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The Right Musical Instrument for Your Child's Personality

Martie served as the administrator of a music school for 20 years.

Help your child pick a musical instrument that suits their personality

Help your child pick a musical instrument that suits their personality

How to Choose a Musical Instrument That Suits Your Child's Personality

From 1991 to 2011, in my capacity as the administrator of a music school, I experienced the successful implementation of practical guidelines provided by Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd in their book The Right Instrument for Your Child.

Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd captivate the attention of parents and music teachers with a couple of statements:

  • Nine children out of ten could succeed in learning a musical instrument;
  • Most of the children who give up learning instruments are just as musical as those who carry on; they fail because their instruments were wrongly selected;
  • Most children who start with piano before the age of eight will fail and believe that they are "no good at music";
  • Children who succeed on an instrument also do better in school.

Most matters regarding music tuition and the selection of the right instrument are covered in my article Choosing the Right Music Instrument. I discuss the physical, mental, and personality qualities required by specific instruments.

In this article, I stress the personality requirements, but I emphasize at the same time that talented children are able to master any instrument of their choice. "Where there is a will, there is a way." Most children, however, want to play a musical instrument before they even know what the various instruments orchestras/bands are being composed of.

According to the research done by Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd, the following instruments suit specific personalities:

Concert Flute

Appeals to shy or lonely children who enjoy their own privacy. They may seem dreamy and forgetful, but could be quietly sociable and will enjoy making music with other children in orchestras and bands of all kinds. The aggressive and dominant child may not find satisfaction on the flute.


Appeals to bright, alert, and sociable children with several different hobbies or interests. They look forward to playing with others in orchestras of all sorts.


Very suitable for children who are labeled as "casual" or "absent-minded." Happy, well-balanced gregarious children who are not in need of a close relationship with a teacher find the saxophone an ideal way of getting into the world of making music with friends. The saxophone is designed for the delicious freedom of improvisation.


Ideal for determined, tight-lipped, stubborn introverts who prefer only one to two close friends. Oboe players in an orchestra tend to make a little clan and keep to themselves.


For responsive and pleasantly gregarious children with a quiet sense of humor. They tend to be the practical jokers in the woodwind section of the orchestra.

Trumpet and Cornet

Appeal to sociable children with lots of "nervous energy" and can accommodate the aggressive, dominant, and ambitious child, as well as the easygoing—an excellent instrument for the individualistic child who wants to feel independent of the family.

Tenor Horn and Baritone

Very satisfying for gentle, peaceful children who do not want to dominate others. They are easygoing, responsible children who like being "in the middle of things." They are often asked to be organizers of rehearsals, the secretary of the orchestra, or the librarian of the orchestra's music.

French Horn

For children who prefer to relate to small groups. They do not easily mix with others. This instrument appeals to conscientious, intense, hardworking, and persistent children. It is a very difficult instrument to master but a challenge to the child who needs to prove themself as unique and special.


Most fulfilling for artistic, quietly sociable, and sensitive children who need to feel that they are making the sound. Particularly satisfying for children who want to express their personalities playing in jazz bands.

Kim added the following description: "Trombone players tend to be a lot like saxophone players at times. But with a different element."


For responsive children who are readily reacting or replying to people or events or stimuli.

(Euphonium means "beautiful sound," and this instrument has indeed the most beautiful and soul-soothing sound.)


Ideal for the responsive, good-natured boy who is happy belonging to a group and who tends to "lead behind the curtains."

String Instruments

  • Violin: For the quietly behaved children, neither solitary nor gregarious. They must be able to accept that their principal function as players is to contribute to a corporate sound—the individual string-player is rarely heard alone.
  • Viola: Appeals to responsive, kindly children who want to contribute to a group endeavor.
  • Cello: This instrument asks for big hands and long arms and often attracts shy children who need the respect of others but don’t like the limelight.
  • Double bass: Offers no outlet for the child who wants to dominate, but highly suitable for one with an interest in jazz music. Playing the double bass in jazz combo is fulfilling and creatively satisfying.


Most suitable for the quiet, intelligent, and conscientious child (from the age of eight). Gregarious children are miserable on this instrument, for it takes many years of study before it can be played with others. It is though an ideal instrument to begin with, as it provides a basic theoretical background for all other musical instruments.

Classical Guitar

Deeply comforting and pleasurable to the acquisitive or possessive child—perhaps a collector or a hoarder of pocket money. Chess players feel good reading and playing guitar music.

Also suitable for the self-contained and independent child who does not want open or equal-sided relationships. The child who succeeded in the guitar enjoys being alone. The classical guitar player will easily master the electric-, bass-, and folk guitar.

Percussion: Drums, Cymbals, Maracas, Wood-block, Drumkit, Xylophone

For the tense, nervous, often irritable, hyperactive, restless child, the percussion section of an orchestra offers satisfaction and fulfillment.

A drumkit player's dream is to play in a rock band.

"The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils."

— William Shakespeare via his character Lorenzo in "The Merchant of Venice"

© 2010 Martie Coetser


Louise89 on April 23, 2020:

Great info, thanks!

LOL laughing out loud funny joke *dabs* on May 11, 2018:

Choosing the Right Music Instrument for Your Child's gayness

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 23, 2017:

Peggy W, I always wanted to sing while playing the guitar, but oh, my efforts were in vain. I did sing in choirs, but my voice had no extra-ordinary qualities. I am sure your memories of playing the guitar and singing will always warm your heart.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2017:

I never thought of matching a child's personality to the type of musical instrument they might enjoy playing. This is very interesting. I never took music lessons but did teach my self to strum a bit on a guitar after learning a few chords. Basically I liked to sing along with it.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 01, 2017:

adam - ???

