Easy to start on because you press a key and you hear a nearly optimal pitch and timbre. You get instant gratification of tone production. You can play multiple notes at once so it lends itself perfectly to solo playing. You also don’t have to hold the instrument with can make it appealing for young students. It sounds good right away since a student doesn’t have to think about tuning. You don’t need to carry them anywhere! They’re there waiting for you.
It’s the cornerstone of so much popular music that kids and adults have an instant connection to it and recognition of it’s role in music. The student can easily choose music he or she wants to work on since a lot of what they’ve heard and like is on guitar. It’s portable and low maintenance so music can be played anywhere. It’s very versatile and lends itself well to all musical genres. If the instrument is too big and unwieldy for smaller students, a ukulele can be played instead which easily translates to a guitar when ready.
Strings students will develop a very keen sense of pitch since every note must be tuned while playing. String instruments generally play with other musicians fostering social skills and collaboration. The technique of drawing the bow across the best violin strings allows different tones and timbres to further the development of the ear. Posture and poise are developed when holding and playing any string instrument.
Woodwind students learn to take great care of their instruments as they have many moving parts that need attention and maintenance. Tone production is very specific and the mouth, teeth, tongue, and facial muscles are all used while playing. An awareness of breath and body is necesary on wind instruments, and they are well suited for all kinds of ensemble playing from orchestras and big bands, to small jazzy combos, to chamber music. Students should generally be 9 or 10 years old so their hands are big enough and they have appropriate lung capacity.
Brass has many of the same advantages of woodwinds as tone production and intonation require very specific positioning of the mouth (called “embouchure”). Brass instruments require significant endurance to produce an appropriate sound for an extended period of time. Students will usually need to be at leat 8 years old to begin a brass instrument.
Like guitar, drums are very accessible as they are heard in most popular music. Begining drum students can learn the rudiments on a practice pad which requires very little investment upfront. Drums obviously focus on developing a keen sense of rhythm, but also listening to other players and responding sensitively to the players around you. Drums are not as home in a “Classical” context but are the driving force in so much of what we hear and connect with today.
Voice is an excellent introduction to music for students of all ages because you were born knowing how to sing! Singers learn many of the concepts that other instruments focus on such as being in tune, breath control and care for your instrument (you BODY!) Singers usually take very good care of themselves since their health is reflected in the sound of their voice. There is not a single type of music that doesn’t use the voice extensively: classical, popular, jazz, rock, pop, showtunes, experimental, electronic — everything. There is technique involved to sing well, but anyone can learn a song right away. There is less of a learning curve to climb.
Audio production is great for kids and adults who love to create music on their computers. Different music-making interfaces are explored and students have the opportunity to, mix, master, and produce their own electronic music or make recordings of themselves or others. A lot of the music we hear today is produced in an electronic domain and creating music and sound from scratch can really let a kid’s imagination run wild.