Learning music is about communicating, expressing yourself and enjoying yourself. The best musical instruments for kids can promote listening and focusing. Also, playing an instrument enhances self-esteem and self-expression. According to Dr. Robert A. Cutietta, determining which instrument suits your child’s talents is extremely important to their continued success in the field of music. So, if you aren’t sure how to give your child a musical beginning, read on to learn much more.
Why You Can Trust This List
After talking to Sammy Ash, founder of a music store chain found nationwide, we combed through more than 200 different musical instruments. We also did more than 30 hours of research into the factors that contribute to choosing the best musical instruments for kids.
Finally, the author plays seven instruments, including the keyboard, recorder, lap harp, ocarina, trumpet, baritone, and tuba. Having grown up in a household filled with music where she started playing musical instruments at age four, she is uniquely qualified.
Choosing the Right Instrument for Your Child
If you start your child with the wrong instrument, they may not want to play any instrument at all. The key with children, noted Sammy Ash, is to help the child feel comfortable with the process of learning. If you can choose the best musical instruments for kids, a lifetime of happy music performance could follow. The following five factors can make a difference in choosing an instrument for your young ones.
1: Your Child’s Age: How Young is Too Young?
The first factor to consider is age. Under the age of two, the best musical instruments for kids are specially-made toys for babies and toddlers such as little drums, maracas, or toy pianos. Young children cannot grasp music concepts well, so just let them have fun with musical toys for children.
Dr. Cutietta says that if your child is between two and four years, understand the purpose of your child learning an instrument. They should have fun since young kids have limits in their size and stamina. The two most common instruments for children who four to six are the keyboard and violin said Sammy Ash. This is because these instruments help build the foundation of music concepts.
So, even if your child doesn’t stick with their first instrument, they will be better able to choose another later. Also, knowing the basics will make it easier for them to learn another instrument, as well. Also, most brass instruments are not compatible with young children because they require much larger lungs to push the air through all the tubing.
However, an instrument such as the cornet is small enough that young lungs can sufficiently play it. Two other good starter instruments, said Sammy Ash, are the flute and snare drum. Millions of kids start out on the flute or clarinet, and many more start out on the drum.
2: Instrument Size and Weight: How Big is Too Big?
Size and weight of the instrument is the second factor in picking the right instrument for your little one. According to Ruth Bonetti, annoyance and frustration can build up when kids try to learn how to play overly large instruments. She also states offering an instrument inappropriate for a child can cause tension, which leads to fatigue, frustration, and even muscle strain.
Considering weight, a child may be able to hold up a heavy instrument for a few seconds, but not for 30 minutes of practice. The low brass instruments and some larger woodwind instruments are difficult for a child because of their weight and the reach required to handle them. These instruments include the tuba, trombone, saxophone, bassoon and concert harp.
However, some instruments come in smaller sizes, especially for kids. For example, the violin comes in six sizes ranging from 4/4, which is full-size to 1/16 for children two to four years old. Finding the right size for your child is imperative since they will not enjoy an instrument if it is too big or bulky.
3: Sound and Sound Production: Is It Appealing to Your Child?
The third factor to keep in mind is the sound and sound production of the musical instrument. Your child is not going to put effort into playing an instrument if they do not like the sound, says Dr. Cutietta. For example, if your child loves the way a recorder sounds and enjoys covering and uncovering holes to produce music, it’s the best choice for them. The important thing is that they enjoy playing the instrument.
4: Is Gender a Factor in the Best Musical Instruments for Kids?
Most people don’t want to know that gender could be a factor. But the truth is, some parents and teachers push stereotypes onto children all the time. Flutes and clarinets, said Sammy Ash, are most commonly played by girls, while boys commonly play trumpets and saxophones. However, stereotypes like this are starting to fade away nowadays
This is a controversial subject and some people feel it is time to stop with stereotypes. So, let your child choose the instrument they love, no matter what others think. Many girls play the drums and boys the flute in these modern times. If you feel that stereotypes are swaying your child in a certain direction, encourage them to consider all the best instruments for kids.
