Choosing an Instrument
When it comes to choosing an instrument for you or your child, there are loads of things to consider. Many kids will have a good idea of what instrument they would like to play (“Mummy, I want to learn the Double Bass!”…good luck!), but for those who want to learn a musical instrument but can’t decide which one, here are a few questions to ask both yourself and them that you will be thankful for asking in years to come.
What’s your budget?
Let’s face it, if you’re strapped for cash and your child decides that he/she wants to learn the harp, you’re going to have a panic moment. You can find affordable varieties of most instruments – generally, the smaller the instrument, the cheaper the materials and the easier the manufacturing process, the less the instrument itself will cost. However, to buy a good quality instrument there is a great variation in price – decent quality wooden woodwind, string instruments and pianos will cost much more than most small brass and metal woodwind as the making process is involves maturing wood and takes much longer.
What’s your child’s build?
This isn’t the be all and end all of choosing an instrument, but it is a good idea to consider the practicalities of your child’s instrument choices. Do they have height on their side? Well, the world needs more double bassists! Maybe they’re petite so would prefer something that’s easy to carry, like a flute or trumpet.
What are your child’s strengths?
Outside of music, what are they best at? If they’re talented at drawing and sewing, their dextrous hands may suit something like the violin, flute or piano. If they have a good ear and like to sing along to music they’re bound to have a good head start as a singer, on on an instrument that needs a good tuning ear such as the trombone and string instruments. If they’ve got rhythm, drums or double bass would most likely suit them well.
What’s your child’s favourite genre of music?
This is among the top things to consider, as although tastes develop, an active interest in the genres that their instrument is most suited to will motivate your child to practise and will make learning much more enjoyable. It’s a good idea to show them different types of music and ask them what they like and dislike about them before jumping to any conclusions. If they’re into pop, have a think about piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums or singing. Jazz? How about saxophone, trumpet, trombone or singing, or a rhythm section instrument such as double bass, piano, guitar or drums? If they’re into classical music, there’s plenty to choose from – listen to a piece of orchestral music with them and ask them to pick out their favourite bit.
Would your child prefer playing alone or in an ensemble?
Instruments like piano, guitar and harp have a broad repertoire of solo music, but if your child wants to learn an instrument in order to play with friends or in an ensemble, an orchestral instrument or a recognised jazz instrument would open up more possibilities sooner.
Most importantly – what’s your child’s favourite instrument?
This is the most important thing to establish – if after reading this, you think your child would do well on the flute but they really want to learn the cello, the cello it is! It’s important that your child develops a passion for their instrument and for the music that they can make on it. It’s also not the end of the world if they start on the cello and then one day decide that they’d like to take up the tuba – anything they learn now will still be useful if ever they change their mind!
Still can’t decide? Take this quiz to see what the internet thinks (But don’t take it too seriously!)
Even better, ask our tutors what it’s like to learn their instrument and they’ll be sure to tell you all the ins and outs of musical life!
Blog by Louise Balkwill