Dear parents of musically-inclined children, apologies in advance. The following are all
toys your children will love... though you might not share their enthusiasm. But consider this: The musical curiosity you help to foster today could evolve into a lifelong passion, hobby, or even career. So yes, the banjo included below may be agonizing to listen to now, but consider the pay off. Three words: college music scholarship. Hey, it could happen. Especially if these excellent gifts for kids who love music (from playing instruments to singing to composing) can nurture their musical talents.
And really, if you take a closer look, you’ll find that many of these musical gifts for toddlers, kids, and teens could be fun for the whole family. Gone are the microphones that just made kids’ voices echo. Today’s children's mics can connect to Bluetooth so you can sync them with a song of each child’s choice — the ultimate in living room karaoke performances. But that’s not the only innovation. Rather than invest in a baby grand, brands like Hape and Baby Einstein have made mini pianos to introduce children to the ivories. The classic keyboard mat of
Big fame still exists and still rocks, but there are also newer gifts for kids who love music, like the Munchkin Mozart Cube, that will blow your baby away. 1 A xylophone for musical newbies
When it comes to classic musical instruments for kids, you can’t come close to a xylophone. This one, from Musicube, comes with wooden mallets which makes the sounds that much sweeter. It’s also an eco-friendly option, since it’s made from plywood and steel and is non-toxic. While your child learns to play some notes, there’s also some ROYGBIV action happening which can help your child learn all the colors of the rainbow. A xylophone is good for gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination, which is something you can keep telling yourself while your kid whacks away at their new toy.
2 A guiro
Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity. The guiro, a percussion instrument thought to be of Latin and/or African descent, is not so simple to master. Essentially a hollowed-out gourd, the guiro has several notches cut into one side that you play by rubbing a stick along those notches. When played correctly, a guiro can take a song to the next level, creating sensational sounds that sound like a rockin’ ratchet. And unlike other instruments that can take some time to master, your child will be able to make music instantly as they scratch their way to musical success.
3 Musical rings
Music-making is literally at your fingertips with the Sphero Specdrums. Worn on your fingers, the musical rings can be tapped on the included play pad (or any surface, really), and magically, music is made. The app-enabled music toy works for both beginners and professionals alike, and includes an accelerometer, a light sensor, LED lights. You can play for up to two hours at a time, mimicking sounds like digital drums, keyboards, MIDI pads, and other sounds — even of your own making. The Specdrums are made from durable silicone, so you won’t have to worry about wearing them out from too much tapping. In addition to making music, this can be great for kids who like to tap or who use fidget toys.
4 DJ mixer for kids
Step aside, Steve Aoki. There’s a new DJ in town, and while they might not reach the height of a real DJ turntable, that shouldn’t stop them from throwing down some sick beats, thanks to this KidiStar DJ Mixer from Vtech. The toy comes with 15 built-in songs and a whopping 2000+ sound combinations. Your kid can create custom sound effects, and lay vocal tags onto the tracks, which they can then save. There are light effects built into the mixer so your kid will feel like they’re really spinning at a club. Your child’s own music can be connected via Bluetooth and then their creations can be played through the built-in speaker or via a headphone jack.
5 Kazoo made from a gourd
Forget everything you know about kazoos. This kazoo, from Etsy seller PanAfricanArts, is made from a gourd, which is common in Africa (along with bamboo, bone, and animal horns). But instead of blowing into it, you hum or sing into the instrument in order to produce a sound. By doing so, an air current is created that propels the kazoo’s inner membrane to vibrate, which, in turn, makes the person’s voice louder and gives it a buzzing sound. Pretty amazing, right? And while a kazoo is often considered a kid’s toy, it actually is an important instrument in many musical genres.
6 A STEM-centric musical instrument
What’s the fun in making music if you can’t actually make the instrument, too? Well, with this STEM toy, you can customize your instrument all while learning crucial skills that encourage logical thinking, color coding, and problem solving. The 72-piece set features interlocking pipes and whistles that then magically (and scientifically) turns into musical instruments. Geared for the 3 and older set, this musical instrument can truly help your child build better musical skills all the while building a fun toy that they can play with as well. This toy can transform into 56 different things to play (and make music) with.
7 Musical instruments for bath time
Here's the thing: musical instruments don’t like getting wet. But the Rub a Dub Water Flutes perform best when it’s bath time. That’s right, your child can play the five flutes by dunking them underwater in the tub and filling them up with varying levels of water. Then, they can play to their heart’s content while getting squeaky clean. If they want to learn some music, there are included song instructions on how to “tune” the flutes by adding just the right amount of water to hit those high notes. With songs like the appropriate “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” to “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, bath time has never sounded so sweet.
