What Instrument Should Children Start On?

Is there a budding musician in your family? If your child, or children, are eager to explore the world of music, you may be wondering which instrument they should begin with. There are many factors to consider such as the age of your child, instrument size, physical demands, mental focus requirements, and the child's interest as well. In this article, we'll guide you through a few different options for your child's first instrument choice.

Percussion Instruments (Best for Children Under Four)

Percussion instruments, such as rhythm sticks, shakers, mini-pianos, and mini-xylophones, are great for children of any age. Young toddlers can learn the basics of rhythm, dynamics, and pitch with these instruments. They don't require fine motor skills, so even younger children (younger than four-years-old) can use them with ease.

Simple percussion instruments are often offered in Pre-K music programs. In Pre-K music classes, kids are taught rhythm and pitch and also start to develop positive habits such as good posture and keeping a beat. Pre-K music classes are an especially great option for four or five-year-olds who may have trouble focusing for the full 30 minutes in lessons that is typical for other instruments like piano or violin.

String Instruments Such as Ukuleles and Small


Ukuleles have become quite popular in recent years due to their size and relative ease of play. The low action on the strings makes it easier for young children to press down and pluck the strings. Violins are also great instruments for younger players, as they make 1/8-sized and 1/4-sized violins to fit the hands and bodies of young children. Kids can start learning on 1/8 or 1/4-sized violins at age four.


The piano is another great choice for beginning musicians. Early lessons can focus on building basic skills such as coordination and note-finding, allowing young children (ages four to seven) to learn the fundamentals without becoming overwhelmed. Starting around four years old, children can start learning on a full-sized piano so it’s a great investment for the whole family.

Learning instruments such as violin, ukulele, and piano at a young age helps students enhance their physical coordination and memory, and fosters a musical mindset. Additionally, it contributes to boosting their self-esteem and confidence at a young age.

Guitar (Starting Around Age Six)

According to Joe Ferrante Music Academy which teaches music lessons in Monrovia, CA, “most children can begin learning guitar around age six because they have the dexterity, strength, and agility and mental focus to play it then.” Much like the violin, you can also find 1/2-sized and 3/4-sized guitars to fit the body shapes and sizes of small children. Acoustic guitars are often better suited for young children than electric guitars due to their smaller size availability and lighter weight.

Which is the Easiest Instrument for Kids?

Percussion instruments tend to be the easiest for young children to learn and require fewer motor skills to play and focus on fewer elements at one time, compared to coordinating rhythm and finger position at one time as you would need to do on guitar, ukulele, violin, etc.

Typically, violin, piano, drums, and voice are the easiest instruments for young children to start with. A great benefit to beginning with piano is that students can easily look at their hands and the sheet music in front of them so it’s a great choice to learn how to read music.

When Can Children Start Learning Wind Instruments?

Around age nine, children can begin learning wind instruments such as flute, clarinet, oboe, trumpet, and saxophone. However, due to the physical demands of these instruments (blowing into a piece of metal or wood), they may be better suited for an older child who has some physical strength and coordination.

In most public school districts, children can start playing in band around 6th grade, or age 11. Some schools start offering band instruments even younger around age nine or 10.

Making the Decision

At the end of the day though, there is no right or wrong instrument for a child to start with. As long as it is age-appropriate (and size-appropriate), engaging, and fun for your child, any musical instrument could be the perfect fit and will bring many benefits.

Either way, the investment will be worthwhile. Studies show that listening to music has a stress-relieving effect and enhances positive focus, while actually playing an instrument provides further cognitive benefits in physical coordination, mental focus, and problem-solving skills. Needless to say, any instrument that inspires a child is a great instrument to start on!

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