Opening a young one’s mind to music is a gift that can last a lifetime. Learning to play an instrument and understand music is not only a great creative outlet to relax or excite but has also been shown to have several cognitive benefits for developing minds by studies all around the world. Research conducted by The University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute has found that exercising the ways of thinking required for playing music can aid in a child’s brain development, dramatically improve reading and accelerate their understanding of language. Professor Susan Hallam at The University of London even suggests that some cognitive abilities acquired through music can transfer into other developing talents and accelerate a whole host of other learned skills. The good news is that it’s never too late to start and there are dozens of options for budding musicians of all ages and stages to get started with their ideal instrument and learning their favourite styles of music.
Toddlers – Age 4 and under
When it comes to our youngest, experimentation is key. Toddlers can learn a lot about timing and even work on basic motor skills just by exploring sound in the most straightforward ways. Following along with others and repeating simple rhythms or sequences without the need for precise technique is a great way to introduce them to music and get them used to making noises with different actions. Percussion instruments such as tambourines, maracas and castanets are a fantastic way to let young ones improvise and follow along with you to get an understanding of rhythm and tempo. Alternatively, simple pitch percussion instruments like a xylophone or bells can help tiny tots begin to realise that different actions create different noises and musical notes.
Early Primary – Age 5 to 8
As the kids begin to grow and are able to appreciate a few basic musical concepts, they can start to develop an understanding for the way different noises come together to make melodies or songs, and some of the techniques needed to form them. The layout of the keys on a piano gives learners a clear visual way of starting to understand higher and lower notes in relation to one another (tones and semitones) and differentiating natural notes (white keys) from flat/sharp notes (black keys). A solid entry-level keyboard like the Yamaha NP12 is a quality product that anyone can learn on comfortably for quite some time as it mimics the sound and feel of a professional recital hall piano. String instruments like the Yamaha CS-40 (3/4 size) classical guitar or the iconic Squier Mini Stratocaster electric guitar are also great options for aspiring musicians with smaller hands, giving them a way to understand the formation of chords in a way that is tactile and employs great muscle memory.
Late Primary – Age 9 to 12
Children that are developing into young teens are usually beginning to form an identity of their own and start to dabble in the things that interest them most, including their tastes for music. Contemporary pop and rock music has had a huge influence on young ones around the world, and no matter what core component of any band or music group excites your child most, Big Music has you covered. Fender’s line of Squier guitars are some of the most popular purchases around the world for earlier learners of your classic electric guitar (Squier Stratocaster Pack w/ Amp) or any budding bassists (Squier Affinity P-Bass w/ Amp & Bag). And an entry-level electronic drumkit like the Yamaha DTX 522K is a great idea for some of your louder, more energetic kids!
Teens – Age 13+
Moving into their teenage years, your children are going to start making their most significant progress yet when it comes to skills and a sophisticated understanding of music. In exploring their unique interests and individual expression, the more tech-savvy generation that coming through might need some more high-tech gear to unleash their full potential. The increasing popularity and evolution of electronic music has unlocked a completely new dimension to what technology and digital instruments can produce. The Novation Launchkey 25 Mk II is a fantastic MIDI keyboard that lets a producer or aspiring DJ develop and experiment with the science of sound, including Ableton Live – some of the best software out there for mixing, editing, producing and more. As for moving up the food chain of electric guitars, for teens and more advanced players, you can’t go wrong with Ibanez, and the Ibanez RG Series is one of the most recognisable midrange guitars out there.
When it comes to holiday shopping for your young musicians, Big Music has you covered no matter the age or the stage of their musical career. If you’re looking for a place for them to hone their skills and build strong friendships with likeminded kids along the way, don’t forget about our holiday camps and the tuition we offer for a whole host of instruments and any musical aspirations your children might have!