It is wonderful if you or your child is interested in playing an instrument! If your child (or you) have been seriously considering a specific instrument, then that is the instrument you should pursue. If you attempt to try another instrument before progressing to the one you really desire, then you might cause a lot of frustration that may turn into aversion. Aversion may not always happen, but you have to consider the risk if you insist your child begins playing a different instrument before the one he or she really wants to play.
As with anything, conduct some personal research before you dive in. Look up the history and invention of the instrument on Wikipedia, search on YouTube to see people playing the instrument. If you know anyone personally who already plays, ask them to tell you about it, how the sound is produced or even to play a song for you. If after all your research and self-education, your child (or you) continue to show an increasing interest in the instrument (note: voice, i.e. singing, is an instrument, too) then you need to begin to search for all your options.
There are many local music stores available where you can rent, rent to purchase, or buy various instruments who also provide music instruction, maintenance and repair specific to that instrument. Shop around for the best offers. Remember: you're in the driver's seat. Personally, I recommend dealing with a local store for several key reasons.
- You have a physical location where you can return the instrument for maintenance or in case you want to return it.
- You have real people who can assist you through the process with personal customer service.
- They are more likely to offer other financial options in regards to strict renting, renting towards purchase, three-month trials, etc. instead of just out-right purchasing.
- You are able to view and try the instrument before you make a commitment. If you find an instrument online, like at Craigslist, Amazon or eBay, you don't truly know the condition of the instrument before you purchase it. With Craigslist, you might not be able to return it for a refund or repair.
With children it can be difficult to discern when the time is right to pursue musical instruction. I will approach the issue with my own children in the following manner. If they express a serious interest in a particular instrument over a significant amount of time, say one year, for example, and they show enough discipline in other areas to where they can sit still for instruction and practice at least 5 days faithfully most weeks, then I will feel that they are ready to begin. This would be the case where a financial and time investment needs to be made on my part. When, and if, that time comes I would allow them to pursue whichever instrument they are inclined towards. We would see if there are three-month rental trials available and test it out. If my child practices on his or her own initiative, then we would continue for a year and maybe switch our payment options toward a rent to purchase. I should not have to pressure my child to practice if he or she is truly interested in the instrument. It should be something he or she enjoys doing.
Likewise you must find a teacher who's style and personality are a good fit for you and your child. Oftentimes students who are interested in the instrument will become averse to it if the teacher doesn't suit their personality. As a parent, I would observe the lessons in the beginning to see how the teacher interacts with my child. If it something doesn't seem to be working well, then we might need to change teachers. Every individual student and teacher are unique and switching teachers should not be taken personally. Your child needs a teacher who has mastered the instrument themselves, who is excited about your child learning the instrument, who can diagnose problems and explain concepts in the way that your child will understand, who can motivate your child to continue, and who can make your child feel at ease. Observing the lessons in the beginning can help you determine if your child and that teacher will make a good match educationally.
I hope that this proves helpful to some of you parents out there who have children discussing musical instruction.