Helping Your Child Choose the Right Instrument~ Without the Headache

In Music, Tips For Parentsby Amelia Hyde

This topic typically comes up when your child expresses an interest in playing in the school band.  This is usually between the 3rd and 5th grade. ( Depending on the schools’ age requirements)  If this is coming to your attention, your child has more than likely shown signs of musical interest before this. Or Maybe you are just now realizing, “Ohhh that’s why he always was tapping his foot” Nope it wasn’t a nervous habit.

You can also read “Helping Your Child Discover Their Talents and Interests” for more insight on this topic

In our house, we have had kids banging on pots and pans since before they could talk. According to my kids, anything that can make noise is an instrument.  When I was a kid I begged my mom for piano lessons. It was not something I was able to pursue, for whatever reason my parents could not afford it or had the time. I still am unsure of the reason. However, at the age of 12, my Dad let me play his guitar and I was able to teach myself.  I was writing songs by the time I was 13.  I still have never learned piano, although I have a couple kids that are self-taught.

 

Instruments are Expensive, Right?

 

I hear this a lot. Think of it as an investment in your child’s future. The neat thing with instruments, if they are well taken care of, it is pretty easy to re-sell or trade for another.  So if the Saxophone isn’t what they expected it to be, sell it and get a different instrument. Sound like a headache? Perhaps it is.  But come on, we are the mentors, and as parents, it’s kind of our job to give them room to grow and learn. This is something my Ex husband and I disagreed on when we were married. I think we have both since become more understanding of our children’s needs.

 

It doesn’t mean they are quitters.  It just wasn’t their thing

 

It is frustrating for parents to invest money into our kids and feel like it was a waste.  But that all depends on how you look at it.  Try switching your perspective for a minute. Go back in time to 8 years old.  You see someone on tv performing a violin solo (for example) and you think, ” I wish that was me! I want to play Violin!”  Ok, we have all been there! Seeing someone pursuing their dreams, on the TV or the radio and we want it so bad!

So your parents get you a violin. Eh, it was way cooler watching from a distance. It’s not like any of us know what we are into until we try.  And the few of us that finally discover our “thing” more than likely did not do it on our own. so what would I do if it were my kid? I would have them keep at the violin while giving them another instrument to play in the meantime. If your thinking “Isn’t that too much for a kid to take on?” They will let you know. They may need more than one instrument to know what is their “thing”. You may have a multi-instrumentalist on your hands.

 

So how do you help your child choose the right instrument?

Here are a few ground rules to keep in mind

 

  • Give your child the low down on options ~ For all you know your kid was only paying attention for half of the Band Teachers presentation while introducing instrument choices.   Which means that it is your responsibility as the parent to ensure they are making an educated decision.  If you’re not musically inclined, how do you do that??

There are two ways to do this without feeling like you are pressuring them into anything.   Take them into your local music store and let them pick up and handle the instruments so they can feel how they are when placed in hand. The second option is to look online of videos introducing the instruments, as well as how they sound etc. The first option is best, but if you live in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere like we do option 2 is probably going to be what will work.

 

  • Accept your child’s choice of instrument ~  Yea we all do it as parents.  Try to encourage or sway them (Out of love of course)  “But it doesn’t make sense. Agatha has never been interested in the flute”  Ok I see your point. But if she is willing to commit the time to learn how to play and try, DON’T TELL HER NO. You are not the one playing in band. Accept and love their choice.

 

All in all, this doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated. My best advice would be to accept the challenge at hand. You like the guitar, your child likes the clarinet. I say potato, you say potatao. Get it? Hope this helps ..

 

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