The 10 Most Popular Musical Instruments to Learn


According to a study by the University of Southern California, students who learn how to play musical instruments, experience faster brain development. Students also see improvements in motor skills, listening, sensory development and self-esteem. A parent is usually giddy with excitement and pride when their children say they want to learn a musical instrument – provided, of course, that they’re interested in something more than banging a drum at all hours of the night.

But with so many popular musical instruments to choose from, which one should parents and students choose? In the article below, we outline some of the most popular musical instruments for students. We also outline the virtues and important factors to consider when choosing between them.

What do children learn from musical instruments?

There are plenty of benefits students earn from taking up a musical instrument. Here are five of the most important that our researches at Vanco found.

    • Improves Interpersonal Skills

      These “soft skills” are essential for childhood and even more important for adulthood. Because students in a music program need to work with each other as a team to perform their work, they learn teamwork and other key interpersonal skills.
    • Memorization

      For students to be successful in their coursework, they need to be able to collect and internalize large amounts of new information. When students learn a musical instrument, they learn an entire language of notes. This learning process takes muscle and practice, which music programs help to build. As students practice musical instruments, their brain power increases, helping them with their coursework.
    • Promotes Creativity

      For students to become successful adults, they need to think outside the box to solve complicated problems and innovate. By learning a musical instrument, students can find an outlet to express themselves creatively.
    • Boosts Self-Esteem

      Facing criticism is tough for anyone, but for students it can be even harder. By learning a musical instrument, students learn about constructive criticism and are challenged to improve in a positive way. This not only helps them to grow character and build self-worth, but helps students grow resiliency against non-constructive criticism and bullies.
    • Improves Motor Skills

      By improving coordination and dexterity, musical instruments develop motor skills within students.
  • The 10 Most Popular Musical Instruments

  • For students, the choice between musical instruments is highly personal. Whichever instrument is chosen, there are a host of teachers out there ready to pass on their knowledge. Because there are so many options for students to consider, we focused on the 10 most popular musical instruments. When creating this top-ten list,  we carefully considered a variety of sources.  
    • Piano/Keyboard

      Some experts separate the two, and they do have different uses, but the basics are very similar. Some instructors believe that learning to play piano should be a prerequisite for learning any other instrument. “Despite being a single instrument, a piano covers the full spectrum of any instrument featured in the orchestra,” according to the La Habra and Corona Music Centers. It teaches coordination between hands and between the hand and the eye.
    • Guitar

      The rise of rock music has lifted the popularity of the guitar. The video game is called “Guitar Hero,” not “Piano Hero,” for a reason. Some articles even put the guitar at the top of the list. Like the piano, it can be played solo or in a group, and it can teach vital hand-to-hand and hand-eye coordination. There are also several varieties, such as electric, acoustic and bass.
    • Violin

      While it is most often associated with classical music – the first violinist is, after all, second to the conductor in the orchestra pecking order – it has emerged in several other musical genres. “It is fairly easy to learn and you can purchase different sizes, which makes this a great instrument for kids to start out with,” according to the Creative School of Soul website.
    • Drums

      Yes, parents and siblings will likely need noise-canceling headphones but drums are also a good way to learn musical discipline, since understanding the nuances of the instrument will eliminate the urge to simply bang around. It is so integral to many musical genres, from classical to rock to jazz, that it should always be among the most popular instrument.
    • Saxophone

      The sax is the most popular wind instrument and is highly desired by school orchestras. Available in all sound ranges from alto to contrabass – though alto and tenor are the most prominent – they come in all shapes and sizes and are useful in a variety of genres, though they are most known for jazz.
    • Flute

      A quiet and highly portable instrument, it is very easy to learn, according to the Ambient Mixer blog, and doesn’t cost too much money. It can also be used as a stepping stone to other instruments. Though primarily a classical instrument, it has adapted to other genres and was a foundational instrument for the 1970s rock group Jethro Tull.
    • Clarinet

      Many students start their musical training with the recorder in elementary school music class, and the step up to the clarinet is natural. It is a woodwind and, like the flute, is small, lightweight and versatile. The clarinet is a staple of classical and jazz orchestras.
    • Cello

      Luckily, cellos for younger students aren’t horribly huge, but they get pretty heavy as the student gets older. It is a key string instrument, along with the violin and viola, and is used mostly in symphony orchestra and chamber quartets. It can accompany almost any instrument, and there are some solos in the repertoire.
    • Trumpet

      The king of the brass instruments is used in almost every genre. An integral part of symphony orchestra brass sections, the trumpet is also crucial to jazz, R&B and some rock ensembles. Available in a variety of sizes, it helps enhance motor skills and, as a Normans Musical Instruments blog states, can even exercise abdominal muscles.
    • Voice

      Voice - Kid singing song with microphone
      Yes, the mellifluous tones of the singing voice is an instrument – and perhaps the most crucial instrument in choir, pop, rock, R&B, country and many forms of jazz. A Cappella and barber shop quartets wouldn’t exist without it.



Learning to sing well leads to controlled breathing, and there’s no instrument to lug around. Instructors, both school-based and independent, can help parents and children decide which instrument is best for them.


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