Starting kids with music instruction too early may confuse, overwhelm, or dissuade them. The goal is to develop a lifelong passion for music in your child, not to scare them away from it by pushing too hard or setting unrealistic expectations. In order for them to truly progress, a child’s music education should, of course, be taken seriously, but don’t forget along the way that it should also be a fun, confidence-building experience.
Set appropriate goals that correlate with your child’s’ age and ability so that they don’t get discouraged or injure themselves. Here are some of the most popular forms of music instruction and the suggested starting-age for each (assuming the child has reached the necessary milestones typical for their age):
Recommended starting age: 6-12 Years Old
Voice is a tricky one. There is really no definitive age at which a child should start singing lessons. Many people say to wait until the child’s voice has developed- after they’ve gone through puberty. Others claim that starting as young as six years old is okay, as long as the student is only exercising the higher registers of their voice (to prevent damage to their thin, undeveloped vocal cords).
So, when should a child start voice lessons? The truth is that most musical prodigies start their training at a young age. Starting voice lessons earlier in life can be very beneficial, as long as the lessons are correlating with where the child is at in their vocal development. It’s important to find a vocal coach who has experience working with younger voices and also has an extensive knowledge on vocal health.
Recommended starting age: 4-6 Years Old
The best age for a child to start guitar depends on a few different factors that vary between different children. The child’s size should be taken into account. Are they strong and big enough to learn how to properly hold the instrument? Sometimes kids in the lower percentile for height and weight will have trouble wrapping their arms around the guitar, pressing the strings down with their fingers, or even just lifting the guitar itself. Another thing to keep in mind, as with most instruments, is the child’s attention span and level of maturity. They will need to be able to focus on the task at hand, and keep up with a consistent practice schedule if you wish for them to improve.
Luckily, there are different sized guitars for different sized people. The smallest, official guitar size is a 30 inch ¼ sized guitar. These are great for kids just starting out between the ages of four and six years old; and as your child grows, so can the guitar!
Recommended starting age: 3-5 Years Old
Learning the piano is typically a more realistic feat for younger kids than learning guitar or violin. First of all, the piano is debatably the best instrument to help your child understand the fundamentals of music theory. The reason for this is because the notes are laid out linearly (from lowest to highest), making it easier for small children to grasp the idea of octaves, and how notes move up a scale. The piano is also less physically demanding for little humans; even if they aren’t able to reach the pedals with their feet or stretch their fingers far apart enough to make certain chords, they can start learning notes by using just one or two fingers in the beginning. As with guitar, violin, and pretty much every other instrument, the child’s ability to sit still and stay focused is also a factor.
Recommended starting age: 4-6
The suggested starting age for violin varies, depending on the method of instruction the student is learning from. Globally, The Suzuki Method is probably the most popular and better for children who are starting their instruction very young.
Speaking realistically, if you start your child on violin at age three or younger, their lessons are going be more focused around fun and introductory instruction, rather than actual progression or fine-tuned musical development. Most instructors prefer taking violin students no younger than four, simply because, in most cases, toddlers are just not quite equipped with the fine motor skills necessary to play the instrument.
Some argue that starting any earlier than age six is a waste of time and money, because small children simply lack the physical and mental ability to progress at violin. In opposition to this, others believe that an earlier introduction will give way for more aptitude for the the instrument later on, when the real instruction starts.
Recommended starting age: Whenever they can hold a pair of drumsticks!
Drums are a little bit different. The reason being is that, more so than with other instruments, drummers are usually self-taught. Learning the foundation of how rhythm works and learning to improvise beats or play the drums to a song you’ve never heard before, is often accomplished on one’s own. Kids will progress at drums best through trial and error, having a good ear and good body rhythm, and of course, practicing! Toddlers and young children are usually quite capable of understanding the concept of patterns- in sound and body movement. At a young age, It’s much easier to memorize beats and rhythms than it is to memorize six pages of standard notation (sheet music), which is why starting your child on drums as soon as they’re interested is encouraged.
If you want a more structured drum-lesson approach for your child, there are plenty of fantastic drum instructors out there, and a ton of books for beginner-advanced levels, although a more hands-on approach to drums is definitely the norm.
There you have it! These are definitely good guidelines, but there is truly no set age for learning any instrument because all kids learn, grow, and develop differently. The most important thing you can do during this process is be realistic about your child’s individual physical and mental capabilities, so that they can start rocking out whenever you think they’re ready!