How to choose the right music instrument for your child

“Cartoon Girl Blowing Trumpet” by AKARAKINGDOMS @ freedigitalphotos.net
“Cartoon Girl Blowing Trumpet” by AKARAKINGDOMS @ freedigitalphotos.net

From 1991 to 2011, in my capacity as the administrator of a music school, I have experienced the successful implementation of practical guidelines provided by Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd in their book The Right Instrument For Your Child.

Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd captivate the attention of parents and music teachers with a couple of statements -

  • Nine children out of ten could succeed in learning a music instrument;
  • Most of the children who give up learning instruments are just as musical as those who carry on; they fail because their instruments were wrongly selected;
  • Most children who start with piano before the age of eight will fail, and believe that they are ‘no good at music’;
  • Children who succeed on an instrument also do better in school.

Most matters regarding music tuition and the selection of the right instrument are being covered in The Right Music Instrument, among others the physical, mental and personality qualities required by specific instruments.

In this article I stress the personality requirements, but emphasizing at the same time that talented children are able to master any instrument of their choice. ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. Most children, however, want to play a music instrument before they even know the various instruments orchestras/bands are being composed of. This is where the teacher and parent need the guidelines provided in The Right Music Instrument.

According to the research done by Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd the following instruments suit specific personalities -

Concert Flute

Appeals to shy or lonely children who enjoy their own privacy. They may seem dreamy and forgetful, but could be quietly sociable and will enjoy making music with other children in orchestras and bands of all kinds. The aggressive and dominant child may not find satisfaction on the flute.

Clarinet

Appeals to bright, alert and sociable children with several different hobbies or interests. They look forward to play with others in orchestras of all sorts.

Saxophone

Very suitable for children who are labeled as ‘casual’ or ‘absent-minded’. Happy, well-balanced gregarious children, not in need of a close relationship with a teacher, find the saxophone an ideal way of getting into the world of making music with friends. The saxophone is designed for the delicious freedom of improvisation.

Oboe

Ideal for determined, tight-lipped, stubborn introverts who prefer only one to two close friends. Oboe-players in an orchestra tend to make a little clan and keep to themselves.

Bassoon

For responsive and pleasantly-gregarious children, with a quiet sense of humor. They tend to be the practical jokers in the woodwind section of the orchestra.

Trumpet & Cornet

Appeal to sociable children with lots of ‘nervous energy’ and can accommodate the aggressive, dominant and ambitious child, as well as the easygoing. An excellent instrument for the individualistic child who wants to feel independent of the family.

Tenor horn and Baritone

Very satisfying for gentle, peaceful children who do not want to dominate others. They are easygoing, responsible children who like being ‘in the middle of things’. They are often asked to be organizers of rehearsals, or the secretary of the orchestra, or the librarian of the orchestra’s music.  

French Horn

For children who prefer to relate to small groups. They do not easily mix with others. This instrument appeals to conscientious, intense, hardworking and persistent children. It is a very difficult instrument to master, but a challenge to the child who need to prove her/himself as unique and special.

Trombone

Most fulfilling for artistic, quietly sociable and sensitive children who need to feel that they are making the sound. Particularly satisfying for children who wants to express their personalities playing in jazz bands.

Kim added the following description: "Trombone players tend to be a lot like Saxophone players at times. But with a different element."

Euphonium

For responsive children who are readily reacting or replying to people or events or stimuli.

(Euphonium means 'beautiful sound', and this instrument has indeed the most beautiful and soul-soothing sound.)

Tuba

Ideal for the responsive, good-natured boy who are happy belonging to a group and who tend to ‘lead behind the curtains’.

String instruments

Violin - For the quietly behaved children, neither solitary nor gregarious. They must be able to accept that their principle function as players is to contribute to a corporate sound – the individual string-player is rarely heard alone.

Viola - Appeals to responsive, kindly children who want to contribute to a group endeavour.

Cello - This instrument asks for big hands and long arms and often attracts shy children who need the respect of others but don’t like the limelight.

Double Bass - Offers no outlet for the child who wants to dominate, but highly suitable for one with an interest in jazz music. Playing the double bass in jazz combo is fulfilling and creatively satisfying.

Percussion: Drums, cymbals, maracas, wood-block, drumkit, xylophone, timpani...

For the tense, nervous, often irritable, hyperactive, restless child the percussion section of an orchestra offers satisfaction and fulfillment.

A drumkit player's dream is to play in a rock band.  

Piano

Most suitable for the quietly, intelligent and conscientious child (from the age of eight). Gregarious children are miserable on this instrument, for it takes many years of study before it can be played with others. It is though an ideal instrument to begin with, as it provides basic theoretical background for all other music instruments.

Classical Guitar

Deeply comforting and pleasurable to the acquisitive or possessive child – perhaps a collector or a hoarder of pocket money. Chess-players feel good reading and playing guitar music. Also suitable for the self-contained and independent child who does not want open or equal-sided relationships. The child who succeeded in the guitar enjoys being alone. The classical guitar player will easily master the electrical-, bass-, and folk guitar.

The Right Instrument for Your Child
The Right Instrument for Your Child

This is a unique book - now in it's 4th, updated edition - which offers a simple and practical method of selecting the right instrument for the individual child. Starting with the physical and emotional make-up of the child and using questionnaires and charts, the authors systematically explain the pros and cons of various instruments. For instance, a child who loves company might not enjoy playing the piano as it is predominantly a solo instrument. It appeals more to quiet introverts and yet many a child has been forced to learn only to give up as soon as they are allowed. As well as examining each individual instrument, the authors give advice on how some of the pitfalls can be avoided and provide information on buying and practising. Based on years of research by the authors, whose experience is unsurpassed, this is a comprehensive and inspirational book that will help unlock every child's potential.

 

"The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils." ~ William Shakespeare via his character Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice.

© Martie Coetser

Published: 2010

Revised: September 2015

© 2010 Martie Coetser

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Comments 151 comments

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Wow! I'm amazed at the science of choosing an instrument. I played the trumpet and I wish I had stuck with it or chosen the sax. I love the Sax. Thank you very much for this hub. I'm delightfully surprised. and most kids who choose the piano before eight will fail. Great hub!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Micky Dee –Thanks to Ben-Tovim and Boyd we seldom introduce a child to an instrument not suitable for her/his personality. My son never touched my piano, organ or keybord. Then, at the age of 13, he scored high marks in the Bentley test (which had to be done by all new Grade 8’s in his school). The tuba was introduced to him and he simply fell in love with the instrument. I never had to remind him to practise music. Today, at the age of 36, he can’t imagine a life without his tuba (or his bass guitar).

Thanks for the read and your encouraging comment, Micky. I think you would have been a great saxophone player. Please enjoy for a few minutes some saxophone music with me. Bill Clinton on the tenor saxophone. If you don’t like him, just concentrate on the music :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alv7N6Ynm1Y


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Now I know, thanks to you, Martie, why I did not enjoy taking lessons to play the piano when I was six years old. Also why I hated taking the time to practice. Too gregarious was I. :)

Thank you for this fascinating read.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

drbj – At the age of six much concentration is needed for little fingers to coordinate, especially for the impatient child who prefer playing with friends or pets. The gregarious child should rather start at six with the recorder, preferably in a small group, and he may even participate in an Orff-ensemble, which includes percussion instruments. But let me stick out my head and introduce you to Mario’s bassoon-quartet. Perhaps you would’ve enjoyed studying this woodwind instrument. The trombone (brass instrument) is also very suitable for the gregarious child with a sense of humor. Please enjoy with me – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gXh83hNnWw


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california

Martie-

This is an excellent hub! I had no choice but to play the flute, because a friend of my mother's let me borrow it. And when I saw the instrument, I loved it immediately! I was definitely shy around people. I also remember how exciting it was to play with the band- when a song finally came together. I think your book just might be spot-on!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Deni Edwards – You were lucky! Too often children come to us with a borrowed instrument that doesn’t suit them at all. Fortunately we have a lot of instruments to lend to our students until they are ready to buy their own. Deni, I also play the flute – though by this time I’ve lost my embouchure completely – just don’t get the time to play. Please enjoy with me Carmen Fantasy for flute and Piano - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2s1682XtwQ&feature...


