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Which instrument for a very small 6yo?

(12 Posts)
BeanbagSafari Mon 18-Aug-14 12:48:15

DD has been badgering to learn an instrument for a long time. She enjoys music of all kinds and is becoming a more fluent reader. So we are thinking of starting up an instrument perhaps after Christmas or possibly before. DD's school offers tuition in a few instruments but I don't want to be led too much by this. i think it is more important that she should learn something she is really keen on and is suitable for her and then we will find lessons accordingly.

DD is physically very small- more like a 4yo in height, very slight build and tiny hands. She is on the verge of being ambidextrous but just about favours her left hand. So far, DD has mentioned piano, violin and guitar. I'm not sure about piano- we don't have one at home and couldn't afford one for the foreseeable future- and I would imagine she would need to practice? I've looked at a few guitars and have noticed you can get half sized and three-quarter sized ones. So wondered if this was doable?

What other instruments might be suitable in terms of her size?

MothershipG Mon 18-Aug-14 12:52:06

How about starting her off on a ukulele? It's suitably sized, only has four strings and entry level ones are very reasonable so it wouldn't matter if she went off the idea.

It is also much easier to tolerate someone learning on than a recorder! wink

wingcommandergallic Mon 18-Aug-14 13:00:37



Wafflenose Mon 18-Aug-14 14:17:25

Violin (probably a 1/10 or 1/16 size), Cello (1/10 size), recorder (I started my DD1 off as a big 3 year old, and her sister when she was a teeny 4), ukulele or guitar are suitable for this age and size. smile

Or Electronic keyboard? Different music, books and teaching method to piano - also smaller and inexpensive.

cingolimama Mon 18-Aug-14 15:52:39

I would suggest violin, but ONLY if she's keen. Please know it's fiendishly difficult at first, but gives a fantastic grounding and trains your ear like nothing else.

It's important for your DC to be able to try out instruments - get the feel of one, listen to the sound it makes etc. Does your school offer this? If not, try a local music store.

Good luck.

BeanbagSafari Mon 18-Aug-14 16:12:28

Thanks all, some good ideas. I am tempted to get a keyboard anyway as we always used to have one around the house growing up and got a lot of enjoyment from it.

I have found what looks like a lovely independent music shop not too far away so hope to take DD to have a try on some instruments. Will see how she gets on...

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 21-Aug-14 12:24:03

Same list:

Keyboard requires either DIY or a keyboard teacher - not a piano teacher, though some will do both. I had one at around that age to muck around on and taught myself a lot.

Piano is possible and you can get digital pianos the size of a large keyboard that you can fold away when not in use.

Ukulele is a good introduction to guitar techniques only waaaaay smaller. And a thing in its own right. Reads from tab, like guitar, or standard notation. Soprano ukes that would be okay for beginners can be had for around £30 or £40 - don't buy the really cheap nasty ones. My 'concert' ukulele (a bit bigger in the body, same sounding pitch) was £75 and is perfectly playable.

All orchestral string instruments come in mini sizes, so violin, viola or cello would be possible. Cello is probably the easiest physically to begin with as the holding position etc. is more natural, but they're all hard to learn. Look for a teacher who has experience with students younger than 7yo and who will break everything down into tiny steps. Sizing smaller than 1/4 is not very standardised but you're probably looking at 1/8, 1/10 or 1/16. The last 6yo I took on started on a 1/8 violin (mine) and a year on is on a 1/2 sized instrument - major growth spurt! The latter should last a few years, however.

Recorders can be beautiful if learnt properly smile

Most wind and brass would probably be too big at this point and don't seem to come in small options, or at least not ones that small. If she was keen on flute then starting on a Yamaha fife is possible by avoiding the notes with different fingerings until the child is big enough for an adapted flute... then acquiring a plastic flute (they make plastic flutes, clarinets, trombones etc. these days which are much lighter than the metal/wood ones).

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 21-Aug-14 12:28:53

I want to add here: cello is not easier to play well than violin. I just think that the way you sit and hold the instrument is more intuitive to a complete beginner and places less stress on the body.

Wafflenose Thu 21-Aug-14 12:34:01

I have a 6 year old who is short but not tiny (she wears age 5 tops and age 4 bottoms) and she plays a 1/8 size cello. Her teacher showed me a 1/16 size, which she says usually fits 2 year olds (!!) and a 1/10, usually for 3-4 year olds!

Small 6 year old has also done 18 months of recorder.

Please let us know what you decide! It's so exciting.

beccajoh Thu 21-Aug-14 12:37:26

You can get really teeny, tiny violins. I started age 6 on a 1/16th sized violin.

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 21-Aug-14 17:50:51

You need to test the actual violin or cello (or viola) - sizing below 1/4 can vary a lot. Stentor go all the way to 1/64, apparently, which is a little crazy (but I kind of want one for fun).

Theas18 Fri 29-Aug-14 13:13:39

1/64 violin? Can you wear it on a necklace ?

Would be cute!

Tbh agree that most wind would be too big. Descant recorder can be taught with tape on some holes but would be a struggle with tiny finger pads.

Tbh I'd stick with a teacher who will get them really singing - don't diss it as a sound basis for a musical education and start piano . Having small you are you can start with 5 notes in each hand - after all you aren't going to be using a grand piano with heavy action!

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