How to find the best instrument for your child, no matter what their age
Knowing which instruments are best for your children will help make the selection process smoother. Regardless of age, there’s an appropriate musical instrument for any child to discover a love of music. Katherine Palmer, the curator of education at the Musical Instrument Museum (mim.org) in Phoenix, lists some of the best for kids:
For young children:
Instruments that kids can play independently with or without other musical sounds are a good option for toddlers and other young musicians. Drums, egg shakers, single jingle bells and glockenspiels all make great choices for exploration. Avoid musical instruments that require batteries, are made of plastic and light up because these qualities can overload the senses. Prioritize instruments made of natural materials that can be played acoustically.
For school-age children:
Bigger isn’t always better when carrying a violoncello or tuba becomes a consideration. Choose musical instruments that are size-appropriate and will promote fine motor skill development and listening skills. Piano and violin are ideal beginning instruments because there are instructors who incorporate play-based approaches to make learning fun. As they get older, utilize school music programs or local music stores and rent instruments before making a purchase.
For older children:
There are plenty of entry-level apps to introduce teens to digital music-making. As they start layering beats on phones and tablets and become more engaged, other hardware and software will allow them to record themselves, develop a sound and sample from sound libraries. Digital music is a great entry point for youth who would like to explore instrumental music-making outside of a formalized band or orchestra.