Learning a musical instrument
is a great activity for children and can teach them a great skill to have in latter life while allowing a good extra curricular activity during their school years.
I wanted to write an article on a few points you should consider if you are choosing an instrument for your child to learn during their school years.
1. There are essentially two aspects to learning a musical instrument. One is the development of the musicality in the student. This includes such things as a sense of rhythm, training their ear, having a sense of melody and harmony,... The other is the actual dexterity required to play the instrument. I believe that as a student learning their first musical instrument, it is better to minimize the difficulty in learning the actual instrument so that their time on the instrument maximizes the development of their musicality.
As such, an instrument such as a violin is a very difficult instrument to learn to make sound reasonable and the student will need to make quite a bit of progress before they are able to develop a strong sense of musicality. On the other hand, instruments such as a keyboard or drums, etc. Are a lot quicker to develop the skills to make the instrument sound reasonable. As such the student is developing their musicality a lot quicker. I believe this is an important consideration.
2. Closely related to point 1 above is which aspects of music will an instrument help develop. Some of the basic musical skills include things such as rhythm, a sense on melody, a sense of harmony, improvisational skills,... Some instruments provide the student with an opportunity to develop a wide range of these skills while other instruments really only allow the development of a more limited set of skills.
For example, a drum student will primarily be developing a strong sense of rhythm. On the other hand a keyboard student should be able to develop a sense of melody, harmony and rhythm with their instrument. An instrument such as a trumpet can only play one note at a time, so it may be good for developing a sense of melody and improvisation, however will be less effective at developing a sense of harmony. I believe the wider the range of musical skills an instrument can teach, the better this will develop the students musical abilities.
3. A lot of the progress in developing musical skills, as well as a lot of the benefit of being able to play an instrument comes with being able to play with other musicians in groups. As a young student learns their instrument, they should have an opportunity to participate in music groups at their school. Different instruments will allow the participation in different groups. Such groups may include a school concert band, orchestra, stage band, jazz ensemble,... It is beneficial to consider which school groups an instrument will allow a student to participate in, with the wider the range of groups, the better chance the student will be able to further develop their music in a group setting.
For example, a violin student would really only be suited to the orchestra out of the groups listed above, while a trumpet player should be able to participate in any of these groups. I would advise looking at the music groups you child's school offers and considering what instruments will allow a wide range of participation.
4. Finally, it is useful to consider the situation where a student takes to the instrument and becomes a musician in latter life. What sort of variety of musical styles will your instrument allow your student to easily pursue. For example, a guitar
or keyboard are heavily used in wide variety of styles such as rock, jazz, blues,... It is useful to consider what sorts of music activities or professions the student may be able to participate in if they continue with their instrument as they are an adult.
I hope this gives a good sense of some of the considerations to take into account when deciding on the first instrument you may like your child to learn.
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