Instruments

Children LOVE to play instruments of all kinds. Find the perfect instrument for your baby to start with and then come back here to keep adding to their collection as they grow.



Babies, Tots and Pre-School

This is the best time to get started with a musical instrument. Babies respond naturally to music, all you have to do now is offer them ways to creatively and musically express that response. Start with simple un-tuned percussion instruments like drums, shakers, castanets, guiros, cabasas and claves. Then move quickly to chime bars, xylophones and other good quality tuned percussion instruments.The more sound textures and variety you can introduce at this age, the more diverse and refined their tastes will be in music as they grow. It is similar to introducing children to different types of food as they grow to stimulate their taste buds.




Ukulele

A very easy, enjoyable and portable string instrument to start with around 8 yrs old is the wonderful ukulele. Very many little children want to learn the guitar but sometimes their fingers are too small and they don't have the strength or perseverance to experience much success with it initially and they become disappointed. Ukuleles are the perfect starting pointing in these instances. They are light, inexpensive, much easier to play and introduce your child to the concept of a fretted string instrument. There are also very many books, guides, you tube clips, chord charts, tabs, groups and forums out there to help get you started. Find a uke here and all you need to make a start and let's go!

The Benefits

lightweight, portable instrument. Easy to learn, Inexpensive. Ukuleles, like guitar and piano, are great sing-a-long instruments, so they are a wonderful tool for building social opportunities. Ukulele tabs are easily accessible anywhere online and so once a few chords are nailed down, it opens up a world os songs to play and sing-a-long to.

The Ins and Outs

4 stringed instrument. Four sizes of ukulele - Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone. Except for the Baritone which has the tuning of the top 4 strings of a guitar (D,G,B,E), ukulele strings are 1st - A, 2nd - E, 3rd - C and 4th G. The 4th string can be either a high G or a low G. Ukuleles have frets along the neck and each fret sounds a different note. The strings of a ukulele are strummed or plucked, similar to a guitar.

The Music

Music for ukulele is widely available and it really comes down to choice.Ukulele music can be written as tabs, chord charts or normal music notation. There is really no limit to the kind of music this versatile little instrument can play - jazz, folk, country, even classical. Choose your genre and go for it!




Guitar

Guitars are suitable for the older child and there is a huge range of styles and sounds available. Guitars are a popular instrument because they are portable, sound good and are the instrument choice of many young person with dreams of starting their own band. Most guitars have six strings although there are also 12 string guitars. A bass guitar usually only has 4 strings. Here you will find many helpful guides on learning to play and care for your guitar, You Tube clips to inspire and teach and advice on what type of guitar would suit your needs.

The Benefits

The guitar is probably the most popular, widely used instrument in today's society. Many children see the guitar as the gateway to a life as a rock star and its appeal is huge. It is not an instrument for small children however as they have difficulty pressing the strings to the frets hard enough to make a clear sound, and the pressure needed hurts their fingers initially and therefore discourages them. This is where the ukulele is a perfect introductory instrument for the guitar. Once they have gained a little knowledge and skill on the uke, and they are a little older, they can move seamlessly up to guitar. Guitars are portable and another brilliant social instrument. Playing the guitar is a wonderful way to get children socialising as they form little bands and groups with each to play the kind of music they love. Usually the ideal time to start on the guitar would be around ten years of age.

The Ins and Outs

Guitars come in various style - acoustic, semi-acoustic, electric, classical and bass. Acoustic guitars can be strung with either nylon or steel strings. Classical guitars have nylon strings and while other acoustic an electric guitars have steel strings. The strings themselves come in different gauges to give different sounds. Guitars are tuned from low to high as follows: E, A, D, G, B and E. Guitars are also fretted instruments and cover about a 3 octave range. Acoustic guitars have a sound hole and a thicker body while electric guitars, being completely amplified need no sound hole and make their sound when plugged into a speaker or ampliflier. The strings again are either strummed or plucked.

The Music

It is difficult to think of a type of music that guitars cannot be used in. There are examples worldwide of guitars being used to lend harmony, rhythm and melody to all types of musical groups and orchestras. Most notably, guitars are popular instruments in folk, bluegrass, classical, heavy metal, rock and jazz.