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california

Martie-Thanks for the link. That was absolutely beautiful.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Deni Edwards - I agree - Most beautiful fantasy! I'll never get tired of it. Take good care of yourself!


jandee profile image

jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Hello Martie, When Zac was 6 he started guitar lessons but wouldn't practice he then moved on to piano lessons but again wouldn't practice ! My daughter took him away from lessons then one day he asked me if I would take him to a new music school. We went to check it and he was given a test. I was told he was exeptionally talented re.music. All this was to be strictly secret from his mum and my husband.. He has been going for 12 months and is also playing Tenor horn (in a church club)in a small band.I am so excited at the prospect of christmas day when we all go to my daughters and -Wow ! Zac is going to get on the piano and do some jazz stuff which they know nothing of! re. his lessons for the last year..,

enjoyed your music info. and envy you your piano talent -I love piano,best from jandee.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

jandee – Oh Zac is certainly going to surprise them all out of their socks. I love surprises like this. One has to be careful with children under 8 – for them music tuition should be more play than work. Of course there are those little Mozart’s on piano and violin, but we don’t regard them as rol-models. Jandee, I’ve found for us Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody. It is not jazz, and it is played on an electric piano – not my personal choice of piano – but this is an amazing piece, totally beyond my level of expertise, but just to think I could have played like that if I had the opportunity, gives me a thrill. Please enjoy it with me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWmTg3bHwuw

BTW – Jazz music is not at all easy to play by a beginner on any instrument.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Martie my vriend - dit is baie interesant wat jy hier geskryf het, en ek waardeer dit. As one who is passionate about music this info will be very useful to me as I encourage others to take up music.

I think every child should have a go at some form of music. Very important for the development of all sorts of skills.

Thanks for this great piece and I look forward to hearing your son!

Love and peace

Tony


Sasha'sOnHubShell profile image

Sasha'sOnHubShell 5 years ago from Florida

Oh my gosh! The psychology behind musical instruments as they relate to childhood and grade school experience is so intensely accurate. At least from my experience, all of these coincidences in personality type and success rate, effect of self esteem, etc all bring back a vividly memorable experience.

When I was much younger, and excelling more so than ever before in school was when I played the violion. Yes, I was a very quiet, appropriately behaved kid and enjoyed being out of the spotlight, though I do remember when I was nominated for "solo-ensemble" for the Strings Section. I had to go play in front of three judges alone at nine years old and I was terrified. Nothing felt better than getting those reviews back and having an "A-" as an overall score.

While I still don't care much for the minus symbol in grading, because I think it brings a negative connotation to any grade, it was an experience I will remember fondly for the entirety of my life.

I enjoyed reading this Hub so much. I love your writing so much, it has a whole new brand of engaging that I've not felt in quite a while. Thank You. All The Best.


jandee profile image

jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Hello martie,

you have driven me from hubpages into the wonderful world of Franz lizst-how clever of you !! Music!! where do you start. My first love was Johnnie Ray, who I actually became quite pally with, then I discovered Cleo

That was lovely listening Marti, thanks for that, So much super variety in Music ,

jandee


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

What a good way, to take account of the childrens personality! I was forced to start with the recorder at the age of seven, which was really boring, and at the age of eight it was the piano. I haven´t touched an instrument in adulthood, so something was wrong with me playing these instruments! This is a very interesting hub! I am so happy that you shared this information!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

tonymac04 – Ek het nogal gedink jy sal hierdie een waardeer. The book also stresses the mental and physical requirements. For example a child may have the personality for a trumpet, but his teeth, or lips can not accommodate the mouthpiece. We also believe(d) [like Mr. Orff] that all children should at least study one instrument, because the study of music is the only [although I don’t like the word ‘only’] activity that develops the left and right hemispheres of the brain simultaneously. We did some research – for 3 years we taught orchestral instruments to all Gr 8’s and Gr 9’s who passed the Bently-aptitude test – the rest were put on recorders. We’ve learnt that children who don’t have the talent cannot even master three notes on a recorder – forcing them to keep on trying is giving them all the opportunity in the world to develop inferior complexes and negative attitudes. But interesting – they were by far the minority and also showed no talent in any other subject – daai probleemkinders, jy weet! I had to handle them for six months and since then I am so glad I am not a fulltime teacher of any sort.

Tony, I know you like jazz. Personally I prefer jazz only during specific occasions, but this is actually how I feel about all music. Please enjoy with me the Roy Hargrove Big Band – they were nominated for 2010 Grammy Awards en ek weet nie eers of dit toelaatbaar is nie, maar die hub vra nogal vir die musiek, nie waar nie? - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98onMuGnQBA


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Sasha'sOnHubShell – I appreciate your positive feedback tremendously, and I am so glad I refreshed a lot of your good memories. I just love violin players – in our school. They are so sweet and obedient, and pretty. Most of them have fine, delicate bone structures – cute little faces lake angels. Sasha, please enjoy with me the one and only Vanessa Mae on violin - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg8Fa_EUQqY


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

jandee – I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed Franz Lizst. I think music is the most beautiful language in the whole world. No need for translation, and so wonderful to enjoy with others. Peace and harmony for you!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

thougtforce – Many children with lots of musical talent are not interested in developing their talent. Talent is not the only requirement, there is something more needed to become a musician - a desire - and I think that desire also lies in our genes. My daughter has above-average musical talent, but after four years on the piano she lost interest – I did not know then about the opportunities on other instruments – and I can kick myself, because it was right here in our hometown. But I was too busy making ends meet to bother with a child who does not want to do something I wanted her to do. So she went for gymnastics. Water under the bridge! Thougtforce, I’ve found for us an amazing piece of music - Telemann, Suite for treble recorder and orchestra (1 of 3) Please enjoy this with me. Be patient, the strings are pertinent in the beginning, but then comes the recorder solo’s – b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. I’m in awe of this simple instrument’s performance with strings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q06ZXm5SuUM


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Martie,this is so interesting.I've always wanted to play the piano and the guitar,in fact i would buy a guitar if i could find one at the Goodwill store,maybe i could learn.My son played the drums,man the noise was pretty bad.Take Care

Cheers


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

always exploring – I have so much empathy with the parents of drummers. For some reason I am not able to appreciate practices and even performances on a drumkit. I like listening to marching bands – side-drums, and I do appreciate the drums in rock music, but just drums – a person practicing rolls, or vigorous solos, provokes anger in me. And this is inter alia what drums are suppose to do – primitive people warned each other against dangers with drums, they broadcasted bad news with drums, enticed soldiers to war... But yes, drums are essential instruments in most orchestras and bands. But let you and I rather enjoy a guitar duet, my dearest twin (in space) - Romance Flamenco(Classical guitar) by Jesse L http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mlYjBN1bm8


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

I love music and feel it's a vital part of a healthy happy life. My Youngest plays the Saxophone, both tenor and alto, the guitar, the violin and piano. My oldest is a percussionist playing all of the following: Percussion, Drums, cymbals, maracas, wood-block, drumkit, xylophone, timpani. Needless to say we have a lot of instruments around our house.

I wish every child had an instrument to enjoy.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

katiem2 – I believe in a house filled with life-music. There are few things as satisfying as making music, alone and with others. Katie, I am sure you will appreciate a typical South-African folk song. This kind of music is called Boere (farmers) Music. It was originally European – in the 16-17th centuries - but in SA it gradually changed into a genre of its own. It is informal, not-at-all-complicated dance music – a couple dances this in the Ballroom dancing style. Very-very enjoyable – the music just urge you to grab a dancing partner or a music instrument. It was (and still is in certain societies) the custom to dance the old year out and the New Year in on this music. Popular instruments for these Boere-orchestras are concertinas, piano accordions, pianos, guitars, banjo’s, drums, violins, and bass guitar or contra bass. One does not need all these instruments to get a party going – three two four, but definitely a concertina or a piano accordion, is enough to get the dancers on the floor. Please enjoy with me Suikerbossie (Sugar bush) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZhTRKa4XPA


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA

My mother was a saint, and for a major portion of my life I believed she could do no wrong, but eventually I had to come to grips with a major mistake she made when I was child. She found me a tutor and bought me a clarinet. I squeaked and squawked and struggled with that damn thing for a couple of years before gratefully giving it up.

All my ancestors are Welsh, I was born to sing. I was always required to sing a duet or solo at any school assembly. Why would anyone stick a musical instument in my mouth? I needed an instrument I could play and sing along with. And I never liked the sound of the clarinet!

If I wanted to learn a wind instrument now it would be a harmonica...versitile, portable and easy to play and instersperse with vocals.

This was a very interesting hub and I am sure the book is very helpful. Thanks.