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on May 19, 2016:

Hi, drbj aka Sherry Superfine! Always nice to see you. I hope you are well. Choosing the right instrument is a must if you want your child to excel :)

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 14, 2016:

Loved your hub on how to choose the right musical instrument for your child!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 02, 2015:

DzyMsLizzy, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Yes, those beginners on the recorders can drive us nuts. However, I do believe that even the smallest effort to play a music instrument and to understand the theory of music enhances our appreciation of music and musicians. Sadly there are too many music teachers more interested in their own success than in the growth and development of their students, but I have forbidden myself to judge because I think I, too, would have given more attention to the little stars. I think this is natural. The wrong in this lies in the way the teacher encourages their stars and discourages their less talented students. I am glad you can still amuse yourself with a music instrument :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 02, 2015:

Hi Nell! Always good to see you :)

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 01, 2015:

Eeek--beginning recorder players! LOL The elementary school my kids went to saw fit to give these (plastic versions) to kids to learn music..and oh, it was painful to hear them coming down the street "practicing" after school...overblowing the notes to a shrieking pitch...

Had I only known, when I was a child, that I probably was not suited for piano. But, we had one; my mother played, and (probably worse yet) the girl next door also played. So of course, I wanted to play, as well. I was duly signed up with the same teacher, but I did not do well. For one thing, I was a restless, tomboy kind of kid, not given to sitting still practicing. The teacher, it turned out, favored and spent more time with those who would make HER look good--the shining, bright, naturally gifted kids, while I and others struggled.

In 4 years of lessons, I never progressed past "John Thompson's First Grade Piano Book." Worse, she did not correctly teach the relationship between notes as relative values. Instead, she hammered home "a whole note gets 4 beats; a quarter note gets 1 beat; etc. Years later when I took an evening college recorder class I was thoroughly fouled up encountering the concept of "cut time." (My then-husband was an expert recorder player; all the voices, and tried to help, but I could not get it.)

Needless to say, I quit piano. In high school, I tried guitar. That went no better. I just never had the driving desire to put in the time for mastery. To this day, I play only well enough for my own amusement, and I'm not all that amused...

I like to listen to music, but I'm not a player of music.

Nell Rose from England on September 01, 2015:

Came back for another read, wonderful again! shared, nell

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on July 01, 2015:

Thanks, finn!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 04, 2015:

Nadine, Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd described the various personalities in their book 'The Right Instrument For Your Child'. I was the administrator of a music school for 20 years, and we have found the guidelines in this book very accurate and helpful -

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on May 30, 2015:

Incredible how you have described the personalty types and behavior linked to a musical instrument. After my mother insisted that I learned to play the organ, which did not inspire me as a child, she put me onto a Concert Flute. It must be because I wanted to escape into a fantasy world where all clouds have silver linings. Ha Ha

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on March 14, 2015:

Hi Todd, music instruments are like partners - some are friends, others are enemies, only one is a very special friend for life. But I believe a man can have more than one special friend ?? :) Glad you found the saxophone :)

Todd on March 12, 2015:

Amazing stuff! Choosing the right instrument from the start is really important to sticking with it long term. I now play many different instruments, but I started on Piano. I ended up quitting after a few years because I really didn't connect to the sound. It wasn't until I started playing the saxophone that I really got excited about music.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on February 08, 2015:

Hi Flourish, thank you for your profound comment. So sorry you didn't have the opportunity to play the saxophone. Sadly the aspirations of parents are not always in harmony with those of their children. Take care :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 07, 2015:

I played flute three years as a middle school student because my mother had wanted to play flute as a child but her parents couldn't afford it. At the first opportunity (high school), I quit. I liked the instrument but didn't enjoy the competing for first chair and all. If I had freely chosen my instrument like my brother did, I would have chosen saxophone. Congratulations to you son on his tuba playing.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 01, 2014:

Yosefa, I believe you know everything there is to know about music tuition. Thank you! Just for the record, I have a list as long as my arm to proof that children and adults CAN NOT play any instrument they like, unless they are extremely talented and they have no physical disability, like too short fingers, protruding teeth, etc, etc, or emotional hang-ups, like shyness, introversion and even extroversion.

BTW, what do you know? Are you a professor in music, or a highly talented musician able to play any instrument of your choice? I know quite a few people who can, you know, but when it comes to the music tuition of the majority children, only a handful are truly genius and able to play whatever they want. And of course, where there is a will, there is a way.

Yosefa on November 30, 2014:

Words do not describe how much I hate this post. A kid should listen to the instruments and choose which one they like the sound of best. Not to mention the style of music. All this personality stereotyping is bullshit. ANYONE CAN PLAY ANY INSTRUMENT THEY WANT.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 28, 2014:

Hi Nina, that was not my opinion, but that of the authors of the book 'How to choose the right instrument'. Of course, I agree with you. I have known quite a few dainty female tuba players, although carrying that enormous instrument was always the worse part of their musicianship. Thanks for your significant comment :)

Nina on October 19, 2014:

I really liked most of this, until I got to the tuba bit. I myself am a small, female tuba player, so reading that this was for a 'good-natured boy' was mildly disappointing. In my opinion, it should say 'individual' instead of stating a particular sex.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on July 30, 2014:

