When Is a Good Time to Start Music Lessons for Your Child?

Ways to tell if your kid is ready to learn an instrument

Woman teaching boy to play piano
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If you have a child, the thought might have crossed your mind, should I get my child enrolled in music lessons, sports or an activity? You probably have wondered when is a good time to start music lessons. The quick answer is there no set age as the magic age to start formal lessons.

However, before signing up your child for lessons, there are several things to consider. The key element, as it is with most anything pertaining to your child, is to follow your child's cues.

Observe Your Child 

Observe your child attentively. If you notice that your child is continuously gravitating toward instruments at a friends' house or at your own home, then keep that in mind. If you notice that your child seems to be getting great pleasure or a sense of accomplishment out of being percussive or strumming a guitar or playing a piano or electronic keyboard, then that might be another signal that music lessons might be right for your child.

Gauge Interest Level

If you have observed that your child has fun playing instruments, then the next step is to determine exactly how keen is your child's interest in the activity. You need to figure out if this a passing phase or if this something that your child feels strongly about. You may find the child thinks they want to play something, but as soon as they get started, their interest level wanes. This is a natural occurrence in some children, so make sure you do not commit to purchase a non-refundable, $3,000 piano until your child's interest level is well-established.

Communication

One of the best ways to understand you child's commitment level is to have an honest conversation with your child. Explain to your child what learning an instrument involves. Music lessons can include going to regular classes usually every week, spending the time to get to and from those lessons, then, taking the time to practice every week.

Your child needs to understand that lessons are a part of their weekly routine and it may take them away from doing other things. For some families, especially those with multiple children, some may only have the time and resources to spend on one extracurricular activity. So your child needs to understand that they must think it through. 

Your child should also be made aware that rehearsing something over and over can sometimes get tiresome, but that is how musicians learn their craft. You can compare music to sports and how you only get good at a skill if you practice it all the time.

Support and Praise

If your do decide to enroll your child in classes, it also becomes the role of the parent to continue to encourage your child to practice. There will come a time when you child will doubt their abilities. The child may even want to give up if something seems too hard or becomes too monotonous. It is important to let your child feel your support so that they continue to be inspired to learn.

A child feeds off of their parent's approval and engagement. Share your child's enthusiasm for their activity. Involve yourself where you can. Sing along to your child's music or clap it out. Or, if you are musically inclined, play along.

Keep the Joy in Music

A key thing with music, or any activity for that matter, is you never want to force your child. Learning to play an instrument should be enjoyable and not a chore. If your child is not getting any sense of accomplishment or joy from music, then perhaps music lessons are not right for you child.

If you find that your child is struggling, then another consideration is that your child may not yet be mature enough to commit to lessons. That does not close the door on music forever, you can always try again if your child expresses a strong desire and willingness to learn at a later time.