First Musical Instrument

instrument-clutterSo you want to choose a “first musical instrument” for a child, but you don’t know where to start. Here are some tips for finding the perfect first instrument for a preschool or elementary age child.

1) What’s your budget? If $50 is the most you can spend, consider a well cared for used instrument or possibly a recorder or inexpensive ukulele. But beware – a cheap ukulele might not stay in tune for very long. That can be frustrating for a new player. If your budget is bigger, then so are your choices.

closed-instruments2) Where will the instrument be played and stored? Making music takes up space. Make sure there is room for the instrument you want to be stored safely. Is there a place to practice? How loud is the music for the available space? Some apartment communities might not welcome bag pipe practice.

3) What is the temperament of the young musician? Can he sit quietly or does she need to keep moving? Do they have braces on their teeth that would make wind instruments more challenging? Is he or she tenacious and focused or easily frustrated? You must choose an instrument that fits the childs’s personality.

4) Is there a teacher available for lessons? A French horn is a wonderful instrument, but not every community offers instruction for beginners. On the other hand, it is usually easy to find a piano, guitar, or ukulele teacher and there are excellent on line classes for most popular instruments.

5) Choose an instrument that is sturdy enough for the small muscle development of the musician. If the child drops everything, only consider instruments that can take a pounding.

6) Most importantly, what kind of music elicits a positive response from your child? Make certain they will be able to play the kind of music they like on the instrument you choose.

7) Can you easily resell the instrument? Most likely, this will be a starter instrument and you will want to replace it somewhere down the line. Will the instrument hold its value? Will it be easy to sell when the time comes?

open-instruments8) There will come a time, maybe sooner than you expect, to upgrade to a bigger or better quality instrument. On line research is a great place to start. Be sure to read customer testimonials and trade review. A music teacher is another source of information and possibly a hands-on experience. You can also visit music with your young musician. This time around, you will be choosing an instrument based on sound, comfort while playing, and personal appeal.

9) Don’t underestimate that value of playing music with others. “Jamming” with your friends is a wonderful motivator, especially for a shy or reluctant musician. Take you child to concerts where professional musicians will be playing the instrument you chose.

I recently purchased a smaller banjolele for my left handed grandson. It is extremely durable and almost impossible to damage even when dropped into a bathtub full of bubbles. The shorter length fret board is perfect for his smaller hands and arm length. With only 4 strings, he was able to master a C major chord within 2 minutes! His banjouke is very light, slightly over a pound, so he can strum it for a long time without getting tired. And because the drum is an open banjo drum, it makes a loud and tuneful sound.

Whatever your circumstances, the gift of a musical instrument is enchanting. It’s the perfect gift!