Harmonica

Without a doubt the most portable musical instrument there is, this little guy will fit right in your back pocket. Harmonicas come in different types. Chromatic (meaning you can play every note) or in various keys such as C or G (meaning the notes you play will be relevant to that key). Scroll through a range of harmonicas perfect for a first instrument

The Benefits

Portability would have to be a very big plus with harmonicas. They are also very tuneful and quite easy to learn. As they are not very expensive it is quite reasonable to have a few harmonicas in different keys as well as a chromatic harmonica. They come in different colours which also make them appealing to children.

The Ins and Outs

The harmonica or mouth organ is a reed instrument and involves blowing air onto and drawing air back to produce a sound. A chromatic harmonica has 64 reeds and 16 holes while a diatonic harmonicas has 10 holes with 40 reeds. Developed in the early 19th century and originating in Europe, it is also known as the french harp and the chromatic variety has a range of over 4 octaves.

The Music

Harmonicas have become popular instruments in American folk, blues, jazz, country and even classical and rock.




Violin

The violin is the smallest member of the violin family.Ranging in size from smallest to largest is the violin, the viola, the cello and the double bass. All 4 string fretless instruments, the violin is a popular school instrument offered to children around grade 3. Learning to play the violin in school gives children the opportunity to be involved in musical ensembles and groups.

The Benefits

There are many, many benefits in learning to play the violin, especially at a young age. As it is an instrument that requires strings to be pressed against a fretboard or neck, playing the violin at a young age strengthens little fingers and hands. .in fact the whole of the upper body comes into play as the violin is held under the chin and therefore posture is improved. Apart from the physical benefits, there is also the aural benefits. As the violin is a fretless instrument, a violinist has to rely on their ear to produce a sound that is in pitch. A child learning the violin will have a developed aural awareness.

The Ins and Outs

The violin is also known as a fiddle and is a four stringed instrument played with a bow. It is held under the chin when played and has a range of around 3 and a half octaves. Violins themselves come in a range of sizes from 1/32 to full size. The 1/32 size is only around 13" big and is suitable for children 3 yrs and under. The full size would be used for children 11 yrs and above and is approx. 23" in length

The Music

Played as a classical instrument the violin is a key player in any orchestra, but violins can add much to many genres of music. In a bluegrass or country band, the violin is more informally referred to as a fiddle and again is a pivotal member. Violins lend themselves beautifully to just about any type of music genre there is - jazz, world, popular,soft rock, folk, country, etc.




Percussion

This group of instruments are wildly popular amongst children and teens especially. Encompassing everything from a standard drum kit to a pair of castanets, the percussion family is a hot favourite.

The Benefits

Clearly one of the most obvious benefits in learning percussion is the honing of rhythmic skills. AS rhythm and beat are essential components of most music genres, having a developed sense of rhythm and co-ordination is always going to be an advantage for any musician. Instrument such as drum kit require an ability to play different rhythms with each hand and foot and so demand an enormous amount of concentration and coordination. Building these skills in young children goes on to help them in every area of their lives. The benefits of drumming are almost too numerous to mention, but apart from being excellent for brain development, as well as being a physical activity that requires stamina and strength, drumming and drum music has been used throughout the ages for healing, meditation and spiritual/religious ceremonies.

The Ins and Outs

The percussion family is a big family and is made up of tuned and un-tuned instruments. It covers instruments that are struck, shaken,scraped or tapped to produce a sound. Let's first look at tuned or definite pitch percussion. Members of this family include the xylophone, the glockenspiel, the marimba, the vibraphone, the timpani or kettle drum and the chimes. some mebers of the untuned precussion family include the snare drum, the bass drum, the triangle, the cymbals, the gong, the maracas, the tambourine and castanets. Click on each of these links to hear the sound that they produce and learn a bit more about them individually.

The Music

Percussion instruments are found in all genres of music in various forms. Rock, metal and pop bands commonly use a drum kit for their percussion needs, which typically includes five drums of different sizes, and three cymbals. The percussion section of any orchestra contains a wide range of percussion instruments. Drums and percussion instruments are found in every culture, in every genre of music.




Below is a chart of the many different types of instruments that you might like to try. Click on the link to listen to an example of the sound it makes!