“I don’t know if my child is going to stick with this, so we want to go with the cheapest option – at least until we know they are going to continue.” These are understandable words that we frequently hear from parents.
When you decide to invest in your child, you want to know that your child will have the experience you intend. In this case, you want to give your loved one an opportunity to play a musical instrument. However, going with the cheapest option assures frustration, not success. Many families choose to rent their first instrument, as renting is a flexible and affordable option that provides students with an instrument that will allow them to learn and progress.
Even still, parents can be cautious about how long their student’s musical interests will last. Even if your child does not want to become a musician, the benefits of musical instruction are well documented, both academically and emotionally.
We found three significant factors that can determine long-term success when a student starts a new musical instrument. They are:
- Instrument functionality
- Designated playing time
- Quality instruction
A Functional Instrument
In our article – Best Violin for Beginners – we discuss how starting on a quality instrument is the most significant indicator of a student continuing their musical journey.
Over the years, we have gathered statistics that show the functionality of a student’s first instrument often determines whether they stick with it or not. The lower the instrument’s quality, the more likely the student will give up. The higher the quality of the instrument, the more likely they are to continue. To begin with, a student just needs an instrument that will function properly and help them learn. Many out there have such poor functionality that it is almost impossible to learn to play.
To ensure functionality appropriate for your child’s skill level, we offer five rental options:
- Basic – This is the minimum level of functionality for a beginning student. These are not toy quality and will help a determined student learn to play.
- Student – Most teachers and school programs consider this level to be the minimum functionality and sound for classrooms and lessons. These instruments stay in tune well, have a good sound and are easy to play.
- Standard – These are the best instruments for a beginner and are from the Nicolas Parola and Trista shops. They ensure success because of ease of playing and responsiveness. This instrument is capable of many musical nuances and techniques that basic and student instruments cannot do. Most people go with this option.
- Advancing – The instruments of the Stefan Petrov shop enable players to do and discover new things they did not know they were capable of musically. This enables quick learning and rewards good playing. These are an excellent choice for a fantastic start for a beginner or a student who has been playing for a few years.
- Advanced – These instruments are exceptional in both tonal quality and beauty. Any student would benefit from playing on one of these instruments.
Generally speaking, of the students who began on a Basic instrument, 80% returned their instrument, i.e. quit, by the end of the first year. Alternatively, those who started on a Standard or better instrument rental only had a return rate of 18% in the first 12 months. This shows that students who start with a Standard or better instrument rental have an exponentially higher chance of learning and success.
Designated Playing Time
Another factor of success is determined by time spent playing the instrument. Success is achieved by small amounts of daily practice along the way, which adds up to learning to play the instrument. Any designated practice time, ideally 5-7 times a week, will lead to greater learning gains. Any assistance a parent or teacher can provide to assist the student in time management will increase the likelihood of success.
Here are some practical ideas you can use to assist in your child’s musical journey:
- Help them set aside a specific time to practice each day – even if it’s only for ten minutes. Students thrive on routines, so helping clear their schedule at their designated practice time helps them achieve success.
- Ask them questions about what they are finding difficult or what they are enjoying.
- Discover new styles of music and concerts together. What kind of music inspires your student?
There is never a more crucial time to start instruction than at the beginning of a musical journey. This can be through a school or by a private music instructor. Many foundational techniques are learned early on and can often determine your child’s long-term success. While one-on-one instruction is often considered superior, many school programs can provide a perfect start for your child.
It is wonderful that you are looking for ways to help your child develop a lifelong love of music and giving them an opportunity to become a musician. We are committed to the growth and well-being of our community of young musicians. Working together, we can help you and your child enjoy learning to play an instrument.
If you would like help selecting your child’s first instrument, consider completing our Instrument Selection Questionnaire – Help me Choose My Instrument.