What is the best age to start music lessons? We’ve all heard the stories of famous musical prodigies, from Mozart, who began composing when he was 4, to Yo-Yo Ma, who played for John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower at age 7. Even if your child isn’t performing and winning international competitions like Lang-Lang at 13, chances are you are family is being exposed to other children who are just really good at what they are doing. From choir to school band, parents seem to be bombarded with the idea they must immerse their child in music lessons form birth if they want them to amount to anything musically.
So what is the best age to start? It depends on the reasons you have as a parent for wanting your child to take music lessons. There is growing research that indicates there is a “window of opportunity” from birth to age 10, where a child’s brain is learning and literally pruning unnecessary information in a process called synaptic pruning. Research shows that from age 3 – 9 is when the most musical knowledge is soaked up. At this point in time, the mental structures and mechanisms the brain uses to understand and process music are in the prime stages of development, making this an opportune time to introduce children to music education.
It is important then to ask what is the goal of enrolling your child in music lessons? Is it to foster a love of music? To encourage a positive relationship between your young child and music? To gain experience? If this is your goal, then music immersion can and should start relatively early, soon after birth, or definitely within the first year. Initially, lessons do not have to be very formal, “lessons” can be simply playing music and movement games with your child, or singing/playing an instrument for them. When your young child sees that their parent is interested in the music and sees it as a positive thing, then your child will be interested in it too.
Around age 3, your child may be ready to move into more formal lessons. This age depends largely on the child. Some children develop the focus and dexterity necessary for playing a musical instrument rather quickly for their age and are ready around age 3, while others could wait a year or so before music lessons are truly beneficial. For a child who is asking for lessons but seems to lack the focus necessary, music lessons many be just the thing they need to help them learn this all too important skill! Remember, our goal is to introduce music as a positive thing, and not to force them into something they are not ready for. Early music lessons should be with a teacher experienced working with children your child’s age, in a positive, warm and encouraging environment with a focus on rhythm, melody and group music making.
In any situation and family however, if your child is interested in music and has been asking for music lessons, they are ready, whatever age they are! (I started asking for violin lessons at age 3 and knew exactly what I was asking for!)
If you feel that your child isn’t ready for lessons or they are too young, consider enrolling them into a parent and child music class, like MusicTogether or Musikgarten, who offer pre-instrumental music appreciation classes for children and caregivers 0 and up.
Don’t worry if your child is older than the recommended age! Many professional musicians got their start after the recommended window of opportunity, and have gone on to fruitfully engage with music in rewarding ways. It depends more on the level of effort given, rather than the age started at.
The easiest way to find out if your child is ready is to book a trial lesson with us. Our teachers are experienced working with young children, and are always ready to answer questions that parents may have about their child’s readiness.
Whatever age your child is, that is the best age to start. Music lessons that are tailored and customized to meet your child’s individual needs and requirements will positively influence your child’s life at any age.
Contact us to get started on your musical journey!