Tips on Selecting the Right Musical Instrument for Kids

Are you looking for a suitable musical instrument for your child? Tiny Tiny Shop Shop gives some tips on selecting the right musical instruments.

Young children are natural musicians. Before they are even born, babies respond to music heard from inside the womb. Many expectant mothers sing to their babies, or play classical music through headphones placed on their bellies, so that their children can experience the joys of music from the earliest possible age. One of the first toys often given to infants is a rattle: a musical instrument for kids that they can shake and explore on their own. Later, as they become more dexterous and mobile, babies and toddlerslove to explore more sophisticated instruments that make a variety of sounds.

Although it may look like they are engaged in random play, when young children interact with a toy instrument they are actually learning important lessons – and those lessons are not limited to principles of music. For example, banging a drum or hammering a xylophone can teach children about cause and effect. Long before they have the words to express their questions, they are asking themselves: If I hit the drum in a different spot, will it still sound the same? If I hit it harder, will it make a bigger sound? Children are like little scientists, constantly testing in order to figure out how things work and whether they’ll get the same response if they repeat the same action. Because kids’ musical instruments make a very wide variety of sounds, children never get tired of exploring and experimenting with them. Many instruments also include features that can teach youngsters about other concepts, such as colors and numbers.

As they get older, children begin to approach musical instruments with more deliberate intention, imitating the actions of adults and using their imagination to enhance their play. A three- or four-year-oldmay pick up a toy guitar and strum it with abandon, singing and pretending to be a rock star, or carefully place fingers on the frets and attempt to pluck a melody. These kinds of toys naturally tap into children’s creativity. Because they don’t have batteries, these toys entice children to take initiative and make choices. Rather than just listening to a tune, kids are encouraged to invent one of their own.This kind of play can also help them to develop an “ear” for music and build their interest in pursuing more formal learning later on.

A well-made instrument, even a toy one, can last for years – possibly even through multiple generations. Before you buy a musical instrument for kids, you’ll want to be sure that what you’re getting is the right fit for you and your child. Here are some points to consider before making a purchase:

Age and Skill Level

Unlike some other toys that are very specific to certain developmental levels, musical instruments usually tend to appeal to a wider age range. For example, some common choices for the youngest children are xylophones or drums. Babies who are old enough to sit up can easily entertain themselves with these instruments, but they won’t lose their appeal as children grow into toddlers and preschoolers. Triangles and tambourines are also excellent options for little ones. On the other hand,a toy guitar is definitely intended for children who have more sophisticated motor skills. Others, such as toy pianos, are capable of keeping kids entertained from the time they are just old enough to bang on the keys until well into or beyond the preschool years.

Long-Term Goals

Do you already have a vision of your child as a young Beethoven – or Mick Jagger? If formal musical lessons are in your children’s future, you may want to strategically choose kids’ musical instrumentsthat will pique their interest in the instruments you intend for them to play. Or, you might wish to use toy instruments over the years as a way to discern where children’s musical interests lie, providing them with a variety of options and seeing which ones get the most attention. If you intend for musical play to be a stepping-stone toward proper lessons later on, you will probably want to buy a musical instrument for kids that closely resembles the real thing. For example, some toy pianos are really just music boxes in disguise: they will play a tune (or many different tunes) but the music comes from a device inside the toy, not from the movement of the keys themselves. While these kinds of toys can be entertaining, they will not help children make the connection between striking the piano keys and hearing different notes. On the other hand, you can buy a piano that is not only shaped like the real instrument, but also built to work just like it. Some of these even look exactly like a tiny grand piano, complete with matching bench! This type of piano for kids, with up to three octaves of working keys and corresponding sheet music, are suitable for play for younger childrenand beginning lessons for older ones.

Practical Concerns

While it is well-established that musical play is beneficial for kids, it can get loud, especially if you are talking about a kids’ drum set! This is another reason you may find it preferable to focus on toy instruments that don’t require batteries. Electronic toys can be excessively loud and repetitious. Those that are powered only by your children, on the other hand, are more likely to be pleasing to the ear. Well-crafted musical instruments for children, while more primitive than the real thing, will still make a beautiful sound.

Lead By Example

Maybe you’re a musical artist yourself – at heart, if not by vocation. Or maybe you think you couldn’t carry a tune if your life depended on it! Either way, children’s enthusiasm for music will be exponentially increased if you share it with them. If you play piano yourself, kids will definitely want to imitate what they see you doing. But even if you don’t, you can sing along or play your own made-up melodies. When selecting toy instruments, think about which ones you will most enjoy playing with your child. Getting involved in your kids’ exploration of music will be beneficial for them, and fun for both of you!

Providing your children with quality kids’ musical instruments is a wonderful way to develop their artistic side. Allowing them to express themselves musically when they are young can boost their confidence and aptitude with a variety of skills while developing a love of music that will last a lifetime.