My youngest daughter loves music and is always badgering her older siblings to let her have a go on their musical instruments. Now one of these instruments happens to be a rather expensive clarinet that is on loan from the school. As you can imagine, I am rather reluctant to let my little one 'play' with this, but always feel a bit mean when I see the disappointed look on her face.
I decided that it was time to find a little toy musical instrument that she could play along with and searched online to see if I could find a realistic alternative at a reasonable price. There were various toy drum kits, guitars and keyboards on the market which I suppose could be considered the more 'cool' musical instruments. However, when it came to clarinets, there was surprisingly little choice. There were several options that were listed as toy clarinets, but were actually recorders. Eventually I narrowed it down to two possibilities: a little cute plastic clarinet made by Tatiri and this clarinet made by Bontempi. They were both available on Amazon at a reasonable price. The Tatiri clarinet is a very colourful instrument made of plastic, designed in Italy and manufactured in the far east. There is no age guide given, which is a bit odd, but I would guess that it is suitable for age 3-6 years. The price for the Tatiri clarinet for sale on Amazon was £13.80 at that time. The Bontempi clarinet is designed and produced in Italy. It is made of strong injection moulded plastic and is suitable for age 3 and upwards. It was also available on Amazon for £10.20.
After some thought, I decided to go for the Bontempi model as I felt that it looked more like the real thing. This was an important factor as my wee one wanted to play alongside her older sister with something that vaguely resembled the genuine article. This clarinet also looked more sturdy, and I was pleased to find out that it was made in Italy by a reputable company that has been producing musical instruments for children for over 50 years.
The Bontempi clarinet is 42cm in length and has eight bright colour coded keys that play one whole octave from middle C to high C. There are three popular songs printed on the back of the box that a child can learn to play. There is also a finger map here, which clearly shows whick key corresponds with which note. These notes are also colour and number coded which I think is an excellent idea that makes it very simple for a child to learn these tunes. The notes are simple to play and involve pressing down lightly on the coloured keys while blowing at the same time. To her delight and pride, my daughter can now play 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' and 'Jingle Bells' with just a little promting from me and is on her way to mastering 'Oh Susana'. However, I do wish that a little book of songs had been included with this clarinet, especially as the company has put considerable thought into making the music easy for the chidren to follow by colour coding it. As it is, it only comes with these three songs printed on the packaging. I have had to remind my little one to take care of the box and not to trash it, sit or jump on it which would be the norm in our household. The good thing about this is that she has been carefully placing her clarinet back in the box after using which is very uncharacteristic of her. This in part might be due to the fact that she really treasures her clarinet and wants to take care of it as she has seen her older sister do with her own
I think this toy clarinet it is a perfect introduction for a child who is musically inclined but is too young to learn to play a real instrument. It is not only helping to improve my child's coordination, but she has had the satisfaction of being able to play a familiar tune as well as making up some of her own. The company claim that this clarinet is designed in a way that makes it more pleasing to the ear and it is impossible to overblow it, unlike some other toy musical instruments that can be earsplitting if blown too loudly. I would agree with this and am very grateful to this company for also thinking about the sanity of us parents when designing their products. This little clarinet makes a very pleasant sound and is actually quite hard to blow into which also limits the time that my daughter can actually play it without getting tired out. Again, this is a godsend for parents, as although it is delightful to hear our little ones produce a little tune, it could get a little tedious to hear it being played over and over again. One thing that I will point out about this toy is that the notes are the wrong way round with the high notes at the bottom and the low notes at the top which is the opposite to a real clarinet. However, I don't have an issue with this as I don't see this as a starting point for my child to learn the clarinet as she is only 4 years old and far too young.
My wee one loves her clarinet. She is learning to play some recognisable tunes by herself which has given her confidence and at the same time improved her coordination. She has also stopped pestering her sister to have a go on her 'real' clarinet as she now considers hers to be just as valuable and I am inclined to agree with her. An added bonus is the reasonably pleasant sound that is produced by this wonder; I thank Bontempi wholeheartedly for this!
The Bontempi Clarinet can be purchased from Amazon for £12.58 at the present time which is a couple of pounds more than I paid for it but well worth the money. The company make several other musical instruments such as saxophones, trumpets and guitars which may well be on my little one's next Christmas list to Santa.
I give the Bontempi Clarinet a well deserved four stars and would have given it five stars if they had included a little book of tunes.
Thanks for reading my review.
Also on ciao under my user name - mag3kids