When Pots and Pans Won't Do: Real Musical
By Janie Franz
Making the transition from pretending to be a musician to learning a
real instrument is an important one in a child's life. Providing good
quality instruments, usually scaled-down versions of those professionals
use, is the key to making the musical experience a fun and rewarding one.
Hohner Marine Band harmonica
Already kid-sized, harmonicas are a great first instrument. The classic
Hohner Marine Band harmonica (ToyDirectory)($24.95) has been around for over a hundred years. Rich-toned
and durable, it is available in 41 different keys (major and minor), making
it a very versatile instrument. The Hohner Old Standby
($9.50), a modest version of the Marine Band, comes in seven major-scale
keys. Bluesband, also by Horner, comes in "C"
and "A" keys only, but runs only $4.95. For a bit more, the
Hohner Blues Harp ($26.95) offers twelve different blues keys.
Child-sized versions of guitars should be scaled down enough so the child
can reach around the soundbox and pick the strings. The guitar neck should
also be slimmer than grown-up versions so that small fingers can make
Hohner's 1/2-size HAG250 ($50) is a nylon string folk
guitar, and the student-size HW03 ($109) is a steel string
acoustic guitar with a spruce body and a mahogany neck. Hohner also has
an electric guitar package, HEG 250P ($239), which includes
the guitar, battery-powered amp, carrying case and accessories.
Other guitar makers also produce student-sized guitars. The Yamaha
JR1 Package ($199) has a 3/4-size steel string acoustic guitar
and padded carrying bag. Johnsonís JG-610 Series offers
two sizes: the JG-610-3/4 ($89), a 3/4-size acoustic
guitar and the JG-610-1/2 ($89), a 1/2-size model. The
Lucinda Student Model ($69) is a nylon string classical
guitar which comes in 3/4 and 1/2 sizes. Martin also
makes a small travel guitar, the Backpacker ($274), that
comes in either a steel-string or a nylon-string version to fit smaller
Girls now have their own heart-shaped electric or acoustic guitar. Daisy
Rock guitars are 1/2-size with a very slim neck and run about
$200. They come in powder blue, yellow and pink. The Heartbreaker
electric guitar comes in red, purple and black.
Remo Kids Djembe
Remo Kids Konga
Remo Kids Bongo
World instruments produce a variety of tones across a drumhead, making
them more interesting than many percussion instruments. Remo Kids
Djembe ($81) is a small version of this standard African drum.
It stands only 14 inches tall with an 8-inch diameter drumhead. The Remo
Kids Konga ($59) is 15 inches high with a 6.5-inch head. Both
drums come with adjustable shoulder straps. And, of course, Remo
Kids Bongos ($50) are just the right size for small hands (6.5
inches high, with 5-inch and 6-inch heads).
For the child who dreams of being the next John Bonham, several small,
inexpensive drum sets are available. The Sunlight 3-piece Junior
Drum Set ($224) comes with a 10-inch cymbal. CODA Drums
offers the Generation Alpha 5-piece Drumkit ($399) for
the student drummer.
RT Series Rhythm Traveler
To save Mom and Dad's ears during practice sessions, Pearl has introduced
the new RT Series Rhythm Traveler ($659). This 5-piece
drumkit comes with two complete sets of drumheads: one for performance
and one for silent practice. Pearl's new Muffle Heads respond
like a regular drumhead but produce hardly any sound. Pearl's Silent
Cymbal Pads complete the kit, making it the perfect drumset for
home practice, even in an apartment.
Writer's Bio: The mother of two grown children (an artist
and a musician), writer Janie Franz once was a radio announcer and did
booking for a rock band.