Matching your child to their perfect instrument
My daughter played the clarinet because of Squidward Tentacles.
It wasn’t the instrument she loved, but when she was in third grade her music teacher suggested she play it because that was the instrument played by Spongebob Squarepants’s arch nemesis. (And also, the school band had a dozen budding flutists, and only one other kid playing the clarinet.) My daughter had wanted to play the violin, but the school didn’t have a full orchestra, so she played the clarinet. She quit after grade school and hasn’t touched the instrument since. Now, at age 19, she’s considering taking violin lessons. After all, that’s the instrument her heart has always wanted to play. Picking the perfect musical instrument- whether it’s a keyboards, strings, woodwinds, brass or percussion- can be tricky for new students.
Here’s a few tips for making a perfect match between an instrument and your child.
Physically, some bodies just work better with certain instruments, according to Prince Music staff. When choosing an instrument, the bone structure of a child’s face, the length of their arms and even the shape of their mouth should be taken into consideration.
For example, Trombone players need long arms, and smaller lips are best suited for trumpets or French horns. For most wind and brass instruments, permanent teeth should be in place before lessons begin. Playing the flute when you have braces on your teeth is frustrating, but orthodontia won’t interfere with playing the clarinet.
Oddly enough, certain personalities tend to be attracted to certain instruments.
The violin, for example, is favored often by kids who are self-confident and who won’t mind being the center of attention since violins are high-pitched and stand out in the orchestra.
Those who favor clarinets tend to be introverted and enjoy playing a supporting role in the band. Those who like oboes are in it for the challenge. (The oboe is one of the toughest instruments to master.) And while most parents may cringe at the idea of their child playing the drums, percussion is a perfect choice for outgoing kids who aren’t afraid to make a mistake. (It’s hard to hide a mistake when you’re the one keeping the beat.)
If your child still doesn’t know which instrument to play, a piano is always a good choice.
“With piano, the keys are all laid out in front of you, so it helps give a visual cue when you’re learning to read music,” said Brandon, our classical guitar teacher. In addition, playing the piano often leads to a student learning a second- or third!- instrument as well.
Of course, when your child is choosing their instrument, make sure they are comfortable with it and enjoy playing. While learning a musical instrument is beneficial for every student, if a child likes their instrument, they will commit to learning it and practicing. (15-30 minutes a day, six or seven days a week is recommended.)
And if they try it and don’t like it, that’s okay. Ask us about our instrument trade-in program!