Choosing which musical instrument for a child to study is sometimes a guessing game. At a young age, a child has no way to express an informed preference. Parents or caretakers of children can evaluate the natural musical interests of a child by first presenting the child with one or more basic musical instruments.
Even though children eventually choose between options such as piano or violin, the access to simpler instruments allows the child to discover their musical interests on their own timetable. Once interest is shown in music in general, they are ready for learning a more mainstream instrument.
Children are usually ready to begin piano lessons as early as age 4 or 5. However, the lessons may not be productive unless your child has developed motivation on their own. A suitable first instrument to develop that motivation is usually low in cost and relatively easy to play.
Even before learning notes and scales, a child may derive enjoyment from a percussion instrument. There are tambourines designed specifically for children that are essentially toys that contain the distinctive metal jingle discs. Many tambourines contain a drumhead, which provides an early introduction to drumming and rhythm.
A plastic recorder musical instrument is very basic, but it provides an introduction to notes and scales. The recorder is a member of the woodwind family, but it usually has no mechanical mechanism for producing notes. A recorder has an array of holes along its side. By covering the holes with their fingers, a child learns to play by trial and error.
The harmonica is a reed instrument that produces notes whether air is blown in or drawn out. Harmonica players soon learn that they can raise or lower the pitch of notes by altering how they play the instrument. For a child, a harmonica may also be valued as a fun instrument to carry along to cookouts or family outings.
Music education has been shown to enhance other forms of learning. The act of playing music may help children learn to focus their attention and perform better in other activities. Playing music may actually result in increased growth in the section of the brain responsible for organization and planning.
Your child is likely to express an interest in a mainstream instrument after spending time with one or more of the simpler instruments. At that point, they will have made the final instrument decision for you. Contact a music store like Caldwell Connection for more advice about helping your child learn and apply the skills of music.