Which instrument is best for my child?

Sam's musical journey

When Sam was five he was desperate to play the Saxophone.  He had seen someone at school play this amazing instrument and he knew this was the one for him.  Sam's Mum and Dad were really pleased that he was showing such an interest in learning a musical instrument but thought the saxophone was a little bit big. What should they do they next?

Answer from the expert

The only two instruments realistically available to children who are under the age of seven are the violin and the piano.  Violins come in all different sizes from and 1/8 to a full size.  Some children who might have grown quickly could also learn the guitar, which again comes in different sizes.

Learning any instrument, or encouraging music making at this age is very beneficial.  However, be patient as progress at a young age is slow.

Sam continues his musical journey

Sam was persuaded that the Saxophone was just too big right now.  However, there were some violin lessons starting on a Friday afternoon at school.  Although the violin was not Sam's first choice, he decided to give it a try.

Expert's advice

This is great news!  Starting to learn any instrument, whatever it might be, is essential to making progress later on.  Modern research shows that exposure to listening and playing music helps synapses in the developing brain connect.  Learning an instrument is not all about the music - there are areas such as development of fine motor control, team skills and interpersonal relationships, as well as boosting confidence and self esteem.

Sam in Year 4

Having played the violin for the last two years, Sam has really made some progress!  He can play some simple melodies; a few scales and he's played in a few school concerts!  The school have just sent a letter home offering clarinet lessons.  Sam is interested in taking this up as it's quite similar to the Saxophone and sounds cool.  He tells his parents he wants to give up Violin and start Clarinet instead.

Expert Advice

Changing music instrument is fine.  You take the skills from one instrument and, in a short space of time, transfer them to another. Trying lots of different instruments can be a good thing as not every child is suited to one specific instrument.  Two years commitment to playing an instrument is enough time to find out what an instrument is really like.  If you really don't like the new instrument, you can always go back to the first one.

Sam in Year 6

Sam started the clarinet in Year 4 and now, 18 months later, has his grade 2 exam today.  He plays in the school orchestra once a week and is looking forward to joining the Band at his secondary school.  He still has his mind set on the Saxophone but the clarinet is fine for now.  He has taken up playing the guitar, teaching himself a few chords and learning some riffs from YouTube and has formed a band, who practice in the garage.

Expert opinion and conclusion

Sam is now motivated and is following both a formal and informal route to learning a musical instrument.  Sam might well go back to playing the violin; he may also take up the bass guitar and he might finally get that Saxophone!  Most importantly though, he started on a musical journey which will help him to develop in the future.