When should my kid start music lessons?
IN TODAY’S POST, MISS HALEIGH TACKLES A COMMONLY-ASKED MUSIC QUESTION.
One of my favorite parts about working at Learning Allegro is the diversity of the people I encounter every day. Music is one of those rare things that manages to pull people out of every walk of life and put them under one roof.
Diversity is not just a matter of language or background, though. It’s also a matter of age. Every week, I sit down at the piano with pupils as young as five and as old as…well, old enough that they don’t have to tell me their ages. *wink wink*
That being said, I’m often asked “When is the best time to start lessons?”
Scholars and critics are all over the place on this one. Some people insist that you should start young, citing a child’s powers of retention and motor skills. Others say you should wait a little while, citing the importance of self-discipline and initiative.
PERSONALLY, I FIND THE QUESTION — AND ITS PREMISE — KIND OF FUNNY.
The question seems to imply that there’s a magical age that somehow makes music lessons more valid or worthwhile. It also assumes that people are cookie-cutters, uniformly developing in every possible way. And both of those assumptions just aren’t true.
The best answer I can give you is this:
THE BEST TIME TO START IS WHEN YOU ARE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN MUSIC.
Maybe that’s too simple for the scholarly community, but really, I think that’s what the issue boils down to.
It takes time, patience, and practice to become a musician–and from personal experience, you won’t care enough to “stick with it” unless you have some baseline interest in what you’re doing. But that baseline will be different for every person.
I started taking violin lessons somewhere between the ages of three and four (yep!), and although I wasn’t always a diligent student, I stayed engaged in lessons for fifteen years. My sister, who started at the same time, swore off the violin at the ripe age of five–and my parents never made her play again. It just wasn’t her thing.
On the other side of the spectrum, we’re starting to see more and more parents take lessons at Learning Allegro. People are finally getting over the “too late” stigma and treating music lessons as a chance to “learn for fun.” Imagine that!
ARE THERE BENEFITS TO STARTING YOUNG? SURE — BUT I WOULD RATHER TEACH A 64-YEAR-OLD WITH GENUINE INTEREST IN MUSIC THAN AN 8-YEAR-OLD WITH PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY.
Why? Because the person with interest is the one who will practice, push themselves, and value the end goal: great music!
So what’s the right age to begin music lessons? It’s really a matter of personal discernment. Know yourself (or your child)–and if you see that glimmer of interest, give it an outlet! Whether you’re four or four hundred, a little bit of personal desire can go a long way.