The holidays are a perfect time for parents and grandparents to introduce the joy of music to the next generation. As a music teacher, I have one huge favor to ask. Please do not be tricked into buying toy versions of the instrument of your choosing.
Children as young as four can play a real piano, a real violin and a real guitar. Shop at your local music store or ask your public or private school music teacher where to find the instrument. Just don't buy a toy.
Toy instruments are often impossibly to tune. The strings break very easily. Children learn notes that are off and out of tune. If you think spending a couple hundred dollars is too much, rent one. Harps, violins and some pianos and keyboards are all available for rent. If purchasing a starter instrument from a music store, most places have a buy back program. Instruments that are well-cared for hold their residual value and can be sold for nearly their initial investment if the child doesn't like it or out grows it.
Here are some reputable names and deals to help you make that instrument purchase this holiday season:
Lyon and Healy harps: www.lyonhealy.com
Lewis Creek Harps: www.lewiscreek.net
Pianos of all kinds: www.pianomart.com
violins and guitars: www.guitarcenter.com
Already purchased an instrument and you have a specific question about it? Ask me here in the comments. I will be sure to answer as many questions as possible.