What instrument would you recommend for an almost 5 year old?

Two Peas is Closing
Click here to visit our final product sale. Click here to visit our FAQ page regarding the closing of Two Peas.

Posted 11/26/2012 by busypea in NSBR Board
 

busypea
boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
Posts: 27,974
Layouts: 145
Loc: Oregon

Posted: 11/26/2012 11:42:34 AM
DS will be 5 in March. He LOVES music. Always has. We constantly have music on, he loves to dance, sing, and toy instuments have been some of his very favorite toys since he was very young.

He has been talking for a while about wanting to learn an instrument. We are going to get him an instrument for Christmas and then start lessons. We're not sure what instrument to go with, though. His answer when asked which one he wants to learn to play is always, "All of them!" He doesn't have a clear favorite in what he chooses to play with from his toys, or when he listens to music.

So... what instruments are the most suitable to start learning at that age? Any that you would recommend avoiding?

VexedAngel
Cold Pea on a Cracked Plate

PeaNut 156,343
July 2004
Posts: 5,250
Layouts: 46

Posted: 11/26/2012 11:57:05 AM
Music educator of 11 years and music therapist for 4. I recommend piano. Piano will teach him to read both treble and bass clefs and is so versatile. In the music world, it will be very useful, too--he'll have a lot of opportunities to use those skills. I used my piano skills to accompany other musicians in high school and college, and it was a good source of income for me in college, too.

As a teacher, I always taught with method books but always supplemented by teaching how to play by ear, and some blues and jazz forms to increase interest and to give some different skills (like 'jamming' with friends, etc). Something to consider. There is a method book out there just for younger learners like your son, too.

Guitar is more 'popular,' but he is so little he needs a 3/4 instrument this point. He wouldn't have as many opportunities as piano, and it won't teach him to read music as well (even classical, that would only teach him one clef).

Then in a few years, he can learn band or orchestra instruments at school. Clarinet is super versatile (fingerings and technique transfer to other instruments), piano will prepare him well for percussion, too (they play a ton of mallet instruments in school).

Find the book Farkle McBride, by the way, sounds perfect for your little one!!


Uploaded with iPhone client

2boysandwill
My turn to hit the PEAnata!!!

PeaNut 121,208
December 2003
Posts: 13,269
Layouts: 74
Loc: SCV, CA

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:00:44 PM
I was going to say piano followed by smaller guitar too!

flute is also a good starting point

I really enjoyed the piano though

Captain K
AncestralPea

PeaNut 247,594
February 2006
Posts: 4,495
Layouts: 0

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:01:23 PM
Since he has already had toy instruments and you are planning to give him lessons, I would also suggest piano.

busypea
boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
Posts: 27,974
Layouts: 145
Loc: Oregon

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:04:14 PM
I took piano lessons for years - starting in about first grade. I think he would like piano, but I have a hard time imagining his little fingers being able to play!

We don't have a piano, though, and really don't have a place to put one in this house. I can't believe I'm even going to ask this, but would some kind of electric keyboard be a reasonable substitute when learning or is the keyfeel just too different?

I do definitely agree about the benefits of learning to read music. I played clarinet in band 5th - 12th grade and it was so helpful for me to already know how to read music when learning a new instrument.

sportymom
BucketHead

PeaNut 476,399
July 2010
Posts: 758
Layouts: 0
Loc: At a softball game somewhere!

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:04:20 PM
Totally agree with piano. That's how we started out our kids and now at ages 12, 14, and 16 they can play a lot of instruments. Clarinet, bassoon, sax, piano, bass, drums, flute, etc.

SM

batya
Making the WWW better, one post at a time.

PeaNut 59,094
December 2002
Posts: 32,845
Layouts: 24
Loc: up on my high horse

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:04:20 PM

I recommend piano. Piano will teach him to read both treble and bass clefs and is so versatile. In the music world, it will be very useful, too-


As a student of music and nothing more, ITA with this. I started piano when I was 5.

