Your child is showing interest in the piano. You might be wondering, “Is my child ready for lessons?” It is never too soon to expose your child to music. Love of music is a universal trait among young children, and most of them respond to the joy of singing and to the melody and rhythm in songs. At what age or developmental point is it appropriate to move forward and transition to more formal musical instruction?
Children mature at different rates, so there is no magical age at which all children are ready to learn. You must first carefully evaluate your child’s emotional, intellectual, and physical maturity. Here are a few tips to consider before enrolling your child in lessons:
1. Does your child want lessons?
Your child will benefit far more from lessons if they are eager and cooperative. If they are interested in learning, they may ask you for lessons or you may gauge their interest through your own observation. Do they seem intrigued by the sound of instruments? Do they spontaneously sing or dance to music? Do they become transfixed by listening to or seeing a live musical performance? Watch their reaction when music is playing at home and offer opportunities to experiment on a keyboard or other musical instrument, if available.
2. How well does your child tolerate mild frustration?
Skills in playing an instrument are acquired slowly, over time, but many young children become impatient if they cannot master a new task immediately. Your child’s teacher will be asking them to try new things and to follow instructions to acquire new skills. If your child can comply with simple requests and remain engaged even when the first attempt is less than successful, they are ready for lessons. A low frustration level does not rule out success in lessons, but starting with a group lesson designed for beginners may be a more appropriate way to start learning. As your child matures and gains confidence and skills in problem-solving, they will become ready to transition to a private lesson setting.
3. Has your child acquired some pre-reading skills?
Learning to read music is an important component in all music instruction. Children who have mastered some number and letter recognition are likely to be ready to learn basic musical notation, which is a precursor to reading and playing music. If your child knows ABCs and 123s, it is a good sign they are also ready for “do re mis.”
4. Is your child’s attention span developing?
A child needs to be able to focus on learning–with gentle encouragement and direction from the teacher–during the span of a lesson. Attention span is also important outside the lesson, at home during daily practicing. A child should be able to complete a short 5-10 minute practice session each day, with some guidance from a parent.
5. Can your child tell the difference between high and low sounds?
Aural discrimination is another skill which develops and improves with age. Your child will experience greater success with lessons if they can hear the difference between higher notes and lower notes, recognize simple musical patterns and rhythms, and begin to match pitch when singing. If this is an area of improvement for your child, music lessons will help.
6. Has your child developed basic fine motor control?
A child must possess sufficient fine motor skills to play a musical pattern on their chosen instrument. Can your child hold a pencil properly, use a pair of scissors, and coordinate hands independently? If so, they may be physically ready to play an instrument. Keep in mind, too, that some instruments are physically easier for beginning students to manage than others. Many children, for this reason, start learning to play piano before graduating to another instrument.
One way to explore your child’s readiness is to arrange for a starter lesson with one of Oregon Music Academy’s teachers!