Choose an instrument

There really is no golden rule in deciding which instrument to go for, but considering the following should really help.

  1. Motivation: The student must show an interest in the chosen instrument. This motivation can come about for many different reasons – perhaps a friend or family member plays that instrument, perhaps they love the sound, or the way it looks, or they like the teacher of that instrument in school, or they want to join a local group or band they’ve seen, or they have seen the instrument at a concert or on TV. The key thing is that the student wants to do it. Learning an instrument is not easy, so trying to learn one you don’t really want to do at the outset really won’t help!
  2. Making Music With Others: Consider whether your chosen instrument will offer opportunities to play music with other people or not. Students who learn instruments such as violin,cello, flute, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, cornet, trombone, baritone horn, tenor horn will soon be able to play in music groups with others, usually within 12 to 18 months – for example, see information on our Junior Orchestra. Playing music with others can open up all sorts of exciting possibilities, such as being able to take part in concerts with school or Music for Life music groups. Playing music this way is, for many, where the excitement of music lies. Being part of a music group is a great way to make lifelong friends! Group opportunities are also available for guitarists. Opportunities can be fewer for drummers for the simple reason that most bands only need one drummer. Both keyboard and piano are generally considered to be solo instruments and although there can be occasional opportunities for these instruments to play in a group, they are few and far between. However, on the plus side young people can find piano and keyboard to be more enjoyable to play on their own at home than instruments such as band or orchestral instruments. This can make home practice, playing for relaxation, and performing to family and friends at home really enjoyable. And, of course, keyboard skills are incredibly useful to musicians who start to compose their own music.
  3. Physical suitability and right age to start: The student needs to be old enough to learn successfully. Starting too early can be very discouraging. It is much better to wait until they are physically and intellectually able to cope with the demands of learning an instrument. These are general rules, and like all such rules there will be exceptions, but we feel this is a good guide. Music for Life does not provide lessons for children in Reception class at primary school.
  4. 6-8 years of age; violin, keyboard or piano suitable. These instruments provide an excellent introduction to music. Many families may already have access to a piano or a keyboard and violins are relatively cheap instruments to buy or rent and have the huge bonus that, within 12 months or so, children can be making music with others in a group. Guitar is best started at around 7 or 8 years of age, but some teachers will start children a bit younger than this.
  5. 8-9 years of age or older: children can start on wind instruments such as trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, clarinet when they are big enough to hold them comfortably.
  6. Availability: Find out from school which instruments are currently being taught there. We may find we are not be able to arrange lessons on other instruments right away, but will do our very best to do so should there be demand (usually six pupils or more).


Talk to other pupils or parents, go to a music shop to try an instrument out (but don’t ever be put off because you can’t get a good sound first time!), or come along to listen to MfL musicians in concert!!