• Carla Tanguay, MA, MT-BC

Gift Guide for Music Lovers

Chances are there is a music lover on your shopping list. Music has so many benefits, from improving our mood and reducing isolation, to the physical and brain benefits of learning an instrument. Whether you are looking for a musical instrument, experience, or free gift idea, we have lots of great suggestions to share with the people you love.

*There are no affiliate links in this article, all opinions are my own.


Musical Instruments

The gift of a musical instrument opens up the world of music in a new and exciting way. Learning an instrument helps develop attention, coordination, fine and gross motor skills, reading, math, and memory skills, and creativity! Wind instruments also engage speech and respiratory muscles. Anyone, no matter what age or ability, can be successful with the right instrument and approach.


When shopping for a musical instrument, start with your local music store. They can help you find a quality instrument that fits your budget, while also putting on new strings, tuning it up, or suggesting the accessories you need to get started right away.


In our area (Downeast Maine), check out Mainly Music in Ellsworth, Sticks, Picks, and Strings in Cherryfield, or Knapps Music Center in Bangor.


Tip to save $- look for a used instrument online! Facebook Marketplace, local social media groups, and eBay are great places to find an instrument that someone is ready to pass along. You can often find people giving away pianos for free (you just have to figure out how to move it)! Friends or family members might have something collecting dust in a closet- it doesn't hurt to ask.


Recommended instruments for beginners

Ukuleles are a great choice for young children or anyone who always wanted to play guitar but felt their fingers were too small or clumsy. Ukulele is great for developing fine and gross motor skills and it is fun and easy to learn! You can get a decent quality ukulele for $40-50, but anything less than that is probably more of a toy and will be frustrating to keep in tune. I like Kala and Everjoy brands.

Recorders or Kazoos make great first wind instruments. Kazoos are fun for little kids or people who just want to play around and work on their breath control. Recorders offer more of a challenge, requiring both good breath support and some fine motor fingering. Beginner recorder players will learn to read music and can be playing familiar songs in just a few lessons. Most students start with a plastic Soprano recorder in Baroque/English fingering.


Desk/Hand Bell Set. Color-coded desk bells are a huge hit with my students and clients! Desk bells are designed to stand up on a desk, while hand bells typically need to be held to ring. I love the combination sets made by Rhythm Band, because you can play them either way. They are color-coded and labeled with both letters and numbers, so any age or ability can learn to play them. A set of 8 is enough to get started, and there are several songbooks that follow the same color system.


Rhythm instruments like jingle band wrist bells, egg shakers, cabasas, rhythm sticks, frog guiros, and castanets are my favorite percussion instruments. Basic Beat is a quality brand, and I particularly like their chiquitas shakers (the handles are great for little hands and don't end up in mouths as often as egg shaped shakers), and the great tactile feel of their cabasa.


Hand drums are always a big hit and my favorites include lollipop drums for kids, small bongos, large gathering drums, and tambourines. Drums can be played with or without mallets and are great way to encourage bilateral coordination (using both hands), and practice concepts like fast/slow, loud/soft, start/stop, while introducing beats and rhythmic concepts.


Keyboard. Nothing is as versatile as learning the keyboard or piano. Pianos are a big investment, in space if not money, so many people start on keyboard. If you can, look for something with 88 weighted keys and a stand in order to mimic a piano as much as possible. But there is nothing wrong with encouraging someone's love of music with a fun and simple keyboard! Definitely consult with your local music store or teacher if you are looking to invest in a full keyboard or piano.


Looking for some inexpensive ideas or stocking stuffers? Accessories! For a string player, a clip on tuner, new strings, or picks make great stocking stuffers. Egg shakers, frog guiros, and kazoos also make fun little gifts.

Ideas for Music Lovers

What about someone who loves music but doesn't want or need an instrument?


A great pair of Headphones can really change your listening experience. They allow you to create your own private sanctuary, whatever may be happening around you. Over the ear headphones generally provide the richest sound and most comfort. Ear buds are portable and have come a long way in offering amazing sound quality. Consider if you want noise-cancelling technology, as well as if wireless or wired are more preferred.


Wireless bluetooth speakers are great for sharing music with others. Bluetooth speakers are the most portable and can travel with you wherever you go. They allow you to stream easily from your devices and get the whole family grooving.


Books about Music/Musicians. There are lots of must-read books about music. Biographies or autobiographies of a favorite band or musician make great gifts. Kids will love picture books illustrating their favorite songs. Some of my favorite music therapy themed books include This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, and Every Little Thing by Cedella and Bob Marley.


Gift a subscription to a streaming service like Spotify, YouTube Music, or BandCamp to keep the music going all year long. Streaming services are an easy and fun way to discover new music. Services like BandCamp and Ampled make sure more of your money goes into the pockets of the musicians that created it.


Gift a donation to a non-profit or business that provides music lessons or music therapy in someone's name. Organizations that have generously supported our programs include Music Drives Us, Lucy's Love Bus, and the Lynam Trust. Or support a favorite artist or musician on BandCamp, Ampled or Patreon.

Experiences

Gifting music lessons or music therapy sessions is a wonderful way to support budding musicians or to show close friends or family how much you care.


Modulations Therapies, and many other studios and therapy practices, can create Gift Certificates for any amount. And don't worry, sessions are available online whenever in-person services are not feasible!


Free Gift Ideas

Sometimes, the best gifts don't cost a penny. They are presents straight from the heart, sending messages of love, support, and caring.


Send a message through song. Text or email someone a song that relates to a special memory, thought or wish.


Record your voice and send it. Even though many of us don't like hearing the sound of our own voice recorded, our loved ones do! A recording of your voice, in a song or message, is a personal gift that lasts forever.


Make a playlist for someone. Or make several! Playlists are the new mixtapes, and you can create one in order to share new discoveries, cheer someone up, let others know they are not alone, inspire them to dance, or make them laugh.


Make a date to experience a streaming music event together online. Many musicians are streaming concerts and live jam sessions during the pandemic. Make a date with a friend or loved one to attend at the same time, and use texting or voice calls to stay connected during the show.

I hope you found something in this guide that inspired you! Have questions or other ideas?


Interested in ordering a Gift Certificate?


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