Childrens Music lessons
An Age-by-Age Guide to the Best Start in Music Education
By Cherylann Bellavia
Cherylann Bellavia is owner of Discover Music in Pittsford, NY.
The other night, my husband and I were in a local restaurant. In a high chair nearby was an adorable one-year-old girl, be-bopping to the music on the PA system. Her hands were raised high, her feet were going a hundred miles an hour, and the biggest grin I’d ever seen on a child was spread from ear to ear. My heart instantly swelled, as I thought to myself, “That little one has rhythm in her bones!” At least half of my time waiting for the food was spent just watching her rock and roll.
Almost all children LOVE music! Studies have shown that music education enhances a child’s comprehension abilities, helps them with math concepts, assists in the development of fine motor skills, and helps to build self-confidence. Many children with special needs have been known to excel at music even though they are unable to communicate or participate in regular structured activities. In general, music enhances the lives of many children and adults as well.
Studies have shown that children can actually hear music in the womb, and some seem to develop a taste for certain styles of music as a result. Age-appropriate music programs are not easy to find, and finding an instructor who keeps it interesting can be a real challenge whether in a group or individual setting.
6 to 8 Months
Classes for moms and babies are a great way to begin even with children as young as 6 – 8 months. These classes are usually 30 – 40 minutes long, and they require active participation on the part of parents. Programs designed for toddlers 18 – 24 months are very popular as well; these still require parental participation, but by this age, children are starting actively to engage in the different activities in the class.
3 and 4 Year Olds
Programs for 3- and 4-year-olds are now readily available. This is really the ideal age for kids to start their music experience. Most of these programs are about 30 – 35 minutes in length, and involve props, movement and singing. Some even integrate arts and crafts and free play with rhythm instruments and props to music. Parents typically are not required to participate in these classes.
Ages 5 and Up
For children ages 5 and up, sometimes the best way to begin their musical path is to have them take some type of group piano or group violin lesson with other children their age. If the teacher is creative, he or she will integrate activities such as music games and crafts into the curriculum. You can also begin to consider private individual instruction. Piano/keyboard lessons are sometimes easiest for children ages 5, 6, and even older. One year of instruction on the piano or keyboard provides a great foundation as children learn basic music theory concepts such as the music alphabet, what a quarter note, half note, whole note is, what the music staff does, and the location of the keys on the keyboard. In addition, they learn fun kids songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” If piano isn’t their thing, the violin can provide a great foundation for children to start their lesson path.
Ages 7 and Up
Around age 7, instruments such as the guitar, drums and other string instruments can be introduced. The same concepts are covered, but children who have had at least six months to one year of piano under their belt (and thus already know the basic elements of music) find it easier to make the transition between instruments. Consequently, they are able to engage with the new instrument a lot faster.