Hi Maggie, my apologies for being 5 days too late with my reply. In this hub I have only mentioned the different personalities suitable for an instruments. The book written by Atarah-Ben-Tovim also covers the physical acquirements. Sadly a child may have the 'right' personality for an instrument, but his teeth, lips, fingers and hands may keep him from mastering the instrument. I do believe teachers should know all about this. This is a book that belongs on the book shelf of all music teachers -

Maggie.L from UK on July 24, 2014:

Hi Martie, I found your article fascinating. All three of my children play musical instruments and haven't really chosen them but play them because the opportunity arose to have lessons in school in these particular instruments. One of my children started taking flute lessons in high school and really wanted to make it work as she loves the sound of this instrument. But she just couldn't get a sound out of it even after a couple of months of persevering and her music teacher finally suggested trying clarinet, mentioning that perhaps the shape of her mouth wasn't quite suited to the flute. She now plays clarinet and is doing very well in it but still regrets not having success with the flute. I really enjoyed reading your article that certain instruments could suit different personalities. I never thought of that before. Voted up and very useful.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 30, 2014:

Hi, Nell, since I can remember I experience a person/people playing music instruments as enormous magnets. The urge to join them can become unbearable and will always inspire me to play my own instruments until urgent obligations stop me. What on earth could be wrong with your son's girlfriend, not wanting him to play his instruments? Okay, let me admit, I hate listing to the rehearsals of drum players. They drive me totally crazy. I also don't like the sound of electric guitars. Anything 'electric' has become a source of irritation since I got spoiled by the sounds of classical instruments. The sound of the latter penetrates my soul. The healing, soothing and cleansing effect is indescribable. While electric sounds just don't have this kind of power. The same with live orchestras versus recordings or broadcastings via television and DVD's. Thanks for sharing this hub of mine, dear Nell.

Nell Rose from England on June 29, 2014:

Hi Martie, really interesting to see what personality traits each child has and how it corresponds the the instrument, my son is a whizz at the Organ and guitar, he used to love playing both when he was here, I don't think his girlfriend likes him playing so at the moment he has stopped! lol! really interesting stuff, nell

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 28, 2014:

Bravewarrior, I was also a rebel, but my organ and diary were my best friends. Eventually I have replaced the organ with a piano, and even today I will not be able to live without my piano and computer (for writing).

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 28, 2014:

Sounds like a plan, Martie. Or you could come up here!

I didn't mind practicing. I minded my mother telling me to practice. I was a rebellious brat. That's all there is to it. I cut my nose off to spite my face with my bratiness!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 28, 2014:

Bravewarrior, I had a passion for music and spent every available minute playing an instrument just for the fun of it. Unfortunately I have missed the opportunity to develop my talent to a professional level when we moved from one province to another where music tuition was not part of the school's curriculum and private lessons were unaffordable. Getting my grandchildren to practice is a daily struggle, although they still manage to show above-average progress. I have a plan - Get down here and be my neighbour, then we write and make music all day long :))

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 28, 2014:

Very interesting, Martie. I love the psychology behind each instrument. I played violin in 2nd grade. I don't remember how to play it at all anymore. Then when I was about 9 or so, I took up piano. My teacher, who was a concert pianist, told my mom I had a real ear for music. Sadly, I quit after about a year in rebellion to my mother's daily mandated practice time. I could kick myself for that. I keep telling myself I want to take refresher lessons. I can read music, but no longer have the fluidity of recognition from notes to mind to fingers.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 06, 2014:

Sacha, we do encourage young students to try all instruments until they find their perfect match. But using Ben-Tovim-Boyd's method seems to be working like a bomb for the majority beginners. I am so glad you have finally found your sole mate in Jeffy the Banjo :)

Sacha on April 06, 2014:

Hi Martie! great Hub!

I tried many instruments when I was a child, ranging from piano and tin whistle, to guitar and accordion, giving me an intense phobia of the instrument, causing bad panic attacks.

I eventually gave up music for 9 or so years before I picked up the banjo. I've been playing for four months now and already I've made so much more progress than I ever did with the other instruments. Jeffy feels so much like an extension of myself that I get upset when I have to leave him behind (and refer to a banjo as 'him!). It may have taken 20 years, but I've found the right instrument for me.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 03, 2014:

Iryana, I agree with you. I am also aggressive and dominant, and I love playing the flute. But keep in mind that exceptions are the order of the day. Even Einstein, who had been suspended from school inter alia due to a lack of interest in compulsory subjects, turned out to be a genius. I do think people with above-average innate ability to play a music instrument will be able to play any instrument of their choice. Where there is a will (and passion), there is more than one way.... I believe Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd's intention was to encourage ALL children to study at least one music instrument. I have indeed seen many successful results of decisions that were made according to their theories.

Enjoy your position as first chair! Just give it your all :)

IryanaArceneaux on April 02, 2014:

It says aggressive or dominant children will not be satisfied with a flute well I am both aggressive and dominant apparently and I love playing my flute and I excell at it in act I am first chair

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on February 26, 2014:

Nellieanna, Val is so lucky to have you in her corner. Is it not strange how certain friends can bring out the AAA's in us? My deepest condolences to Val. It can certainly not be easy for her to addapt to her new circumstances. Take care, my dearest CM :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on February 26, 2014:

Thank you, aviannovice :))

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on February 24, 2014:

At least another 20 years! I promise!

Incidentally, I've spent quite a bit of time today and will be continuing tomorrow, - and who knows how much more, - assisting my dear friend Val in the aftermath of her husband's death in January. He was 93. She's still fairly active, very glamourous & 89 years old. They were married 68 years, during which she relied on him for taking care of most things other than her own personal interests.

