What Instrument Should My Child Play?

For many parents interested in starting their child in music lessons, choosing which instrument to play can be filled with uncertainty. It is a big investment of time, energy and money for the family. It also comes with a great responsibility since the lessons and instrument will affect their musical experiences as players and listeners for a long time.

There really is no set rule on what you (as parents) or they should do. But we've seen trends over the years and they can indicate a guideline that will create a positive path for beginning students.

The first thing to consider is the student's age. Young students between the ages of 4 and 8 require a little more time and effort to become comfortable with physical aspects of learning to play or sing. Since each instrument requires different things physically from students, that can be a helpful indicator. If your child falls into this age-group (especially the younger end of the spectrum) then instruments that are physically easier to play are probably a good place to start. These instruments are typically piano, drums or violin.

Do the students get locked into these instruments even though they may be better off with something else later down the line? It can happen. But our approach is designed to build their transferable musical abilities so they can move their knowledge to a different instrument if they get inspired. Our philosophy with students in this age group is to give them a very broad and solid musical foundation so that they can apply it to any instrument.

Although many of our students begin on piano at a really young age, we are always making sure we are keenly aware and developing musical concepts that they can use on any instrument - not just piano (or whatever their first instrument is).

We find that most students start to have strong opinions about music, their practicing and their choice of instruments between 8-13 years old. Perhaps they take a few years of piano lessons and get good enough to play some jazz or classical music at a high level for their age and they get hooked… They want to practice piano all the time.

Or maybe they start to hear kids a little older than them play the trumpet at our recitals and think that they want to give trumpet a try and get really into it.

These are all typical scenarios. Oftentimes, kids who reach these ages will actually continue piano lessons and add the second instrument. Several students over the years have become very accomplished on multiple instruments at CMA by the time they get into high school or college.

If your child is a 8 or 9 years-old or older, it should really be up to their passions. If they listen to certain kinds of music or certain artists and want to make that kind of music… I would suggest following that passion. If they just love music but aren't sure. Maybe do some lessons on their "favorite" instrument or piano to start building their knowledge and skill. Their fire will often find them once they get started.

None of these are set rules. If you have a 6 year-old obsessed with the guitar, even though it may be physically tougher than piano we'll adjust and approach it the same way would with our piano lessons.

Know that there are no mistakes and that everything is fluid. Once they learn more about musical concepts and practice habits on any instrument, they can move that knowledge to instruments they become more excited about later.