CP


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Christopher Price – The guitar would have been a perfect instrument for you, don’t you think. Yes, the clarinet – with its tendency to squawk – is initially a big challenge, and you’ve got to love the sound to be able to master any instrument. I take my hat off for oboe players – the oboe sounds like a dying cat while you are still trying to get on top of it. The voice is also a music instrument. If you had the opportunity to develop it, you could have been a famous singer today? Please enjoy with me two of my favorite voices – Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbN0g8-zbdY

PS. I love your thoughts about your mother :))


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..I must say this hub is a hall of famer and the true reason for my return visit but this time in person - lol - at your hallowed hub space made special by someone as wonderful as you whom I would imagine has really made this hub subject her labor of love because it's so full of passion and knowledge and insight - and an incentive for future generations to sit up, take note, listen and explore the beautiful possiblities of music .......


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

I recall my parents wanted me to do the violin (oops, that one sounded naughty) I mean play the violin. I hated it. The kid really needs the urge to play anything I guess. i learned a lot from this hub. Great write and even better read.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

epigramman – my dearest friend – I always love your presence in the comment sections of my hubs. I have to quote Berthold Auerbach right here: “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” And there are even people, like Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, who believe: “Without music life would be a mistake.”

I wanted to share some music with you, but something is now wrong with my u-tube downloader – These kind of technical problems drive me nuts – for I just never know how to fix it. Thanks again, my friend, for the visit in person.

BobbiRant – Ha-ha! Well, observing musicians, you will notice that most of them are actually doing their instruments and not merely playing it. Now I would have liked to share some music with you, but technical problems are spoiling all my fun! Best wishes from me to you.


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 5 years ago from New York State

when I was in school I play the Sax (Alto) in the band, it was the only thing I liked about school. I always loved the sound of the Sax. Great hub my dear.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Yo Martie! Bill Clinton can play the Sax. Thank you Dear! Your son is 36? That makes you still too young for me! You're still a beautiful child my Dear!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

vietnamvet68 – I know many who regard their music tuition and activities as the only thing they liked while they were in school. Music is a comfortable ‘world’, somewhere above or beyond reality. Now – keeping that grumpy gnome living in the depths of your joints in mind – let’s listen to a soothing song, Havana performed on the alto sax by the one and only Kenny G. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBImCgtxRXw

Micky Dee – I’m so glad you came back. Now you’ve got to enjoy one of the most amazing solos for trumpet with me. Thanks for the compliment – I love being too young :) I mean, how does a woman cope, knowing she is ‘too old’? Please, Micky, enjoy with me...

Pa-pa-ra-pa –

Trumpet Voluntary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lTTWraugCI


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Thanks Martie your right I do love it and my girls love it as well. What a beat... Awesome thanks again! Love and Peace :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Katie - That kind of (dancing) music is almost completely part of our past, because until about 20-30 years ago the Afrikaans-speaking people (in particular) in our country loved to dance ... still at the age of 70... on the beat of that music. Nowadays most people outgrow the urge to dance before they turn 30 – and the sound of the concertina and piano accordion don’t impress them anymore.

I’ve also noticed that singing (in churches as well) is becoming less of an enjoyment as it was 20-30 years ago. This is quite an interesting phenomenon: every generation of a specific nation is more mature than the previous generation.

Peace and hugs from me to you.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Wow..... beautiful. I really love this hub. You made this hub so beautiful. I learn much from you. I agree with you, we have to give the right music for our child. I love all the music instruments. I hope the best for our kids. I heard many times that the right music give big influence to the child's brain development and their personality of course. I give my special vote for you. God bless you!

Love and peace,


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

prasetio30 – I am so glad you loved this one. I am an advocate for music tuition. I believe that music – developing one’s ability to master at least one instrument – improves the quality of a person’s mind, heart and soul. I have no idea what instrument you play, or would have liked to play, but I guess you will enjoy Mozart Oboe Concerto with me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhygJyCvYeA


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 5 years ago from New York State

Martie thank you for sharing the beautifyl video and song by Kenny G, it is so relaxing. God Bless you my dear.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

vietnamvet - I'm glad you've enjoyed it, Sir! God bless you too.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Marvelous, Martie! This is such fun and so good of you to share this expertise on things musical! I'll be following up on many of the links you're sharing throughout!

Based on the personality connections with instruments, I find that I probably would enjoy many of the instruments described, actually: a little of this and that in my personality, which has many contrasts, I suppose, though my early years didn't provide many opportunities for performance or for training in any but piano. I am both right and left brained, almost equally, with a very slight 1% leaning toward the right. Both my parents loved music and encouraged it. But the only other opportunities at Del Rio schools were in the school marching band & it didn't suit me or my circumstances in any way. All students in elementary school had to buy and then had a chance to play a little trial wind instrument in music classes but it was not pursued very seriously. It was just barely ok and not very satisfying.

I always loved the piano, though I'm no virtuoso for sure. And we had no piano at the ranch where I spent lots of time as a kid. I had my little toy piano I tried to "practice" on but it was frustrating. LOL

A little bust of Liszt sits on one of my instruments, a gift from one of my music teachers.

One of my oldest online friends is a master of many instruments, from piano, guitar, violin, cello, flute - and I guess to just about any other he chooses to take up. He's also a singer, as well as a very manly man who is a Navy vet, outdoorsman, writer and photographer. Very bright mind. Always taking college courses just for the fun of it. He's mastered so many varied things.

Another of my longest-term online friends plays the trumpet. He let it slide for years but returned to it and loved it so much that made a move toward professional playing till he inherited some money & got into another big interest, motorcycling.

Something which saddens me now is that George's great grandson, who is a deep and likable kid, has a dad (now divorced from his mom, George's granddaughter) - but still an active part of Logan's life & declares that "no son of men is going to play musical instruments". There ought to be a law. . . .!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Nellieanna – I haven’t share my knowledge of music until now, because it reminds me too much of work. To relax and forget about work is after all the reason why I am on HubPages. But, and I can’t remember what or who, eventually inspired me to write this hub.

It is so sad when children don’t get the opportunity to develop their music talents. I had music (piano) as a school subject until the age of 10. Then we moved to another province where music was not a school subject. Shortage of money and my father’s idea that I know enough to go on on my own, was the reason why I did not continue with formal music study. So I played by ear for many-many years. (We had a Yamaha organ and an accordion, and eventually I add a piano and keyboard.)

I caught up with the theory and sight reading when I started working at the music school, and took up the flute and progressed to Grade 5 (Trinity). I considered going for an audition at the Defence Force Band – to be near my son. But then I realized my heart was in the music school – it was my baby!

I am a musician at heart; live music attracted me since I was a little girl. Making music - like writing - is an obsessive-compulsive thing with me. I just have to do it, and I can do it for hours and hours until pain in my fingers – or something else - stops me.

We know many fathers with the silly idea that men should not play music instruments. What rubbish! Since the beginning music was made and composed by men. It was always a field for men. Women were never – in ancient times - allowed to touch instruments. This idea of modern men is rooted in envy. The envious knows men who are able to make music are operating on a much higher mental and emotional level as they. There are many gays in the world of music (and other arts) but music did not make them gay – music merely attracted their sensitive souls and above average intellect. Anyway, our attitude towards this: some you win, some you loose. We feel sorry for those who loose because of an ignorant and stubborn father.

Nellieanna, I’ve chosen Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 for us. I think you will enjoy it with me? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goeOUTRy2es


msorensson profile image

msorensson 5 years ago

I don't play any musical instrument but I thoroughly enjoyed and agree with your analyses.

As a listener, I would choose the Flute, the Violin, the piano and the Oboe as the instruments I would study..if I were to study.

I did try to learn the piano..we can't go there, Martie, lol.

My son started with violin but preferred the cello. He can also play the piano, but his heart is not in it.

He only studied music for me and I am glad I made him.


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MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

msorensson – you are always so welcome in my corner! You are playing the euphonium in the HubPages Symphony Orchestra. (Follow link on my profile page). Incidentally this is the cello in the brass section... I had you on cello for quite a few hours before I decided to move you to euph :) I wonder if I should move you back to cello? Your personality (on HP) also fits the flute, the violin as well as the oboe. Ma’am, you are in fact able to play many instruments. We have students doing four instruments plus the orchestra. I just knew you are the kind of mother who would want her child to study music. It is so essential for brain and personality development. Authorities – regarding education - should really take this truth serious. Melinda, please enjoy with me Antonio Vivaldi: Chamber concerto for flute, oboe, violin, bassoon & b.c. in C major (RV 88)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFcyQgci30o


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Time4Travel 5 years ago from Canada

Neat hub! I love stringed instruments myself. I tried playing the flute as a kid but got bored with it. Apparently, making a sound is harder than it looks! Haha! I've recently started playing the ukulele and am loving it.


