“At what age can my child start learning an instrument?” Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question. Every child is unique, and while one child may be ready at just a few years old, another might need to wait until after kindergarten. The best way to tell if your child is ready to play an instrument is by examining where they are developmentally. The following list can be used as a guide to help you decide when to take the leap into the world of instrument lessons with your child. We suggest you wait until your child shows at least a few of the abilities listed below.
1) They have shown interest
If starting instrument lessons at a young age, it is helpful for a child to first show some interest in the chosen instrument. Do you often find them playing with the piano or guitar you have in the family room? Do they enjoy going to concerts or listening to instrumental music? Do they get excited when they are able to name instruments that they see in their everyday lives? If this isn’t happening, try taking them to performances or buying toy instruments that you encourage them to play.
2) They can sit still and focus for extended periods of time
Learning an instrument takes practice and concentration. Your child will need to be able to focus and follow directions during a 20 to 30-minute lesson. They will then need to be able to take what they learned with their teacher and apply it to practice time at home. A beginner student should ideally practice 10-20 minutes a day. Your child should be able to exhibit some amount of quiet concentration and self-control at the prompting of adults before you start lessons.
3) They know their ABC’s from at least A to G and can count to at least 10
Music, even at the earliest stages, can get technical! To play Mary Had A Little Lamb, for example, your little one will need to know the alphabet from C to G and be able to count up to the number four. Learning music will be easier for your child (and their teacher!) if they confidently know their alphabet from A to G and can count to 10 at least.
4) They fit the chosen instrument
There are a few instruments that young children typically start with, primarily piano, violin, or cello. As you choose an instrument, it is very important to make sure that your child has the physical skills to learn it properly. Not all children have the motor dexterity or finger strength to press a piano key, so they may require a keyboard that has light-touch keys. String instruments are great for smaller children because they are made in a variety of sizes, so you can pick the one that best works for your child. Keep in mind though that this means that you will be replacing your instruments regularly as your child grows.
5) You have the instrument and can find a teacher
This may seem like an obvious point, but it actually can be quite difficult to find a teacher that will work with your young child. You may need to do some research to find a reputable teacher on your chosen instrument if your child is between two and four years old. For the youngest children, you may find success by looking into teachers who teach the Suzuki Method. Find them here. You can also search for independent studios or teachers. Neighborhood Music Stapleton, for example, will start children on certain instruments as young as three years old. Keep in mind that it will be easier to find string teachers for kids in this age range than piano teachers.
6) You are ready to put in the time and effort
No matter how ready your child is to learn an instrument, you must also be prepared. The younger a child is when they begin, the more hands-on you will need to be in their learning process. You will likely need to sit with your child during their practice sessions to guide them through each exercise and activity, especially if they are younger than five or six years old. There is an obvious financial commitment that comes along with putting your child in music lessons as well. The average 30-minute lesson generally costs $25 or more, depending on the skill and qualifications of the teacher. It can be a challenging and stressful journey for parents, but watching your child grow and learn in unimaginable ways with their instrument makes it all worth it in the end.