Learning any instrument takes time, practice and a lot of dedication but the younger you start, the easier it is. However, be warned, parents! Not every child is a budding Mozart. The instrument your little prodigy chooses to learn can have a huge impact on your family life, not to mention your hearing and well-being. So to help you and them with their choice, we’ve come up with six of the best or worst instruments...
1. The recorder
This small wooden implement of torture is often the first instrument a child learns to play.Despite its size, it’s not shy when it come to decibel levels and can easily raise you from the deepest of Sunday morning sleeps. Like a mosquito in your ear, any notes blown out of this hollow stick will set your nerves on edge. Often thought of as the ‘gateway instrument’ to harder ones, this piece of equipment does have its benefits… Firstly, the price! If little Jonny has set his heart on learning to play the recorder, it won’t break the bank. Secondly, due its size, it’s easily lost or burnt.
2. The guitar
If your child has ever thought of forming a band then this is the instrument for them… though possibly not you. Probably the coolest of all instruments but not without its drawbacks. Acoustic guitars are for hippies. Kids want electric ones and to turn their amps up to 11!!
From upstairs, you hear a gentle hum as the amp gets plugged in and the one man band enters the main stage…
‘HELLO TULSE HILL!! …1234 … ‘
TWANG!!! FEEDBACK, WHISTLE ,WHISTLE, TWANG!!
Like a firework going off in your front room, your ears get blown off the side of your head, the cat tears up the curtains and you fly up the stairs, shouting, ‘TURN THAT DOWN!!!’
Next thing, there’s a knock at the door and your neighbour is standing there holding her crying newborn baby who’s been woken from its nap.
After several sold-out bedroom performances, the best result is if the one-man-band decides to split, blaming musical differences. The guitar gets put to the back of the cupboard with the skateboard, potter’s wheel and Taekwondo suit.
3. The violin
It takes a certain type of person to like the sound a violin makes when played expertly, so when it’s played by a complete novice, it’s not going to be a crowd pleaser.
The standard piece first learnt by any child is Twinkle twinkle little star, a song annoying enough already but by no means improved by being played over and over (and over) by an amateur on violin.
Like hearing fingernails being dragged down a blackboard, you sit, nod and smile as your little Yehudi Menuhin works their way through their kitchen recital whilst inside your brain screams for the torture to end.
4. The drums
Drums take up a lot of room, and make a lot of sound. Your neighbours are going to love you for allowing your kids to learn this instrument. Some people cover the drum-kit room with egg boxes in an attempt to muffle the sound, but you’ve got to eat more eggs than Rocky to make a difference.
If your house holds together through the vibrations, given time and practice the sound of the drums being played can be really cool, and in a strange way therapeutic.
The real trouble starts when your kids’ friends come round… There’s something primeval about a drum kit that feeds into every child, making it irresistible.
Like an army of ants, they clamber over the kit, playing all the drums and symbols together at the same time. There’s no beat or rhythm, just a wall of sound loud enought to dislodge your fillings.
5. The piano
Like the drums, this is a big instrument. And, unlike the recorder, not a cheap one.
It’s as much a piece of furniture as an instrument and if unused quickly becomes one by being a good place on which to put photographs and CDs. Due to a piano’s size, it tends to be kept downstairs. This is the instrument’s major fault as when its played, you can’t watch the telly (unless you put the subtitles on). Best thing to do if this is the instrument for your child is get them a small battery-operated keyboard. Tell them there’s hardly any diffference in sound quality between the two. Batteries can easily go missing or become drained if it’s not turned off. A keyboard can also accidentally be left out in the garden in the rain, too.
6. The trumpet
The easiest of all instruments to learn or so you might think as its only got three buttons to press. But you’d be wrong! The trick to playing this instrument is all in the lips. Basically, you need to blow a raspberry down the mouth piece – this means small boys are naturals and can play with ease. These are not cheap instruments – often schools lend them out to children to take home. But, be warned, even though they’re made of brass, they’re more fragile than they look. If daddy comes in late one night, after possibly stopping off at the pub on the way home, and throws himself down on the sofa not seeing the trumpet tucked away under a cushion, they tend to bend. Schools don’t like this.
7. The triangle
The king of the instruments and by far the hardest to master. You know you child is a musical maestro when they’re chosen to learn the triangle. As with all musical instruments, timing is key… One ting in the wrong place and the performance is ruined. The only way to overcome this is to practise, practise, practise until you’ve cracked it And then practise some more. You have been warned.