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MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Time4Travel – oh yes, it takes some time before one can produce a pure beautiful sound on a wind instrument. Embouchure has to be developed and correct use of diaphragm has to be mastered. Enjoy the ukulele! Thanks for the visit.


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vinylvenue 5 years ago from Hampshire, UK

This should be more widely known about in schools! My son was given the Cello to play... "big hands and long arms" he does not have, the poor lad looked like lost behind it.


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MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

vinylvenue – Oh my goodness! He is going to loose interest. I hope you will be able to save him for music.... or should I say save music for him? Thanks for visit and comment. I’m going to visit you soon to read some of your hubs. I always get excited when I meet a new hubber in the comment sections of my hubs. Take care!


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Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

I LOVED this hub. So well written.

I agree that each instrument suits a personality...my kid played piano for some time but then as he grew up...he was inclined towards guitar NOT the classical one though. He loves to rock and likes to make that kind of music.

I kinda understand why he changed his instrument..thanks to this hub. Thank-You!


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MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ruchira, this hub with its reference to Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd practical guide to an music instrument that suit your personality has been read 1300 times since I've published it 11 months ago. If only 10% of the readers' children started lessons on the right instrument, I regard it as a must-stay-published. Thank you for coming over for the read.


Brian WB 4 years ago

Happy New Year! We have an only daughter who is aged 6. She is very sociable, likes to dance and play with her friends. She can be quite dominant at times and is not shy. She goes very well at school and sports and also likes music and singing. What instrument would be ideal to start with? Thank you and best wishes


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Brian, it is actually impossible to tell when you are not able to see the child. The size/form of the hands, lips, teeth, et cetera also determine the child's aptitude for a specific instrument. At the age of 6 we recommend the violin (size 1/4)or the recorder to start with. Piano preferably not before the age of 8, but an ordinary keyboard may be considered. There are also 1/4 size guitars on the market. The teacher involved will of course give you the best advice. You will never regret encouraging her to master an instrument, and keep in mind that the voice is also a 'music instrument'. I wish you all of the best and great achievements in the world of music.


Kim 4 years ago

I always can usually tell which instrument a person plays by their look or by their personality... sometimes it takes me a few minutes to get to know them first... other times I ask them what instrument they play and I can tell alot about them right there. now I know why. Sometimes I'm wrong, but usually its because they ended up playing an instrument they don't like and when I suggest a different one they seem to like that idea better... kinda cool how instruments have personalities and how important it is to find the right instrument. Too often I find people that hate playing in a band simply because they hate the instrument and admit that they were forced into an instrument they didn't like. Band teacher's please take heed of this warning... by the time kids get older... it's only the ones that like the instruments that keep going... feel free to switch kids instruments early if you notice they don't like their instrument...

Also on a side note... Trombone isn't the most accurate description... Out of all the Trombonists I know (including my mother) there's only about 1 that would fit that description... Trombone players tend to be alot like Saxophone players at times. But with a different element... so perhaps with the already given description with a touch of saxophone... it might be the perfect description.


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Kim, thank you so much for your generous comment. I agree all the way with you. I am going to paste your last paragraph in the hub. Thanks a lot.


kelleyward 4 years ago

great hub. I was just trying to decide whether to start my son out on the piano or guitar. This has helped!Thanks!


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Kelley, it is so important to chose the right instrument; I am truly glad this hub meant something for you. The importance of music education should never be underestimated. I wish you all of the best.


kj 4 years ago

great hub!!!!!!!!!!!!i was just wondering i f i should play clarinet or flute. i picked clarinet because definitely am not shy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Dwayne Sherwin 4 years ago

Im a 49yr old parent that wishes he could ply an instrument. My kids play at school and wife has some school band and piano expierence. I love music but tend to do things in a ' all or nothing' way. So before I decide on paying alot of money for something I might not stick with, I was wondering what or how do I choose. I would love to learn something I could play some popular tunes with. My oldest plays the trumpet(16) and youngest sings, drums and piano (she cant seem to stick to one(13)). Piano isn't my thing and regular guitar seems awkward tho I have been thinking of a lap steel guitar.

Have any suggestions?


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Dwayne, at 49 it not that easy to master a music instrument. Our muscles in and around the lips no longer have the flexibility to obtain the needed embouchure for a wind or brass instrument, not to talk about our fingers no longer able to accomplish the piano. I suggest you stick to your idea to try the lap steel guitar... and maybe you can even try some of the other other strings. The secret of success lies in pRaCtIcE. We CAN do anything we want to do if we do it until we get it right. I wish you luck, determination and perseverance...


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

kj ~ I do know flute players who are not at all shy. They have enough talent to master any instrument; they have simply decided to play the flute because they love the sound of it... I would say you ought to listen to your gut feeling. You can always do both until you are sure which one connects the best with your soul. I wish you all of the best...


Bahareh 4 years ago

hi there, enjoyed it very much, when I was a kid I really liked to play cello or flute like my cousin but my dad and step mom thought it was a stupid idea, and I always envied my cousins who their mom sent them to private music class. well because here in Iran you don't actually live until you're hopefully married to someone nice, and he can help you to get what you want. so until then I was alone by myself protecting my little sister from that beast (step mom) who hit us every time.

I could remember making an instrument by a piece of wood and some thread like a guitar and closely listened if they made a sound, but they didn't. or draw a keyboard on a paper and simulate the sounds by mouth.

I was so lonely and nightmare of that time still scare me at nights.

now,I'm 27 married, but no money to play my favorite instruments like cello, flute or oboe, or deep dark bassoon when it play the sad melody.

thanks to internet and youtube I got to know them, how wonderful they are. I'm currently children's books write/illustrator. hoping to do sth for them,

I don't know why I wrote it but I can't live without listening to classical and magical music, where the dreams can come true.


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Bahareh, thank you for sharing your story with me. Gosh, your childhood must have been a nightmare. Don't stop looking for an opportunity to play at least one of your favorite instruments. We are never too old to learn. Although you will not reach the heights you could have reached, you can at least aim for the moon - then you will be among the stars. I wish you all of the best, and also with your work as illustrator/writer of children's books.


Bahareh 4 years ago

thank you for replying to me, I didn't you would because I was mentioned somehow I'm Iranian, and you know the rest. you're right. and thank you for that honesty and being supportive. which I needed. I think I would go with cello some day, because it says the sad story that no other instrument can tell, although it would be hard to not thinking about the others, because together they make a world of harmony which every instrument plays a role beautifully.

I can't say how much I like to sit on chairs once and take the cello on my hands, I can imagine how magical that moment would be. I think I would combine with it. and become one.

thank you again. thanks for your support, and friendly response. thank you.


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Bahareh, it doesn't matter where we live or in what culture group we were born and raised. We are all Homo Sapiens with exactly the same psychological and biological systems. We are born with an aptitude to like music; some of us have more of this, and therefor we long to make music via inter alia a music instrument. I love the cello; it has a soothing and romantic sound. Please try your best to get one - borrow, beg or buy one - Don't allow anything or anybody to convince you that your dreams can not become reality. If you can dream it, you can do it. Hard work, but what of value in this life does not demand hard work and a lot of efforts? Please keep me informed... :)


Bahareh 4 years ago

many thanks to you. much respect for you. I appreciate your attitude toward people and I adore whom have the same as you. I absolutely agree with you.

I try my best to get a cello and feel it with all of my soul. you don't know how much your responses have helped me. you are the best.

Bahareh


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Bahareh, oh, you have touched my heart. Thank you for your email. I am going to add you to my Facebook before the end of this day. May all your dreams come true :)


Ahali 4 years ago

Martie,thank you very much for the great tips, i was thinking of selecting a musical instrument for my son who is just 5 years old now. He is very quiet....so now i can decide what to select for him, what its very hard to find out music school or teacher where we live.Thanks, looking forward more tips from your hub!!


