Feb 27 2021

The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Right Instrument for Your Child


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People have loved music since the dawn of history. It has featured in all nations and cultures. Some people are appreciators: they know a good tune when they hear it, even though they can’t play an instrument. Others love to pick something up and have a go. Over time they may take lessons and pass music exams. 

Many parents encourage their children to learn an instrument. This may be so they can develop a good understanding of music from a young age. Alternatively, the child may have expressed an interest, or have already demonstrated a measure of musical ability. There are a number of things to think about before you choose an instrument for your child. This article has been written to help you decide.  

Consider Their Musical Taste

Perhaps your child wants to play lead guitar or drums in front of an excited audience. A fan of country music may also veer towards enjoying percussion and guitars. Alternatively, your child may enjoy listening to classical music. It may be that they fancy playing a violin, flute or cello. 

It’s important to understand your child’s musical preferences because they will be part of their motivation for learning to play. Having said that, there may be mileage in introducing new genres and styles to them. Your child may have never heard jazz, folk or blues before, and you may be responsible for them developing a lifetime interest. 

Fortunately, the internet is content-rich with information and advice. If a child wanted to learn the button accordion they could access helpful websites and visit online stores. It would be possible to learn about such things as Irish accordions or vintage models. Some sites display products, prices and customer reviews. Others provide a platform for people to sell their old instruments. 

Think About Music Theory

Any child who learns this from an early age will gain a valuable foundation for their future musical activities. If they can read music to play the recorder, they will be able to do the same for an oboe. 

Some children would majorly struggle to learn music theory. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the end of the road. If a child wanted to play rhythm guitar they could learn the chords. They are often displayed at the top of sheet music. 

It may be that a child simply wants to play around with an instrument rather than taking formal lessons and learning the theory. They may be happy to work out a tune by ear and play it on the piano, and will studiously do so for hours. Needless to say, such an approach would be unsuitable for anyone who aspires to join an orchestra. 

Accommodate Your Child’s Personality 

If a little girl is shy and gentle, she may enjoy playing the flute. An introvert may choose the oboe. Piano players are often happy spending time alone while they persevere with their skills. 
In contrast, a loud or energetic child may want to play trumpet or sit on a drum set. 

Your Child’s Age And Size

This can be a very practical consideration, and it’s one reason why many school children first learn to play a recorder. A child under the age of six will not be suited for something large like a cello or bass. They could try the violin or piano, however. After the age of six a clarinet or alto sax could be an option.

If your child is aged between eight and ten, a cello or guitar may be an option. It’s essential your child has long enough fingers to stretch across a guitar neck, and can push down on the strings. It’s common for pianists to extend their hands over several octaves, so long fingers will again be valuable.  

Other Physical Aspects

Drummers need to be able to reach all the tom-toms and cymbals. They also need to touch the floor to play the hi-hat and base pedal/s. A child over the age of eleven may be compatible. A tall child would be more suitable for playing the trombone; whilst it is a medium size instrument, it possesses an extending moveable slide.

Tubas and cellos are beautiful instruments, but they are also big and bulky. Your child would need to be able to cope with this aspect. 

Oral Considerations

A child would need to be patient if they wanted to learn to play brass or woodwind instruments. This is because it will take a while to get the mouth position (embouchure) correct. If someone wants to play the oboe or French horn, they will ideally need thin lips and straight teeth. Many children have braces during their time at school. They can also adversely affect the use of such instruments. 

Lung development has a bearing upon the use of wind instruments. Children need powerful lungs to play the trumpet, so it’s not worth pursuing this route until a child turns ten.  


Whilst a child may want a brand new concert piano, this will be off the limits for most parents! An alternative to purchasing a piano (either new or secondhand) would be to buy a digital version. Whilst it may not have pedals, many modern keyboards are touch-sensitive. 

It’s also possible to rent musical instruments. This might be a good option if you are unsure whether your child will continue. If a basic instrument is bought, it may serve its purpose for now. The offer of a quality replacement in the future may provide extra motivation for your child’s learning. When buying an instrument you also need to factor in the lesson costs. There may also be a musical accompanist you need to pay, should there be any exams. Also consider ongoing maintenance costs (e.g. piano tuning, replacement strings, reeds or corks).

When a child is diligent with their new instrument, there will be many benefits: They will learn more about music, develop their skills and even join an orchestra or band later on. More importantly though, their instrument will provide endless hours of pleasure for your child.

Tags: Music Theory