5: Why Letting Your Child Choose is Crucial
The final factor in choosing the best musical instrument for kids is letting them decide. So, let your child make the choice when they do a trial session or learn more about musical instruments. Many music shops and schools will allow your child to come in for a trial session, too. This is when they can watch as many musical instruments as they want during a set time.
For example, Sammy Ash says his music stores across the nation will provide a one-hour session before the store opens. This way, children can go from department to department and experience what the instruments are like. Also, this is an important step if you are concerned about the cost of children’s musical instruments. After all, they can range from $9 for a recorder to over $400 for a harp.
If you can’t provide a trial session for your child, visit your local music store and just look around. Sometimes, children will see the variety of musical instruments on display and naturally gravitate toward a certain instrument. Otherwise, visiting DSO Kids will give your child a chance to listen to the various instruments that are played in the orchestra.
After hours of testing and research, here’s the final competition.
- Yamaha YRS-302B Soprano Recorder, Baroque fingering, Key of C
Our Recommendation: The Casio SA-46
The most popular instrument for beginners, said Sammy Ash, is the keyboard. Essentially it is a kids piano keyboard. A foundational instrument, the Casio SA-46 Key Portable Keyboard is one of the best instruments for kids. Unlike a piano, your child will be able to reach all the keys on this keyboard. Casio made this keyboard especially for little hands with keys about half the size of piano keys.
Your child will love the retro green and black color combination, as well as the simple piano to organ change-over switch. With an eight-note polyphony, kids can create harmonies to match the melodies they play. It also has 100 timbres and 50 rhythms to inspire your little one to compose new songs.
At 23 inches long and only 2.3 pounds, children can easily carry it using the molded handle on the back. Another feature of the keyboard is that your child can use the headphones they include. So they can practice anywhere without breaking the quiet. It covers about three and a half octaves, so kids can play many beginner and intermediate songs.
The only drawback to this keyboard is that you have to buy the adapter separately. But the Casio ADE95100LU Power Supply is the best adapter for the job. Even though the adapter comes separately, it saves you from buying batteries all the time. This keyboard also runs on six AA batteries.
Fortunately, it has an automatic shut-off after six minutes to save battery strength or electrical power. Also, as you play, the musical notes show on a digital display. This allows your child to comprehend each note’s corresponding dot on the notation staff.
Runner Up: Eastar EVA-2 1/4 Violin Set Fiddle
Another foundational instrument is the violin. A popular instrument, the violin is the runner-up for the best musical instruments for kids. And an excellent violin kit is the Eastar 1/4 Size Student Acoustic Violin Starter Kit. It comes with everything a young child needs to start playing the violin.
This violin kit includes a shaped foam carrying case with luggage-grade nylon exterior, rosin and a digital tuner. It also has fingerboard stickers to help your child learn which strings to press down on and where. Note that this violin kit is for a 1/4 violin but it also comes in 4/4 (12+ yrs old), 3/4 (10-11 yrs old), and 1/2 (8-9 yrs old) for different ages and arm lengths.
The Eastar is pleasing to the eye and produces excellent sound. Also, at just a few pounds, a young child can easily hold for a long time without muscle strain or fatigue.
Another great feature of this violin kit is that it comes with a one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong. Best of all, this violin starter kit is inexpensive. So, you don’t have to worry about scratches or dings, which are bound to happen in the hands of a young child.
The Best Musical Instruments for Kids: Other Products to Consider
There are many more products to consider when choosing the best musical instruments for kids. They include the guitar, ukulele, recorder, harp and ocarina. Read on to see the recommendations for each.
Yamaha made the CGS102A Half-Size Classical Acoustic Guitar for beginners, so it’s a great first instrument for children. At 38 inches long, it is half the size of an adult guitar, making it perfect for little hands. A little heavy at 5.5 pounds, this musical instrument is best for children who are seven or eight years old.
The rosewood fingerboard and nato neck make it comfortable. Also, the CGS102A is sturdy thanks to the spruce top and meranti back and sides. It emits a rich tone and has the high-quality people expect from Yamaha instruments. Lastly, it comes with a gig bag, tuner, instructional DVD, strings, a pick card and polishing cloth. With all these features, the Yamaha guitar for beginners is one of the best musical instruments for kids.
