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Thomas J. West Music

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Why Your Child Should Start Learning an Instrument

Posted on August 29, 2016 at 7:45 AM

There may be a reason why musos think they have it all. Studies show that adults with some childhood musical experience perform better on selected cognitive tests than adults who had never studied music, and this advantage seems to become more prominent as we age.


Physical Skills

Try patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. The chances are that your musical friends will have an easier time of it than you. When kids learn to play an instrument, learning a particular physical skill is a given because they move hands, fingers and feet into the position required. The secondary benefits are perhaps more profound in the long run; playing a piano or keyboard means you have to make different movements simultaneously with your left and right hands, similar to when you play an acoustic guitar. It develops ambidexterity, but also improves the ease and range of movement and helps with sport and dancing.


Math and Physics

Once kids understand rhythms or beats, learning math comes easier because they are introduced to counting, fractions, and division in a natural way. It introduces them to pattern recognition which is very helpful for understanding math principles.


Social and Language Skills

Speech processing improves with training in pitch and melody and reading comprehension improves. If they take part in group classes, they quickly learn teamwork as they are encouraged to adjust their playing when they play too fast or slow.


It Refines Discipline and Patience

Some instruments take years to learn to play well, and it teaches your child to persevere to reach his goals. Children can be impatient, so the nature of this activity makes it easy to measure progress. It is quite simple to set attainable goals such as performing a piece correctly before moving on to the next, and if your child is a born performer you can relax about thinking up fresh entertainment ideas for the next family gathering.



Music is fun, and when kids experience success, it increases feelings of self-esteem and confidence. It teaches them to present themselves in public, which is an important life skill for all ages. The emotional release that comes with expressing yourself through music increases feelings of belonging and identity.


What to Consider When Selecting an Instrument

You'll be listening to the sound of your child practicing for the next few years. Do you like the sound of that instrument enough, or can you provide a suitable environment for committed practice in a private area of the house?


Don’t just reach for your credit card and hope this “stage” will blow over. Offer reasonable support in the form of formal or informal classes as soon as your child is ready. Think about combining classes with games to make learning more enjoyable. A game like Guitar Hero requires skill and knowledge of music theory to play well, and it will give you a break from listening to disharmonious strumming or scales repeated endlessly


Listen to your child. If he wants to play the acoustic guitar, don’t make him learn the piano first, because you want him to have a classical music education. He’ll resist practice, and the whole thing will end in tears. At the same time, don’t saddle your 5-year old with a baritone sax larger than himself. Agree to start with the alto, or even a flute which is much easier to play with small hands.


Take her to a sympathetic musical instrument shop where she can try out different instruments, and hold or cradle it to get a feel for it. Playing a too-large instrument will cause frustration and even injury. Stringed and keyboard instruments are highly suitable for younger children, and you can easily find smaller instruments to overcome issues of finger stretch and size.


Woodwind instruments can be tried from around 10 years. Lighter brass instruments can be tried from 8 to 10 years of age as the weight is considerable and fingers need to be long enough to reach positions. Stringed instruments and keyboard instruments are highly suitable for young children, as smaller instruments are readily available. It may take a while to match your child to his perfect instrument, as kids sometimes start with one and move on to another as soon as they discover new possibilities.


Children learn very fast and generally, the younger they start, the faster they learn. If you can match the correct instrument to the child, they tend to throw themselves into the experience completely with the added benefit of keeping them safely occupied and energy levels contained.

Sources and Further Reading

The Right Instrument for Your Child

Finding the Perfect Guitar for Your Kid

Childhood Music Lessons Boost an Aging Brain


About the Author

Colleen has a passion for guitars and ukuleles. She enjoys jamming, teaching, and getting others involved in music. Her website, Coustii, focuses specifically on guitars and ukes.

Categories: Guest Authors, Music Education, Tips for Music Parents

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