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What is the Best Music Instrument for Children?

What is the Best Music Instrument for Children?

Many parents reach out to our music school asking, “My child wants to learn a music instrument but I don’t know where to start. What is a good instrument for my child?” We’ve compiled a list of child-friendly instruments that are sure to encourage your child’s interest and development in music.

The Piano

The piano is an excellent introductory instrument for children. The piano is an instrument that does not require mastery of any physical skills before playing a single beautiful note. Beginners do not need to account for the right amount of pressure on strings combined with the correct bow angle, otherwise the notes will sound shaky, scratchy or squeaky. They do not need to master the correct mouth shape (embouchure) like on a woodwind instrument, before hearing a clear note. Young children will not require the upper body strength to hold up their instrument, as the piano is stationary. Piano students will be able to play a clear-sounding note from the very first piano lesson.

Secondly, the piano key layout is easy to learn. Many instruments require mastery of finger positions and we see this in brass, woodwind, and string instruments. Some of these finger positions are uncomfortable or physically impossible to play with smaller hands. In addition, some fingerboards do not have frets so musicians need to find the notes through a combination of touch and experience. There is no uncertainty with piano keys. Children can clearly see where to place their fingers in relation to the black and white keys and there is no need for complex finger positions before playing the note.

Another reason that we recommend the piano is that there isn’t a need to frequently tune the instrument. Some instruments need to be tuned before every practice. Piano students can start practicing immediately, which is especially important for younger students who have short attention spans.

The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), Canada’s national standard for formal music education, highlights the importance of learning the piano. RCM encourages advanced students of other instruments to have experience in playing the piano. It is written in their syllabi for the flute, violin and cello, “...candidates are encouraged to begin theory and piano studies as early as possible.” Passing the Level 6 Piano and Level 8 Piano exams are considered co-requisites for the flute, violin, and cello at the ARCT level, which is RCM’s highest level of achievement.

Many of our music students start their musical journey on the piano and later add on a second instrument. By that time, they have developed the manual dexterity, strength, focus, and physical capability to play other instruments. The ability to read music is already in place so students can focus on acquiring the technical skills and proper form for their second instrument.

The Ukulele

If your child is interested in learning the guitar but their hands are too small or the guitar body is too big, we recommend ukulele lessons. It is similar to the guitar with a few differences that you can read about in our post Guitar Versus Ukulele - What are the Differences?

The ukulele is one of those instruments that naturally makes a mellow sound. The inlaid dotted fretboard is an easy way for kids to learn about finger placement, and finding the correct chords. The four strings makes learning the ukulele a little simpler for young kids, than the guitar, which has 6 strings.

The ukulele is a great instrument for compact spaces or if you need a portable instrument. Going to the summer cottage for a week, every weekend, or even a month? Your child doesn’t need to skip practice and forget their ukulele skills. Just pack it with you. Imagine yourself sitting on the dock while listening to the relaxing sounds of the ukulele. You might end up picking up the instrument yourself and giving it a try!

Another reason why we think the ukulele is fantastic for kids is that they have nylon strings, as opposed to steel strings, making it more comfortable on the fingers.

Finally, the ukulele is a budget-friendly instrument. A beginners’ ukulele can be found for $50 to $150 dollars.

Our students transition smoothly from the ukulele to the guitar, making this a great instrument for kids who are interested in the guitar but are not old enough to learn the guitar, and for parents who do not want to delay the start of their child’s music education.

The Voice

If your child shows an interest in singing, sign them up for vocal lessons. Singing is second nature to children and is a natural place to start musical education. Teachers will help students pick up good vocal habits and will guide students into becoming better singers.

Another reason we love vocal lessons is that it not only trains the voice, but it is wonderful for ear-training, which is the ability to hear different notes, intervals and chords. With ear training, young students learn to sing in tune and develop a sensitivity for pitch.

Furthermore, vocal lessons help children develop confidence and self-esteem. Voice is the instrument so there is no hiding behind an object when performing in front of people. Children learn to sing with expression and self-assuredness.

In conclusion, we believe that there are certain instruments that are particularly suitable for children. We acknowledge that every child is different and recognize there are exceptions. This list was created based on our observations of what works for the families who have trusted us with their children’s music education.

Do you want to contact us about beginners’ music lessons for your child? We would love to hear from you.


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