Because toddlers and older kids can play it, the Hape Early Melodies Ukulele is one of the best musical instruments for kids. Easy to tune and strum, it is a great introduction to the world of music. The Hape Ukulele consists of wood from sustainable forests. And Hape finished it with a non-toxic coating, too. So, this ukulele is also 100-percent safe for children.
Available in red or blue, the Hape ukulele can even be the first instrument for a one-year-old. While this is not a professional ukulele, it is certainly not a junk toy, either. It produces a great sound and your child can strum along with their favorite songs. And finally, at an incredibly low price, you don’t have to worry about your child banging or breaking it.
Here is another great instrument from Yamaha. In fact, the Yamaha YRS-302B Soprano Baroque Recorder is a jewel waiting for little hands. Kids play it in the key of C and it is great for children interested in participating in a duet or trio.
With a warm, rich sound and three separate pieces to make tuning a breeze, this recorder is one of the best musical instruments for kids. Also, it makes a nice sound than the shrieking whistle-like recorders schools often give out. It comes with a nice carrying case, a cleaning rod, cream for the joints, and an insert that has the fingering chart.
Unfortunately, due to the thin mouthpiece, which makes the recorder easier to play, this instrument gets clogged quickly. However, this is the case with most plastic recorders, so it is not an issue only in this one. It is lightweight, durable and simple to play. Your child needs only memorize the fingering, so they will have it down in no time.
A diamond in the rough, many people don’t think of the harp when looking for the best musical instruments for kids. However, it truly is a gem of an instrument, which makes it one of the best musical instruments for kids. Ideal for beginners and casual adult players alike, the Harpsicle Harp is a beautiful instrument. Also, it comes in either natural maple or one of nine colors.
They make this instrument in America, so it is high quality. The Harpsical Harp plays in the keys of C and A minor, allowing you to use it alongside many other instruments. If you want to re-tune it in another key, you can use the tuning wrench they include. However, another harp with levers would be more appropriate if your child regularly wants it in another key.
If you’re on a budget, the Harpsicle Harp is perfect because of its low cost compared to many other instruments. Another great feature of this harp is that it comes with strap buttons. They make it easy to add a strap to your child’s harp to help with balance. This all-maple harp comes with a two-year warranty if you buy it from the Harpsicle website. The Harpsicle Harp can teach children how to play chords and tune strings, as well as note recognition and harmony.
Let your child take their music wherever they go with the Twelce-Hole Ocarina. Many pendant ocarinas consist of ceramic, but this one is made of plastic. This may be more appropriate for children because it is more durable and is lighter to carry around. It is fun and attractive, putting it on this list of the best musical instruments for kids. With an adjustable necklace, children of all ages will enjoy whistling away on the ocarina. Most children have seen the ocarina in the video game, “Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.”
This unique instrument will teach your child how to finger notes, and it will strengthen their lungs. Also, the ocarina improves hand-eye coordination as kids play along with the songbook they include (e.g. “Skip to My Lou,” “Oh Suzannah,” a shortened version of the “Star Wars Theme,” “The Pink Panther,”). You can use the tutorial they include to teach your child the basics. They’ll be playing in no time, filling your home with the sounds of music.
Summing It All Up
Learning a musical instrument will help your child with study skills, as well as lessening noise annoyance. These are the best musical instruments for kids since they are all high-quality and under $400. But keep in mind that there are over 2,000 different instruments in the world, so do not fret if your child chooses something not included here.
Just remember the factors that make a difference in your and your child’s choices like age and size. However, let your child choose what they like at the trial session. And make sure you do a trial session because it will save you money if your little one decides they like a different instrument.
Most importantly, give your child the chance to have fun with music, and they will go far. Music is a beautiful language people around the world understand, so it can add enjoyment to your child’s life.
• Cutietta, Robert A. (2003). Helping Your Child Choose the Right Instrument. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/helping-your-child-choose-the-right-instrument/
• Bonetti, Ruth (2006). Tips to Choose the Right Instrument for Your Child. Retrieved from http://www.banddirector.com/article/pg-general-education/tips-to-choose-the-right-instrument-for-your-child.