3 Things to Consider Before Your Kids Start Music Lessons

As a parent, especially one with little to no experience with music education, it can be hard navigating all the options when it comes to choosing the right music program and environment for your children.

How old should they be to start?

Are “Mommy & Me” classes really worth it?

Should we go with group instruction or private?

The options can seem endless and overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve something of a set of guidelines to help you find your way to the best program for your little one.

1. Starting at the Right Age

For adults, starting music lessons is pretty easy, because they can begin whenever they have free time. An adult’s success in music is based entirely on how willing that person is to practice and put in the effort. It’s literally never too late to begin, and some students even find fulfillment with music lessons in their 70s!

For children, on the other hand, starting at the proper age is an important aspect that impacts the success of their lessons. You might see some advice arguing that “the sooner the better” when it comes to music lessons, but this can backfire, and become a bad thing. In fact, if a child starts music lessons too early, it can become an overwhelming experience, cause frustration and irritation, and lead to them wanting to stop. The last thing you want to do is turn your child off of music too early because they had a negative experience they didn’t need to have. Sometimes, waiting an extra year to start can actually help them progress faster. In fact, children who start older than the “recommended” age usually do very well.

So, when is a good age to start? Here’s a little bit of a guide:

Ages 0-4:

Classes for this age group usually take the form of “Mommy & Me” group classes, and involve a lot of movement, singing, and rhythm instruments. These sorts of classes can be a fun and interactive way to introduce toddlers to the world of making music. But that being said, they don’t tend to resemble actual music lessons very much, and moving from this to an actual music class can be a little jarring if you’re not prepared for the differences.

Ages 5 and up:

At this age children usually begin to develop a bit of a longer attention span, and instruction in certain instruments can begin. Many music schools will start piano lessons at this age because the students don’t have to hold the instrument. Another popular option is the ukulele, thanks to its small size and light weight, especially for kids who may want to go on to learn the guitar.

Vocal Lessons:

The youngest recommended age for private singing or voice lessons is usually around 6. This is because of the physical nature of voice lessons, which can include proper breathing techniques, development of the vocal chords, and lung capacity. All things a younger body is not quite ready for yet.

Guitar/Electric Bass:

7 to 8 is usually the preferred age to begin guitar lessons, regardless of acoustic or electric. Playing the guitar requires arms long enough and strong enough to hold the instrument, as well as the fine motor skills needed to properly manipulate their fingers on the guitar’s neck. Luckily, guitars come in full, ¾, and ½ sizes for those smaller beginners.

All this also goes for the electric bass, which is generally the same shape and size as a guitar, unlike its acoustic counterpart.

Drums:

The average age for drummers to begin lessons is around 8, but this can vary quite a bit depending on the actual size of the student. They need to be able to reach the pedals, as well as the cymbals.

Wind Instruments:

Like vocal lessons, a certain amount of lung capacity is needed to really start to play any wind instrument, regardless of which section it’s a part of. For that reason, most schools recommend starting at 9 years or older.

2. Look for a School that Offers Private Lessons

Group lessons certainly have their place, and they can be fantastic for building many of the same skills that can be learned on a sports’ field. But that being said, there are a few drawbacks, especially for younger students who are just starting out with their musical journey.

The biggest problem with group classes for young students is that they don’t each get the attention the deserve and need. You can have ten 9 year olds all in the same class together, trying to follow along and keep up, but at the end of the day, you’re still going to have ten 9 year olds all at different levels, even after only one session. What this all means is that some students will inevitably fall behind, which could lead to them giving up all together.

With private lessons, you get all the benefit of having the instructor’s complete attention, with no distractions from other classmates, and the ability to begin classes at any time, and move them at the pace the student needs to succeed.

3. In-Home Lessons vs Professional Teaching Environment

There is a certain appeal to having in-home lessons for your child: you don’t have to drive them anywhere for a specific time, lessons times can often be flexible, the lessons themselves take place in a comfortable, familiar environment.

But learning to play music isn’t just a matter of having a good and qualified teacher to instruct your little one; it’s also about having an environment to learn in that allows them to focus on the lessons. In a professional music class environment, your child won’t be distracted by the TV, ringing cell phones, siblings running around, or even the simple everyday goings-on in a home. For many young students, lessons are only 30 minutes a week, and having them in a professional environment has shown to help the students achieve better results, since 100% of their attention is devoted to the learning process.

As an added bonus, students who attend a music school are motivated by other students who are on a higher level than themselves, and are exposed to a much larger range of musical instruments in general.

In a professional teaching environment the classes and lessons are not treated as a hobby of the teacher’s, but an honoured responsibility that is taken very seriously.