We know – it’s tempting to just sign your child up for piano lessons and hope they like it. (And that might be the right step!) But what if they have their eye on something different, or they want to play the instrument their friend plays?
Here’s a quick list of what you should consider when helping your child choose an instrument they’ll really love.
A quick note for ages 1-5:
We highly recommend a group class for this age (unless your family is interested in the Suzuki method of learning). Classes keep everything fun for younger ones, who are still growing their brains, bodies, and attention spans. It’s less about a specific instrument and more about exploring what music is and what it sounds like, through creative exercises and games.
Here are some group classes to get them started on their music journey.
Ages 6 and Up:
Though it might seem overwhelming to think through all the suggestions below with your child, we strongly believe it will help you both feel more comfortable with the instrument you choose together and how their path might look to begin learning.
Age and Physical Size
Kids ages 6-7 have attention spans, focus, and interest that can really vary. You know your child best – do they seem to love music? Are they asking for lessons? Could they focus for 30 minutes at a time if they were interested in the instrument?
If not, you can always begin through a group class setting, or develop their interest at home by exposing them to many different types of music (try the radio, playlists on your phone, live concerts, musicals and shows, pointing out band instruments at a sporting event, etc.). If you play an instrument yourself, here’s your chance to show off! Lessons alone won’t turn them into a prodigy unless they’re interested and invested themselves.
If they seem ready for lessons, the piano is a great choice to start learning the basics. They won’t have to hold the instrument, and can quickly learn how to make pleasing sounds by simply striking a few keys or playing a simple rhythm. Piano sets a really good foundation by teaching them the beginnings of music theory, even if they change instruments later on.
Kids ages 8-10 are a great age for lessons – they’re better able to focus and pay attention for longer stretches, to commit to practicing on a consistent schedule, are better able to hold and support larger instruments, and more dexterity.
Regardless of age, think about your child’s physical size, too. Can they reach the pedals of the piano? Do they have the lung capacity yet for a brass instrument (best to try around age 8-10 for that). Are they tall enough to reach the strings of a cello, viol, or harp? Can they easily carry and transport their instrument to and from lessons, school, or other places without dropping it? Do they have the posture and core strength to try drums or a heavier instrument?
The cost of learning an instrument can be expensive, or you can find ways to make it a little cheaper for your family. The total cost in a year includes renting or buying an instrument (either new, second-hand, or borrowed), maintaining the instrument, the cost of lessons or whichever type of instruction you choose, and travel time.
Think about your budget for music learning, and whether a larger, more expensive instrument fits into that. Maybe a keyboard or upright is better than financing a grand piano? Or if you have a smaller budget, would a smaller instrument like a violin or guitar be a good choice?
Our faculty can also give suggestions on how to purchase or rent an instrument and maintain it to keep it in top shape.
Is your child energetic and outgoing, comfortable with loud sounds, or ready to bang on something? They might love brass or percussion. Or would they prefer quieter, more methodical instruments like an acoustic guitar or piano?
Can they power through getting calluses while starting out on the guitar?
Your child’s temperament can play a big factor in how long they sit and practice, how much patience they’ll put in before getting “results,” and what style of learning is best suited.
Powers is also proud to offer music therapy and modified lessons for students with a wide variety of learning differences like:
- developmental disabilities like autism or ADHD
- cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome
- at-risk youth
- language delays
- IEPs (Individualized Education Plans)
Knowing your child’s personality will help to determine if they’re more suited to precise motions and sounds, or more interested in melody, harmony, or rhythm, for example.
Certain genres of music and styles of playing are well suited for different instruments. Want to play Irish tunes? Consider the violin or viola. Want to rock out in a pop band? Maybe guitar or drums are a good fit.
Do a little research on the styles of music your child loves to see what instruments are most commonly played. Maybe it will spark a new passion!
Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
What does your child envision achieving in a year or in five years? Do they want to pick up an instrument that’s already lying around your house? Do they want to learn how to play songs quickly? Are they hoping to one day join a local ensemble, school band, or professional orchestra?
Similarly to music genre, you can learn which instruments might be a good match to fit their own personal vision.
Though this is not always the case, some of the more popular instruments will have more resources and more teachers available to help your child learn, but there may be more competition later on for featured moments, solos, or spots in ensembles, bands, and orchestras. On the other hand, students learning less popular instruments might be in high demand and have some amazing opportunities to be featured later in life, but may see less of their peers learning alongside of them.
Fortunately, at Powers, we have an incredible team of faculty members who offer lessons in many unique and wonderful instruments from across the globe as well as the more popular ones like piano, violin, and flute.
The instrument they love is the one they’ll stick with. This might change over time, but we recommend listening to your child to hear what sparks their interest most of all.
Do they love the sound of a specific instrument? Does a friend or family member play something they think is really cool? Do they simply want to learn how to play a Taylor Swift song?
Play and expose them to as many kinds of music as you can in daily life. Find a musical role model who inspires them.
When possible, look for chances to try instruments in person. Do they like the feel of it? Are they comfortable playing it?
The goal is to find the best match for them, so it has the chance to grow into a life-long love for the instrument and music in general, long-term dedication, and the chance for them to reach their full potential.
Still have questions? Thinking about lessons but not sure? Just fill out our online inquiry form and we’ll connect you with a staff or faculty member who can help you out.