What is the best age to start music lessons?

by / Thursday, 18 July 2013 / Published in Advice, Musiquity

Beginning Music Lessons-  How old should my child be?  

We’re often asked what the best age is for a child to begin music lessons or piano tuition.  

The answer varies from child to child.  Earlier seems to be better – scientists have proven that starting music lessons before the age of seven can encourage better motor skill development  and development of the corpus callosum which may impact other areas of learn­ing, such as math and sci­ence.  Starting too early, however, can be frustrating for the child and may put him/her off music.  

The optimum window for many children is between the ages of four and six.  Let’s look at some of the considerations when enrolling your child in music lessons.  

Exposure and interest: Here’s one area where you can definitely get a head start with learning music.  There are a number of fun music programmes for young children out there.  Monkey Music, MusicBugs, and TinyTunes are just some of the companies that offer franchised classes for babies, toddlers and pre-school children.  Kindermusik is a more traditional/rigorous approach to teaching similar skills.  Finding and trying out classes like these in your area is a great way to introduce your child to music and the concepts of pitch, rhythm, melody and harmony.

Just as important are the things that go on outside of class.  What kind of music do you listen to regularly with your child?  Why not expand what you listen to – world music, jazz and classical are all easy to enjoy with your kids.  There are also lots of concerts that are designed for families and attending one of these sessions can be a great day out.  Is there an instrument in the home that is child friendly such as a piano?  If so, make sure it’s out in the open and accessible to your child so s/he can experiment with it.  Ideally, you’re looking to make music part of daily life and something that your child is happy to experiment with.  When your child is expressing preferences in music, singing along, making music on his/her own, that’s a sign that s/he may be ready to start music lessons.

 Musical skills: Musical skills are really developed hand in hand with Exposure and Interest.  Keep your eye out for the simple things – does your child sing along in relative tune to familiar melodies?  How quickly does s/he pick up new music?  Does s/he dance or clap in time to music?  Have you tried out any apps (eg Music for Little Mozarts) that test high/low pitch recognition or fast/slow time recognition?

 Attention span:  In order for piano lessons or other music lessons to be a success, your child should be able to sit still and concentrate for 10-15 minutes at a time.  A teacher who specialises in working with younger children will naturally adapt activities to the individual child but this minimum attention span is necessary for productive lessons.  Classes such as those mentioned above can help to develop this skill.

Physical development:  Your child should be able to move arms and fingers independently and have some degree of muscle development in the hands/fingers.

Numbers and letters:  Ideally your child will be comfortable with letters (at least A through G, for the musical letters, forwards and backwards) and numbers (1 through 5 to match the fingers) but this is not a hard and fast rule.  Certain methods such as Suzuki don’t jump right in to names and numbers right away and it is definitely possible to start music lessons prior to learning these skills.  If you’d like some advice why not get in touch with us at Musiquity and we can guide you in the right direction.

Parental availability and interest:  We are strong advocates of parental involvement in music lessons.  When a young child is starting lessons, a parent needs to have the interest and time to sit down with the child to practice 10-15 minutes most days.  We’ve actually seen a lot of success when both parent and child start music lessons at the same time.  Naturally, the parent progresses more quickly at first but as the years progress a friendly competitive spirit can serve to encourage both parent and child in their studies.

 

Above all, we must emphasize that early years training is meant to encourage and expose children to music and it should be fun and enjoyable.  The famous music educator, Zoltan Kodály said “…If children do not look forward with thrilled expectation to the music lesson, no result is to be hoped for; if they do not feel refreshed and full of joy, all labour is lost.”

It can sometimes be difficult to find a teacher willing to take on younger (under six) children.  Teaching young children is a specialisation which requires additional training, preparation and aptitude.  Musiquity can find you a great teacher – we have piano teachers and other music teachers on our books who specialise in teaching young children and who are vetted against our strict criteria to make sure you’re getting the very best teacher for you.   We offer a satisfaction guarantee within the first two lessons and are always there to support you and your family on your musical journey with answers, advice and support.

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