I have to disagree on flute. I started when I was 10 and I think the fingers will too small to stretch to what he will need to. But that's just my opinion.


OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.




VexedAngel
Cold Pea on a Cracked Plate

PeaNut 156,343
July 2004
Posts: 5,250
Layouts: 46

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:14:16 PM
I know some purists may not agree, and I understand why, but I think a good quality (ie it needs touch sensitivity and weighted keys at a minimum) keyboard or clavinova would be fine. And you could keep your eyes open for a used piano (spinets are small, we had one in our one bedroom apt for years).

(and seriously check the book Farkle McBride out from the library, it's just a children's book, super cute)


Uploaded with iPhone client

bizzymumma
I sense impending mayhem.

PeaNut 51,520
October 2002
Posts: 19,670
Layouts: 47
Loc: Beautiful BC

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:21:24 PM
How about violin? DH and all his cousins played violin starting from around age 3-4. They had their own little orchestra and played in church and community events. DH was even the BC Champion at around age 12!
Violin is easy for little fingers, unlike guitar or flute, is so easily portable, and doesn't need a lot of room like a piano.

There is nothing cuter than a little boy eeking out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on a violin!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Laurie

"Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow."
Doug Firebaugh


busypea
boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
Posts: 27,974
Layouts: 145
Loc: Oregon

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:21:28 PM
Well, it sounds like piano it is. I think I will start searching for an instructor and seek their advice on what would be an appropriate electronic piano for starting out.

If it's something he sticks with long-term, we certainly could accommodate a piano in the house. However, we're not inclined to shuffle everything around and spend that much money when he's just starting out.

megmc
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 497,090
January 2011
Posts: 7,223
Layouts: 1

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:35:10 PM
pots and pans?


but if you have to The piano. I bought a very nice electric keyboard at cost-co. It is very nice a for beginning, and I even have fun with it.

An Bizzy...I can think of a thousand things cuter than a 5 y/o on the violin. Violin can wait until he can master bow control.

megmc
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 497,090
January 2011
Posts: 7,223
Layouts: 1

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:35:13 PM
pots and pans?


but if you have to The piano. I bought a very nice electric keyboard at cost-co. It is very nice a for beginning, and I even have fun with it.

An Bizzy...I can think of a thousand things cuter than a 5 y/o on the violin. Violin can wait until he can master bow control.

busypea
boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
Posts: 27,974
Layouts: 145
Loc: Oregon

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:35:51 PM
We had a very nice piano, faithfully maintained, when I was growing up. The sound was Unfortunately, my parents finally sold it about 5 years ago, after many years of being unused (though still properly maintained) at their house. They offered it to us then, but we lived somewhere else then and literally had no place for it (plus I don't play at all anymore and piano is not DH's instrument). Boo.

If/when we decide to invest in one, we'll definitely go with quality and take care of it appropriately. Out of tune pianos are painful!

Dalai Mama
La Pea Boheme

PeaNut 49,641
September 2002
Posts: 26,337
Layouts: 85
Loc: Drunk on the lawn in a nuclear dawn

Posted: 11/26/2012 12:42:20 PM
For that age, violin or piano.

ETA*

Any that you would recommend avoiding?
Wind or brass. Until his mouth and facial muscles are more developed, I would avoid anything that requires a specific embouchure.


Jo Mama

***********************************

Gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight. - Bruce Cockburn

The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. - Douglas Adams


MergeLeft
Typical Liberal

PeaNut 221,236
August 2005
Posts: 21,421
Layouts: 67
Loc: Houston

Posted: 11/26/2012 1:14:53 PM
VexedAngel, do you find that teachers in your area will take piano students as young as 4? It's been my experience that they won't take them until they're able to read well and are old enough to maintain focus through a 30-minute lesson. The exception is Suzuki, of course, which will start them as young as three, but I haven't seen that mentioned here.

