There is a growing (and convincing) body of research that indicates a “window of opportunity” from birth to age nine for developing a musical sensibility within children. During this time, the mental structures and mechanisms associated with processing and understanding music are in the prime stages of development, making it of utmost importance to expose children in this age range to music.
The important question then is not when to start lessons, but what is the goal of music lessons for young children? For instance, very young children are not exposed to instruments in order to master them, but to gain experience and learn to develop meaningful relationships with music at a young age. If this is your goal, then the “lessons” can and should start soon after birth and certainly within the child’s first year and an age-appropriate music method should be continued until they reach the age where they are able to take private lessons in an instrument.
These lessons do not have to be - in fact, at first probably shouldn't be - very formal. A parent can serve as a guide by immersing the child in a musical environment. You should help your child focus on the music with simple movement activities such as musical games, swaying or dancing while holding the baby, or singing or playing an instrument for a child.
Once the child is around age three, it is definitely time for more formalized Age Appropriate “lessons.”
Again, the goal is not to learn to play an instrument but to further develop skills like identifying a beat in music, identifying melody, or identifying instruments.
Playing an instrument while singing is an extremely challenging multi-tasking skill which involves TONS of brain skill. (try it yourself!) See in our video on our philosophy and video page above how well the mini musicians Level 3 class handles this.
By age 9, if the parent has immersed the child in these age appropriate programs, the child will have a variety of music literacy skills associated with any instrument of choice. They’ll also have the physical strength to try a different, bigger instrument that requires a higher level of strength and stamina. Around this time, the goal of lessons appropriately transitions from gaining experience with music to improving performance ability.
There are three answers to the question, “What age should children begin music lessons?” Informal activities with music should start soon after birth, (even before birth) followed by more systematic classes around age three, and lessons with the goal of learning the instrument should start between seven and nine. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines; exceptions will undoubtedly occur based on the child and/or teacher.
Keep in Mind!
Musical experience at an early age is extremely important in a child’s developmental process. Like riding a bike or learning a language, these skills can be learned later in life, but they will never be “natural” in the way that is so important for fluid musical performance.
Mini Musicians is based on Orff Music for Young Children Program and in our opinion is the best way to educate and immerse your child in the language of music to develop a lifetime of learning and loving music!
Addison Music Learning Centre is a music school located in Oakville, Ontario, providing music lessons for all Instruments and all ages.
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