Buyers Guide: How do I Choose the Right Instrument for my Child?
Music is incredibly beneficial to a child's development. If you'd like to encourage your son or daughter's musical talent, then music lessons (and an instrument, of course) are the way to go. There really is no better gift to your child than the gift of music. Research shows that playing an instrument has all kinds of positive cognitive effects on children, including enhanced hand-eye coordination, memory, mathematical and language development for starters!
At Bax-shop, we offer a variety of musical instruments that have been especially made for (young) children, most of which are bona fide instruments, not toys. Why is that important? Because Bax takes music seriously. We feel that if you want to buy bread, you go to the baker, and when you want to buy meat, you go to the butcher. So, when you want to buy a musical instrument, you go to a music store, not a toy store.
What does your child want?
This is the most important question you need to pose. Music is a personal journey of exploration and development. Just because you have a preference for a certain type of music or instrument, it doesn't mean your child does or will. While your child may be familiar with the same instrument you play, he or she could be interested in something completely different. Talk to your son or daughter, or better yet, visit a music store together and have them try out some instruments first. A child is more likely to stick to an instrument if they choose it themselves.
The choice of an instrument has a lot to do with what your child is interested in. Do they listen to rock music? Then they'd probably prefer to play electric instead of acoustic guitar, for instance. Incidentally, if your child wants to learn to play guitar, it's not at all necessary to start with an acoustic. In fact, an electric may even be easier to learn on because of its slender neck. At the end of the day, you know your child best, but your child knows which instrument suits them best.
Musical instruments for children
Kids come in all shapes and sizes. That's why musical instruments for children are made a bit smaller to accommodate smaller arms, hands, and fingers.
Besides their dimensions, the fun factor is important as well. To make them more appealing to learn, children's instruments are often more colourful or decorated. Yamaha, for instance, carries a line of brightly-coloured transparent recorders. Even though you don't see instruments like that in an orchestra, from your child's perspective, they're appealing to pick up and play. A little colour goes a long way when it comes to motivating them to learn a new instrument!
If you prefer your child's instrument to have a more traditional appearance, some brands offer children's instruments that look exactly like the full-size versions. The brand Scarlotti, for instance, offers violins for kids that look identical to their full-size ones. This applies to most guitars for kids as well.
What will it cost?
If you take music as seriously as we do, then you need to be willing to pay the price of a proper instrument. Most instruments come in various price categories - the guitar is a good example. A more expensive guitar will sound better and offer better playability than a less expensive one, which will undoubtedly effect the motivation to learn. Nothing is more demotivating than an instrument that is difficult to play or that sounds terrible because it was poorly made. That's why it's always a good idea to invest in quality in the long run by purchasing an instrument that will last for years; perhaps even a lifetime.
Percussion instruments like claves, shakers, frame drums, and tambourines, however, are usually less susceptible to the same high-quality criteria of string or wind instruments and can be purchased on a budget.
Rome wasn't built in a day. And your child probably won't become an accomplished concert pianist overnight. Musical instruments make noise and it's important to take that into consideration before deciding on the right instrument. A lot depends on where you live and how much hindrance the instrument is likely to cause, especially if you're considering something like a drum kit or an electric guitar with amplifier. Some instruments have a volume knob or can be played with headphones, which is beneficial if you live in a small apartment, for instance. Not all instruments can be turned down though! See the Accessories section below for more tips on this.
What about lessons?
There are definitely pros and cons when it comes to lessons. You can opt for group lessons at a music school or private lessons. On the one hand, a music school will provide the opportunity to play in an ensemble, which is an excellent way to train the listening and social aspects of making music. Private lessons are more demanding, but provide individual attention. On the other hand, children can sometimes be influenced by the motivational levels of their peers and group lessons can sometimes be detrimental if your child happens to show natural aptitude. Some children work very well in groups while others do not.
At the end of the day, you know your child best, and are the one best qualified to determine whether they would flourish in a group or one-on-one!
The recorder has gotten a bad rap over the years, but it really is the most common instrument children start on. It's been used as a pedagogic learning tool in elementary schools for decades because it's portable, virtually unbreakable, and offers a relatively easy way to learn the basics of making music. Here at Bax-shop, we offer a wide variety of recorders in all shapes, sizes, colours, and tunings!
Just about every instrument comes with one or more accessories - it's almost impossible to play one without them. Most accessories aren't too expensive, but it's smart to get an idea of what they are and what they cost before deciding on an instrument for your child. Certain accessories are really more of a luxury than a necessity, while others are really crucial.
Music stand Unlike the piano, most instruments don't have a holder for sheet music. There are all kinds of stands available, from collapsible metal ones to compact ones that clamp onto your marching band instrument, for instance.
Hearing protection While our ear drums can handle a lot of noise, it's not a good idea to test that limit, especially if you're a kid. We are regularly exposed to noise, and high volume levels can cause serious hearing damage, especially in children's ears. At a large venue, the volume of a drum kit often loses its potency before it reaches your ears, but the same instrument's volume in a smaller space is a different story. Sound vibrations will bounce off the walls and create reflections that can be harmful to your ears if they aren't properly protected. That's why it's a good idea for kids to wear hearing protection when learning high-volume instruments like the drums, but not essential for things like violin or flute.
Headphones When your child is learning how to play an instrument, a set of headphones can be a real benefit to everyone in the house as well as the neighbours, provided the instrument has that capability. An acoustic drum set won't offer that option, but an electronic one or a keyboard will, for example.
USB microphone Recording your child's playing and listening to their progress is a great tool in the process of learning to play an instrument. The easiest and fastest way to do so is by means of a USB microphone. Simply plug it into the computer, start up the recording software, and press record! A microphone stand is recommended to record acoustic instruments, but if your child plays keyboard, digital piano, or synthesizer, this cable is probably all you need to plug into the audio input of your computer and preserve those early recordings for posterity!
Song books No matter which instrument your child has decided to learn to play, there is most likely a song book for it on the market with sheet music, chords, lyrics, as well as just information.
A drum mat has a variety of advantages. It protects the floor from dents and scratches, and it absorbs some of the sound of the kit as well, which is handy when you consider that a drum kit is a pretty loud instrument on its own. Another benefit is that it keeps the kit from sliding forward while playing.
A children's drum kit will most likely include a drum throne (the official name for the stool a drummer sits on). If this isn't the case, though, you can always choose one from our wide assortment of drum thrones.
If your child chooses electric guitar and wants to hear what they're playing, they'll need a guitar combo (amplifier and cabinet). If you're in the middle of a feud with the neighbours, however, and don't want to give them any more ammunition, the VOX amPlug 2 AC30 headphone guitar amplifier is a great option. Simply plug it into the guitar and your child will hear the authentic sound of a guitar amp combo through a set of headphones. If your child prefers an actual combo, we carry a huge selection to suit any budget. Other accessories for electric guitar include guitar cables, picks, stands, tuners, and guitar straps, all of which and more are found on the accessories category of our site. Please note, some of these accessories are suitable only for acoustic guitars.
A keyboard may very be the easiest instrument to learn to play, and possibly the most fun, what with all the different sounds and rhythms it offers. There are a few essential accessories for the keyboard, such as a sustain pedal. A metal piano-style pedal may feel more authentic, but a simple foot switch may be just as practical, especially for beginners. Expression pedals are also located in this category, but those are usually used as a volume pedal (technically, it's a MIDI controller). If you want to experiment with an expression pedal, make sure your keyboard supports it before purchasing one.