Her aptitude for what she needs to do now is quite negligible, so I’m helping her through it. Her son and daughter aren't much help in these matters.

So much of it would be easily done and dispensed with, but for her naivety and hesitation. I’m not so much an A-type, but when I’m with her (or her daughter), I feel more like a triple-AAA type! haha.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on February 23, 2014:

Very well done and I found this most interesting.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on February 23, 2014:

Nellieanna, we know time flies, but this 3 years since I have published this hub feel like 3 decades. So much had changed during these past years, or rather developed into a different shape - my personal circumstances and also my entire concept of politics and social issues, as I have learned so much about so many things in this amazing site, Hubpages, with all its profound articles published by serious, inquisitive writers. Thanks to friends like you, my small world down here had grown into a much larger universe, expanding all the time. (Instead of stagnated, like the worlds of too many people when they have reached the level where they feel the most comfortable.)

This specific hub is supposed to be a reference to a guideline that will enable parents and teachers of aspiring musicians to make a choice. But people should know that nothing in this world has boundaries like a box. We can't categorize and label everything, and not even according to scientific researches. There are always-always exceptions, and always new knowledge to be discovered. But yes, when we don't know where to start, we should consult 'instructions' before following our own gut feelings.

Thanks so much for your never-ending support, my dear cyber-momma. I feel honoured with you in my corner :) Please take care of yourself. for I need you for at least another 20 years :))

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on February 23, 2014:

Since I first read this a lengthy 3 years ago, I've known you so much better, and know just how much true talent you have for music and for fitting people to instruments. This time, I see several instruments which would have fit my disposition, had I known. I truly love the piano, but perhaps some other would have brought out more of my musicality. Anyway, this should be required reading for anyone, parent, advisor or teacher, having to do with music education for children!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on November 23, 2013:

Hi Martin, thanks for clicking in for the read. I think I am repeating myself by saying that this criteria set by Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd are not the alpha and omega of music tuition. For example, my granddaughter's personality doesn't meet the criteria for violin, yet she started to play it at the age of 6 and she still enjoy playing it at the age of 10. On my way to your site... at

Martin on November 23, 2013:

I really spend a lot of time reading this hub. Time properly spent. I actually enjoyed some comments too. Check my instrument blog at

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 27, 2013:

Good luck, Caroline! I love the sound of the euphonium. Let me give you a link to an article I have written about it -

You may even like the trombone - (I still have to write something about the typical trombone player. They are more outgoing than the euphonium players and very often the clowns in the brass section of an orchestra.)

Remember, where there is a will, there is a way :)

Caroline on October 27, 2013:

Thank you Martie :-) I did not practice as much over the summer holidays and it seems like my mouth muscles went pretty fast (making obtaining the higher notes even harder!). I just rent my flugelhorn, so maybe I might try something else for a month like a tenor horn or euphonium to compare how easy it is to obtain the high registers on each instrument relative to each other... I will let you know if I find any difference! Thanks again

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 26, 2013:

Caroline, your entire comment makes a lot of sense. The shape of the teeth effects embouchure (the shape of the mouth and lips when playing a wind instrument), and embouchure plays a major role in the production of sound. Try to relax your mouth/lips for lower notes. Also try bigger mouth-pieces (that will fit into the flugelhorn). If nothing works, try another instrument. BTW, due to my big front teeth and overbite I could not get on top of the trumpet and cornet, so I took up the flute. But don't let me talk too loud; I haven't touched the flute in ages! I will have to start with lesson one again. Losing one's embouchure happens twice as fast than obtaining it, if not faster. Good luck! Let me know the results of your experiments :)

Caroline on October 23, 2013:

Don't know if this will make sense, but I'll give it a go....

I taught myself the flugelhorn, but still have trouble with high notes. As well as developing the correct embouchure, I am wondering if it is just my mouth anatomy (big front teeth and overbite) which make the higher notes harder. I can get very low notes easily down into double pedals and beyond (although I know the flugelhorn is easier to control on the lower notes compared to say a cornet which is easier on higher notes apparently). My question is: Do some brass instruments require a looser mouth (as in low note playing with more loose lips) for their full range and some require a tighter mouth for their range? Therfore maybe I could switch to a 'looser/lower' brass instrument? Haha, I hope that makes some kind of sense!!!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 29, 2013:

Heather, I am also not sure about 'their' idea that a child should wait until 8 for piano, although I must say that I've observed the difficulties experienced by kids under 8 on the piano. But true, we still have little Mozarts among us. My own granddaughter of 5 has shown interest in the piano since she was a baby. So I allowed her to play and still do, and teach her some basics, mostly finger-exercises, as the opportunity presents itself. To my surprise she has recently 'composed' her own song, which she prefers to play instead of 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'. She also attends formal lessons, on the recorder and the piano - but we don't put any pressure on her. She loves music theory! Can you believe it? Although for pre-school it is but only the most elementary playing with notes. Thanks for your generous comment :)

HeatherH104 from USA on June 27, 2013:

Very interesting. I'm not sure I agree with the waiting until 8 for piano. I've read a lot of studies of the benefits to learning piano young. I started my son on piano at age 4 (he's now 5) because he was "dying to learn". I keep his lessons very short (about 10 min) and his practice times are very short as well. He learned how to read music very quickly and looks forward to playing. Each kid is different though, and I won't give piano lessons to every 4 or 5 yr old.

