Musical Instruments for Kids: 4 Simple Suggestions

Musical Instruments for Kids, What To Look For

Very young children show their interest in music in obvious ways: singing, dancing, clapping their hands and trying to play instruments that they may find in a home or classroom. But many children under the age of five or six (and sometimes, even older) don’t have the patience, the fine motor skills, the dexterity, and the attention span to take private music lessons ad do the necessary practice. So not all instruments are suitable musical instruments for kids.


Group lessons for young children are one answer, but parents can also introduce their children to instruments that are more manageable than gigantic pianos, finger-shredding guitars, and finicky violins. So in our article, we look at easy alternative musical instruments for kids that will have them learning but still giggling!

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Girl playing Tuba
“Instrument Petting Zoo” by eddie.welker is licensed under CC BY 2.0: Musical Instruments for Kids are great!


Rhythm Instruments: Musical Instruments for Kids

Rhythm instruments are the obvious choice. While percussion players must practice for many years to master the intricate rhythms they play, a small child can get enormous pleasure experimenting with the sounds of drums and percussion instruments such as tambourines, claves, sticks, shakers, rain-sticks, maracas, and hand drums. Don’t just give the children the instruments and walk away! Make this a family activity. Three good ways to use drums to teach rhythm are:

  • Teach children to play along in time with a recording.
  • Have the child learn and play one pattern, repeated over and over again, while the parent or another sibling plays another, different pattern.
  • Practice counting and playing at the same time.
  • Do what musicians call “trading eights,” which means you make up a pattern for eight beats, then the child makes up a pattern, and you keep trading off, with the instruments “talking” to each other.
  • Play “copycat. Gradually get more and more complex.
  • If an older sibling takes music lessons, occasionally let the younger child play along on different percussion instruments.

Two Warnings: Rhythm instruments only seem indestructible, but they aren’t. A drum set can withstand the tender ministrations of a rock-and-droll drummer better than the poking of a child holding the drumstick like a sword and pushing it into the drum-head. Supervise the use of drumsticks. A child can jab a drum-stick straight through the head of a drum — or into another child’s eye (hopefully not).

his is also a good time to teach a child basic manners around instruments: Never play another person’s instrument without asking first, and play it like an instrument, not a toy.

Musical Instruments for Kids
“kid-play-drum” by Christopher Derek is licensed under CC BY 2.0: Look at him drumming!

Wind and String Instruments: Musical Instruments for Kids


Ukeleles were once so popular in America that instead of printing guitar chords on published sheet music, music publishers used to print ukelele chords. This instrument is pint-sized and has a high pitch young children find pleasing. This is a good choice for a child who is asking about guitar lessons.


For wind instruments, harmonicas are a good choice. Given the correct harmonica (they come in different keys and you do need to match the harmonica to the song), a child can play along without having to worry about playing the right notes. A harmonica that comes with a play-along CD is a good choice for parents who don’t have the musical education to figure out how to match the instrument to the key.

musical instruments for children


Two other mouth instruments that work with small children are recorders and pennywhistles (basically, small recorders). Both are lightweight, inexpensive, easy to blow into, and easy to finger.


There are many thousands of different instruments from all over the world, and many of them are inexpensive and can be played on by children. Check out an independently owned music store, the quirkier the better. While the big-box national chains have great deals on telecasters and Casio keyboards, that’s not what you’re looking for: Your local independent may have a good selection of odd instruments music store, which could have anything ranging from African thumb pianos to child-sized Scottish bagpipes to mountain dulcimers.


Most importantly: Get a few different instruments, put the whole family to work — and have some fun.

Girl Playing Cello
“‘Cello Beginner” by Steve Snodgrass is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Musical Instruments for Kids: Suggestions (Increasing with Age)

Now that you have a good idea behind the theory of kids learning new instruments and what skills they develop and what to look for in a musical instrument for kids, I am going to give a few suggestions that I particularly like! So let’s see some great musical instruments for kids!

Play Drums (2 years and up)

Full drum sets should probably be avoided until your kid is at least 10 or so. In the meantime, there are some fantastic toy drums on the market that can help kids learn the foundations of rhythm. Here is a little digital drumset that looked the most promising to me!

Are you looking for something for even younger children? Shakers or percussion set toys may be your best choice; however, bear in mind that these toys are noisy, so be prepared for a ruckus!

Handbells (2 years and up)

You’ve undoubtedly seen them before, as they’re a popular birthday present for kids. It’s simple to understand why! Most sets include a miniature songbook that demonstrates how to play kid-friendly classics. Most songs require more than two bells, so having an additional hand is essential for some lighter family fun. It’s also a wonderful method to check if your child is musically inclined: rockstar youngsters will adore them no matter what. Not exactly what springs to mind when thinking of the greatest musical instruments for kids, but definitely worth a look!

Xylophone (3 years and up)

I have no idea why kids love xylophones so much, but they definitely do! Seeing them figure out how to play them is interesting in and of itself! This is unquestionably one of the greatest musical instruments for kids who are too young to go to larger, chord-based instruments yet have a musical inclination.

Piano (4 years and up)

The piano is the most popular instrument in the world and is naturally, the one most kids start off playing. But, be aware that it is not suitable for everyone. Learning takes time, and it’s difficult to start playing tunes right away. Nothing beats seeing a child realize that beating on keys truly makes a sound, even though most pianos for toddlers are essentially huge xylophones disguised as pianos. Furthermore, learning to play the piano works best when one of the parents already understands how to play or when a tutor is engaged.

Conclusion on Musical Instruments for Kids

Now you’ve learned the basics about musical instruments for kids! You should be able to easily identify which instrument is best suited to your child’s needs and which instruments will make them happier!

Good luck with your little rockstar and I will see you later!

Feel free to comment which musical instruments for kids have worked for you and your family!

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