8 Maracas for shaking
Call them shakers, call them noisemakers, but don’t forget to make maracas a pivotal part of your child’s musical journey. They might not look like much, but maracas are one of the easiest ways for your child to learn all about beats and the tempo of a song. This set comes with 24 maracas, so your child will never be without a way to make music. They have a small handle, which are perfect for little hands to grasp onto. And since they come in a wide variety of colors, your little one can learn all about primary colors as they rock to the beat.
9 A music-playing toy for infants
Don’t get it twisted, this little toy is much more than a rattle. Sure, it makes pleasing tinkling noises your child will love. But it also has a fun roly poly action complete with arm waddle shakes that will induce fits of laughter. A great way to introduce babies to music, they can discover the joy of controlling sounds on their own by giving this little penguin a good spin. We’re talking hours of entertainment as your child returns again and again to this charming little music maker. Add some music in the background and your kiddo can dance with their little bird too.
10 Montessori-style drums
If you have a tiny Dave Grohl in the making, encourage their drum line instincts with this Crate & Kids Be The Band Wood Music Table. Composed of three drums, three cymbals, two drum/xylophone sticks, two maracas and built-in xylophone, it’s like a real rock star kit. Children ages 3 and up can easily jam standing or sitting at this wooden music set that looks as lovely and minimalist as it sounds. With easy to clean surfaces, even the occasional splash of juice or lunch can be wiped away. You know what that means? License to spill and thrill!
11 A Blue’s Clues music maker
Does your child love Blue’s Clues? Do they also love slamming pots and pans, tapping on the dinner table, and singing at the top of their lungs? Then they need this all-in-one drum, chimes, xylophone, and cymbal music board. Built into one easy to carry, portable percussion system, your musician can carry their accompaniment everywhere they go. Perfect for kindergartners, the set comes with two drum sticks (with Blue’s paw’s on the end) so they can easily make a joyful noise. Plus, the board is designed to empower young children while also teaching them fine motor skills in the process.
12 Cool wireless headphones
Listening to KidzBop Kidz may not always be your jam. But chances are it is for your kid. Let them bop along with their favorite band via a pair of wireless headphones. eKids makes headphones designed just for little heads and since there’s no cord, you have less chance of accidents (like a computer being yanked to the floor or a child tripping). Even better? The headphones come in all different fun designs like Spider-Man,
Frozen, and Mario themes. If you’re worried about volume, you won't with these. They’re designed with volume protection technology so that little ears are protected. And with Bluetooth capabilities you can connect them to a car stereo, iPhone, computer, or any other Bluetooth-compatible device. 13 A just-the-right-size guitar
Little hands can have trouble with string instruments but not with the Schoenhut acoustic guitar. This instrument was made to be played by children and is a great introductory tool for future guitarists. Equipped for right and left hand players, the guitar proximity between the fretboard and strings is reduced to mitigate finger fatigue so little ones can jam out for hours. And to make the introduction to the instrument complete, this guitar is outfitted with six strings and comes fully assembled. All you need to do is have it tuned up and your tyke will be ready to play.
14 A learn-to-play piano
Billy Joel didn’t become the piano man overnight. While he was a piano playing prodigy, it still took hours of practice, not to mention lessons at the Royal Academy of Music in London beginning at age 11. Set your child on the same path with this mini piano. Even though it’s made out of wood, it magically produces sounds and comes with three pages of sheet music which play six songs. In classic Hape-meets-Baby Einstein fashion, it’s ideal for small fingers and easily wipes down. Plus, only two AA batteries are required. Not too shabby considering how many we used to have to plug into our own ‘80s kiddie keyboards.
15 A banjolele set
Want to get your child a real musical instrument, but aren’t prepared for the sonic horror of a recorder or the price tag of a piano? Meet the kid’s banjo, a small wooden toy-like instrument they can enjoy without costing you a fortune. Weighing just a little over a pound, this instrument is light enough for a child to handle and is designed for children as young as 36 months to 10 years old. The replaceable parts include three adjustable strings and three tuner pegs. And parents love it. “In my personal opinion, this is a great transition before taking the plunge on ‘real’ one,” writes one Amazon reviewer.
16 A mix & spin set for tiny DJs
So your child wants to be the next Mark Ronson. Fair enough. Help them on their way to DJ super stardom with this keyboard and spin studio in one. They can write their own tunes on the keyboard, then remix the sounds using the dial that produces 18 unique sound effects. And that’s not all. Kids can get wild with the tempo by sliding the tempo bar up and down. There’s even a scratching effect to get that classic Grandmaster Flash sound. Let the hip-hop education begin early with this awesome mix and spin studio to set your kiddo off on the right foot to produce sick beats.
17 A music cube
You can encourage even the youngest listener’s passion for music with this Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube. With sounds of the harp, flute, French horn, piano, and violin, lights flash to the tempo of the music allowing even little babies to work on their composing skills. Does your baby want to hear all those instruments at once? No problem. The orchestra button plays them in unison. To teach children rhythm, lights flash in tempo with the music thanks to 3 AAA batteries that last up to 5 hours. And while the cube weighs one pound, soft rounded corners make it gentle for a child to play with.
