Music has tremendous benefits on a young brain. But research shows that the advantages aren’t fully realized by simply streaming music and letting music wash over kids’ brains. In order to reap the full cognitive benefits of music, it’s important for kids to actively engage by playing an instrument. It’s the direct that strengthens neural pathways.

But long-term engagement and commitment to an instrument means that a child must be fond of the instrument he’s learning to play. Involving your child in the process will also make him feel more invested and have more accountability. Here’s how to guide your child into choosing the right instrument.

  1. Let your child choose the sound he likes. The sound an instrument makes is probably the biggest component that goes into choosing an instrument. If your child is interested in the piano, for instance, expose him to varying contexts, whether it’s classical, jazz, pop or even Disney. By understanding the full range of an instrument’s potential, a child can make a more informed decision.
  1. Experiment with the tactility of an instrument. Once your child has narrowed down her choices based on sound, have him try playing a few of the instruments by taking some lessons. Depending on your child’s age, a larger instrument like the cello may not be a feasible option. In fact, many parents choose to start their child on the piano or the violin based on size alone because these instruments cater to the petite size of a child. If you do decide to start your child on these instruments, give your child the option to pivot later in life. Don’t worry about or think of your former training as a waste. Your child will only continue to build on his knowledge and love for music.
  2.  Introduce your child to different platforms of an instruments. A child’s worldview is often limited. And if they choose an instrument based on what they view to be cool, they may end up short changed. Hearing an instrument on varying platforms, whether it’s TV, radio, or in concert can also help form a budding musicians choice of instrument, as can introducing a diverse range of artists who play the instrument.

Deborah Song is a Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master’s in journalism from New York University. She is the founder of worklifeparent.com, and is passionate about helping parents find better work-life balance and proper support through community.