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Ahala, at the age of 5 I recommend violin or recorder to begin with. I hope you find a teacher able to give preparatory tuition to kiddies not yet able (emotionally ready) to read music. At 5 music should be playing, stimulating a child's sense for rhythm and melody - improving melodic memory, et cetera. Please Google 'Kindermusik' for some important information. They do have schools all over the world... http://www.kindermusik.com/


Bubbles 4 years ago

I played the piano before 8, I played it at the age of 6 and I was quite good at it. A lot of people would love it when i play and i was always ahead in my class. I was his star pupil.:) But unfortunately the store closed and i stop playing ever since then in 5th grade i picked up the flute because i couldn't play piano anymore else. Not all Flutes are shy, I am super sociable, bubbly, excited, and I get along with everyone in band. :) I am sorry about my grammer it is terrible


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Bubbles, you are obviously a super-talented musician and I bet you would be able to play many different instruments. There are many students like you. The guidelines in this article based on Ben Tovim and Boyd's research are for the average... Thank you for confirming that these guidelines are NOT the law of the Medes and Persians :)


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smartmusic 4 years ago

Martie, good job on this hub. It's interesting to be able to relate psychology and behavior analysis to which instrument a person would be likely to play. It is definitely a wonderful creative outlet that is accommodating to most, and apparently 9 out of 10 kids are able to learn an instrument - somehow that makes me happy knowing that.

I played 2 years of guitar in high school where I did well, even though I was kind of a slacker, I really enjoyed it. Senior year I borrowed a friends drum set and basically taught myself how to play the drums which was an amazing experience. I moved to an apartment where I could no longer use the drums and it was terrible! It's been many years and I hope to move to a house where i'd be able to play the drums. I've been considering taking guitar lessons again, I've always wanted to learn classical guitar, flamenco, so it's something I will be taking up soon. Thanks!


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

smartmusic ~ you sound like a typical musician. Please do yourself a favor and take up the classical guitar and whenever you get the opportunity the drums again. I hope Time allows you to enjoy this soul-enriching hobby.... :)


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rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Martie - I wish I'd have been able to see this when I was younger. My first attempt was at a guitar. Did okay, but had to try to learn on my own without knowing how to read music. Of course, having no direction I failed to progress much. Then, the saxophone took place. I found the act of blowing into woodwinds gave me a headache. Again, did okay, but quit. Then the drums. Did very well here, again, with no formal training, but enough to make some decent money. However, a few years ago, I started playing around with a piano at a business. Several people came over and asked what the tune was I was playing. I had no idea. It was the first time I'd ever touched the keys of one. I borrowed an electric keyboard from a friend one evening, and could play along with two or three songs by evening's end. Perhaps, that was my instrument, and I missed it along the way. I've often thought of buying one myself, but formal training is out at this time in my life. I'm afraid it would become another one of those instruments of my past gathering dust. Good Job! Up & Useful & Interesting


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

rcrumple, you are obviously a born musician who never had the opportunity to develop their talent. You are part of the majority musicians in this world. King Solomon stressed this so clearly - It is not the best runners who win the race; success depends on Time and Opportunity. (Can't remember the exact scripture and don't want to waste time searching for it.)

I myself did not have the opportunity to develop my talent to a professional level. I felt quite inferior to the music teachers I had worked with for 20 years. Although they always admired my ability to make enjoyable music, I just FELT like a 'child able to do what adults could naturally do'. Fortunately I had my own pedestal in the admin department, where they felt inferior to me. Ha-ha! Nowadays I don't get the time to play any of the instruments I've learned to play. But in the 80's, when I was already a mother of teenagers, I've taken the time to learn how to read music, and I've stocked my library with sheet music, so if the urge comes, only a shortage of Time can stop me from enjoying myself.

Thank you so much for your generous comment, rcrumple. Just enjoy what you are doing; a true musician finds joy in the mere production of melodic sounds.


Ashley 4 years ago

I WANT to learn the violin, French horn, and piano! unfortunatly no money and I think I will become uninterested once I have them :/ hope not! But this article reassured me that my personality is good for these instruments. Even though I know a guy who can play just about every instrument, love the piano out of all, and he is just as popular as it gets! Started playing at age of 6! :O what a talented person he is!


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MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Dear Ashley, unfortunate financial circumstances prevents millions to develop the talents they were born with. People with a higher than average flair for music can certainly become the master of any instrument(s) of their choice. I hope you will get the opportunity to realize your dream :)


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jonmcclusk 3 years ago from Cinnaminson, New Jersey

Such a great hub for the developing musician. Try this link for discount instruments http://www.musiciansfriend.com/browse/dealCenter/ . I've never seen a junior three-piece drum set go for one hundred dollars before.


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tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Martie this hub is amazing...truly....so much wonderful, useful information for all parents and music teachers! You are definitely not inferior to any teacher of anything that's for sure, but a beacon for all to follow!

Voted every button but funny!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Wow, jonmcclusk, thye've got amazing discounts over there! Of course, one should be careful when buying music instrument. There IS A LOT of JUNK in the market. I will never buy any instrument without consulting an accomplished musician first, instead of trusting the salesman. Thank you for the visit and the link :)


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi tillsontitan, so good to see you in here! I appreciate your lovely compliment. Thank you! Working for 20 years in a music school, I evidently learned a lot about music and all involved. And why not share it? But I will never call myself a Know-it-All. Something I have noticed: The more people know about something, the less eager are they to share it for free. Take care, Mary!


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Rhonda Bradley 3 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

As a professional music teacher and performer/composer of 20+ years, I strongly disagree with the theories above (the overview of personality types and how they match to a specific instrument), and take issue with these hypotheses being presented as fact. The categorizing above matches what are in many cases a child's weakest qualities, and presents them with an instrument that will help to build on those weak qualities.

Modern approaches to teaching music (maintaining high educational standards while mixing in a good dose of fun and friendliness - with contemporary music incorporated), combined with a good teacher, will blow away all of the stereotypes presented in the summary above.

It's just a shame that parents will read it and, wanting to do the best by their children, follow the suggestions laid out. In my opinion, this would be a big mistake.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Rhonda, as a professional administrator of a music school for 20 years, I can assure you that above theories were and still are practiced with GREAT success in my region. I am well aware of modern approaches, and also of the success achieved by 'modern teachers' like you, and I would honestly NOT call your approach a 'shame'. After all, Music and the success of Music and Musicians, don't depend on the opinions and believes of people, but on the successful achievement of their goals.

You and I have the same goal regarding music and you are welcome to achieve it your way while you are holding on to YOUR believes and opinions. I have a motto: Don't tell me, SHOW me. Our list of success, rooted in the aptitude test of Bentley as well as Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd's practical guide, "Choosing the Right Instrument" are long enough to brag with.

Thank you for your opinion. Feel free to publish a hub, promoting your knowledge, guidelines and suggestions. I will link it to mine. Parents of children with an aptitude for music certainly have the right to know all there is to know about 'choosing the right instrument' for their child.


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Rhonda Bradley 3 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

Thanks for your quick response, and healthy discussion. I have also worked in similar capacity, and over the course of 20 years have had success not only with creating great musicians/artists, but helping to create great, happy human beings as well.

One of the most important lessons I've learned myself is to *not* hold on too tightly to any belief, but to remain open, always, in order to continue doing the best by my students. That said, I came to this page with an open mind.

I still strongly disagree on the guidelines you've laid out. I do think it would be a great mistake to pair a child with an instrument that indulges their weakest personality traits. Better to pinpoint the strengths and build on those, while gently challenging the weaker points.

I also think that the use of statistics is extremely vague, unreliable, & inaccurate when presented with the whole story of a person's musical life. Using those statistics to shed a negative light on early piano lessons is, I feel, unfairly persuasive.


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davenmidtown 3 years ago from Sacramento, California

Martie: Thank you for reaffirming something that I felt in my heart. As a child I was forced to play the piano because that was what every child did... they took piano lessons and my parents wanted me to learn an instrument. I hated it, not because of the work, I thrive on hard work, and I practiced, and I practiced and I practiced.... what I did not like was the sound. When I was 15 I picked up a Violin and messed around this it. What I fell in love was the sound and the ability blend notes and create slides. It was like I had found a piece of myself in that violin. I do still play the piano but it still feels clunky to me. I can also tell you that had my parents not made me play the piano I would not have bothered to learn an instrument, but I wonder what would have happened if they had made me play the violin...


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Rhonda, I do 'see' your point, and I do agree, we should not hold on too tightly to any so-called proven theories. At the end of the day the learner-musician leads the teacher.

