musical instrumentThere are many benefits to adding musical instruction to your child’s education, which is why many children start learning to play instruments as early as elementary school.

Students who study music learn about teamwork, discipline, creativity and self-confidence.

Furthermore, studies have shown that students who play instruments tend to do better in math, and studying music is a great way to improve fine motor skills. Regardless of whether your child becomes the next great composer or simply develops an enriching pastime, there is plenty of fun and growth to be had!

Picking the right instrument for your child and your family can be a challenge but, by considering a few guidelines, you can help your child have a positive experience in music education.

Different personality types are often better suited to different instruments. Children who are very active and gregarious often enjoy playing percussion instruments or the boisterous saxophone, while a child with a more detail-oriented disposition might enjoy playing a more technically challenging instrument, like the piano, the viola, or one of the keyed woodwinds like the clarinet; a soft-spoken individual might find oneself drawn to the delicate expressiveness of the flute.  Help your little one figure out what instruments interest him or her by exposing them to different types of music. Going out to see live performances is a fun family activity that will allow you and your child to experience what specific instruments sound like and give them greater perspective for when he or she chooses what is particularly attractive.

Another consideration is how physically suited your child is to a particular instrument.  While even small-statured children can successfully play large instruments like the baritone, bass, and tuba, depending on the structure of your school and where your child will be taking lessons you might need to consider how your child will carry their instrument. Additionally, some children grow more slowly than others. Their hands may be too small to play certain keyed brass and woodwind instruments at an age when their classmates are beginning to study music. If your child is very determined to play one of these instruments, wait a year and let him or her start when they have grown a little more. In the meantime, perhaps let your youngster learn musical theory on a keyboard or affordable recorder; if your children are not yet in elementary school, you can spur their early interest with playful instruments designed for younger kids, provided by West Music or aBaby.

While you want to take your child’s interests into account when choosing an instrument, you also need to be financially practical. Look into the costs of different types of instruments. Always shop around for the best price before committing to a particular store. Furthermore, while all instruments require occasional upkeep expenses, some need more than others; the reeds of some wind instruments, for example, can cost upwards of thirty dollars and are easily broken by new students. Make sure you have a good idea of the monthly cost of your child’s instrument. If your children are younger and their dream instruments have a steep price tag, it is advisable that you rent the apparatus before making a permanent purchase to make sure that the player is genuinely committed to this particular instrument and that it is not a passing phase.

Some instruments are much louder than others, and some have very steep learning curves. If your living space is small, think about if you really want your child playing the trumpet in the living room every day. While nobody expects a child to make beautiful music when they first start learning, it often takes students of the oboe more than a year to be able to produce sound with good tonal quality. The same is true of many of the stringed instruments, such as the violin. Consider whether you have the necessary practice space (and patience) to accommodate daily squeaking and squawking, or whether this could potentially sour relations with the neighbors in the next door apartment.

Choosing an instrument for your child to study is a big decision. If you take some time to consider what your family can afford, your youngling’s build and personality and the practicalities of your living situation, you can guide your child towards a musical instrument that will enhance his or her life for years to come. Learning to play an instrument gives children a sense of pride, outlet for their emotions, valuable problem-solving skills and a creative inclination that establishes a priceless foundation for future development.

So let the music playing begin!

About Demetria Zinga

Demetria is a homeschooling mom and "mompreneur" who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, two daughters, and a Shih-Tzu. She currently runs two podcasts for moms, blogs, writes music, and spends lots of time at coffee shops. Her goal is to be an encourager and motivator of women, helping them to find success and joy in homeschooling, business, and motherhood.

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