To get really good at an instrument takes years of practice and there are no short cuts. However, some instruments have the advantage of being easier to blow into or strike or strum straight out the box. Your child is more likely to enjoy the instrument from the word go if they hear immediate results, and they’re more likely to pursue their interest in music and take on other instruments once they have mastered one.
The traditional ‘easy’ instrument for kids has to be the recorder. It’s a great introduction to reading music and has the advantage of being as easy to get a note out of as blowing a whistle. It’s possible to extend the complexity of a recorder by half-covering holes to do octave leaps and play semi-tones, but most beginners’ books will stick within the comfortable confines of C Major.
The recorder is also a great basis for moving onto the flute, saxophone and clarinet (none of which made it onto this list, as it’s so darn hard to get a noise out of them).
There are two massive downsides to the recorder, however. Firstly, it is really uncool. When was the last time you saw a recorder on a pop video? That means your kids might think it’s a bit of a pointless instrument to play. They are very unlikely to keep playing it as they get older. Secondly, the standard descant recorder sounds awful, especially when blown by an inexperienced player. Insider tip: Bass and Tenor recorders have a much fuller, deeper, warm sound not unlike a clarinet. Go for those if you can – though remember they are not tuned to C Major, so will be a bit harder to learn.
I always find it a bit sad when I see a toddler with one of those light up toy guitars with buttons you press to make a noise. A three or four year-old could easily pick up the basics of the ukelele and be playing a real instrument instead of a pretend one! A ukelele is a sort of pint-sized guitar. Perfect for playing with tiny hands! You can get a note out of it straight away and your child will feel like a rock star playing it.
A six or seven year-old would be able to strum a simple two-chord song, by the end of the first lesson no problem. The other great thing about the ukelele is that, like the guitar, you don’t have to learn to read music to play it.
If your child dreams of being a drummer, but you really can’t bear the idea of having a full drum kit in your house, you could consider a Djembe. The Djembe is an African drum with three hand positions which each give a slightly different sound. Even if they don’t master the hand techniques straight away, learning the Djembe will give your child rhythm, which is the fundamental basis of all music, especially Pop, Dance and Rock.
Djembes come in all shapes and sizes and it’s easy to find a kid-sized one if you shop around. The Djembe is also very portable – great for busking! And finally, the Djembe is the most sociable of instruments – it’s unusual to hear a Djembe on its own. If your child seeks a sociable and fun hobby, joining an African drumming troupe comes highly recommended. It’s a great way to instill discipline, team spirit and camaraderie. And they get to make a terrible racket!
The tuba is arguably the best brass instrument for those kids who don’t have the time or inclination to become virtuoso players – provided your child is big enough to carry one! Many parts written for the tuba are extremely simple to play, as composers tend to forget about the poor old tuba.
Music for the tuba is written in Bass clef, which is actually easier to learn than treble clef, as it goes a-b-c-d-e-f-g from bottom to top.
What about street cred factor? It’s not just for marching bands, you know! The tuba features in Latin, Gypsy, Jazz, Funk and Folk music, but finding a group like that for your kids to play in in your local area might be tricky!
The harmonica is one of those instruments you can get a pleasant sound out of straight out the box. However, the sound you initially blow is usually a chord. Playing a single note on its own requires a bit more patience, skill and tongue training!
No theory is actually required, as the notes may as well be ‘hole one, hole two, hole three… ‘. However, it could be an easy introduction to a scale (opt for a harmonica tuned to C Major for simplicity). The harmonica is really a second instrument, though, let’s face it! A singer or guitarist adds an extra edge by playing harmonica. Playing harmonica and harmonica alone? A bit ‘lame’ as the kids might say.
When it comes down to it, the most important thing is you let your child decide for themselves which instrument they’d like to learn. If they simply don’t fancy a particular instrument, they are not going to get enthusiastic about it and are therefore unlikely to succeed in becoming proficient. Learning an instrument requires hard work and practice. How would you like to be forced to practise something you hated? Same goes for your kids.
The instrument which all children should learn, in my honest opinion, is the piano. A piano gives a child a solid grounding in melody, harmony and rhythm. It’s by no means easy. In fact, it’s probably the most musically complex instrument, due to the number of keys and the fact you have to play so many notes at once. A training in the piano is a training in music theory which will stick forever and there are many very simple, yet amazingly beautiful piano songs.
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Source by Kerry Smallman