Whether he shares your love of The Beatles, adores classical music or prefers tunes that sound to you like screaming cats, your teen's musical interest is something to be encouraged. According to SAT results from the CollegeBoard, students who have experience with music study and appreciation routinely score higher than peers who don't study music. Buying him gifts that support his interest will score you brownie points, and might score SAT points for him.
Music Listening Gifts
A musical teen needs devices with which to listen to his preferred tunes. If he already has a functional MP3 player, consider upgrading his earbuds to headphones. Though clunkier than earbuds, headphones will help him block out external noise and hear the details of each song more clearly. According to KidsHealth.org, headphones are better for his ears than earbuds, which can damage his hearing as much as listening to chainsaws can. Ask a music store clerk to help you pick out noise-canceling headphones that are popular with teens; since DJs and rappers use these devices, your teen shouldn't object to them being uncool. A teen who prefers older music like classic rock or mid-century jazz might want to listen to his favorite artists in an old-school way by having his own record player on hand.
Music Creation Gifts
Nearly every teenager enjoys listening to music, but one who is truly musical will probably have some interest in creating it, too, even if he was born tone deaf. Consider buying him a cheap guitar or keyboard if he's interested in songwriting. Buy a microphone and simple recording equipment for an aspiring singer. On a tighter budget? Pick up a harmonica, bongo drum or inexpensive ukulele for him to play around with. A teen who has interest in music production will appreciate gifts like recording software, a digital synthesizer or external speakers for his computer. If he likes playing with music but doesn't dream of becoming a professional DJ, consider buying him a music creation app for his phone so he can mix sounds and create beats right from his spot at the cafeteria table.
Music Experience Gifts
He probably knows where and when his favorite musical acts are touring, and will be thrilled to receive tickets to a local show. Concerts aren't the only way you can give a teen the gift of a musical experience, though. Buy him a few lessons with a local music instructor or songwriting teacher, or on a tighter budget, buy concert DVDs of bands he likes. With a larger budget, plan a trip to the closest city with a major music museum. Take him to Cleveland for the Rock & Rock Hall of Fame (rockhall.com), to the Country Music Hall of Fame (countrymusichalloffame.org) in Nashville or the Grammy Museum (grammymuseum.org) in Los Angeles. You might even finagle a memorable local gift at no cost: try contacting area recording studios and asking if you and your teen could take a tour. He might even get to see music being performed and recorded live.
If he loves music, giving him more of it will be a hit, and it might help him expand his mind and tastes. Give a teen who plays an instrument new sheet music that he can master. Hunt around on music sites to find up-and-coming bands that are similar to those your teen enjoys, or introduce him to older tunes he might not otherwise know. Give him CDs of the most popular bands from your youth -- though he'll probably respond better to the music of Queen than that of Milli Vanilli -- or even those of his grandparents' era. Online sources can help you pick groups he'll like; for instance, the site valslist.com matches current artists to older artists with similar sounds. If he struggles with anger, anxiety or sleep problems, give him calm and relaxing music. According to HealthyChildren.org, soothing music can improve his mood and help him doze off.
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images