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Choosing the right musical instrument is all about desire

When it comes to choosing a musical instrument, parents and children may have very different ideas about what is best.

You might shudder at the idea of a screeching violin, while your child is flapping over the fiddle; or perhaps you’d prefer the quiet concept of a twinkling piano, when all they want to do is play the drums.

The good news is, according to Mark De Laine, Head of the Arts at St Peter’s Woodlands, it doesn’t really matter what instrument your child plays as long as they’re involved in choosing it.

“When parents ask me what they should consider when choosing a musical instrument for their child, motivation and desire are at the top of the list,” Mark says.

“Learning an instrument is not easy, in fact, it’s really hard work, so your child needs to have a desire for the instrument they’re playing from the outset.

“If a child is struggling with learning an instrument it’s usually because Mum or Dad made the choice for them rather than it being something that they’ve chosen for themselves – it’s imperative that they’re included in the decision-making process.”

While owning their choice of instrument is essential, Mark says there are some practical things to consider when choosing an instrument with your child.

“Physicality, size, and other hurdles such as the shape of the mouth or whether or not a child has braces are all good things to discuss with your music teacher and your child before deciding on an instrument,” he says.

“There’s very little that can’t be overcome, but it’s good for children and parents to know the challenges they might face before jumping in.

“It’s also important for parents to know about the costs involved in buying or hiring instruments and the ongoing costs for their children if they decide to continue with the instrument throughout their lives.

“A piano is more expensive than a flute for instance, but there are always ways around these things and we advocate that learning an instrument is an investment in your child’s education and their future.”

In fact, Mark says that many studies have shown that learning a musical instrument at a young age can have a number of positive impacts on a child’s life and their ability to learn.

“Learning music and an instrument is one of the only things that actually grows the brain, it also involves both sides of the brain, connecting analytical and critical thinking with creativity,” he says.

“We’re learning more and more about the importance of the arts as a balance to STEM subjects  – music is such a great way connecting all of the things a child learns at school, from reading and writing prose to learning to read and write music, from math and accounting to figuring out the value of a note or time signatures.

“It also brings confidence, teaches teamwork and can be a wonderful creative outlet – I have so many students who love going home and writing a piece of music for their instrument – when you love what you’re doing, music brings a certain joy that can’t be matched.”