Meet the String Family: How to Choose the Right Instrument for Your Child

Music enriches our lives, speaks to our souls, expands our minds. Introducing your children to music from a young age is like opening a door to a new world for them. Choosing a musical instrument for your child is an exciting journey that can significantly impact their cognitive and emotional development. String instruments, in particular, are known for their rich tones and expressive capabilities. However, the variety available can make it challenging to decide which one is best suited for your child.

The Magical World of String Instruments


Music has the power to shape a child’s development, enhancing their cognitive skills, creativity, and emotional expression. When it comes to string instruments, the choices are as diverse as the children who play them. From the high-pitched violin to the deep tones of the double bass, each instrument offers unique qualities and challenges. Before committing to one, visit one of the well-stocked local violin shops across Australia and find out more about these magical instruments.

The Violin: The Soprano of the String Family

The violin, often the first string instrument that comes to mind, is known for its bright, expressive sound. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the string family. Its small size makes it easy for kids to carry and store. Many children start learning the violin as young as three or four years old, and the wide repertoire means there’s a vast amount of music to be played, from classical to contemporary. Possible considerations could be the level of precision needed as playing the violin requires precise finger placement and bow control. Also, due to its popularity, there is often fierce competition in orchestras and ensembles.

The Viola: The Middle Voice

The viola is slightly larger than the violin and produces a richer, deeper sound. It occupies the middle range of the string family, providing a warm and mellow tone. Its deeper tone can be more appealing to some listeners and players, as the viola can play both melody and harmony, making it a versatile choice. While it has a rich solo repertoire, there is less music available compared to the violin. There is often less competition for viola positions in orchestras, but its size and weight may be challenging for smaller children.

The Cello: The Soulful Baritone

The cello, known for its soulful, resonant sound, is larger than the viola and violin and is played sitting down. It covers a wide range of notes, from low bass to high tenor. Playing the cello requires the use of both hands and arms in a coordinated manner, which can be physically satisfying. The pros of learning the cello include a wide variety of musical expressions and high demand in orchestras and chamber music groups. However, be prepared to actively participate in transporting the instrument, as it is quite large, and can be cumbersome for young children.

The Double Bass: The Foundation of the Orchestra

The double bass is the largest and lowest-pitched string instrument. It provides the foundational bass lines in orchestras and jazz ensembles. It is used in a variety of genres, including classical, jazz, and popular music. Playing such a large instrument can help develop physical strength and coordination. Due to its size and construction, the double bass can be more expensive than other string instruments and can be challenging for younger children.

How Do I Choose an Instrument for My Child?


1. Consider Your Child’s Physical Size and Strength

Assess your child’s physical attributes. Ensure the instrument is appropriately sized for your child’s height and arm length. Smaller-sized instruments are available for younger players. Instruments like the violin require more finger agility, while the cello and double bass need more arm strength. For young or small children, the violin or a fractional-sized cello might be more suitable. As children grow, they might be more comfortable handling the larger viola, cello, or even the double bass.

2. Listen to Your Child’s Preferences

Expose your child to recordings of each instrument and observe which sound they are drawn to. Arrange trial lessons at one of the local violin shops for each instrument to see which one your child enjoys playing the most.

3. Think About Practical Considerations

Consider the cost of the instrument and any additional accessories or maintenance. Ensure you have enough space at home to store the instrument and for your child to practice comfortably. If your child will need to carry the instrument to school or lessons, factor in the ease of transportation.

4. Trial Periods

Consider renting an instrument from a violin shop before committing to a purchase. This allows your child to explore their interest without a significant investment. Enrol your child in introductory lessons to gauge their interest and aptitude before making a final decision.

5. Long-Term Commitment

Check the availability of qualified teachers for the chosen instrument in your area. Music teachers can provide valuable insights based on your child’s personality, physical attributes, and musical inclinations. Consider the opportunities for your child to play in orchestras, bands, or chamber groups as they progress.

The Joy of Music-Making

Choosing the right string instrument for your child is an important step in fostering their love for music. Once you are more familiar with each instrument, you can help your child find an instrument that will bring them joy and satisfaction. Whether they end up playing the soaring violin, the rich viola, the expressive cello, or the foundational double bass, the skills and experiences they gain will be invaluable. 

Music-making is a journey, and with the right start, your child will have the opportunity to create beautiful memories and develop a lifelong appreciation for the art. In the end, the best instrument is one that resonates with your child’s interests and passions. Encourage them to explore and enjoy the process, and they will find their place in the wonderful world of string instruments.

Author: Michael Hobbs

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