We have also experienced quite a lot of 'surprises' - students with apparently no aptitude for music (according to the Bentley test) excelling in an instrument of their own choice. Where there is a will, there is a way. Also according to personality analyses many students surprised us on an instrument not at all suitable for their personality according to Tovim & Boyd.

I would say all music teachers should be flexible and not rigid in a groove set by any other teacher or so-called Know-it-All. You know the saying, 'It is not what we can do for music, but what music can do for us.'

Thank you for coming back with a less agitated comment. I was a bit shocked by your 'aggressive' way of disagreeing, but did understand your passion, as I am too passionate about music tuition and especially about children with the ability to master a music instrument.

I would really like to read a hub from you about this topic. In the meantime, take care.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi davenmidtown, we normally keep our suggestions, rooted in Tovim & Boyds theories, secret while we demonstrate the various instruments to students who have passed the aptitude test. Most of the time the right instrument present itself to the student - as you've said, one falls in love with a sound. Only when a student is not sure what instrument to choose, or when they don't excel in the one they have chosen, we consider Tovim's and Boyd's suggestions, which is not only based on personality, but also on physical and mental suitability. Your comment is highly appreciated. Thanks you!


christine de beer 3 years ago

Really interesting martie! I'll pass this on to my daughter who is pregnant. Chat later chris de beer.


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davenmidtown 3 years ago from Sacramento, California

I should mention that some of the qualities I love in the violin I found in the guitar, however, the guitar never really fit my body comfortably... my arm was never the right length and my fingers were too short. My neighbor has a slide guitar and that is quite fun to mess around with. The instrument that I have always loved is voice... and that I shall never play well... hahahaa...


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Rhonda Bradley 3 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

Thanks Martie. I don't think there is anything aggressive or agitating about a woman voicing her honest opinion in a candid manner. But I can see how, without the gentle tone behind it, you may have misinterpreted.

I love the commenter above who mentioned his preference in sound. That's how it began for me. And in the end, I think it's why we come back.

Thanks for the open discussion.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Christine, good to see you in here! I am an advocate for Kindermuzik. I am sure there is teachers in your region. Take care :)


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Daven, I must say that I love the guitar and the cello, but for some reason I was never able to keep the strings down with my fingertips. Maybe I've started too late. But I enjoy my piano, and in the past I also enjoyed my organ, keyboard and flute, and even the piano-accordion. At this stage of my life even my piano is a white elephant. I just don't have enough time on my hands to do everything I love doing. Yes, voice, if you want to use it properly, needs a lot of training and exercising.... and not only in the shower :)


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Rhonda, as I've said, I share your passion, and also your fierceness when discussing existing ideologies, especially those about music and music tuition. I could see myself in you. Lol! I thank you for sharing your opinion in here. Fact is, there is certainly not only one way of choosing the right instrument. The student's choice is in any case the most important. Take care! And I wish you all of the best with your music endeavors up there in Texas. Down here it is an endless battle to keep Music as an essential subject to teach instead of a luxury not to be sponsored by the Department of Education.


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mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I started piano when I was six, and took lessons from a very stern teacher (I wrote a Hub about her). I have four daughters and wished they would play, but they had no interest at all in piano. One of them plays a beautiful guitar, though. I'm happy about that. I tried guitar and even after cutting all my nails, I could not play.

Interesting Hub. I voted it UP, etc.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Oh, dear Mary, so you have the same problem with 'round' fingertips. I could managed only one chord on the guitar - G. But I must say, I have not tried long and hard enough, because at that time my heart was in organ and piano. Because I've missed the opportunity to develop my aptitude for music properly while I was a child, I will forever be an amateur musician, and that is why I am a passionate promoter of music tuition. Thanks for sharing your experience in this field, Mary!


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AlliOop 3 years ago

Great hub Martie. I never would have thought that personality has such an influence on aptitude with different instruments. I started piano lessons at age five (by my own choice), and I absolutely loved it. Practicing never felt like work, it felt like fun. I continued with lessons until age 18. I think children younger than eight can succeed with the piano, but only if they have a love of the instrument. There are some children who take piano lessons not because they want to, but because that's what the parents want. This could be a contributing factor to the low success rate of younger kids.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hello, AlliOop, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Amazingly, we humans CAN do anything if we have the WILL to do it. We see miracles - handicapped children/adults achieving great heights on music instruments, and we also see many with the talent of a genius, but not able to play a melody with one finger, just because they are not interested. Without our 'will' we will achieve nothing.

Sadly, too many parents force their will down unto their children, provoking only stubborn refusal to co-operate.

I never 'practiced', but 'played' and I 'played' until I could play a piece well enough to entertain an audience - even if the audience was only my family and neighbors.

Thanks for sharing your experience of playing the right instrument, AlliOop :)


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Neinahpets 3 years ago from Greater Toronto Area, Canada

Very clever, but I will have to say there can be some exceptions to the 'rules' (but of course nothing is cookie cutter in the world). I've been playing violin off and on for 20 years and I was the type that wanted the spotlight and attention as a child. I guess that's why I worked hard to get first chair so I could get the solo performances! Hahaha. Great read, voted up and interesting!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Neinahpets, of course, there are always-always exceptions to the rules. Yes, if you are not the 1st violin (and concert master on the 1st chair), you are just one of many. But not really. Behind each and every instrument is an individual musician, able to make or break an entire orchestra. Thanks for your lovely comment.

PS: Maybe you should have chosen the trumpet, because they cannot be ignored. Lol!


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Neinahpets 3 years ago from Greater Toronto Area, Canada

Haha maybe you are right!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Oh, Neinahpets, you know what I mean..... But they are adorable! Lol!


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Neinahpets 3 years ago from Greater Toronto Area, Canada

Oh I know ;) I'm just having some fun. Thanks for giving me a laugh today.


LloydC 3 years ago

How about the harp?


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Lloyd, I have covered mostly only wind instruments with this hub. Still have to do strings :) Out of the fist I would compare the harp with the flute...


alexandra 3 years ago

i play the tuba and it truly does feel like an extend of myself and i wouldn't dream of playing another instrument but i was a bit mad when they said that the tuba is great for boys, well let me tell you that's not true, i have a friend that is a boy that has played the tuba for 6 months in school, and i only played it for 3 months and i was already ten times better than him. there is no such thing as an instrument for a specific type of gender same goes to the flute where boys are discouraged on playing the flute because their gentle instruments and only girls play it. i have a friend that is a boy that plays the flute and he was also ten times better than the girls after 3 months of playing. just because an instrument is to big and makes a deep sound doesn't mean that it's a boys instruments, and just because an instrument is small and makes a clear and beautiful sound doesn't mean that its for girls only.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Alexandra, I agree with you. Thank you so much for emphasizing the fact that gender has nothing to do with music and music instruments. Enjoy your tuba! I love it and wish I could play it..... :)


SilverGenes 3 years ago

This explains quite a lot! I wanted to learn guitar so I was sent for violin lessons but made my best friend carry the case when we got near school. At home, I practiced diligently by strumming it LOL. End of violin. Next came the piano and I spent practice time climbing out on the eaves of an old Victorian era school to smoke cigarettes. I was an adult when I finally got my own guitar and played it every day until my fingers bled. Got some pretty good callouses eventually and yes, I was quite alone in the northern bush a couple of hundred miles north Lake Superior LOL. Leona Boyd was my hero!

What a great idea for a hub and I just love how you put it all together! Now I need to catch up and read all your fantastic instrument hubs!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi SilverGenes :) Most children are attracted to a specific instrument. Teachers should allow them to follow their heart. But then there are also many students who have no idea what they want and can do in the world of music. I wanted to play the guitar myself, but for some reason I was not able to. The piano and organ, however, were magnets; playing them just came natural. I was already in my thirties when I took up the flute, and just because I thought it would be the easiest to master.

Thanks for clicking in for the read and for your kind and generous comment :)


Fred 3 years ago

All the comments on this page are hillarious!!! :) LOL


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Good to know you found the comments hillarious, Fred. I never get the time to read comments on my hubs twice, but now I am curious to read these again. Take care!


Band student 3 years ago

Flutes= shy

Hahaha nothing like our flutes they're super competitive and whine about their parts... Actually all woodwinds whine about their parts...trust me I am one of them...piano before eight is a huge generalization I still love piano, and I'm pretty sure many concert pianist do too; I'm pretty sure its all about attitude and personal goals oh and practice lots and lots. The article is total baloney a parent or student shouldn't pick out an instrument just because it matches their personality if it takes a couple times to find the right instrument then so be it! Obviously you haven't seen many of the band/orchestra Memes... Now those are spot on!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Band student, I do know many flute students who are not shy. I am one of them. Yet, we have found the flute to be the ideal instrument to help YOUNG music students to overcome shyness. This hub addresses but only the beginning - the choosing of the first instrument. Once a child is into music, they soon find their own way and pick their own favourite instrument.

