stringed instrument, the cello may have to wait until the later elementary school years. Celli is held differently than violin and violas, they go between your child’s knees, yet the basic playing mechanics are the same.
Later elementary-aged children can progress to larger and harder-to-play instruments. A recorder player can start the clarinet, a violinist can begin the cello, and a ukulele fan can begin learning the guitar. Guitars are held and strummed exactly like a ukulele. They are just larger and have more strings and frets. Children who don’t want to go to the band or orchestra route may enjoy the guitar.
Best instruments for middle school, high school, and beyond
By middle school, your child may have already decided on an instrument. Whether they picked one up in school or as an extra-curricular, all instruments are now available to them. This is the age when playing in ensembles becomes more of a possibility.
By the time they reach high school, most children are close to their adult size. This means that the largest instruments—stringed bass, tuba, and harp—are available to them. The real question for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults is what instrument they prefer. Let your child choose the instrument that strikes their fancy.
Even older children, teenagers, and adults can receive the amazing benefits of music. Start your child of any age on a musical instrument, and perhaps pick one up for yourself. Let music work its magic on you and your family.