A ukulele for kids? Fantastic idea, BUT here’s what you need to know before buying.
What About Plastic? So, let’s be diplomatic here. Is your child, um, physically adventurous? Are they likely to stand on the ukulele or try to make it fly or see if it floats? We get it! Here’s our best pick for your little tiger. The Kala Makala Waterman. 9 million people can’t be wrong. The ultimate child-proof Uke! Why not get one that glows in the dark?
If you’re looking to introduce your child to a musical instrument, there really isn’t a better choice than the ukulele. An ukulele is much easier for a child to learn to play than a guitar, for three main reasons –
- Size – ukuleles are naturally smaller than guitars, making them a natural choice for the smaller body of a child. A smaller instrument also means the child will be much less likely to damage it (or something else in your home) as they run around the house with it.
- Complexity – the ukulele is a relatively simple instrument, especially when compared to all the other options out there. There’s only 4 strings as opposed to 6 on a guitar, and you can strum the instrument with your hand or fingers, as opposed to need a guitar pick to play. This makes it a lot more natural for kids to figure out, as they only need to learn the ukulele and not how to properly hold some other object at the same time.
- Material – if you’ve ever tried to learn to play the guitar, you might remember how raw and sore your fingertips got from practicing holding down the metal strings. That’s a huge deterrent from getting a child to learn a musical instrument! Luckily, ukuleles use softer, nylon strings. This makes ukuleles perfect for young children as it wont tear up their hands when they’re supposed to be having fun.
Picking the Right Ukulele for your Child
Now that we’ve established why the ukulele is a great choice for a child to learn to play as a first instrument, lets help you decide which ukulele is right for your kid.
The ultimate deciding factor should be the age and maturity of your child. We’ll recommend ukuleles for different age ranges, but if you feel like your child is more advanced in their cognitive abilities and coordination with their hands, you can think about looking at a higher age range.
We caution trying to get something too advanced for their first instrument though, as the ultimate goal for your child should be to instill a lifelong love of music!
Best Ukulele for Kids 3 to 5 Years Old
For the youngest of children, you’re going to be looking at options that lean more towards being toys than true musical instruments. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with those electronics where you push a button and music plays from a speaker!
The Hape Ukulele is the perfect option for young children looking for their first guitar or ukulele. With real strings and tuning action, your kid can learn a lot from this instrument including the following –
- Familiarity with holding an instrument – Unlike electronic toys, this Hape ukulele for kids will teach them about proper playing position, and get them familiar with holding an instrument in order to produce sound.
- Rhythm – they control the sound that comes from the instrument by strumming the strings. This will help them understand the rhythm and timing that exists in music. Even if they can’t master a strum pattern or play consistently, it forms the building blocks for their future success.
- Exposure to real strings and frets – this ukulele lets your kids explore the relationship between real strings of an instruments and the frets on the fretboard, and how the interact.
All of these are important to priming your child for learning more advanced instruments later in life. One of our readers talks about how this ukulele sparked a curiosity for music in their 3 year-old child –
He’s only really strumming along and singing to himself, but 4 days after he got it he was asking me how to make a song. We wrote a short song together about our labrador puppy. Those 20 minute alone were worth the price. Unforgettable. Diana C, NY.
If you’re concerned about a potential “hard life” for your Ukulele, a superb alternative is a plastic ukulele.
Best Ukulele for Kids 6 to 11 Years Old
The Hola HM-21 really is sensational value. If you consider just how many hours of fun, creativity and connection this instrument will bring – it’s a true no brainer. Besides coming in some pretty cool colors, the Hola! features a maple body, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard and bridge. They hold tuning extremely well, so that should be a gift for your ears!
All in all, a fantastic buy. Just try to avoid the cheaper ukulele’s on sale. For a few dollars more, we would stick to the more traditional and tested brands.
Also worth looking into at this age level is a plastic ukulele, which actually sound surprisingly good and are the most durable ukuleles you’ll find.
If you think your child is more advanced or will definitely stick with the instrument, so you want to invest in something nicer, check out our next ukulele recommendation.
Best Ukulele for Kids 12 to 15 Years Old
The Kala Mahogany Soprano Ukulele is a real beauty. It features a mahogany body and neck, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. It has a lovely satin finish and is pre-strung with AQUILA NYGLUT strings – all ready for your youngster to get playing immediately. We love them.
When your child hits their teenage years, it’s time to invest a bit more in a real musical instrument, so the Kala KA-15S Soprano ukulele is perfect. Kala is a well-respected brand name in the ukulele industry, and this ukulele comes with high quality hardware and strings. Just read some of the reviews!
The soprano size is the smallest sized ukulele, so it’s best for smaller kids. If your child is a boy or is towards the older age range, you might want to consider getting them the Concert Sized Ukulele which is a bit larger, and will have more room on the fretboard.
What About Tuition?
As your child starts to get older, they can benefit from a bit of more guided study. The Alfred’s Kid’s Ukulele Starter Pack has everything they need to get started. Included is a ukulele, carrying bag, an extra set of strings, and an ukulele course complete with a book, CD, and DVD. Find it here.
The main benefit to this package is the coursework that will start teaching your child how to form chords and play different notes on the ukulele. As you could guess by the low price, the ukulele here still isn’t anything that sounds impressive or that we would recommend to an adult, but it will work for kids who are learning.
If your child is looking for online instruction to help get them started learning the ukulele, we recommend Rocket Ukulele. Rocket Ukulele will take your kid from a complete beginner to playing songs in 30 days. It’s a learn at your own pace course, completely online to work on whenever they have time.
Beyond 15 years old, we recommend you take a look at our Best Ukulele for Beginners Guide, which is geared towards getting you the best quality ukulele for adults at beginner prices.