Studies have shown that playing a musical instrument enhances a boy’s education in many ways, from sharpening their fine motor skills and facilitating their emotional and behavioural development to improving literacy and even numeracy.
Choosing the right instrument requires consideration – some instruments require finger strength, some are heavy and cumbersome to carry, and others require more lung capacity to be played properly. When it comes to choosing an instrument, a child needs to feel comfortable in their ability to generate the right sound.
Here’s how to choose an age-appropriate musical instrument for your child.
1. Age four and under
At age four and under, children have not yet developed the strength, flexibility or coordination to learn most instruments effectively. You can however expose them to the concepts of counting beats and following music. Percussion instruments such as the tambourine, triangle, xylophone, castanets and maracas are good instruments to introduce to children of this age group. Even a wooden spoon and upturned saucepan can be used as a drum! Children of this age may also enjoy age-appropriate group musical activities.
2. Age five to six
A popular choice in this age group is the recorder. It’s easy to carry, small enough for little fingers, doesn’t require a lot of lung capacity, and children can quickly learn to play recognisable tunes, giving them some early success to encourage them to want to keep going. Piano is a popular first instrument for many young children as they can tap out simple tunes and continue to develop more skill as they get older – it also assists with dexterity. Violin is also a good starting instrument, as they are available in small sizes. Your child will develop finger dexterity and strength, though it is more difficult to learn to play a recognisable tune than recorder or piano.
3. Age seven to eight
Children of this age are well placed to learn string instruments such as the guitar, bass or the ukulele. By this age they have developed the finger strength, flexibility and hand size required to ensure they can press down on the strings along the fretboard.
4. Age nine to 12
By this age, your child will have the strength and capacity to learn most instruments. Nine to 12 is a good age to learn woodwind instruments, such as the trumpet, flute or clarinet. These instruments require a certain level of lung capacity and power to reach the notes and play using the correct technique. They have just a few buttons making initial learning easier, but it will still be a challenge to master, keeping your child interested.
This age is also suitable for your son to learn to sing. Vocal technique is a physically demanding learning process. It requires breathing technique, vocal cord development and lung power, which children at this age already have.
5. Age 13 or more
At this age, boys will have the physical size, strength, flexibility, and lung capacity to be able to play wind instruments appropriately to create the right sounds. They can handle the more cumbersome instruments such as cello, double bass and tuba.
When choosing an instrument, make sure your child has some input and a genuine interest as he is more likely to want to learn and keep practising. Any way that you can help your child to practise music will lead to improvement and keep him motivated. Keep in mind that whatever instrument you and your child choose, the rest of the family will have to listen to it, so don’t choose the drums if you have sensitive neighbours!
Recognising the strong links between music and academic performance, Trinity offers a comprehensive music programme to students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12. Over half our students study music. With music being an essential element of Trinity’s curriculum, most boys at some stage, will learn a musical instrument and engage in group musical activity; such as choir, orchestra, band or ensemble, or a musical stage production.
Trinity’s Music Department has one of the most dynamic and impressive performance programmes in Australia and, in terms of student participation, is one of the most comprehensive. Commitment of students and staff to achieving excellence in performance, has earned them an impressive reputation.
To find out why we are one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys and to learn more about the Trinity difference and our exceptional music programme, download our Music ebook.