I have a lot of kinder parents here ask me about piano lessons because they say that the area teachers won't take them until they can read well and sit and focus for 30 minutes. The age of preference is more like six or seven.

Pedagogically speaking, IMO, at age four the primary focus should be on beat motion, understanding high/low, loud/soft, same/different, long/short, etc. The best instrument for young kids is the voice - they should be learning to use their head voice, match pitch, sing with a light, clear tone, etc. I recognize that opinions vary in the field as they do in any field, but I've never heard anyone other than Suzuki teachers recommend instrument lessons at all for a child as young as four.

If you must have an instrument, a lot of kids that young lack the fine motor skills for piano. I'd focus more on instruments that use gross motor action like drums and xylophones. I know it's hard on the ears, but all my training says that it's more developmentally appropriate. And forget lessons until he's old enough to actually focus through a 30-minute lesson. Enroll him in a group activity like Gymboree or Kindermusik instead, or find a studio that does group music activites for preschoolers.

(PK-5 music teacher with a lot of hours of Kodaly and early childhood training under my belt.)



busypea
boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
Posts: 27,974
Layouts: 145
Loc: Oregon

Posted: 11/26/2012 1:35:43 PM
I am 100% certain he has the ability and desire to focus on a 30 minute lesson (and practicing). However, I'm less certain about the fine motor skills portion of the equation.

I really appreciate all the information - you are giving us a lot to think about

ETA: They do Kindermusik at his school and he has been frustrated by it. He recently asked if he could do the dance class instead because the other kids just mess around in Kindermusik and he wants to learn to actually play the instruments.

Dalai Mama
La Pea Boheme

PeaNut 49,641
September 2002
Posts: 26,337
Layouts: 85
Loc: Drunk on the lawn in a nuclear dawn

Posted: 11/26/2012 1:38:50 PM
Nightowl, that just warms my heart! I had a tot that lived for music. On his letter of recommendation for his current choir, his school music teacher said that he was dictating music since Kindergarten and that he had written music to go with a rhythm rhyme that she still uses for all of her classes.

He's 13 now and is auditioning for an exclusive voice programme for high school.


Jo Mama

***********************************

Gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight. - Bruce Cockburn

The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. - Douglas Adams


busypea
boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
Posts: 27,974
Layouts: 145
Loc: Oregon

Posted: 11/26/2012 1:41:21 PM
That sounds like a great idea, Nightowl. And I too love the story of your son Kids who adore music just make me happy

alisatj
PeaFixture

PeaNut 129,041
February 2004
Posts: 3,946
Layouts: 62
Loc: MD

Posted: 11/26/2012 1:42:50 PM
I am one of those piano teachers who requires good readers and 'sit still for 30 minutes' . My experience has been that a child who starts at 5-6 and one who starts at 7-8 ends up at the same place around 9-10. What I'm saying is, it takes longer to get to the same point with a younger starter. So I honestly think that in most cases it's a waste of money to start too young.

Children of 5 or 6 also have very small hands and it's hard for them to use proper hand position.

(Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about the Suzuki method and don't teach it.)


TREZmom
Lost and Found in Pea-land

PeaNut 138,098
March 2004
Posts: 6,558
Layouts: 2
Loc: NC but wishing I was somewhere else

Posted: 11/26/2012 2:01:36 PM
My DS has been playing piano since he was 5. He loves it!

megmc
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 497,090
January 2011
Posts: 7,223
Layouts: 1

Posted: 11/26/2012 2:35:44 PM
As a child who started piano at 4. Find a teacher who excels in FUN!

I spent my hour yes hour with pencils on my knuckles , and sitting straight up on a hard bench and learning nothing by scales. Lets not forget the hours of practice at home.

Then on to the violin at 7....

I quit at 17, had enough of both.

At 5 he needs fun, and to learn actual songs/chords.