I also know that in the world of professional musicians, and even amateur adults, characters are like mercury, adapting, and so often surprising themselves while being what/who they would never have been in another environment. Thanks for your comment, and for reminding us to have a flexible and not a rigid attitude especially when it comes to music and the instruments that are actually doors to the wonderful world of music.


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HeatherH104 3 years ago from USA

Very interesting. I'm not sure I agree with the waiting until 8 for piano. I've read a lot of studies of the benefits to learning piano young. I started my son on piano at age 4 (he's now 5) because he was "dying to learn". I keep his lessons very short (about 10 min) and his practice times are very short as well. He learned how to read music very quickly and looks forward to playing. Each kid is different though, and I won't give piano lessons to every 4 or 5 yr old.

Love the instrument guide. My major instrument was flute and I'd have to say I think what you wrote is me spot on! :)

I agree that a child who picks for themselves which instrument they want is more successful.

Good hub!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Heather, I am also not sure about 'their' idea that a child should wait until 8 for piano, although I must say that I've observed the difficulties experienced by kids under 8 on the piano. But true, we still have little Mozarts among us. My own granddaughter of 5 has shown interest in the piano since she was a baby. So I allowed her to play and still do, and teach her some basics, mostly finger-exercises, as the opportunity presents itself. To my surprise she has recently 'composed' her own song, which she prefers to play instead of 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'. She also attends formal lessons, on the recorder and the piano - but we don't put any pressure on her. She loves music theory! Can you believe it? Although for pre-school it is but only the most elementary playing with notes. Thanks for your generous comment :)


Caroline 3 years ago

Don't know if this will make sense, but I'll give it a go....

I taught myself the flugelhorn, but still have trouble with high notes. As well as developing the correct embouchure, I am wondering if it is just my mouth anatomy (big front teeth and overbite) which make the higher notes harder. I can get very low notes easily down into double pedals and beyond (although I know the flugelhorn is easier to control on the lower notes compared to say a cornet which is easier on higher notes apparently). My question is: Do some brass instruments require a looser mouth (as in low note playing with more loose lips) for their full range and some require a tighter mouth for their range? Therfore maybe I could switch to a 'looser/lower' brass instrument? Haha, I hope that makes some kind of sense!!!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Caroline, your entire comment makes a lot of sense. The shape of the teeth effects embouchure (the shape of the mouth and lips when playing a wind instrument), and embouchure plays a major role in the production of sound. Try to relax your mouth/lips for lower notes. Also try bigger mouth-pieces (that will fit into the flugelhorn). If nothing works, try another instrument. BTW, due to my big front teeth and overbite I could not get on top of the trumpet and cornet, so I took up the flute. But don't let me talk too loud; I haven't touched the flute in ages! I will have to start with lesson one again. Losing one's embouchure happens twice as fast than obtaining it, if not faster. Good luck! Let me know the results of your experiments :)


Caroline 3 years ago

Thank you Martie :-) I did not practice as much over the summer holidays and it seems like my mouth muscles went pretty fast (making obtaining the higher notes even harder!). I just rent my flugelhorn, so maybe I might try something else for a month like a tenor horn or euphonium to compare how easy it is to obtain the high registers on each instrument relative to each other... I will let you know if I find any difference! Thanks again


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Good luck, Caroline! I love the sound of the euphonium. Let me give you a link to an article I have written about it - http://hubpages.com/community/The-Euphonium-and-th...

You may even like the trombone - (I still have to write something about the typical trombone player. They are more outgoing than the euphonium players and very often the clowns in the brass section of an orchestra.)

Remember, where there is a will, there is a way :)


Martin 3 years ago

I really spend a lot of time reading this hub. Time properly spent. I actually enjoyed some comments too. Check my instrument blog at www.yourinstrument.com


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Martin, thanks for clicking in for the read. I think I am repeating myself by saying that this criteria set by Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd are not the alpha and omega of music tuition. For example, my granddaughter's personality doesn't meet the criteria for violin, yet she started to play it at the age of 6 and she still enjoy playing it at the age of 10. On my way to your site... at http://www.yourinstrument.com/


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Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

Since I first read this a lengthy 3 years ago, I've known you so much better, and know just how much true talent you have for music and for fitting people to instruments. This time, I see several instruments which would have fit my disposition, had I known. I truly love the piano, but perhaps some other would have brought out more of my musicality. Anyway, this should be required reading for anyone, parent, advisor or teacher, having to do with music education for children!


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Nellieanna, we know time flies, but this 3 years since I have published this hub feel like 3 decades. So much had changed during these past years, or rather developed into a different shape - my personal circumstances and also my entire concept of politics and social issues, as I have learned so much about so many things in this amazing site, Hubpages, with all its profound articles published by serious, inquisitive writers. Thanks to friends like you, my small world down here had grown into a much larger universe, expanding all the time. (Instead of stagnated, like the worlds of too many people when they have reached the level where they feel the most comfortable.)

This specific hub is supposed to be a reference to a guideline that will enable parents and teachers of aspiring musicians to make a choice. But people should know that nothing in this world has boundaries like a box. We can't categorize and label everything, and not even according to scientific researches. There are always-always exceptions, and always new knowledge to be discovered. But yes, when we don't know where to start, we should consult 'instructions' before following our own gut feelings.

Thanks so much for your never-ending support, my dear cyber-momma. I feel honoured with you in my corner :) Please take care of yourself. for I need you for at least another 20 years :))


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Very well done and I found this most interesting.


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Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

At least another 20 years! I promise!

Incidentally, I've spent quite a bit of time today and will be continuing tomorrow, - and who knows how much more, - assisting my dear friend Val in the aftermath of her husband's death in January. He was 93. She's still fairly active, very glamourous & 89 years old. They were married 68 years, during which she relied on him for taking care of most things other than her own personal interests.

Her aptitude for what she needs to do now is quite negligible, so I’m helping her through it. Her son and daughter aren't much help in these matters.

So much of it would be easily done and dispensed with, but for her naivety and hesitation. I’m not so much an A-type, but when I’m with her (or her daughter), I feel more like a triple-AAA type! haha.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Thank you, aviannovice :))


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Nellieanna, Val is so lucky to have you in her corner. Is it not strange how certain friends can bring out the AAA's in us? My deepest condolences to Val. It can certainly not be easy for her to addapt to her new circumstances. Take care, my dearest CM :)


IryanaArceneaux 2 years ago

It says aggressive or dominant children will not be satisfied with a flute well I am both aggressive and dominant apparently and I love playing my flute and I excell at it in act I am first chair


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Iryana, I agree with you. I am also aggressive and dominant, and I love playing the flute. But keep in mind that exceptions are the order of the day. Even Einstein, who had been suspended from school inter alia due to a lack of interest in compulsory subjects, turned out to be a genius. I do think people with above-average innate ability to play a music instrument will be able to play any instrument of their choice. Where there is a will (and passion), there is more than one way.... I believe Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd's intention was to encourage ALL children to study at least one music instrument. I have indeed seen many successful results of decisions that were made according to their theories.

Enjoy your position as first chair! Just give it your all :)


Sacha 2 years ago

Hi Martie! great Hub!

I tried many instruments when I was a child, ranging from piano and tin whistle, to guitar and accordion, giving me an intense phobia of the instrument, causing bad panic attacks.

I eventually gave up music for 9 or so years before I picked up the banjo. I've been playing for four months now and already I've made so much more progress than I ever did with the other instruments. Jeffy feels so much like an extension of myself that I get upset when I have to leave him behind (and refer to a banjo as 'him!). It may have taken 20 years, but I've found the right instrument for me.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Sacha, we do encourage young students to try all instruments until they find their perfect match. But using Ben-Tovim-Boyd's method seems to be working like a bomb for the majority beginners. I am so glad you have finally found your sole mate in Jeffy the Banjo :)


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bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Very interesting, Martie. I love the psychology behind each instrument. I played violin in 2nd grade. I don't remember how to play it at all anymore. Then when I was about 9 or so, I took up piano. My teacher, who was a concert pianist, told my mom I had a real ear for music. Sadly, I quit after about a year in rebellion to my mother's daily mandated practice time. I could kick myself for that. I keep telling myself I want to take refresher lessons. I can read music, but no longer have the fluidity of recognition from notes to mind to fingers.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Bravewarrior, I had a passion for music and spent every available minute playing an instrument just for the fun of it. Unfortunately I have missed the opportunity to develop my talent to a professional level when we moved from one province to another where music tuition was not part of the school's curriculum and private lessons were unaffordable. Getting my grandchildren to practice is a daily struggle, although they still manage to show above-average progress. I have a plan - Get down here and be my neighbour, then we write and make music all day long :))


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Sounds like a plan, Martie. Or you could come up here!

