Do you want to know how to buy musical instruments early childhood for your preschool or day care centre?

There are three essential things to look for when you buy musical instruments for young children:

  1. beautiful sound
  2. safety
  3. durability

There are many musical instruments from which to choose.  It is definitely worth spending time and money at the outset to buy musical instruments of high quality because they sound better, they are much safer than poor quality versions and they last a for long time.

Beautiful sound — essential criterion # 1

The sound of the instrument is much more important that the look. The best idea is to play and compare similar instruments before you buy musical instruments.

high and low quality sleigh bells

For example, here are two sets of sleigh bells. The one on the red plastic band may attract the child to pick up the instrument but it doesn’t sound fabulous – the actual bells are inferior to the ones on the dark blue band. The child will soon lose interest in making musical sounds with the inferior bell-set and will either drop it or try to bend and snap the bells off the handle.

Safety — essential criterion #2

There are two levels of safety I’d like to discuss – ordinary use and hospital use. In most situations, I make use of the instruments you see in this post. I load them into small boxes that fit snugly into a trolley and load them into my car. The wooden surfaces are finished in paint or varnish so I can wipe them with a disinfectant cleaner.

A pair of red and blue wooden castanets and a pair of finger cymbals with wooden knobs

However, in conversation with a colleague who runs the arts program for a children’s hospital, I learned that some of the wooden instruments would not be suitable for use where infection risks are high. In that case, you can often buy plastic versions so you can sterilise them between uses.

Of course there are other safety concerns and so it is generally best to rely on the manufacturer’s age recommendations. I am very particular about the brands I choose and stick mainly to those that have been making children’s instruments for decades, such as Remo and Mano Percussion.

Durability — essential criterion # 3

And that brings us to the third criterion, durability.  When you spend hundreds of dollars, or even thousands as I have, on instruments for use by children, you want them to last.

Choose just a few tried and true kinds of instrument – sleigh bells; castanets; chime bars; finger cymbals; guiros; rhythm sticks;  shaker eggs; and sturdy drums. Let the children play CDs and choose their own music for jam sessions. They can learn a lot by listening to expert musicians. Try the Putumayo Kids range of CDs.

Here are images of my instruments to help you choose wisely for your school, Music academy, early learning centre or library or even for use in a private home.  For music activities that really work with instrument playing check out our downloadable Lesson Plans for Toddlers and Lesson Plans for 3-5-Year-Olds.   Happy playing!

Do you need a trustworthy place to buy the best instruments in Australia? Check out our instrument shop.

Gathering Drum 18

Remo Gathering Drum 18″


We’ve done the testing over the years and curated sets for three age ranges, babies, toddlers and preschool/school beginners.