Our history of music is very rich with examples of child prodigies creating music from a very young age. These prodigies have set a precedent to the thinking that children are capable of creating music. We have all heard of the genius Mozart, who wrote his first ever symphony at the age of eight. He was able to compose a concerto and even opera by the age of ten. Whenever we come across these kinds of instances we start questioning, was Mozart an exception? However when we look past the logic behind rule v/s exceptions we start questioning, what could be the right age to introduce our children to the world of music and begin their music lessons? In Mozart’s case, his father introduced him to the world of music from a very young age. Several studies have shown that children can hear music in the womb and due to this some of these kids develop a taste for certain types of music. Unlike the olden times, these days there are several opportunities available to learn music right from childhood. However age-appropriate music programs and finding a good music instructor could pose a challenge sometimes. When we asked various music experts about their opinion for the right age to enroll children in music classes, each and every one of these experts had their own unique answer with rationale attached to it. That gave us a very good age window to enroll a child in music classes; which is from birth to age nine. However any enthusiastic parent who hopes to engage their child in a music environment shouldn’t just rely on music classes. Ideally parents need to create an environment at home and that too from a very early age. This will help develop a musical sensibility among children. Throughout the age window of birth to age nine, the mental structure and mechanism associated with processing and understanding music is in the peak stage of development.
So coming back to the question of the right age to start with your child’s music lessons?
It all depends on what music goal a parent has in mind for their child.
If a parent wants their child to just experience, enjoy music then he/she can introduce them to just listening to music within the first year itself. One doesn’t have to necessarily introduce kids to any musical instrument from such a young age. You can create a musical environment around the child which doesn’t have to be very formal. You can immerse your child in music by simple activities like musical games, or swaying & dancing while holding the baby or maybe just singing along a song. Also if a parent knows to play any musical instrument they can play it in the presence of their child. At around the age of three, you can introduce your child to a more formal kind of setting. This time you can keep a goal to introduce them to music related simple techniques like identifying a beat in music, or a melody or identifying a musical instrument. You can enroll your child in a private tutoring class or any music school or a community center. No matter where you enroll your child, you have to ensure that your musical goals for your child are made clear to the music teacher. By the time they are five years old; they are already aware of the basics & have built a foundation. And if you have followed a step wise structure from the first year, by now your child is mentally prepared to join formalized music lessons. At this point, don’t expect them to start performing but expect them to gain furthermore understanding. If you have followed a step wise approach, then by the time your kids are anywhere between 8 to 10 years, they would have already gained ample of knowledge and skills in regards to music and they would know the musical instrument they want to master. Additionally by now their goal of music lessons automatically transitions from gaining fundamental experience to improving their performance skills on a musical instrument.
So which musical instrument can you introduce them to?
The most commonly learnt musical instruments at this age are piano and violin, however instruments such as recorder, guitar & ukulele also work well for them. Some key pointers you can keep in mind while enrolling your children in classes can be: Finding the right kind of musical instrument: By now you have already introduced them to a musical environment, so you might be able to gauge which instrument your child favors. Also consider the portability & cost factor while thinking about a suitable musical instrument for them. Finding the right teacher: Look for a music class or school where the music teacher is not just good at music but who can also handle young kids with patience and enthusiasm. You can Google, read online reviews or ask your friends about a good music class. Some other things to consider: Consider the commute distance and also check if your kids have any friends who go to the same class. (This would make them look forward for their music coaching even more.)
Start early with your child’s music-wise grooming and keep the environment as informal as possible. Don’t expect any results; just let them get accustomed to a musical environment. Introduce them to a systematic music environment by the age of three and once they are between ages six to nine start with a more formalized approach towards music education. As a music school, we have given these above guidelines based on our observations over a period of years of tutoring kids from a very young age. Doesn’t mean that these are firm rules, there are always exceptions. However the underlying message is that a musical experience is very important for children from a very young age. It’s just like learning to ride a bike or joining academic tuition classes. Keep in mind, since you are the guide of your child’s music journey your perspective will make a lot of difference in how your child looks at music. Should it be a task or pure enjoyment for them?