Love the instrument guide. My major instrument was flute and I'd have to say I think what you wrote is me spot on! :)

I agree that a child who picks for themselves which instrument they want is more successful.

Good hub!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on May 25, 2013:

Band student, I do know many flute students who are not shy. I am one of them. Yet, we have found the flute to be the ideal instrument to help YOUNG music students to overcome shyness. This hub addresses but only the beginning - the choosing of the first instrument. Once a child is into music, they soon find their own way and pick their own favourite instrument.

I also know that in the world of professional musicians, and even amateur adults, characters are like mercury, adapting, and so often surprising themselves while being what/who they would never have been in another environment. Thanks for your comment, and for reminding us to have a flexible and not a rigid attitude especially when it comes to music and the instruments that are actually doors to the wonderful world of music.

Band student on May 24, 2013:

Flutes= shy

Hahaha nothing like our flutes they're super competitive and whine about their parts... Actually all woodwinds whine about their me I am one of them...piano before eight is a huge generalization I still love piano, and I'm pretty sure many concert pianist do too; I'm pretty sure its all about attitude and personal goals oh and practice lots and lots. The article is total baloney a parent or student shouldn't pick out an instrument just because it matches their personality if it takes a couple times to find the right instrument then so be it! Obviously you haven't seen many of the band/orchestra Memes... Now those are spot on!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 29, 2013:

Good to know you found the comments hillarious, Fred. I never get the time to read comments on my hubs twice, but now I am curious to read these again. Take care!

Fred on April 29, 2013:

All the comments on this page are hillarious!!! :) LOL

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 12, 2013:

Hi SilverGenes :) Most children are attracted to a specific instrument. Teachers should allow them to follow their heart. But then there are also many students who have no idea what they want and can do in the world of music. I wanted to play the guitar myself, but for some reason I was not able to. The piano and organ, however, were magnets; playing them just came natural. I was already in my thirties when I took up the flute, and just because I thought it would be the easiest to master.

Thanks for clicking in for the read and for your kind and generous comment :)

SilverGenes on April 12, 2013:

This explains quite a lot! I wanted to learn guitar so I was sent for violin lessons but made my best friend carry the case when we got near school. At home, I practiced diligently by strumming it LOL. End of violin. Next came the piano and I spent practice time climbing out on the eaves of an old Victorian era school to smoke cigarettes. I was an adult when I finally got my own guitar and played it every day until my fingers bled. Got some pretty good callouses eventually and yes, I was quite alone in the northern bush a couple of hundred miles north Lake Superior LOL. Leona Boyd was my hero!

What a great idea for a hub and I just love how you put it all together! Now I need to catch up and read all your fantastic instrument hubs!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 11, 2013:

Alexandra, I agree with you. Thank you so much for emphasizing the fact that gender has nothing to do with music and music instruments. Enjoy your tuba! I love it and wish I could play it..... :)

alexandra on April 11, 2013:

i play the tuba and it truly does feel like an extend of myself and i wouldn't dream of playing another instrument but i was a bit mad when they said that the tuba is great for boys, well let me tell you that's not true, i have a friend that is a boy that has played the tuba for 6 months in school, and i only played it for 3 months and i was already ten times better than him. there is no such thing as an instrument for a specific type of gender same goes to the flute where boys are discouraged on playing the flute because their gentle instruments and only girls play it. i have a friend that is a boy that plays the flute and he was also ten times better than the girls after 3 months of playing. just because an instrument is to big and makes a deep sound doesn't mean that it's a boys instruments, and just because an instrument is small and makes a clear and beautiful sound doesn't mean that its for girls only.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on March 22, 2013:

Hi Lloyd, I have covered mostly only wind instruments with this hub. Still have to do strings :) Out of the fist I would compare the harp with the flute...

LloydC on March 22, 2013:

How about the harp?

Stephanie from Canada on January 31, 2013:

Oh I know ;) I'm just having some fun. Thanks for giving me a laugh today.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 31, 2013:

Oh, Neinahpets, you know what I mean..... But they are adorable! Lol!

Stephanie from Canada on January 31, 2013:

Haha maybe you are right!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 31, 2013:

Neinahpets, of course, there are always-always exceptions to the rules. Yes, if you are not the 1st violin (and concert master on the 1st chair), you are just one of many. But not really. Behind each and every instrument is an individual musician, able to make or break an entire orchestra. Thanks for your lovely comment.

PS: Maybe you should have chosen the trumpet, because they cannot be ignored. Lol!

Stephanie from Canada on January 29, 2013:

Very clever, but I will have to say there can be some exceptions to the 'rules' (but of course nothing is cookie cutter in the world). I've been playing violin off and on for 20 years and I was the type that wanted the spotlight and attention as a child. I guess that's why I worked hard to get first chair so I could get the solo performances! Hahaha. Great read, voted up and interesting!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 29, 2013:

Hello, AlliOop, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Amazingly, we humans CAN do anything if we have the WILL to do it. We see miracles - handicapped children/adults achieving great heights on music instruments, and we also see many with the talent of a genius, but not able to play a melody with one finger, just because they are not interested. Without our 'will' we will achieve nothing.

Sadly, too many parents force their will down unto their children, provoking only stubborn refusal to co-operate.

I never 'practiced', but 'played' and I 'played' until I could play a piece well enough to entertain an audience - even if the audience was only my family and neighbors.

