Our guide to the best musical toys for children of all ages
With a dizzying array of options on the market, finding a musical toy that your child will love can be a bewildering undertaking. Here are ten musical toys and gadgets for children of all ages that, in our opinion, stand out from the rest. Wooden Kids Kitchen Set
Babies and toddlers will be hypnotised by this old-fashioned wooden music box, which features Pooh Bear and Piglet figurines spinning to the tune of a well-known lullaby. My local GP surgery used to keep one of these in every consultation room, just to distract the youngest patients during routine vaccinations. And it did the trick. Buy one of these and sample the hypnotic power for yourself.
Budding musicians can strum along to over thirty melodies or create their own hit with this guitar, which turns beginners into instant pros. All your toddler need do is strum a note, and the instrument will automatically fill in the rest of the chord. Or they can switch to 'play along' mode and their touch will match the tune. It's great for those wanting to see a quick reward for their efforts. And, let's face it, who doesn't?
This educational toy teaches children how instrumental sounds combine to create orchestral works - in this case eight masterpieces by Mozart. It includes harp, violin, French horn, piano and flute sounds, which can be played individually or in any combination simply by pressing the sides of the cube. The result is an opportunity to lay out the nuts and bolts of an orchestra, and to discover the joy of 'composing' music - one of those gifts that manages to engage both children and adults alike.
Slightly older children (age 6+) can DJ along to 15 built-in tracks in four different styles of music with this snazzy piece of kit, which even includes multicoloured disco lights that synch to the music. Or, to access your whole music library, you can connect an external music player via Bluetooth. Great for a kitchen rave.
With its colourful sequence of keys, this click n'play saxophone and trumpet set makes it easy for kids aged 3+ to start learning - and the reproduced brass sound is pretty realistic! For those wanting to get struck straight in, each instrument comes with songs printed on the back of the box, colour-coded with the keys to keep things simple.
This DIY guitar pick kit is great for teenagers who are constantly losing their guitar picks, allowing them to make something totally personalized. It comes with a punch for making the picks, along with 15 plastic strips, a guitar-shaped file for smoothing down rough edges and a guitar-holder that can be attached to a key chain. And once the plastic strips are used up, you can still use the punch on any other piece of plastic you find lying around the house, eg old membership cards.
Teenagers facing the dilemma of whether to wear a beanie without headphones or headphones without a beanie will love this music hat, which is basically a beanie with a pair of small Bluetooth speakers tucked into its brim and positioned near each ear. It can be paired with mobile, tablet or other music device and can also be used to answer calls. To clean the beanie, simply remove the headset and battery.
This bright and fun starter accordion helps children to begin exploring melody and rhythm. With seven keys and three bass buttons, it's easy to play, and makes a surprisingly big sound for a fairly small instrument. Plus it's durable enough to withstand many crashes.
This audio player can play songs, books or games, which come in the form of user-friendly cards. It also has a timer sleep function so that your children can fall asleep while listening. Of the hundreds of titles available for children of all ages and stages, we recommend My First Classical Music Collection, which includes all ten cards of the 'My First' classical music series, such as 'My First Orchestra Album', 'My First Tchaikovsky Album' and 'My First Ballet Album'.
Suitable for children and older beginners, this drum mat allows you to get stuck into beats and rhythms, with pads for snare, 3 toms, crash cymbal and ride cymbal, along with two foot pedals for High Hat and Bass Drum. In other words, it's a fully-fledged drum kit, but it can also be rolled up and stored away. Plus, the record function allows you to play along with yourself.
Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.
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