Dr. Hodge, how do you suggest that parents first introduce their children to musical instruments?
Dr. Ian Hodge:
Well, there’s different ways of doing that. There’s taking them to hear a particular instrument—you know, going to orchestral concerts, band concerts, or something like that, so they can hear it. And then the other way is to figure out what instruments might be suitable to certain students. The physiology of the student can make a little difference. For example, if kids don’t have what they call the right embouchure, the right mouth shape and things like that, it can be very difficult for them to play brass instruments or wind instruments.
Are there any instruments that are particularly difficult—that might not be good for a beginner?
Well, each of the instruments poses its own problems. For example, a piano—if a student has not developed enough independent finger dexterity (in other words, if they don’t have the right motor skills developed) they won’t be able to play that instrument properly, and they’ll develop bad habits by pushing down on the keys rather than developing the finger technique needed to do it. And those bad habits can create real difficulty later on in life, trying to change it, or trying to play, you know, the more difficult part of the repertoire. Wind instruments—they require a certain lung capacity in order to produce the sound, which is why most band instruments—you know, brass, wind instruments—aren’t taught until age 8 or even later. Singing’s another instrument to avoid, because the vocal chords and breathing ability need a certain level of development.
Well, that’s very helpful, Dr. Hodge. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.