How to Choose a Musical Instrument for Your Child

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: August 2, 2020
How to Choose a Musical Instrument for Your Child

Playing a musical instrument can be a wonderful addition to a person's life. Most experts start practising from early childhood and continue because it is in their bones. Even if your child does not become a professional player, playing music can be helpful in improving academic skills, in addition to developing physical skills and cultivating social skills. While playing an instrument skilfully needs lots of practice, your child will be more inclined to persevere if you select a suitable instrument for him or her. While the ultimate choice is your child’s, here are a few points that can help you know how to choose a musical instrument for your child. Let oneHOWTO give you help in making their final decision.

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Factors to consider when selecting an instrument for your child

While choosing a musical instrument for your child, there are several factors that you should take into consideration. Some of them are:

  • Age of your child: your child’s age plays an important role in determining the instrument he or she should learn to play. Age brings height and physical strength to your child, both of which are crucial in your selection. Children can learn music at a very young age, they can play certain musical instruments only when they develop a certain height and physical strength.
  • Physical strength: instruments like cello and the harp are heavy and bulky. Some physical strength is required to hold, play and transport them. Children even need to maintain a proper posture, because of which back and core are also important considerations. For instance, drummers have to play with proper posture, otherwise they may sustain back, shoulder and neck injuries.
  • Height: children can play certain instruments only when they reach a certain height. For instance, in order to engage all the notes of a trombone, your child needs to be tall enough to do so. But fortunately, most musical instruments come in all sizes, so that your child can select the right size and start learning it early enough. But that means that you will have to keep investing in the right size instruments as your child’s height increases with age.
  • Oral features of your child: if your child wants to learn play a woodwind instrument, then he or she will need to develop the required mouth placement for it. Some instruments have double reed or narrow mouthpiece, for which your child may need some time to master the embouchure. Most children with thick or thin lips, wide or narrow teeth, will usually fit their instrument over time. But if your child is undergoing an orthodontic treatment or if he or she is wearing braces, then it’s better to avoid using woodwind instruments. Practising may inflict unwanted pain in children with braces, so you may need to be careful.
  • Size of your child’s hands and fingers: children having bigger hands and longer fingers than others usually have an easier time learning piano. At higher levels, such hands will be helpful in easily playing chords that span several octaves at a time.
  • Personality: your child’s personality also plays an important role while choosing a musical instrument. Extrovert children who don’t mind being the center of attention may be happier playing a flute, violin, electric guitar or trumpet. These players are common parts of music groups and feature prominently in the center of the stage. On the contrary, introverted, contemplative and reserved kids may feel more comfortable playing piano at the back stage.
  • Finance: once you decide which instrument is best for your child to learn, you need to give attention to the financial aspect also. Musical instruments do not come cheap, and there will be costs involved for your child’s music education too. Instruments also need to be repaired, maintained and tuned from time to time, which will need money as well. As your child’s learning lessons will continue for several years to come, you should stay prepared for making this investment.

Some Instruments and your Child’s Traits

Here is a list of some musical instruments and what best characteristics a child may need to play them:

  • Flute - appeals to shy, introvert children who enjoy privacy.
  • Clarinet - appeals to alert, sociable and bright kids who like to follow several interests and hobbies at a time.
  • Saxophone - suitable for children who are often labelled as absent minded and casual. Saxophone gives freedom to improvise, which is an enjoyable trait for well-balanced, happy kids.
  • Oboe - often played by intelligent, yet socially awkward children.
  • Bassoon - ideal for responsive children who have a good sense of humor.
  • Trumpet - appeals to sociable kids who are ambitious, dominant and aggressive.
  • Baritone horn - ideal for peaceful, gentle kids who don’t mind being in the center of the stage.
  • French horn - suitable for kids who are hardworking, intense and persistent and who want to be a part of smaller groups.
  • Trombone - made for sociable, artistic, sensitive kids who want to feel that they are making the music themselves.
  • Violin - good for well-behaved kids who prefer contributing to a group sound.
  • Cello - more suitable for children with long fingers and big hands, preferred by children who don’t want to be in the limelight, but demand respect from others.
  • Drums - for the nervous, hyperactive, restless, tense and irritable children who want fulfilment and satisfaction in their life. Drums can also be great for kids who are frustrated for whatever reason.
  • Piano - ideal for intelligent, quiet, conscientious children who are patient enough to practice it for years. Since piano is usually a solo instrument, a child who loves to be in a company may not like it.
  • Guitar - whether acoustic, bass or electric guitar, is comforting for possessive or acquisitive children.

Of course, these are all stereotypes and it is perfectly possible for two children with completely opposing personalities to be good at the same instrument. This is merely a guide to help you get thinking what type of instrument your child may enjoy.

How to Choose a Musical Instrument for Your Child - Some Instruments and your Child’s Traits

What is your child interested in?

Most importantly, you need to know what your child is interested in. While children tend to lose and gain interest quickly in things, it is essential that your child has enough enthusiasm to start learning in the beginning. Here are a few tips to know your child’s interests:

  • If your child has the skill to appreciate the instrument’s sounds, he or she will most probably enjoy while learning it.
  • If your child is not sure, let him or her practice a few instruments at the shop before buying one. You can even rent one instrument at a time instead of investing in an expensive one. By getting hands on different instruments, your child will be able to understand what he or she prefers most, rhythm, harmony or melody.
  • Give attention to the parts of music your child is attracted towards. If your child is interested in rhythmic parts of the music, then he or she will grab drums instead of clarinet.
  • Listen to solos as well as ensemble pieces of music with your child, and ask him or her which sounds are most enjoyable. Talk about the different instruments used in the music piece, and which attracts him or her the most.


Selecting the right musical instrument for your child is important. Make sure the instrument you are choosing is appropriate for your child’s age, height and physical strength. It is also important to invest in a high quality instrument, as low quality ones may not produce the type of music your child expects. If your child shows serious interest in music, send them to professional classes and keep track of their development with their music teacher. Motivate your child and help him or her in every possible way, so that he or she is not left with any regret in life. Don't push something on them because you like it. It will lead to resentment and be counterproductive. Positive encouragement is the best way to get kids interested in playing instruments.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Choose a Musical Instrument for Your Child, we recommend you visit our Being a Mom & Dad category.

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