This post is in partnership with Yamaha. All opinions are my own. You can read my full Disclosure Policy here.
Once my kiddos hit 4th grade, they were able to choose a musical instrument and receive weekly lessons from the music teacher. At that age, my daughter selected the viola, and she’s now in 7th grade and has been playing ever since.
She isn’t one of these kids that is orchestra-obsessed. I still have to remind her (a lot) to practice, and we went through a phase where she thought she wanted to quit about a year ago, but ultimately stuck it out and is loves making music with her friends. There’s a lesson here in patience and persistence, and that’s just one of the benefits of playing a musical instrument for children.
Before children can really reap these rewards, they have to have the right foundation. That includes supportive parents who will encourage practice, attend concerts, and drive kids to lessons. They also have to have the right instrument.
When it comes to string instruments, Yamaha is a well-known and respected brand, and this is what my daughter plays. If your child’s instrument isn’t making beautiful music, they are less likely to want to continue, so choosing a high-quality instrument is so important.
Fortunately, many school districts partner with their local music stores on rental programs to music affordable. Whether you choose to rent or buy, this guide from Yamaha will help you choose the best fit for your child.
I honestly didn’t know where to start when my daughter started playing, because I had no experience with viola whatsoever! There’s a short quiz at the end of this page to help you choose the best instrument for your child AND for your budget (because that is equally as important!).
Once you find the right instrument, know that your child is not only learning to play music, but developing in so many other ways. Here are some of the benefits you might not have considered.
5 Benefits of Playing an Instrument for Children
Teaches Patience and Persistence
I touched on this above, but I think this is one of the most important things for me as a parent. Will my child be in a professional orchestra as an adult? Probably not. But she has learned to the art (sometimes I think this is a lost art!) of tackling something new, and working at it over a period of time to master it. There’s no throwing hands up in the air and saying “I can’t do this.” She pushes on, with her fellow young musicians next to her, and works until she gets it. Priceless lesson.
Builds Friendships and Expands the Social Circle
As a middle schooler, my daughter has her inner circle of friends. She also has friends she knows from our old neighborhood, and friends she’s had since preschool that have moved away. She has soccer friends, and friends from summer camp. I love that in addition to her besties, she has these other groups as part of her network.
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Last night was her winter concert. 🎻 So proud of this little lady, trying to pose for me and sharing a smile with a friend down the hall that I’ve never seen or heard of. “Oh that’s my friend Amanda.” Remember when you knew every little thing about them? Growing up is hard for Mommy to do. ❤️ #momlife #daughter #mygirl #viola
She also has her orchestra friends. Playing in the orchestra has helped her to meet new people and build relationships she might not have otherwise been exposed to. I took this photo for Instagram nearly 2 years ago, and the caption I wrote then is exactly what I’m talking about here.
Improves Academic Skills
You have probably heard that music is closely tied to math. Counting beats, half-notes, and quarter-notes reinforce concepts like fractions and division. Playing an instrument also improves reading skills, since players need to be able to read the music and at the same time, determine what their hands need to be doing to make each note.
Playing an instrument as a child also requires a level of responsibility. They have to take care of their instrument, not leave it at school or on the bus, remember to take it with them on practice days, and to practice at home. As children get older, being in the habit of planning ahead and being responsible for themselves (I need to pack my soccer uniform for tomorrow, I need to get Mom to sign my reading log, I have a test coming up next week that I need to study for in advance, etc.) is crucial to their academic success.
Music Is a Cultural Education
I’m thankful to my kids’ music teachers for including pieces from different cultures and genres in their musical library. My daughter has two concerts each year, spring and winter, and before every piece of music is played, one of the students comes to the front of the stage and explains the origin of the piece. They don’t just play the music, they learn about the culture that created the piece.
It’s a Self-Esteem Booster
This is a biggie, too. I mentioned above that we went through a phase where my daughter thought she might like to quit playing her viola. This was right before her winter concert, and I told her to get through the concert and then we would talk.
After that event, she had completely changed her mind. She loved performing, making beautiful music on stage with her peers, and having her whole family and community in the audience to listen and enjoy (and clap – let’s not forget the clapping!).
She was proud of herself. She felt like she had accomplished something special, that she was part of something special, and that music was a gift she could give not only to other people, but to herself. Ultimately it was that self-esteem boost that allowed her to stick with it.
Choosing An Instrument for Your Child
When your child is old enough to start playing a musical instrument, I would highly encourage you to let them try it. There are bound to be a few bumps in the road (and more than a few times you have to remind them to practice!) but the benefits are so great. It’s worth it.
And if they choose a string instrument, be sure to walk through this guide from Yamaha on selecting the right instrument for your child. Choosing one that is a good fit for them, makes beautiful music, and is right for your budget is going to make all the difference in how much they enjoy playing.