I get asked this question all the time. Many of you have heard my answer. For those who have not, or have not hit the age of even asking the question, here you go. This article appeared recently in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. In it you’ll find some great advice.
What are good starter instruments? For babies: rattles (maracas), tambourine, bongo drums. For toddlers and preschoolers: rhythm sticks, sandpaper blocks, maracas, drums, finger cymbals, triangles, cymbals, gongs, jingle bells, xylophone-type instruments with removable bars and chorded zither. Toy instruments won’t hold a youngster’s interest for long. Age 3 and older: new or gently used piano, which should be tuned once or twice a year. Second best is a digital electronic keyboard with touch-sensitive, weighted keys. Young violin players: smaller violins, scaled to a child’s hands and body.
How young can children typically start music lessons? For traditional piano lessons, at age 7. For band and orchestra instruments, in fourth or fifth grade, when children are big enough to manage the size of the instruments and have more lung capacity.
How can you get preschoolers interested? Listen to all styles of recorded music from birth. Sing together and play singing games. Participate in Kindermusik or other music experience programs for babies through age 7 or 9. Find local programs online at www.kindermusik.com. Look for preschool programs that devote at least 10 percent of their time to music.
How much are lessons? From $15 to $40 for a 30- or 60-minute session.
How do you obtain instruments? Introductory instruments such as sandpaper blocks may be available at toy or school supply stores. Most instruments require a trip to a music store. Ask for a student instrument. Turn down artist instruments, which are higher priced. Buy a used instrument to further cut costs, and ask about service and repairs after the sale. You may find a bargain in classified advertisements or at a pawn shop, garage sale or thrift store. Make sure everything works. Music stores often have a rent-to-own program. If you keep the instrument longer than atrial period, you own it and your monthly payments apply to the purchase. On the rental agreement, take note of the interest rate and total cost. It may be cheaper to obtain your own loan.
Sources: Joan Reist, past president of the Music Teachers National Association and retired associate professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lance Nielsen, president of the Nebraska Music Educators Association and director of bands at Lincoln East High School. National standards published by the National Association for Music Education at www.menc.org/.
When you and your child are ready for music lessons here in Oxford I am always happy to give you recommendations. –Jeanne
Thanks Molly for finding this great article!