Four Steps to Choosing Your First Musical Instrument

By: Bill Kernodle

You are looking to find an instrument for yourself, or perhaps your child. You want to pick the right one, but it is so overwhelming! Woodwinds, piano, brass,strings, and percussion, and that is just the groupings. How can you decide which instrument is right for you?

Do some Research
Here are few suggestions that will help you to narrowdown the search. First, do some research into what the different instruments sound like. You do not want to bestuck playing, or listing to someone play, aninstrument you cannot stand the sound of. Check out some orchestra CDs from your local library, or go online to find sound clips of different instruments. A
music teacher may be able to demonstrate the sound of some instruments for you. Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is a great piece that showcases several instrumental solos.

Try Some Out

Once you have found a few sounds that please you, see if you can try some out. If you know someone who plays an instrument, ask them if you can try it. They may not want to let you put your mouth on their mouthpiece, but you can at least hold the instrument and feel how it feels in your hand. Also, if you are looking for an instrument for your child, their school orchestra teacher will most likely have some student models they can try. Some music stores may be willing to let you try an instrument. Keep in mind that you will not play a symphony on the first try, but you do want to have an instrument that feels somewhat comfortable in your hands.

When looking at an instrument, there are some physical capabilities you need to consider. For example, if you have tiny hands, you may have trouble reaching some chords necessary to play the piano. The trombone requires relatively long arms, and a child that is younger than fifth grade is probably too small for it. Kids with braces will have a difficult time beginning
a brass instrument, as the pressure on their teeth will be painful. Think about the size of the arms, hand, and mouth of the person you are choosing and instrument for, and try not to force them into something that is too big or small for their build.

Match with personality

Next, think about the new musicians personality. A quiet, shy young person is most likely not going to be comfortable with a loud brass instrument. Likewise, the tough football player would be mortified playing the flute. Piano students need to be capable of working on their own, while band students need to enjoy working in groups. Think about your home environment too.

Is there a place where the student can practice? If space is at a premium, choose a smaller instrument. If there are close neighbors, think of quieter instruments.

Think about your budget.

The fact is, some instruments take more financial dedication than others. For instance, strings have to be upgraded as the student grows, whereas a brass instrument usually comes in one size. Also, keep in mind the repairs the instrument will need, whether it be tunings for a piano, strings for a violin, or reeds for a clarinet. These considerations may help you decide between one or two once you have narrowed it down.

The bottom line is, choose an instrument you can see yourself or your child enjoying. Practicing an instrument is hard work, and in order for it to pay off, you need to enjoy it. By taking time to choose your first musical instrument, you will ensure
that you have made a choice you can stick with until the final curtain call.

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