Zanette McCoy
PeaNut

PeaNut 346,576
November 2007
Posts: 286
Layouts: 8
Loc: FL

Posted: 11/26/2012 5:54:05 PM
Piano or the recorder


Zanette McCoy
zanettemccoy.com
Uploaded with iPhone client

Kate-pea
PeaFixture

PeaNut 146,398
May 2004
Posts: 3,548
Layouts: 1

Posted: 11/26/2012 8:05:57 PM
What a way to bring us music teachers out of the woodwork!

IMHO, the choice of instrument is far less important than finding a teacher who *really* knows how to teach young children.

A real Suzuki teacher might be a good place to start - it's a commitment on the parents' part, too, just be forewarned!

Guitar and piano have the advantage of teaching "vertical" (harmonic) hearing, while violin and cello really help train the ear (the player has to tune each note as they go along, unlike on a keyboard or fretted instrument).

A trial lesson or two is a must. Practicing with your young child is a must. Depending on the situation, a 15- or 20-minute lesson time might be a good option.

I believe a real piano is a better option than a keyboard or even a "digital piano." They just feel different, and they respond differently. I'm all for Craigslist pianos - my experience has been wonderful with them - just keep 'em tuned.

My littler ones started at 3 on the violin, with a teacher who knew her stuff. Could they be at the same level of playing now if they'd started a couple of years later? Probably. But they were both quite insistent, and I love that being violinists is part of their identity. They had rich musical experiences at home (and school, thankyouverymuch!), so there weren't many gaps that needed filling...

Let us know how it all plays out!


Uploaded with iPhone client

hergie
PeaAddict

PeaNut 118,906
December 2003
Posts: 1,881
Layouts: 0
Loc: Ohio

Posted: 11/26/2012 9:05:35 PM
Ask around and find a teacher that does take smaller children! I usually start kids around age 7, BUT I will start younger kids who are asking to learn an instrument! If the child really wants to learn, they can have a ton of fun doing it, but if the parent is forcing it, it is too young.

There are a couple of piano series that are geared toward younger kids. One is My First Piano Adventures and another is Piano Party There may be others, but those are two that I can think of off the top of my head.

Good luck!!

VexedAngel
Cold Pea on a Cracked Plate

PeaNut 156,343
July 2004
Posts: 5,250
Layouts: 46

Posted: 11/26/2012 9:21:11 PM
Merge, we have a lot of Orff support in our area (I'm a level one), and with the specialized training of music therapists, yes, a few would. I have used My First Piano Adventure by Nancy and Randall Faber with great success, although admittedly, not with a boy that age. It incorporates a lot of game play and is definitely not a 'sit still for 30 min' method (heck, they get to knock out rhythms on the piano--not the keys, anywhere else actually, etc).

I have a lot of tricks in my basket because of my varied training, and I agree with the sentiment that finding a good teacher is more important than the instrument at this point.

I personally would take him on a trial basis. I would never turn down a child interested in music (unless on hiatus from lessons like currently ). But I do always do 1-3 assessment sessions before committing.


Uploaded with iPhone client

*Delphinium Twinkle*
I'm just a pea:)

PeaNut 163,613
August 2004
Posts: 78,773
Layouts: 236
Loc: *Sunny Southern California*

Posted: 11/26/2012 9:35:58 PM
Piano or violin

Both are excellent first instruments


Bethie
proud Fiskateer #269
{My Blog}
*My Scraproom*
Uploaded with iPhone client

pennyring
Thrift Ninja

PeaNut 226,011
October 2005
Posts: 23,312
Layouts: 40
Loc: Rite Aid

Posted: 11/26/2012 9:39:46 PM
I was going to say piano too. That's what I started on when I was 5.




{Betsy}
Creative Dreamer

PeaNut 82,675
April 2003
Posts: 10,742
Layouts: 12

Posted: 11/27/2012 5:07:38 AM
I started playing the piano when I was three and know at least two others who started at that age.


Show/Hide Icons . Show/Hide Signatures
Hide
{{ title }}
{{ icon }}
{{ body }}
{{ footer }}