I didn't mind practicing. I minded my mother telling me to practice. I was a rebellious brat. That's all there is to it. I cut my nose off to spite my face with my bratiness!


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Bravewarrior, I was also a rebel, but my organ and diary were my best friends. Eventually I have replaced the organ with a piano, and even today I will not be able to live without my piano and computer (for writing).


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi Martie, really interesting to see what personality traits each child has and how it corresponds the the instrument, my son is a whizz at the Organ and guitar, he used to love playing both when he was here, I don't think his girlfriend likes him playing so at the moment he has stopped! lol! really interesting stuff, nell


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Nell, since I can remember I experience a person/people playing music instruments as enormous magnets. The urge to join them can become unbearable and will always inspire me to play my own instruments until urgent obligations stop me. What on earth could be wrong with your son's girlfriend, not wanting him to play his instruments? Okay, let me admit, I hate listing to the rehearsals of drum players. They drive me totally crazy. I also don't like the sound of electric guitars. Anything 'electric' has become a source of irritation since I got spoiled by the sounds of classical instruments. The sound of the latter penetrates my soul. The healing, soothing and cleansing effect is indescribable. While electric sounds just don't have this kind of power. The same with live orchestras versus recordings or broadcastings via television and DVD's. Thanks for sharing this hub of mine, dear Nell.


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Maggie.L 2 years ago from UK

Hi Martie, I found your article fascinating. All three of my children play musical instruments and haven't really chosen them but play them because the opportunity arose to have lessons in school in these particular instruments. One of my children started taking flute lessons in high school and really wanted to make it work as she loves the sound of this instrument. But she just couldn't get a sound out of it even after a couple of months of persevering and her music teacher finally suggested trying clarinet, mentioning that perhaps the shape of her mouth wasn't quite suited to the flute. She now plays clarinet and is doing very well in it but still regrets not having success with the flute. I really enjoyed reading your article that certain instruments could suit different personalities. I never thought of that before. Voted up and very useful.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Maggie, my apologies for being 5 days too late with my reply. In this hub I have only mentioned the different personalities suitable for an instruments. The book written by Atarah-Ben-Tovim also covers the physical acquirements. Sadly a child may have the 'right' personality for an instrument, but his teeth, lips, fingers and hands may keep him from mastering the instrument. I do believe teachers should know all about this. This is a book that belongs on the book shelf of all music teachers - http://www.amazon.com/The-Right-Instrument-Your-Ch...


Nina 2 years ago

I really liked most of this, until I got to the tuba bit. I myself am a small, female tuba player, so reading that this was for a 'good-natured boy' was mildly disappointing. In my opinion, it should say 'individual' instead of stating a particular sex.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Nina, that was not my opinion, but that of the authors of the book 'How to choose the right instrument'. Of course, I agree with you. I have known quite a few dainty female tuba players, although carrying that enormous instrument was always the worse part of their musicianship. Thanks for your significant comment :)


Yosefa 2 years ago

Words do not describe how much I hate this post. A kid should listen to the instruments and choose which one they like the sound of best. Not to mention the style of music. All this personality stereotyping is bullshit. ANYONE CAN PLAY ANY INSTRUMENT THEY WANT.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Yosefa, I believe you know everything there is to know about music tuition. Thank you! Just for the record, I have a list as long as my arm to proof that children and adults CAN NOT play any instrument they like, unless they are extremely talented and they have no physical disability, like too short fingers, protruding teeth, etc, etc, or emotional hang-ups, like shyness, introversion and even extroversion.

BTW, what do you know? Are you a professor in music, or a highly talented musician able to play any instrument of your choice? I know quite a few people who can, you know, but when it comes to the music tuition of the majority children, only a handful are truly genius and able to play whatever they want. And of course, where there is a will, there is a way.


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FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

I played flute three years as a middle school student because my mother had wanted to play flute as a child but her parents couldn't afford it. At the first opportunity (high school), I quit. I liked the instrument but didn't enjoy the competing for first chair and all. If I had freely chosen my instrument like my brother did, I would have chosen saxophone. Congratulations to you son on his tuba playing.


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MartieCoetser 22 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi Flourish, thank you for your profound comment. So sorry you didn't have the opportunity to play the saxophone. Sadly the aspirations of parents are not always in harmony with those of their children. Take care :)


Todd 21 months ago

Amazing stuff! Choosing the right instrument from the start is really important to sticking with it long term. I now play many different instruments, but I started on Piano. I ended up quitting after a few years because I really didn't connect to the sound. It wasn't until I started playing the saxophone that I really got excited about music.

http://www.yourmusiccoach.com/


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MartieCoetser 20 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi Todd, music instruments are like partners - some are friends, others are enemies, only one is a very special friend for life. But I believe a man can have more than one special friend ?? :) Glad you found the saxophone :)


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 18 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Incredible how you have described the personalty types and behavior linked to a musical instrument. After my mother insisted that I learned to play the organ, which did not inspire me as a child, she put me onto a Concert Flute. It must be because I wanted to escape into a fantasy world where all clouds have silver linings. Ha Ha


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MartieCoetser 18 months ago from South Africa Author

Nadine, Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd described the various personalities in their book 'The Right Instrument For Your Child'. I was the administrator of a music school for 20 years, and we have found the guidelines in this book very accurate and helpful -

http://www.amazon.com/The-Right-Instrument-Your-Ch...


finn marriage 17 months ago

if you're looking for an electric guitar try this: www.fenderfans.com


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MartieCoetser 17 months ago from South Africa Author

Thanks, finn!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 15 months ago from England

Came back for another read, wonderful again! shared, nell


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 15 months ago from Oakley, CA

Eeek--beginning recorder players! LOL The elementary school my kids went to saw fit to give these (plastic versions) to kids to learn music..and oh, it was painful to hear them coming down the street "practicing" after school...overblowing the notes to a shrieking pitch...

Had I only known, when I was a child, that I probably was not suited for piano. But, we had one; my mother played, and (probably worse yet) the girl next door also played. So of course, I wanted to play, as well. I was duly signed up with the same teacher, but I did not do well. For one thing, I was a restless, tomboy kind of kid, not given to sitting still practicing. The teacher, it turned out, favored and spent more time with those who would make HER look good--the shining, bright, naturally gifted kids, while I and others struggled.

In 4 years of lessons, I never progressed past "John Thompson's First Grade Piano Book." Worse, she did not correctly teach the relationship between notes as relative values. Instead, she hammered home "a whole note gets 4 beats; a quarter note gets 1 beat; etc. Years later when I took an evening college recorder class I was thoroughly fouled up encountering the concept of "cut time." (My then-husband was an expert recorder player; all the voices, and tried to help, but I could not get it.)

Needless to say, I quit piano. In high school, I tried guitar. That went no better. I just never had the driving desire to put in the time for mastery. To this day, I play only well enough for my own amusement, and I'm not all that amused...

I like to listen to music, but I'm not a player of music.


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MartieCoetser 15 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi Nell! Always good to see you :)


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MartieCoetser 15 months ago from South Africa Author

DzyMsLizzy, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Yes, those beginners on the recorders can drive us nuts. However, I do believe that even the smallest effort to play a music instrument and to understand the theory of music enhances our appreciation of music and musicians. Sadly there are too many music teachers more interested in their own success than in the growth and development of their students, but I have forbidden myself to judge because I think I, too, would have given more attention to the little stars. I think this is natural. The wrong in this lies in the way the teacher encourages their stars and discourages their less talented students. I am glad you can still amuse yourself with a music instrument :)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 months ago from south Florida

Loved your hub on how to choose the right musical instrument for your child!


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MartieCoetser 6 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi, drbj aka Sherry Superfine! Always nice to see you. I hope you are well. Choosing the right instrument is a must if you want your child to excel :)

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