Incorporating music lessons into your child’s education is one of the best things you can do for them. Not only does music open up endless opportunities, but it also helps to develop their cognitive functions. Research also shows that learning to play an instrument allows kids to be more disciplined, confident, and social.
However, in their book The Right Instrument for Your Child, Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd state that most children who give up or fail on music instruments do so because they chose the wrong instrument. The secret to succeeding in music is choosing a musical instrument for your child that is fit for the person. These are some of the things to consider if you want to help your child pick the right instrument.
1. Your child’s age
Experts recommend that children should start learning to play instruments as early as three years of age. However, the younger a child is, the fewer options they have. Children younger than six years can start with a piano or violin because they provide foundational music skills, and they are easier to learn. As a child grows older, you can expose them to more prominent and complicated instruments that require more physical energy, bigger body, and maturity.
2. Your child’s body type
As you think about picking an instrument for your child, consider their body type. For instance, a piano requires long slender fingers so they can reach the top keys without leaving the low notes. Kids with bigger lips may also not be suitable for instruments that are played with the mouth. Similarly, if a child has braces or their front teeth are missing, learning an instrument that requires blowing may be painful for them. It’s also prudent to assume that a short child will not hack the bassoon because its 6-feet tall.
3. Their personality
A child’s personality should be a key consideration when choosing instruments. Nature dictates the kind of music a person likes and in connection, the instruments as well. Extroverts enjoy being the center of attention, so they will never be drawn to pianos and those other behind-the-scene instruments. An extrovert wants to play the electric guitar in a rock band, the trumpet, and the violin as a solo act.
4. Their interest
A big mistake you can make is choosing an instrument a child plays on your own. Children may not know precisely what they want to do in life, but they know what they like. It is essential that you let your child pick what interests them most, even if that may change later.
There are several ways to know what a child likes. You can listen to several types of music and watch which parts of the songs excite them. For example, people who are rock fans desire to play the guitar and drums. On the other hand, if they like jazz music and RnB, you can introduce them to the flute, piano, and clarinet.
5. How your child thinks
In a bid to pick an instrument for your child, it’s crucial to consider how they think. Children who are curious, analytical, and highly intelligent will be drawn more to a piano, trombone, and oboe. The instruments require a bit of thinking and analysis as compared to drums and guitars. You have to calm down, learn the notes, and really utilize the brain to play.
6. Test a few instruments
Even if you know the child’s personality and what they like, choosing a musical instrument for them can still be daunting. A great way to narrow down the options is to test a few instruments here and there. Take them to a band and let them play the guitar and some drums. You can also allow them to test the church piano and the flute. Checking out a few instruments with their hands will help them decide what felt better and more enjoyable.
7. Help them identify a role model
Having somebody you admire to look up to is necessary in every field, especially music. As you check out several instruments, do the same with music giants out there. Let your child see them in their element several times until they are drawn to one. Singer Nadine Sierra who participated in From the Top said that watching an opera only once captivated her so much that she knew immediately it’s what she wanted to do.
Choosing a musical instrument for your child is a big responsibility because it will determine if they like music or not. However, besides picking the right instrument, you also have to ensure they practice at least 30 minutes every day to get the hang of it. Never force a child to play something because it’s what you like and always consider their feelings.