Many parents of young children ask us when we feel the appropriate earliest age is to start music lessons with their children. We get this question so many times on a yearly basis that we decided to write this article for all you awesome moms and dads. Whenever we get this question, we tip our hats to you guys. Our inner monologue says “Now there are some great parents who are on top of things.” It’s true, we really do applaud you for being proactive about encouraging your child’s personal growth and development, and music lessons are an awesome way to do this.
It’s no wonder why parents want to know how early they can enroll their kids into music lessons. Apart from the numerous university studies and papers that have returned positive correlations between childhood music lessons and intellectual development, music lessons are just a fun way to build a balanced extra curricular schedule.
So…back to the question at hand, “when is the right age to start music lessons?” The honest answer that we give time and again is that we really don’t know; but don’t despair, you do! Every child progresses through their developmental milestones at a slightly different rate, meaning there is no standard formula to when the right time is to start music lessons. We can tell you what general developmental skills we look for as indicators that a child will be likely ready to benefit from the time and investment you plan on making in music lessons, but there is nobody who knows your child better than you. Ultimately you are going to need to be judge of whether your child is ready or not. Just be honest with yourself when you evaluate this. Being a parent myself, I know how easy it is to look those rose colored classes and see your own child as a savant, but starting a child before they are ready can actually do some harm. If a child does not have the necessary skills to properly engage and grow in their lessons they will likely experience stress and frustration and categorically associate music lessons as a negative experience. You will find it extremely difficult to change their mind and foster participation or enthusiasm once they have soured.
Consider your child’s attention span. Music lessons, at their shortest, last 30 minutes. It is important that your child have the maturity to focus on a single activity for at least that duration. To help you evaluate this one, pay attention to them when they are doing other academic activities such as reading, writing, or homework. Are they able to stay on task on a single activity without constant adult intervention and redirection, or do they become disengaged after 10-20 minutes? If you are starting to see this level of focus, your child likely has the mental maturity to handle music lessons.
All music instruments require a certain level of dexterity, and some kiddos just haven’t gotten that far yet. Pay attention for some of the cues that indicate that they might be ready. Can they tie their own shoes? Are they able to fasten and unfasten a series of buttons on a shirt or blouse? Even pencil usage can be a good indicator of this skill set. If they are able to color in the lines, and can consistently draw geometric shapes or letters correctly with a pencil, there is a good chance that they have the skills needed to physically handle an instrument when they start music lessons.
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