As a trained musician and also part time teacher I get this question a lot. When I talk to
parents who are eager to have their children learn an instrument this is the standard
line of questioning that I tend to get and may help you to navigate this.
1.) Is your child interested in music lessons? (This instrument?)
This is so important and can be overlooked. Many children want to, others may not have any interest. Being forced into it could result in a lot of fighting at home to get the practice time in! There are many ways to approach lessons, and allowing your child some choice, taking them
to concerts, and exposing them to music is a good start!
2.) At what age should my child start music lessons?
There are some factors here but generally 6-7 is the normal/ideal age for a child to start music. One key thing to think about is if the child is able to sit for 30 minute intervals (general lesson time). The other thing to consider is practice time. When I child starts lessons they will need to practice
daily (I tell parents 6 days a week builds good practice habits) for minimum 20 minutes,
as they progress they will need to practice more. This requires them to practice, and for
a parent to supervise at first. You will need to be just as committed as they are.
3.) Does my child need private lessons or can they learn on their own?
It depends on what instrument your child wants to learn, and what they want to be able to do with the instrument but especially to begin with I recommend private weekly music lessons.
This is fairly standard. There are many apps out there now that you can learn from but
a qualified teacher with in person lessons is optimum for learning. It is also important to
find a teacher who is qualified you can check out registered music teachers online
there is a list of qualified teachers. Before you hire someone find out a little bit about
the teacher, the technique/approach they teach with and a bit about their music
4.) Can we start with group lessons?
Yes! There are some group lessons offered and this can be a fun/social way to gain children’s interest in lessons, although you would probably go to private lessons as they progress. Again check out the methods they use and a bit about the program before signing up. There should be a list of goals and “here is what they will know when we finish” that help you to know if it is what you are
5.) Do I need to know music for my child to take lessons?
No. A good teacher will not require you to be able to understand everything your child is learning. However, learning along with your child is a great option. Understanding what your child should
be practicing, what books they are using and what the time commitment is so key to
success of learning, the teacher should be able to explain those things to you at the
beginning of the lesson year. Ask you child to tell you about what they are learning!
This is a great way for them to review each week and it will create a good connection
with you, and your child.
There are other indicators a child is ready for music lessons. I know of many people
who start younger 4-5 age range however their child was ready for lessons. Many are
not ready for it so young and you can still foster music development at home but
playing music at home by singing lullabies, playing rhythm games, singing in the car,
and participating in early childhood music programs is a great place to start. This will
help to nurture their music skills until they get to the music lesson age. The interest and
desire to take music lessons begins with nurturing music ability and skills as babies,
just as we nurture their abilities to walk and talk.
Written by Tyne Heenan MT-BC, MTA, Music Therapist – Board Certified, with Wildflowers.