18 A mini keyboard
Y’all, if it was good enough for you in 1997, it’s good enough for your kids in 2020. Casio has been hitting all the right notes in the keyboard department for decades, so share a nostalgic tune with your children on one of these bad boys. The reason Casio keyboards endure is because the 44 mini-sized keys and five percussion pads work so well to introduce young musicians to the keyboard. Not to mention the 100 sounds and rhythm patterns your child can play with. An easy-to-read LCD screen helps budding maestros plot their next hit. And thanks to the keyboard’s light weight, they can easily pack this instrument and go on tour.
19 A harmonica
Stevie Wonder took the harmonica and made it sound like rock and roll. Your kid may very well do the same and the best part is, all this instrument takes is some good lung capacity. But an instrument alone does not a musician make. That’s why blues artist Kevin Burt created an accompanying six lesson book to introduce students grades 5-8 to playing basic cross-harp blues harmonica. By following the color-coded instruction manual, budding harmonica players can follow the curriculum to learn breathing techniques and four-part harmony to become true masters of what’s sometimes called the blues harp or jaw harp.
20 Roll-up drums
If your child is already telling you, “Sorry, mom. I gotta go. I’ve got a gig next door,” then they need a drum kit they can tote with them. This terrific version comes from Mukikim and folds up. That’s right? Getting to band practice was never so easy. With this colorful silicon drum set, kids can practice any time, any where. Then stow it all away easily either rolled up or flat in a closet. Better yet, you can plug headphones into the set when mom and dad need a break from rehearsal. Liking the sound of that? Can we get a drum roll, please?
21 Retro record player
This Fisher Price record player may be the very definition of peak retro toy nostalgia. You bopped your little diaper bottom to this awesome toy. Now your kids can too. The design has stayed almost entirely the same. Basically, this toy is a fake record player complete with five plastic records that play 10 songs. And all of those records fit comfortably inside so your tot can carry their player and their fave tunes wherever they go. One thing that has changed is it has been a tiny bit digitized. Instead of a music box mechanism in the record needle it has four buttons that play recorded songs. That could be a bummer to some parents who had the original 1971 model, but your child won’t know the difference.
22 A piano mat
You’ll all be channeling some big, well,
Big vibes when you dance the night away on the FAO Schwarz Giant 69” Dance-On Piano Mat. Not quite as big as the one in the movie Big, you can still create some cool tunes while learning how to play a piano — with your feet. The piano has 38 different notes and there are five classic songs that you can learn. Recommended for ages 3 and up, the floor piano requires four AA batteries to get the party started. And in addition to playing music, this piano allows you to record your creations, too. 23 Double mic
Give your child the joy of saying “And on back up vocals, my little sister, Kimber!” with this double mic stand. Might as well go ahead and make your living room into a performance hall. Kids will never stop singing with this machine that’s not only a double mic stand, but also a karaoke machine in one. With two adjustable microphones, the kit also comes with a flashing stage light base. In addition, hand drums and speakers are included to give your children’s performance a professional feel. But the real selling point? This set can be connected to streaming devices so you can play their favorite songs for them to sing along to.
24 An ektara
Music can be a gateway to learning about the world and other cultures. This journey can begin by showing your children instruments from around the world. For instance, this Ektara is a traditional one string Bengal instrument. Inexpensive, small, and a great tool for kids to learn on, children hold the instrument upright, gripping the neck just above the resonator and plucking the playing string or strings with the index finger of the same hand. From there, you could introduce your child to other instruments with more strings to grow their love of music and improve their cultural understanding and appreciation.
25 Thumb piano
The thumb piano, or ilong, is related to the xylophone and comes from West African cultures. This one is made of bamboo and has a sweet tinkling sound. Easy for even the smallest hands to play, this would make a great addition to a family’s instrument collection while providing even the youngest players an instrument to tinker with. Basically they pluck the bamboo keys which are held in place by a metal cuff that causes a sound to reverberate. A great addition for a family that loves Afro Cuban music or has a Djembe drum on hand, it’s a fun sound any child can appreciate.
26 Rhyme Antics
Love hip hop? Pretty sure you could have been a major MC given the chance? Want to teach your kids how to flow and spit great rhymes? Then you need Rhyme Antics. This pass-the-mic game challenges players to see who can rhyme words the fastest. Developed by Chantel Calloway, the game has been given the educator stamp approval for helping kids work on linguistic skills as well as develop literacy while having fun.
Ready to set your musical child on a course for future stardom are at the very least a successful season in the high school band? Get them one of these instruments for kids and let the playing begin.
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This article was originally published on
November 28, 2018