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Musical Instruments for Toddlers Under $50

Updated on September 21, 2015

Musical Instruments for Toddlers and the Skills They Encourage

Little ones develop musical skills through encountering music. Whether they listen to music, dance to it, or play it, they are developing the parts of their brain that will appreciate music in the future. Moreover, musical ability can translate into a host of other skills like math and language ability. The problem is that toddlers like to try lots of new things, and musical instruments are often too expensive to try them all. Here is a list of musical instruments that don't cost a lot, but open up the world of music to your little one.

Each instrument supports different aspects of music. Some support the development of melody while others, rhythm. Having a variety of instruments encourages a broad musical base.


Wind Instruments for Toddlers Under $50

Wind instruments make up a large portion of the orchestra. From clarinet to bassoon, these instruments sing the melody. But, they cost a pretty penny, and a toddler would likely be frustrated by a true reed. It takes practice and skill to produce a sound. Toy wind instruments allow for more rewarding play. They look like the real thing, but produce sounds more easily. A toddler can then practice the breath control and finger movements that will make playing a real wind instrument possible in the future.

I recommend a toy saxophone like the one made by Bontempi. It produces a relatively pleasing sound (read, not annoying) and has a major scale built into its colorful keys. A little one can make a sound by blowing and and grows with them as they learn to produce different tones by pressing down the keys.

Also fun for even very young toddlers is a harmonica. While you can find a harmonica for as little as $6. It might be worth it to you to spend a little more. I nicer harmonica is going to produce a little sweeter tone and after hearing it played by a toddler for a few hours, the difference in tones might mean a difference in your mental health.

Kazoos may not be in the the orchestra, but they have a place in your toddler's toy box. Why? they are the perfect toy for teaching melody. While few toddlers can follow a melody on an instrument, kazoos require nothing more than humming the tune along with a song. It may seem simple, but following a melody with an instrument is a huge step in the right direction for musical development. It is the first step linking song, mind, and instrument. Plus you can a kazoo at your local dollar store or online for dirt cheap.

String Instruments for Toddlers Under $50

Many parents dream of their toddlers playing the violin or cello, but age two is too young to start with those instruments. Instead, try a ukulele or student guitar. They can be tuned to make a pleasing sound without any fret work. Then, your toddler can strum around their way around the house.

A decent ukulele can be had for less than $40. A student guitar will cost more, but you are more likely to get mileage out of it as the child grows. Both of these instruments could be ones that your little one returns to later in life.


Violins come in small sizes for young people and as they grow, parents can trade out the violins for larger sizes until they reach a full sized violin. No decent violin, however, can be purchased for under $50, even used. But there is a small chance you might find one at a garage sale or flea market for under $100.

Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments are one of the easiest avenues into music. Xylophones, glockenspiels, drums, and tambourines all make great toddler instruments. Grab one and bang out the beat.
A xylophone or marimba may be a better choice for a toddler as has a more mellow tone. Glockenspiels, in the hands of a little one, can be ear-piercingly loud!

Keyboard instruments

Piano is the first instrument for many. It is a great instrument for teaching musical theory because all of the notes are right in front you and visible, unlike a trumpet where the tones are not all visible in the keys.

Small toy keyboards can be had for under $50 but no decent piano will be that inexpensive. That is, of course, unless it is free. Often people are moving in a hurry and a piano that might be worth something is given away just for the labor of moving it. Keep your eyes peeled in Craigslist or local bulletin boards. Just because it is free doesn't mean it is junk.

Encouraging Musical Talent

The real goal, of course, is to raise a child who appreciates and enjoys music. Parents can, at times, get so carried away with making the next Charlie Parker, they might forget that there are huge advantages to playing music at an amateur level. For one, musical knowledge tracks nicely with math knowledge. Musical people tend to be smarter overall. Most importantly, music is a source of joy for nearly all people. Simply listening to music might bring that joy, but creating it and bringing joy to others is priceless.

There are some easy ways to get your little one started making music.

1. Take your LO to community ed classes or Music Together classes designed for toddlers.

2. Investigate instructors who specialize in teaching young children. Nearly all Suzuki method teachers will work with LOs as young as 3.

3. Buy some of the instruments mentioned in this article and play music with your little one as loud as your heart desires!


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