What is the best age to start formal music lessons?
When should my child start formal music lessons?
This is the most frequently asked question from parents! I
have a strong opinion about this as I really care about children and their love
for music making. I highly suggest waiting until the following elements are ALL
until your child has basic music competence. This involves having the
ability to sing in tune (in any key for an entire song) and to keep an accurate
beat (in duple, triple and asymmetric meters).
your child has 30 minutes of solid focus. 30 minutes is a long time for a
child — 30 minutes without talking to the teacher about the frog they saw in
school, or 30 minutes without leaving the piano to go do something else. Most
children do not develop this focus until they are 6 years old.
until your child has great eye-hand coordination and excellent fine motor
skills. Can your child hold a pencil correctly? Does he or she have enough
strength to throw and catch a small ball?
until the child ASKS for lessons. If the request comes from the child
instead of from you, there’s great excitement for everyone. I suggest taking your
children to as many live music performances as possible and talking afterwards
about the instruments and pieces you heard. At Prelude Music Classes for
Children, we put on more than 10 family concerts a year, where your children
can sing along to string quartets, harps, and wind or brass ensembles. Your
children can also talk to the musicians after the concert and ask them questions!
And there are lots of other performances in our city for children: Take a look
at the family series by Mercury — The Orchestra Redefined, The Houston
Symphony, Musiqua, and more!
child has met all of the above requirements, be sure to find a teacher who
understands early childhood music development — and childhood development in
general. This is MUCH more important than signing up with a famous teacher.
What children need is encouragement to PLAY their instruments and to enjoy the
process! The product (performance) will come from great encouragement and joy
for music making. If you need help finding teachers in Houston, please contact
us. We have a list of teachers who meet this criteria.
Unfortunately, many students who start lessons too young end
up quitting or hating the process. It is, for example, too difficult to play an
instrument without having a solid music foundation, and that is basic music
competence (see #1 above). And if your child’s hands and eyes are not ready
(see #3 above), it is too difficult for them to be joyful trying to do
something their body can’t do yet.
If you expose your children to music making — and live
musical experiences — from a young age, chances are high that they will ask for
lessons! They also love to see other children making music, so once you find
some teachers or schools that have recitals with 7- through 10-year-olds, take
your child to those performances!
Our goal in a Music Together®® class is to help young children
achieve basic music competence. This process takes years of singing, dancing,
and feeling the beat in their bodies. We do this is in a playful,
non-performance-based environment using repertoire that is musically rich. Young
children are not developmentally ready to perform,
and if they are forced to do so, they might quit forever.
If you do not have a Music Together class near you, sing
with your child every day, and sing and listen to music from all over the world
— not just songs in major mode, but songs in all kinds of tonalities and
meters. This will help your child’s musical development.
Playing an instrument can be such a pleasure and a joy. In
our home, we often have “musical desserts” after dinner. When my children were
younger, we would make music as a family singing and or dancing to one or two
of our Music Together songs. Now, we play, sing, or dance with and for each
other. You too can do this!
Our daughter started piano at age 5 and our son at age 6. They
both enjoy their lessons and their short daily practice. Our daughter also
started violin lessons at age 6, and our son is just exploring with violin now
(he’s 6-1/2). They both LOVE to make music and PLAY! That said, I have many
professional musician friends who started lessons much later in life. A child
is NOT behind if they start playing an instrument at age 10 or later! What’s
important is having basic music competence prior to starting any instrument.
Music is a universal language. It transcends boundaries and reaches beyond culture to touch the depths of our souls, express our common emotions, and inspire us all. Now serving 2,500 communities in over 40 countries, Music Together connects families and communities across the globe as they express and explore our basic human instinct for making music.
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