Which instrument should a child start on?

Personally, I think Drums, kids have a lot of energy, they like to hit things, they like noise. It would be a great way to burn off excess energy (kids seem to have plenty of that!).

You just have to tolerate the noise level. I bought my younger brother his first drum kit and my parents have yet to forgive me for that one. :)

Basically, I needed a drummer, and couldn’t find one, so I figured I’d make one instead - he loved it. Still plays to this day, 'cept now he’s all grown up and has some strange priorities (work, family, house, money) - What a wierdo…:smiley:


I’d say piano/ keys.

Especially when it comes to learning the basics of music.
You get chord structure, and rythm. Something I don’t think one would learn starting with violin. I’m shure there’s cords but here’s one reason I think the piano would be more of a benifit.
When your a child and your sitting at a piano or keyboard, the sheet music is right in front of you, and so it the instrument.
Everything is in plain eye veiw allowing you to look at the music and the coralating chords. Holding a violin is cumbersum and auwkward for a child just learning music.
You have to tilt your neck, and try to press strings down with one hand and move another arm back and forth. Not to easy for beginners.
Then there’s no white and black areas on the fret board. Just one long brown board, and your supposed to know where all the notes are.
Keyboard is much more simple everthings based around C, and your flats and sharps are clearly black.
Plus, both hands are in the same possition keeping your young body balanced, therefor leaving your mind open to absorb the information. A much more comfortable possition IMHO.
Once a child has a good grasp of reading music and all the rythm skills keyboard teaches, it’s alot easier to move on to a more complex instument, LIKE THE GUITAR!


Good luck, Ali


Hi Ali,

I think keyboards are the best first instrument. I have taught kids as young as 2 1/2 to play the guitar, but it is a tough instrument when you are not that coordinated. Keyboards are just like pressing buttons. It also fits your 3 parameters.

good luck,


Although I learned guitar on my own, (you that have heard me play know it’s true! :( ) I think keys is the way to go, INCLUDING THEORY and READING. If you start 'em young they will retain so much more and learn faster. Quickly learning to make something recognizable as music is important to keeping youngsters interested IMO but they will appreciate the theory lessons a LOT when they are older. Once the theory is ingrained, they will have it forever. I WISH I could somehow make time to take piano lessons myself.

TG – guitar HACK!

I had violin imposed on me at school too, from grade 4. The school gave the cellos and tubas etc to the big kids, and the weedy ones like me got fiddles and flutes. Guitar was not an option. So those school years were a waste in terms of learning an instrument, although I learnt singing etc, in the classical style. Then at age 18 after leaving school I discovered the guitar, something I could play AND sing along with myself. I think that’s an important thing for getting kids interested in learning to play. Keys is the same principle. It’s hard to get inspired about songs if you’re learning an instrument you can’t play chords on.

If a kid gets into it then teach 'em some theory. But there’s no point hammering on about harmony principles before a kid has already decided they’re interested. The details will scare them off at first.

I think guitar is quite hard for young/small kids to learn because a) the frets and neck can be difficult for small hands and b) the strings can hurt little hands if they don’t practice regularly.
Similarly for violin, except you have the added difficulty of learning where the notes are (no frets) when they may not have a good concept of music and a whole or half tone and what the difference should sound like

Keyboard is probably the easiest for them to get their little fingers around. They may not be able to do an octave stretch but it will develop and they can still play melodies and move their hands around to compensate.
Piano is a large investment though (keyboard is not really the same unless you get weighted keys).

A good instrument for learning basics of music is the recorder.
This is the first instrument I learnt and it taught mehow to read music.
From there learning other instruments I could already read music and had some basics in music so could concentrate on actually playing the guitar or piano.
Recorder is easy because the basic notes are all based around the C major scale which makes it easy to start playing melodies relatively quickly and learn to read notation.

Plus it’s dirt cheap if they give up :)

Everyone plays recorder at primary school here in Oz.
I went on and progressed from the descant to the Tenor recorder but then gave up once I started playing guitar :)


How old a child? It needn’t be a single instrument. My wife (a music teacher) votes for both piano and voice. I say add drums to that as well. :)

Quote (TomS @ Feb. 22 2005,07:53)
How old a child? It needn't be a single instrument. My wife (a music teacher) votes for both piano and voice. I say add drums to that as well. :)

You know....budget willing....Tom (er Toms wife) does make sense IMO. (Don't tell her Tom! She'll get the big head!)


I wish that I could go back in time and beg my parents for piano lessons when I was a kid… hindsight is 20/20 etc…

Have you considered the kazoo? heh.

For a very basic start…

How about a couple of different keyed harmonicas that the kid can blow on while you play some progressions in the matching keys?

Instant results, kid learns that such a thing as “different keys” exist, you get to jam with the kid, and you’ve spent less than $20.


Quote (nergle @ Feb. 24 2005,12:59)

His cousin is different, I know she'd love to learn an instrument, and I'd be more than happy to put in the time and effort to help her, but, that's not to be. Her mother doesn't believe that music is for girls.

I don't mean to be rude Ali but does the mother live under a rock or something?

Does she allow her daughter to learn to read and write? Or is she just learning to cook until she gets married off?

I'm glad my parents were happy to encourage any creative interests me or my brother and sisters had.
Even if they ended up in a lot of things gathering dust under the house :)

One word Ali, SITAR!

Speaking of teaching kids music…you guys ever seen those “Boom Sticks”? Apparently, they are plastic tubes that when whacked, resonate and emit a sound. You can get the starter set in “C” or you order the larger sets in chromatic or diatonic scales. Looks interesting if you have a group of youngsters who like banging on stuff. (And what kid don’t?)


My guitar students who have had piano learn faster, and understand theory better.

So…one more vote for sitar!
or maybe bagpipes,
or digeridoo



I insisted that my kids, IF they wanted to learn music, do a year of piano and a year of violin.

The piano is a wonderful way to get a grip on music theory, scale structures and harmony, and also a great way to be making not too displeasing sounds very quickly. The violin trains the ear.

My son took to both. He gave up the piano lessons after a year, but chose to pursue the violin. In his third year now, he’s a joy to listen to and holding down first chair in his school orchestra. He fell in love with the violin! He can still play a mean Ragtime on the piano too.

From my own experience, guitar is one of the worst possible instruments to learn music on. It is too easy to just learn a few habits and memorize a couple patterns and play the things in a way that doesn’t sound too bad. Trying to get a grip on music theory after learning “guitar music” is a handicap to many. The positions are strange - made even more so by the third tuning thrown in there so you don’t get too comfortable with the fourths. Don’t get me wrong - I love the guitar and have been playing it my whole life… started with Classical when I was very young. But to this day I recognize it as a handicap in my composing and ability to learn and play other instruments.

Piano - no question.

My teenager started with piano. Obtained a good grasp of theory and then moved on to guitar on a self-taught basis (well, the Old Man helped a little).

My “about-to-be” ten year old started with piano and just did her Royal Conservatory Grade 1 (scored 84% BTW) and is also showing an interest in guitar.

The problem with starting with guitar is that you can learn a few chords and then con yourself into thinking that you know how to play an instrument (that’s what I did). Knowledge of drums doesn’t transfer to other instruments - I speak from experience here, Drums are the only instrument in which I ever took lessons.

If you want to provide a good base of knowledge - start 'em with piano. It isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap but it is definitely worthwhile.