Thanks for sharing your experience of playing the right instrument, AlliOop :)

AlliOop on January 29, 2013:

Great hub Martie. I never would have thought that personality has such an influence on aptitude with different instruments. I started piano lessons at age five (by my own choice), and I absolutely loved it. Practicing never felt like work, it felt like fun. I continued with lessons until age 18. I think children younger than eight can succeed with the piano, but only if they have a love of the instrument. There are some children who take piano lessons not because they want to, but because that's what the parents want. This could be a contributing factor to the low success rate of younger kids.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 28, 2013:

Oh, dear Mary, so you have the same problem with 'round' fingertips. I could managed only one chord on the guitar - G. But I must say, I have not tried long and hard enough, because at that time my heart was in organ and piano. Because I've missed the opportunity to develop my aptitude for music properly while I was a child, I will forever be an amateur musician, and that is why I am a passionate promoter of music tuition. Thanks for sharing your experience in this field, Mary!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on January 28, 2013:

I started piano when I was six, and took lessons from a very stern teacher (I wrote a Hub about her). I have four daughters and wished they would play, but they had no interest at all in piano. One of them plays a beautiful guitar, though. I'm happy about that. I tried guitar and even after cutting all my nails, I could not play.

Interesting Hub. I voted it UP, etc.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 28, 2013:

Hi Rhonda, as I've said, I share your passion, and also your fierceness when discussing existing ideologies, especially those about music and music tuition. I could see myself in you. Lol! I thank you for sharing your opinion in here. Fact is, there is certainly not only one way of choosing the right instrument. The student's choice is in any case the most important. Take care! And I wish you all of the best with your music endeavors up there in Texas. Down here it is an endless battle to keep Music as an essential subject to teach instead of a luxury not to be sponsored by the Department of Education.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 28, 2013:

Daven, I must say that I love the guitar and the cello, but for some reason I was never able to keep the strings down with my fingertips. Maybe I've started too late. But I enjoy my piano, and in the past I also enjoyed my organ, keyboard and flute, and even the piano-accordion. At this stage of my life even my piano is a white elephant. I just don't have enough time on my hands to do everything I love doing. Yes, voice, if you want to use it properly, needs a lot of training and exercising.... and not only in the shower :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 28, 2013:

Hi Christine, good to see you in here! I am an advocate for Kindermuzik. I am sure there is teachers in your region. Take care :)

Rhonda Bradley from San Antonio, Texas on January 27, 2013:

Thanks Martie. I don't think there is anything aggressive or agitating about a woman voicing her honest opinion in a candid manner. But I can see how, without the gentle tone behind it, you may have misinterpreted.

I love the commenter above who mentioned his preference in sound. That's how it began for me. And in the end, I think it's why we come back.

Thanks for the open discussion.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on January 27, 2013:

I should mention that some of the qualities I love in the violin I found in the guitar, however, the guitar never really fit my body comfortably... my arm was never the right length and my fingers were too short. My neighbor has a slide guitar and that is quite fun to mess around with. The instrument that I have always loved is voice... and that I shall never play well... hahahaa...

christine de beer on January 27, 2013:

Really interesting martie! I'll pass this on to my daughter who is pregnant. Chat later chris de beer.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 27, 2013:

Hi davenmidtown, we normally keep our suggestions, rooted in Tovim & Boyds theories, secret while we demonstrate the various instruments to students who have passed the aptitude test. Most of the time the right instrument present itself to the student - as you've said, one falls in love with a sound. Only when a student is not sure what instrument to choose, or when they don't excel in the one they have chosen, we consider Tovim's and Boyd's suggestions, which is not only based on personality, but also on physical and mental suitability. Your comment is highly appreciated. Thanks you!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 27, 2013:

Rhonda, I do 'see' your point, and I do agree, we should not hold on too tightly to any so-called proven theories. At the end of the day the learner-musician leads the teacher.

We have also experienced quite a lot of 'surprises' - students with apparently no aptitude for music (according to the Bentley test) excelling in an instrument of their own choice. Where there is a will, there is a way. Also according to personality analyses many students surprised us on an instrument not at all suitable for their personality according to Tovim & Boyd.

I would say all music teachers should be flexible and not rigid in a groove set by any other teacher or so-called Know-it-All. You know the saying, 'It is not what we can do for music, but what music can do for us.'

Thank you for coming back with a less agitated comment. I was a bit shocked by your 'aggressive' way of disagreeing, but did understand your passion, as I am too passionate about music tuition and especially about children with the ability to master a music instrument.

I would really like to read a hub from you about this topic. In the meantime, take care.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on January 27, 2013:

Martie: Thank you for reaffirming something that I felt in my heart. As a child I was forced to play the piano because that was what every child did... they took piano lessons and my parents wanted me to learn an instrument. I hated it, not because of the work, I thrive on hard work, and I practiced, and I practiced and I practiced.... what I did not like was the sound. When I was 15 I picked up a Violin and messed around this it. What I fell in love was the sound and the ability blend notes and create slides. It was like I had found a piece of myself in that violin. I do still play the piano but it still feels clunky to me. I can also tell you that had my parents not made me play the piano I would not have bothered to learn an instrument, but I wonder what would have happened if they had made me play the violin...

Rhonda Bradley from San Antonio, Texas on January 27, 2013:

Thanks for your quick response, and healthy discussion. I have also worked in similar capacity, and over the course of 20 years have had success not only with creating great musicians/artists, but helping to create great, happy human beings as well.

One of the most important lessons I've learned myself is to *not* hold on too tightly to any belief, but to remain open, always, in order to continue doing the best by my students. That said, I came to this page with an open mind.

