Should My Child Learn to Play a Musical Instrument?

Playing music at a young age can be beneficial to children.
If you understand how to play the piano you'll have an easier time with other instruments.
Children may benefit from learning to play an instrument.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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The standard answer to this question is an unqualified yes, most children should learn to play a musical instrument. Children learn discipline from the rehearsal process, self-expression from performance, and social interaction from group studies. A child can definitely benefit from learning to play music at an early age, since many professional musicians credit their early experiences with developing a life-long passion for music. Even if a child discovers other interests later in life, the discipline required could prove useful in other situations.

That's the good news. There is another side to the musical instrument question that many parents don't discover until it's too late. Allowing a child to learn to play an instrument also means a parent needs to prepare for repetitive scales, loud noises, and frequently missed notes. A child's interest in an instrument, especially a loud or amplified one, is destined to involve the entire family, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The rehearsal process is a vital part of learning to play, but one child's rehearsal room may often be another man's den or basement.


Parents should also understand that a quality instrument can be a expensive investment, and a child's interest in any project can be notoriously variable. Before allowing a child to learn a musical instrument, consider whether the child seems enthusiastic enough to stick with it for several years. Families on a budget may want to consider using the family piano for music lessons or investing in a used instrument until the child's interest can be gauged. Investing in a musical instrument used for band performances, such as a trumpet or clarinet, may also mean investing in band uniforms, travel expenses, and accessories.

Another consideration is the cost and availability of professional instruction. Finding an affordable piano or guitar teacher may be a matter of contacting a local music store, but a child may have an interest in an instrument for which local instruction may be scarce. There are now a number of self-help instructional materials available online or through larger music stores, however, so a child may be able to teach himself the basics of playing without the need for formal lessons. Many schools also provide extracurricular music programs and instruction, but parents should understand this may involve picking up a child after practice and transporting him or her to out-of-town performances.

Children should definitely be encouraged to try out different artistic outlets, including music, theater, creative writing, and dance. If a young child shows a clear interest in a toy musical instrument, then parents may want to consider taking that interest to the next level. Pressuring a child to take up music for other perceived benefits, however, is rarely a good idea. Every child should have the right to pursue a creative outlet based on his or her personal interests and skills, and if it happens to be learning an instrument, then parents should understand it takes time and practice to develop solid performance skills. A parent's role in a young musician's life may be to push him or her to a higher level of performance.


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Post 11

I do not think it should be compulsory for children to play an instrument. Could I please have your thoughts on the topic?

Post 9

@Mitzy: What anon20293 said about two to three hours a day is very unreasonable. I play violin and only practice a hour a day and I have been playing for eight years! Two to three hours is just unreasonable, and it will make her burn out very quickly. If you want to keep her interested, maybe let her choose the instrument because you are not going to want to be the one driving this forward forever

Post 8

30 years ago, my father refused to allow me to play a musical instrument because he was more concerned with having quiet in the house.

As a result, I got to sit with three other losers in an empty class and stare at a wall as all the other children got to bond and play their music. All the friends I had at the time faded away because they bonded instead with other children who played music. I became an outcast.

When you're a child, you do not want to be isolated like that. Typically, you just want to blend in. It affected my life negatively in many more ways as I grew older. So don't be a selfish jerk like my father was and let your kid play an instrument. And if noise is an issue, then how about a keyboard with a pair of headphones. Even electronic drums with a headphones makes little noise. I guess my father didn't think about that. He was just thinking about himself. Thanks for nothing, Dad.

Post 7

Love it! To the point, articulate and interesting. Thanks.

Children and Music

Post 6

who wrote this?

Moderator's reply: The author's name is Michael Pollick. wiseGEEK includes the name of the author of the article at the bottom of the page.

Post 5

hi mitzy. where can i go about finding if my child is gifted for music? - rs

Post 4

I believe that you are right. I am a nine year old who plays viola. I need this information to help me present in front of our Board of Education on why instrumental music is important and shouldn't be cut. Thanks!

Post 3

-mitzy: I would recommend your 8 year old to learn to play the flute. I say this out of my own experience because my family also has no musical background that I know of, and I have taught myself to play from a beginner to an intermediate.

I would recommend the book "How to Play the Flute: Everything You Need To Know to Play The Flute" by Howard Harrison. This book has worked for me. Hope this helped.

Post 2

Well, it really depends mitzy, if you feel that a musical instrument for your child should remain as a project to increase key skills, or whether she would benefit from a life-time of musical ability.

If it is a simple fictation, then I suggest a brass or woodwind instrument, the flute, clarinet or oboe perhaps. If you feel your child would like to continue in-depth with this particular instrument, them may i suggest a more modern approach, the Guitar (both classical or electrical training are useful) the piano, saxophone or, if you're really tolerant, percussive elements such as drums. However, i should give fair warning, if you approach this in the right way, then there will a time when your daughter will feel it is being forced upon her, i only say this because to give you child FULL benefits of a musical instrument, they should adhere to a STRICT 2-3 hour routine everyday in which to practice, learn and develop skills. It can also be pricy, for correct techniques in many instruments, the only way to fully develop is to pay for professional lessons.

Whatever your choice, i'm sure your daughter will only benefit.

Post 1

My 8 year old daughter has just been placed on her school's Gifted and Talented Register for music and given the Year 3 prize for music even though she has never played a note. She has been asking to learn an instrument for some time now and we have decided that under the circumstances we should allow her to do so. The question is - which instrument? Neither her father nor I have any musical ability/background so we really don't know where to start. Any advice would be gratefully received.

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