What Are the Best Instruments for ADHD Musicians?

Various musical instruments and notation on waves of color representing some of the best instruments for ADHD.
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Playing an instrument can be enriching for anyone. Finding the right musical instruments for special needs students can be a powerful step toward increased focus and self-confidence. We’ve previously explored how music can stimulate left and right brain function and may positively affect memory, mood, and executive functioning.

Learning an instrument could be key to unlocking many potential benefits if you or someone you know has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Let’s explore the logic and reasoning behind the ADHD/musical instrument relationship and review which instruments may work best!

The Advantages of Musical Expression

A recent article in ADDitude Magazine detailed the hugely positive influence that learning a musical instrument had on the author’s son, Brandon, who has ADHD and other special needs. Brandon was soon reaping many rewards via private and group lessons, while his mother used rhythm and song to strengthen his concentration and focus until he grew into a straight-A university student.

The article shows that all learning disabilities are rooted in auditory processing. ADHD is not considered a learning disability, but this information helps understand the ADHD/music dynamic since many children with ADHD also have a learning disability.

Another inspiring study found that “typical ADHD behavior is observed to be absent in moments of active music making and performance” and that ADHD students can effectively self-express, self-perceive, and self-represent in musical settings. The productivity of an ADHD student’s experience was found to be greatly dependent on a high standard of musical education from teachers who can provide:

  • A sense of student agency
  • Active involvement in their learning
  • In-the-moment responses to students’ individual needs

That is the kind of environment where someone with ADHD can connect and grow with an instrument, making it important to find the highest quality musical school to help ADHD students on their musical journey.

More Advantages of Musical Instruments for Special Needs Students

Choosing the best instrument for ADHD can deliver even more significant benefits. Here are more positive results of active engagement with music:

-Rote Learning

Becoming proficient in any musical instrument requires learning scales and proper finger positioning – two repetitive but also progressive exercises that can provide excellent opportunities for mental and physical focus and calm.

-Many Options Are Physically Flexible

A wide range of instruments provide a degree of mobility that allows restless players to get up and down and wander to their heart’s content – the kind of freedom that’s often essential to someone with ADHD. Movement coupled with music can further improve concentration and coordination.

-Music Encourages the Most Vital Social Skill

Students must listen closely to their tutor, fellow students, and their instrument in a musical setting. Listening is crucial to successful performance and can enhance an ADHD student’s future social prospects.

-Successful Multitasking Becomes a Way of Life

ADHD students can struggle with concentrating on a single task and give up due to under stimulation. Conversely, they may spin off on many tangents without achieving a result. Music harmonizes both tendencies by blending multiple tasks into a single, unified outcome.

Those are some great benefits! The next step is choosing an instrument. Is guitar good for ADHD? How about a set of drums or something that fits in your pocket? Let’s see how various musical options can help.

The Best Instruments for ADHD

The “best” instrument is ultimately a matter of the player’s preference. It can take several attempts to find the right fit, and you may want to consider an age-specific instrument. Here are some solid and effective choices:

1. Guitar

The guitar is among the best instruments for ADHD players because it is one of the primary rhythm setters and has the advantage of mobility. Players can literally set their own musical pace and stand, sit, or walk around as they strum, pick, or practice scales without feeling tied down.  The guitar is another versatile instrument that can be used for a variety of genres, from country to metal. Guitars are relatively portable, so you can take them with you wherever you go. And like the piano, once you’ve learned the basics of guitar playing, you can start experimenting with your own style. There are many different types of guitars available, so be sure to do your research before purchasing one. Acoustic guitars are usually recommended for beginners since they’re simpler to play than electric guitars. But ultimately, it’s up to you which type of guitar you want to learn.

2. Piano

The static aspect of piano playing may deter some ADHD students who won’t enjoy sitting still for extended periods. The frequent foot, hand, arm, and eye movements required may prove sufficiently stimulating for others. Remember A-student Brandon, who defied predictions that he may not graduate high school? The piano was and still is part of his success!  The piano is a great instrument for beginners because it lays a strong foundation for understanding music theory. You can play many different genres of music on the piano, making it a versatile instrument. And once you’ve learned the basics, you can start adding your own personal style to your playing. While the piano can be expensive, there are many ways to get started without breaking the bank, such as renting or borrowing an instrument or even using a keyboard.

3. Violin

The violin and guitar share a few similarities in structure and freedom of movement while playing. Our earlier blog examined how playing the violin can reinforce cognitive skills by promoting creativity, encouraging social connectedness, and aiding memorization.

4. Harmonica

It’s supremely portable. It can be easily picked up and put down. It is also among the fastest instruments to learn. See why an ADHD student may find it the perfect starter’s choice? Their mobility isn’t impaired, they can play on a whim, and they won’t have to invest as much time to make progress compared to more complex instruments.  

5. Drums

A solid instrument for ADHD players and certainly the most sociable – you’ll rarely see a drummer without a band! Drums allow students to use their whole body as they strike across a wide range of surfaces, each producing its own unique sound. This broad physical aspect allows a player’s focus to be narrow and spread over a variety of points simultaneously.

These are just a few of the many instruments available for new students to experiment with. Why not visit a musical school near you and explore every possible option to help your loved one with ADHD thrive?

6. Ukulele

The ukulele is a great choice for beginners because it’s small and lightweight, making it easy to transport and store. It’s also relatively inexpensive compared to other instruments. The ukulele has a unique sound that can be used for various genres such as jazz and pop.  And like the other instruments on this list, once you’ve learned the basics of playing the ukulele, you can start adding your own spin to your music.  

Conclusion:  Deciding which musical instrument to learn can be tough, especially if you’re a beginner. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! In this blog post, we’ve given you a rundown of some of the easiest instruments to learn. Now all that’s left is for you to choose which one is right for you. So what are you waiting for? Start your musical journey today!

Connect with Us to Discover New Musical Horizons

The Sloan School of Music is a modern setting where everyone is welcome, offering private or group lessons to help youngsters and adults thrive. We provide musical education from world-class instructors in a supportive environment, and we are blessed to be able to open new avenues through musical instruments for special needs students and anyone interested in learning.

Let us help you find the best instruments for ADHD. Drop by either of our two Maryland locations or visit our contact page to connect by phone or email.