We're a pretty musical family here at supergrandkids.com, so we're always looking for new ways for little ones to help make music. Today, I saw a link for a little piano on sale. I've been teaching the older two some piano techniques, and they have a little keyboard they use, so here's my two cents on buying keyboards for kids: Make sure it has at least 61 keys! Those little keyboards, like the one in the link above, are just not going to give a kid anything in terms of learning to play. If you really want to get something entry level for them to begin to learn, try something like the Yamaha Personal Keyboard shown at left.
Now, our older two girls got these Concert Master Violins for Christmas last year, and they're surprisingly fun and educational. Their great-grandma got them, I think because her dad was a fiddler player. The girls have picked these up throughout the year (they're toys that have stayed at our house) and played in the various modes. You can play along with a classical piece, including several different Mozart pieces, or you can simply play by yourself. Moving the bow across the strings actually causes tones, and the play-along mode is especially fun for young classical music lovers. Here are my grandparent grades for this toy:
Durability: Good - they've been tossed in drawers, dragged around on the floor, and played quite a bit. Batteries are still going strong, and the toys still work great.
Fun Factor: Great if they're music lovers. Still being played with after almost a year!
Wow Factor: Well, they took a while for the girls to figure out, so wow factor may not have been as good as other toys.
Support Me In My Old Age Factor: Well, Great-Grandma actually bought them, and she would admit that she's well into her old age now (sorry, Great-Grandma!). Yeah, I think this was a good buy for her, and a good gift. The girls have an interest in the violin now, or maybe the fiddle, and she gets to watch them playing.