When is my child ready for private music lessons?
Every now and then, we’re asked how early a child can begin private music lessons. Is there one right answer?
Not exactly. As we all know, people are unique. We all learn at different paces, adjust to new situations differently, and have our own sets of strengths and weaknesses. That means that a student’s “timeline” of musical readiness will always be unique. A focused four-year-old will be ready for piano lessons long before a disinterested ten-year-old!
No matter what the age, here are a few ways you can tell if your child is ready to start private music lessons:
1. HE OR SHE HAS EXPRESSED INTEREST — WITHOUT YOUR PROMPTING. In my experience, the most dedicated students have always been children who expressed personal interest in an instrument without a parent prompting them. There are certainly times for Mom and Dad to make executive decisions…and I have seen many students “forced” into music who learn to love it…but if the child does not have a personal stake in lessons, that interest often dies within a few years.
If your five-year-old is obsessed with the violin and asks you about it frequently, that’s probably a sign that she’s interested and will work at her craft. Give it a shot!
2. HE OR SHE HAS LEARNED HOW TO SIT STILL. Everyone gets a bit wiggly now and then, but an uncontrollably wiggly student is hard to teach! Has your child learned how to sit and listen in another setting, like preschool or kindergarten? Do they know how to listen and take advice? If so, they might be ready for lessons.
3. HE OR SHE IS DILIGENT AT HOME. Most of a musician’s growth happens outside the studio! Your child needs to practice when lessons aren’t in session. If your child is diligent with his or her other duties, like chores or homework, they will probably do well juggling music assignments as well.
4. HE OR SHE ASKS GREAT QUESTIONS. The best students are inquisitive students — and music is a GREAT outlet for curiosity! If your child loves to understand how things work, music lessons are a great way to explore questions tactically.
5. HE OR SHE LIKES TO HAVE FUN. Maybe this is a no-brainer…but ALL of us work harder when we enjoy whatever we’re doing! If your child seems to truly enjoy music in other contexts, it’s probably safe to assume they will enjoy music lessons…and by extension, will have the patience to stick with them.