I still strongly disagree on the guidelines you've laid out. I do think it would be a great mistake to pair a child with an instrument that indulges their weakest personality traits. Better to pinpoint the strengths and build on those, while gently challenging the weaker points.

I also think that the use of statistics is extremely vague, unreliable, & inaccurate when presented with the whole story of a person's musical life. Using those statistics to shed a negative light on early piano lessons is, I feel, unfairly persuasive.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 27, 2013:

Rhonda, as a professional administrator of a music school for 20 years, I can assure you that above theories were and still are practiced with GREAT success in my region. I am well aware of modern approaches, and also of the success achieved by 'modern teachers' like you, and I would honestly NOT call your approach a 'shame'. After all, Music and the success of Music and Musicians, don't depend on the opinions and believes of people, but on the successful achievement of their goals.

You and I have the same goal regarding music and you are welcome to achieve it your way while you are holding on to YOUR believes and opinions. I have a motto: Don't tell me, SHOW me. Our list of success, rooted in the aptitude test of Bentley as well as Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd's practical guide, "Choosing the Right Instrument" are long enough to brag with.

Thank you for your opinion. Feel free to publish a hub, promoting your knowledge, guidelines and suggestions. I will link it to mine. Parents of children with an aptitude for music certainly have the right to know all there is to know about 'choosing the right instrument' for their child.

Rhonda Bradley from San Antonio, Texas on January 27, 2013:

As a professional music teacher and performer/composer of 20+ years, I strongly disagree with the theories above (the overview of personality types and how they match to a specific instrument), and take issue with these hypotheses being presented as fact. The categorizing above matches what are in many cases a child's weakest qualities, and presents them with an instrument that will help to build on those weak qualities.

Modern approaches to teaching music (maintaining high educational standards while mixing in a good dose of fun and friendliness - with contemporary music incorporated), combined with a good teacher, will blow away all of the stereotypes presented in the summary above.

It's just a shame that parents will read it and, wanting to do the best by their children, follow the suggestions laid out. In my opinion, this would be a big mistake.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 04, 2012:

Hi tillsontitan, so good to see you in here! I appreciate your lovely compliment. Thank you! Working for 20 years in a music school, I evidently learned a lot about music and all involved. And why not share it? But I will never call myself a Know-it-All. Something I have noticed: The more people know about something, the less eager are they to share it for free. Take care, Mary!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 04, 2012:

Wow, jonmcclusk, thye've got amazing discounts over there! Of course, one should be careful when buying music instrument. There IS A LOT of JUNK in the market. I will never buy any instrument without consulting an accomplished musician first, instead of trusting the salesman. Thank you for the visit and the link :)

Mary Craig from New York on December 04, 2012:

Martie this hub is much wonderful, useful information for all parents and music teachers! You are definitely not inferior to any teacher of anything that's for sure, but a beacon for all to follow!

Voted every button but funny!

Jonathan McCloskey from Cinnaminson, New Jersey on December 04, 2012:

Such a great hub for the developing musician. Try this link for discount instruments . I've never seen a junior three-piece drum set go for one hundred dollars before.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on November 18, 2012:

Dear Ashley, unfortunate financial circumstances prevents millions to develop the talents they were born with. People with a higher than average flair for music can certainly become the master of any instrument(s) of their choice. I hope you will get the opportunity to realize your dream :)

Ashley on November 17, 2012:

I WANT to learn the violin, French horn, and piano! unfortunatly no money and I think I will become uninterested once I have them :/ hope not! But this article reassured me that my personality is good for these instruments. Even though I know a guy who can play just about every instrument, love the piano out of all, and he is just as popular as it gets! Started playing at age of 6! :O what a talented person he is!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 10, 2012:

rcrumple, you are obviously a born musician who never had the opportunity to develop their talent. You are part of the majority musicians in this world. King Solomon stressed this so clearly - It is not the best runners who win the race; success depends on Time and Opportunity. (Can't remember the exact scripture and don't want to waste time searching for it.)

I myself did not have the opportunity to develop my talent to a professional level. I felt quite inferior to the music teachers I had worked with for 20 years. Although they always admired my ability to make enjoyable music, I just FELT like a 'child able to do what adults could naturally do'. Fortunately I had my own pedestal in the admin department, where they felt inferior to me. Ha-ha! Nowadays I don't get the time to play any of the instruments I've learned to play. But in the 80's, when I was already a mother of teenagers, I've taken the time to learn how to read music, and I've stocked my library with sheet music, so if the urge comes, only a shortage of Time can stop me from enjoying myself.

Thank you so much for your generous comment, rcrumple. Just enjoy what you are doing; a true musician finds joy in the mere production of melodic sounds.

Rich from Kentucky on October 10, 2012:

Martie - I wish I'd have been able to see this when I was younger. My first attempt was at a guitar. Did okay, but had to try to learn on my own without knowing how to read music. Of course, having no direction I failed to progress much. Then, the saxophone took place. I found the act of blowing into woodwinds gave me a headache. Again, did okay, but quit. Then the drums. Did very well here, again, with no formal training, but enough to make some decent money. However, a few years ago, I started playing around with a piano at a business. Several people came over and asked what the tune was I was playing. I had no idea. It was the first time I'd ever touched the keys of one. I borrowed an electric keyboard from a friend one evening, and could play along with two or three songs by evening's end. Perhaps, that was my instrument, and I missed it along the way. I've often thought of buying one myself, but formal training is out at this time in my life. I'm afraid it would become another one of those instruments of my past gathering dust. Good Job! Up & Useful & Interesting

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on July 07, 2012:

smartmusic ~ you sound like a typical musician. Please do yourself a favor and take up the classical guitar and whenever you get the opportunity the drums again. I hope Time allows you to enjoy this soul-enriching hobby.... :)

smartmusic on July 07, 2012:

Martie, good job on this hub. It's interesting to be able to relate psychology and behavior analysis to which instrument a person would be likely to play. It is definitely a wonderful creative outlet that is accommodating to most, and apparently 9 out of 10 kids are able to learn an instrument - somehow that makes me happy knowing that.

