Posted on February 28, 2012 by Andy John

Good question!  I’m glad you asked.

My first instinct is to say “pick which instrument you want”.  Of course, there are practical considerations beyond that.  Some instruments are very expensive (tuba, vibraphone, bassoon).  Some instruments are very challenging for younger musicians (bass, tuba, theremin, french horn, guitar).  My advice is as follows:

Start down the path of the instrument you would like to play.  See if you can afford it and also talk with teachers of the instrument for advice.

Youngsters will need to be encouraged to practice and they are more likely to play the instrument they have chosen instead of one their parent wants them to play (I wanted to play flute but mom wanted me to play the trombone!).  If they discover they don’t like it, at least they came to it on their own.  Most instruments can be rented for relatively cheaply if their level of commitment is yet-to-be-determined. Avoid sinking hundreds of dollars into a child’s first instrument.

If there is no particular instrument in mind, the greatest successes I have had with young kids have been with slide guitar, which is easier to learn in the beginning than the traditional technique.  Ukulele has also been a huge success lately.  Harmonica is also an excellent choice.  Piano is traditionally the favorite and the first instrument I studied seriously.  The recorder is my new favorite. I have had amazing results from third graders able to play “Ode to Joy” at the public school I currently teach at. Some of my students are even composing their music with what they have learned on the recorder. Another good choice is the violin, which is impossible for me but I have heard amazing 3, 4, and 5 year old virtuosos from Ryan’s studio next door.

What instrument should I start with?