Music has a lot of benefits for people of all ages. Children, however, may benefit the most: playing an instrument has been shown to improve memory, listening skills, concentration, mathematical processing, language skills, analysis, social skills, and discipline, and fosters creativity. But a musical instrument is an expensive instrument - and it does not benefit anyone but the music shop owner if your kid won't play it. Below are the three steps that you need to take to ensure that your child takes up the instrument that they will love playing for a lifetime.
1. Consider Your Child's Age
Some instruments have physical limitations. It may be impossible, say, for a five-year-old to play a bass. For children younger than six, both the piano and the violin are excellent choices. Violins are small, and smaller ones are available for young children. Unlike other stringed instruments like the guitar, it does not involve fretting, allowing the child to concentrate more fully on the sounds that it makes and on the fundamentals, such as reading music. The piano offers some of the same benefits, although it does not involve bowing. It does, however, provide a visual representation of the notes and the ability to play harmony and melody at the same time.
Older children have more options. After the age of six, a major factor will be the size of the instrument; in many cases, the child and the instrument should be roughly the same size. There are, of course, exceptions - no child is the size of a flute or of a grand piano.
2. Your Child's Physical Traits Matter
Although it is nice to think otherwise, build and physical characteristics are a serious consideration when choosing an instrument. A bassoon, for instance, is almost six feet tall and requires large fingers. A small child with small hands may be unable to play the instrument. A child with large lips may not be able to play the trumpet or a French horn well. Here are some other instruments and traits:
- Oboe: high-intelligence
- Tuba: large lips
- Trombone: straight, even teeth
- Piano: long fingers and/or large hands. Strong analytical skills are also a plus
When in doubt, look at the parts of the body used when playing the instrument. Or, consult with an experienced musician who may be able to further guide you and your child.
3. Choose an Instrument Your Child Would Like
This doesn't necessarily mean that you let them choose their preferred instrument on a whim, but you should choose an instrument that fits your child's personality. Some children, for instance, maybe shy and would prefer to be in the back of the band or orchestra. Others may want to be the center of attention and would thrive in the spotlight. Here are some tips:
Flute: Appeals to children who are either very shy and lonely or those who like to be the center of attention. There isn't much in between. When narrowing it down, consider the situation in which your child would prefer to play: does he or she like to be a part of the group or a soloist? Both are an option with the flute.
Clarinet: A good choice for bright children who like to hop between interests and hobbies.
Saxophone: Excellent for children who are dreamers or absent-minded, as it lends itself well to improvisation.
Oboe: Ideal for persistent and strong-willed introverts who exhibit a high degree of intelligence.
Trombone: Similar to the saxophone, it appeals to sensitive and intelligent children who like to make it up as they go along.
String Instruments: While violists occasionally are soloists, most players of string instruments do so in harmony with a group. As such, sensitivity to group dynamics is a must.
Percussion: Best for children who are restless, nervous, or hyperactive, as it helps them to vent some of that energy.
Of course, an additional factor is the sound - does your child enjoy the sounds that their instruments make? For this reason, it is often best to allow your child to experiment with several instruments before choosing one. Learning to play an instrument is a life-long journey that has almost innumerable benefits. Choosing an instrument is just the start of a very fulfilling journey.
In conclusion, music undoubtedly offers numerous benefits for people of all ages, with children being particularly well-positioned to reap the rewards. The advantages of playing a musical instrument for young minds are extensive, ranging from improved memory and concentration to enhanced language skills and social development. However, the process of selecting the right instrument for your child can be a crucial factor in ensuring their long-term engagement and enjoyment.