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Choosing the right instrument

I think it’s fantastic that you want your child to learn to play a musical instrument!

Aside from all the studies that show how music helps engage many areas of the brain at the same time, and that it builds a sense of cooperation, teamwork and certainly commitment, there are other merits. Music expresses emotions that cannot be put into words.

So now, how do you choose what’s right for your child?

You just saw a great concert and there was a phenomenal sax solo in it….You always wanted to play the drums, and think it would be a great idea for your child to learn them….You played flute as a child and want your daughter/son to do the same….Grandpa used to play the clarinet, and we still have it sitting in the attic…

These are all good, valid reasons, but there are a few more things you should consider…

  1. At this point in time,does your child have the right physical characteristics to play that instrument? For example, the saxophone is a wonderful instrument.  But the weight of the instrument lies on the child’s neck and right hand.  Can he/she hold it up long enough to be able to practice effectively?
  1. Does your child have,or will he/she be getting braces in the near future? Certain instruments will be more challenging to play with braces. (I will address this in an upcoming blog.)
  2. Does your child like melodies,harmonies or bass lines?People tend to gravitate towards certain aspects of a song. You may want your child to play flute, but he/she relates to bass lines better. Have your child think about this; this will narrow down your choices to groups of instruments that fit the desired range.
  3. Will your child be able to commit to practicing 20 – 30 minutes everyday to improve their skills? Playing an instrument is like learning a sport; you need to reinforce skills through consistent practice.
  4. Does your child want to play an instrument? I have had a number of students tell me outright they are only taking an instrument because their parents want them to, or because they want to spend more time with friends. That’s fine, but hopefully they will find their own motivation to continue and enjoy music.
  5. In many public schools,children are pulled out of their classroom for a 1⁄2 hour lesson each week. The child is expected to make up the classroom work on their own. Are you and your child comfortable with this?

ACTION STEPS:

1. Listen to several recordings (CD’s,iTunes,YouTube,Spotify, going to concerts) and see which instruments your child likes the sound.

2. Consider your child’s after school activities. Create a practice schedule (20-­‐30 minutes every day) and see if playing an instrument is do-­‐able.

3. Discuss with your child if they would be able to handle being pulled out of class for lessons every week.

Please feel free to report how you did with the action steps by writing a comment below.

In future Blogs, I will discuss certain characteristics to think about when considering each instrument. Over the many years I have been teaching, I have found that considering these traits has led to much success.

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Every year, parents and children always ask me, “What’s the easiest instrument to play?” My answer, “The one you practice!”

Till next time……