|Just like any other skill, children learn to play instruments through constant practice / Photo by Jaromir Chalabala via Shutterstock|
Some parents enroll their children in music classes to learn to play an instrument at a young age. Other parents choose to wait until their children are older so they can choose their own instrument. When is the ideal time to begin your children’s music lessons?
Experts recommend children to start learning to play instruments at a young age. As soon as they can write their name legibly, they can start learning to play an instrument.
According to Fred Spano, an associate professor of music education, music education coordinator, and interim coordinator of undergraduate studies in music at the UNC Charlotte, children can start learning to play string instruments when they are three years old and the piano at five years old.
Ernest Pereira, music director of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO), said that the youth in their CSYO strings program started playing as early as six years old.
Meanwhile, according to John Tosco, founder of the Tosco Music Party and father to three children who formed the band Justincase, eight years old is the ideal age. By this time, children can hold instruments and muster the breath they need to play.
Never Too Late for Adolescents
Spano also said that musical aptitude (the measure of the ability to learn and process music) cannot be changed when children are past 10 to 11 years old. Despite this, adolescents should not be discouraged if they are interested in music, according to Laurel Talley, the Suzuki coordinator at Community School of the Arts. She said that teenagers need to get going to figure out which instrument they like to learn and what kind of music they want to play. They also should have a goal in their music career.
Musika website provides a chart showing the ideal age to start music lessons by instrument. According to their article, children should learn to play piano or violin at age 4 to 5 and viola at age 6 to 7. They can study several musical instruments at age 7 and up. They can start playing guitar, drums, saxophone, flute, clarinet, and cello. For children aged 8 to 10, they can learn the trumpet or trombone. Those aged 9 to 10 can start playing bass guitar. Finally, children aged 12 and up can start their voice lessons.
Just like any other skill, children learn to play instruments through constant practice. However, not many children discover their true interest and potential at an early age. Many parents also complain that their children do not want to practice often.
For Lisa Lashley, a music teacher at Chantilly Montessori, children should practice playing instruments for at least six to eight months. By that time, they will have an idea if they like or don’t like what they are doing.
Also, according to her, it depends on the parents if they want their children to pursue music lessons or not. It depends on how important music is seen within a household. She recommends that parents compare practicing to doing homework to emphasize that children need to do it. Then, when their children are much older, parents can let their kids decide which instrument they would like to play or what kind of music they would like to make, so they will be more interested in practicing and honing their musical abilities.
|Short practices will help them children become focused and attentive, and feel successful but not tired / Photo by Andrey Aleksandrov via Shutterstock|
Furthermore, children should play because they are interested and excited, not because they are forced to do it. “It’s not just something to do or a randomly picked instrument. Sometimes I think that happens in schools. A band director just says, ‘You don’t know, so I’m assigning you to trumpet.’ Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn’t,” Tosco said. What he wanted is for children to be excited to go home so they can play, not just practice.
He suggested to parents to keep their children’s instrument in a place where they will easily see it. Then, they should make sure that their children should play even just for a few minutes several times a day. Short practices will help them become focused and attentive, and feel successful but not tired.
Benefits of Playing Music
Aside from playing instruments as a skill, learning music offers many benefits. This is why parents should continue encouraging their children to play music. According to Phyllis Fulton, co-owner of Music Together of Charlotte, “Research suggests the benefits last beyond when you’re just having instructions. Processing, relationships, math, science, language acquisition—all these things are supported and enhanced in children who learn to play.”
Learning to play an instrument improves memory skills, coordination, math skills, reading and comprehension skills, listening skills, and social skills. It teaches perseverance and culture and history. Moreover, it creates a sense of achievement and responsibility. It is also a good way for self-expression.
Where to Enroll Your Children
There are many ways for children to learn playing instruments. Fulton said that parents and children can check YouTube for instructional videos and music lessons. It is also nice for children to join the school or church choir. Parents can buy affordable instruments or make instruments at home.
If they want more formal music lessons for their children, they can search for teenagers who teach music at affordable rates. If they have a budget, they can also get the service of seasoned teachers.