I played 2 years of guitar in high school where I did well, even though I was kind of a slacker, I really enjoyed it. Senior year I borrowed a friends drum set and basically taught myself how to play the drums which was an amazing experience. I moved to an apartment where I could no longer use the drums and it was terrible! It's been many years and I hope to move to a house where i'd be able to play the drums. I've been considering taking guitar lessons again, I've always wanted to learn classical guitar, flamenco, so it's something I will be taking up soon. Thanks!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on July 02, 2012:

Bubbles, you are obviously a super-talented musician and I bet you would be able to play many different instruments. There are many students like you. The guidelines in this article based on Ben Tovim and Boyd's research are for the average... Thank you for confirming that these guidelines are NOT the law of the Medes and Persians :)

Bubbles on July 02, 2012:

I played the piano before 8, I played it at the age of 6 and I was quite good at it. A lot of people would love it when i play and i was always ahead in my class. I was his star pupil.:) But unfortunately the store closed and i stop playing ever since then in 5th grade i picked up the flute because i couldn't play piano anymore else. Not all Flutes are shy, I am super sociable, bubbly, excited, and I get along with everyone in band. :) I am sorry about my grammer it is terrible

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on May 24, 2012:

Hi Ahala, at the age of 5 I recommend violin or recorder to begin with. I hope you find a teacher able to give preparatory tuition to kiddies not yet able (emotionally ready) to read music. At 5 music should be playing, stimulating a child's sense for rhythm and melody - improving melodic memory, et cetera. Please Google 'Kindermusik' for some important information. They do have schools all over the world...

Ahali on May 23, 2012:

Martie,thank you very much for the great tips, i was thinking of selecting a musical instrument for my son who is just 5 years old now. He is very now i can decide what to select for him, what its very hard to find out music school or teacher where we live.Thanks, looking forward more tips from your hub!!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 15, 2012:

Bahareh, oh, you have touched my heart. Thank you for your email. I am going to add you to my Facebook before the end of this day. May all your dreams come true :)

Bahareh on April 15, 2012:

many thanks to you. much respect for you. I appreciate your attitude toward people and I adore whom have the same as you. I absolutely agree with you.

I try my best to get a cello and feel it with all of my soul. you don't know how much your responses have helped me. you are the best.


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 15, 2012:

Bahareh, it doesn't matter where we live or in what culture group we were born and raised. We are all Homo Sapiens with exactly the same psychological and biological systems. We are born with an aptitude to like music; some of us have more of this, and therefor we long to make music via inter alia a music instrument. I love the cello; it has a soothing and romantic sound. Please try your best to get one - borrow, beg or buy one - Don't allow anything or anybody to convince you that your dreams can not become reality. If you can dream it, you can do it. Hard work, but what of value in this life does not demand hard work and a lot of efforts? Please keep me informed... :)

Bahareh on April 15, 2012:

thank you for replying to me, I didn't you would because I was mentioned somehow I'm Iranian, and you know the rest. you're right. and thank you for that honesty and being supportive. which I needed. I think I would go with cello some day, because it says the sad story that no other instrument can tell, although it would be hard to not thinking about the others, because together they make a world of harmony which every instrument plays a role beautifully.

I can't say how much I like to sit on chairs once and take the cello on my hands, I can imagine how magical that moment would be. I think I would combine with it. and become one.

thank you again. thanks for your support, and friendly response. thank you.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on April 14, 2012:

Bahareh, thank you for sharing your story with me. Gosh, your childhood must have been a nightmare. Don't stop looking for an opportunity to play at least one of your favorite instruments. We are never too old to learn. Although you will not reach the heights you could have reached, you can at least aim for the moon - then you will be among the stars. I wish you all of the best, and also with your work as illustrator/writer of children's books.

Bahareh on April 14, 2012:

hi there, enjoyed it very much, when I was a kid I really liked to play cello or flute like my cousin but my dad and step mom thought it was a stupid idea, and I always envied my cousins who their mom sent them to private music class. well because here in Iran you don't actually live until you're hopefully married to someone nice, and he can help you to get what you want. so until then I was alone by myself protecting my little sister from that beast (step mom) who hit us every time.

I could remember making an instrument by a piece of wood and some thread like a guitar and closely listened if they made a sound, but they didn't. or draw a keyboard on a paper and simulate the sounds by mouth.

I was so lonely and nightmare of that time still scare me at nights.

now,I'm 27 married, but no money to play my favorite instruments like cello, flute or oboe, or deep dark bassoon when it play the sad melody.

thanks to internet and youtube I got to know them, how wonderful they are. I'm currently children's books write/illustrator. hoping to do sth for them,

I don't know why I wrote it but I can't live without listening to classical and magical music, where the dreams can come true.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on March 29, 2012:

kj ~ I do know flute players who are not at all shy. They have enough talent to master any instrument; they have simply decided to play the flute because they love the sound of it... I would say you ought to listen to your gut feeling. You can always do both until you are sure which one connects the best with your soul. I wish you all of the best...