Learning a musical instrument has many positive effects for your child and they don’t have to be very good in order to gain the benefits to brain development and developmental skills.

The longer they learn the better, so picking an instrument that enlivens their enthusiasm is the best way to have them continue for years to come.

Tactile children will enjoy instruments that lend themselves to group lessons. They will likely choose instruments that are physically demanding, like trombones, tubas or cellos. They like being able to exaggerate their physical actions by either exaggerating their arm movements in order to make others laugh or by physically wrapping themselves around an instrument in order to hear it physically “sing.” Tactile children are comforted by rules, and will try to follow them whenever possible, making them great band and orchestra members. They will love being part of an event like a concert, and find a performance in front of an audience exciting and fun.

Visual children prefer order and perfection. They do well with instruments like the piano because they can see the keys, and make the visual connection between their fingers, the keys and the notes. Further, in piano, how the musician plays and looks is very ordered, which is a comfort to visual children. Even better, being able to play the piano is an impressive skill, one that friends and family will appreciate and praise – something very important to visual children.

Auditory children will respond to the freedom of a string instrument. They are equipped with the skills to know, better than their classmates, when a finger is off, making a note sharp or flat. Auditory children will enjoy the freedom of being able to create their own music, or replaying what they hear on the radio, rather than practicing off a score. Try to allow auditory children this freedom in their musical learning even if they continue a more structured form of learning.

Taste and smell children respond to instruments with personal connections. Taste and smell children may choose an instrument that their favorite cousin plays, or one that Grandma likes. They will like the flute or harp, for the way it feels or because it might remind them of a special movie. Learning an instrument can be effective with taste and smell children as another way they can express their feelings. Music can be a great outlet for their special brand of sensitivities and often what they have trouble saying can be expressed in this alternative way.

Learning an instrument demands the habit of regular practice to see improvement, helps children learn patience, builds physical coordination, helps them to listen, builds their attention to detail and provides a creative outlet, to name just a few benefits. There have also been many studies that indicate that IQ levels increase so does brain chemistry in terms of learning and retaining other knowledge. With so many benefits, it makes sense to encourage and also take your time to find the right fit with an instrument for your child.

Priscilla Dunstan is a behavioral researcher and creator of the Dunstan Baby Language and author of “Child Sense” and “Calm the Crying.” She currently works in New York as a behavioral consultant. Learn more about Dunstan at www.dunstanbabynewyork.com.

I like this approach to selecting an instrument for a child based on how they learn, i.e. visual learner, etc.
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