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Q: Learn piano or violin first ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Learn piano or violin first
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: bay-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 19 Jun 2003 21:49 PDT
Expires: 19 Jul 2003 21:49 PDT
Question ID: 219537
I'd like my child to learn both piano and violin. He's 4 yrs old.
Which instrument should he learn first. Please list pros and cons.
Subject: Re: Learn piano or violin first
Answered By: easterangel-ga on 19 Jun 2003 22:30 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi! Thanks for a very interesting question.

I am very happy to get an opportunity to answer this question of
yours. About a year ago I was also faced with such a choice when I
decided that my daughter (5 yrs.old) should learn an instrument. We
thought that a violin would be better since the instrument is
relatively cheaper and most kids play piano anyway. But when we talked
with the piano teacher she said that the piano would be a better first
instrument since a child might have some physical difficulty managing
a violin. I went with the advice without much thought until now.

I found this article which shows the wisdom of that advice.


"The traditional first instrument for children has been the piano.
Pianos are very good for teaching the layout of the notes used in
music. They are also very rewarding to play because each note requires
a fairly simple movement of only one finger... On the piano, it is
much simpler - youngsters can get one or even two melodies going at
the same time, and this is quite a payoff for their beginning


"On the other hand, a dependable, working piano represents a sizable
investment of money and floor space in the home. To sound good, it
also requires tuning once or twice a year, something which needs to be
done by a professional piano technician. It is possible to save some
money by renting, but after delivery charges and rental fees for a few
months, that amount of money could largely pay for another kind of

The article however mentions that violins, guitars, and cellos have
also been used successfully as a first instrument. In the end it will
depend on the child who will be the one playing the instrument. Every
child is unique as the saying goes.

One year of piano lessons and 2 recitals have gone by and me and my
child couldn't be any happier with the results after following her
teacher's advice.

Music Articles

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Request for Answer Clarification by bay-ga on 20 Jun 2003 11:14 PDT
Thanks for sharing your experience, Easterangel, and the link to Jim
McCutcheon's articles. We also talked to a teacher in our area, who
teaches traditional piano and Suzuki violin, and she recommended
violin first. So now we have a couple of opinions to consider. I was
hoping to find a few more articles that discuss this. Did you come
across any more links to this kind of information in your research?

Clarification of Answer by easterangel-ga on 20 Jun 2003 16:02 PDT
Hi again bay-ga and thanks for asking a clarification before making a

Here are some more articles I found about the topic but basically they
say the same thing as the first article I mentioned.

"Students may begin studying piano or violin as early as age four.
Each of these instruments offers particular strengths as a student’s
first instrument. The piano offers an excellent introduction to many
musical concepts that could later be applied to other instruments. The
piano may also offer a young student a somewhat easier experience than
other instruments in that the tone can be produced more readily than
is the case with woodwinds, brass or strings."

"Violin study offers some of the challenges in producing a tone
properly through fingering position and bowing techniques, but is
generally regarded as an instrument that can more readily develop the
students’ ear, precisely because of those challenges. Between the two
I would allow a younger student to choose with his or her parent,
basing the decision on which instrument appeals to the student more."

"Time for Music lessons"

"The Japanese-developed Suzuki method of teaching music calls for
group classes for the very young. Parents attend the lessons, too,
taking notes. Initially, the children rely on their ear and memory to
learn music, using either simplified notation on paper, or no sheet
music at all."

"The smaller proportions allow tiny fingers to reach adequately on the
violin neck, and the chin to grip the body of the instrument.
Downsized, the instrument weighs less, and the shorter strings don't
require as much finger strength, either. The viola is slightly larger
than a violin, with a resulting lower note range."

"Piano is a great first instrument for children 5 and up, Kramer says.
On a music-theory level, the piano allows a child to follow melody and
add harmonies."

"An early start Young children can succeed in music classes"

"Piano can be played as soon as your child can reach the keys and has
enough strength to press them down."

"Stringed instruments often come in smaller sizes for example
one-eighth of full size for younger children and can be started at a
very early age. Some children can handle a violin from the age of four
but a more realistic age to start is probably six."

"Is My Child Ready?"

I hope these additional articles enhances my original answer.

Best Regards,
bay-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thanks, Easterangel -- these are the sort of articles we were looking
for. It seems that it really does come down to which instrument the
child shows interest in. Our child has long talked about playing
violin, so that is probably what we start him on. Thanks again!

Subject: Re: Learn piano or violin first
From: damiam-ga on 19 Jun 2003 22:43 PDT
I started to learn the violin when I was 3 (I've never played the
piano), and while I don't regret it, I think piano would have been
easier. While the investments are similar (an cheap violin is $200ish,
and a low-end digital piano or a used upright is around there), a
piano has a much easier learning curve. A kid learning the violin can
take months before being able to play a solid note, while the piano
offers instant gratification. However, it depends on the teacher and
the kid. Maybe you should show your son both instruments (if you know
any pianists or violinists, I'm sure they'd be happy to give a
demonstration) and see which one he's more eager to learn.
Subject: Re: Learn piano or violin first
From: pinkfreud-ga on 20 Jun 2003 04:19 PDT
I took both piano lessons and violin lessons for many years. I started
with piano, which I believe is easier for a child to learn (probably
easier for an adult, too.) Most 4-year-olds cannot handle an
adult-sized violin, and a child's small hands have quite a bit of
difficulty in the fingering, even if a reduced-size violin is used.

Please be quite certain that your child actually WANTS to take music
lessons. From an early age, I was forced to take piano and violin
lessons, and was forced to practice each day, because my parents had
the idea that I was some sort of prodigy. When I reached the age of
twelve, they gave me the option of stopping the lessons. I did so, and
(without willing it) I so thoroughly wiped the memory of all my
musical background from my mind that today I cannot read music at all,
and cannot play a note (which greatly saddens me).
Subject: Re: Learn piano or violin first
From: liner-ga on 20 Jun 2003 09:18 PDT
Both of my children have started with the Suzuki method of violin
teaching.  This method has the children playing recognizible songs
from the start:  "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is a Suzuki
trademark.  And, my 6-year-old really can play that 1/16 size violin
with the notes right on pitch.

I also read an article that said that violin and other non stretted
string instruments are really good because they exercise ALL parts of
the musical brain.  You have to listen for pitch, and rhythm.  You
have to move your body in graceful and purposeful ways.

My older child, at 10, can now pick out songs by ear almost at the
first try.  She also plays with the piano, and likes it too.  (And yes
she IS learning to read music also.  That was an early unjustified
criticism of the Suzuki method--that they only memorize things.  [I
might also add that concert soloists memorize their music also]).
Subject: Re: Learn piano or violin first
From: bay-ga on 23 Jun 2003 15:46 PDT
Thanks for your comments, Damiam, Pinkfreud, and Liner. They helped
reinforce the articles we've read.
Subject: Re: Learn piano or violin first
From: easterangel-ga on 23 Jun 2003 15:59 PDT
Thanks bay-ga for the kind words, nice rating and for the tip!

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