Our retail team give some guidance on when you can safely give an instrument to a child...
Alice, who works in our Woodwind department says:
"I’d say roughly 10 for an alto saxophone because of the weight but a body harness can be purchased to help. There has been an increase in younger players using a curved soprano sax but I recommend that this is done under strict supervision of the instrumental teacher.
"Oboe I’d recommend 10 also because of the damage it can do to the developing soft palette.
"Bb Clarinet about 8 but again smaller C and Eb clarinets exist, the C (age 6) being the preferred choice as it uses the same mouthpiece as the Bb again worth checking with the teacher whether they are happy teaching harmony clarinets.
"Flute (age 8) but mainly depends on arm length and hand size, with short arm-span curved head available or fife if very young. Don’t consider piccolo till at least grade 5 level."
Tom, who has experience of teaching children, says:
"Trumpet/Cornet – 7/8 yrs old, depending on the size of the child, trumpet is probably slightly easier to blow being more open, but the cornet is closer to the player in terms of balancing and holding the instrument up for a good posture.
"Trombone – 8-10 yrs old, again, depending on size, getting down to 5th, 6th and 7th position is difficult for some. Would stay away from alto trombone for a beginner even though it is smaller. Bass trombone is definitely something for the future.
"Tenor horn – 7/8 yrs old. Same as the trumpet really, but with a slightly larger mouthpiece.
"Baritone horn – again same as the above but with an even bigger mouthpiece.
"I think it’s important to say that playing a brass instrument before teeth are ‘settled’ or adult teeth can cause problems with the way that they can be pushed back… as relaxed/little pressure as possible.
"French horn – 7/8 yrs old. Would start on a single horn either on Bb or in F… this is down the each individual teacher. Once they grow enough, move onto a double, but that would be quite a bit into the future.
"Tuba – most people will start on a cornet/trumpet/euphonium, although I started straight onto a tuba. You can start at around 8/9 and that would be on a smaller tuba, probably a non-compensating 3 valved instrument, and then again, when you’ve grown and would be able to support the weight on the tuba. This is the same for the euphonium."
But of course you can introduce children to music long before they're physically ready to hold or blow the instrument. Listening to music together or observing music lessons on their chosen instrument will inspire them for when they're ready to start tuition, and also improve their listening and concentration - skills needed in abundance when learning to play!