What's the best age to begin music lessons?

January 30, 2015

If you're looking to get your child started on piano lessons, or maybe learning the guitar, discover the best ages for learning different instruments.

The best age to begin music lessons usually depends on the instrument, but proper instruction can instill a lifelong love of music in a child. Musical exposure and informal training can start very early in life (since children are very receptive to music at an early age), but it may be better to wait until they're older before formal training begins.

What's the best age to begin music lessons?

Early childhood

Infants and toddlers naturally gravitate towards music, but usually do not have the necessary patience and attention levels for formal lessons. Fortunately, early childhood educators have developed a wide range of musical games and activities aimed at the youngest children. Music lessons based on games use play time to get kids singing, dancing and using musical instruments without imposing too much structure in the class. For parents interested in music lessons for very young children, these types of musical play groups are probably the best choice.

Private instruction

Children can begin private formal music instruction at about the same age that they begin school. Many specialists actually believe that the best window for children to begin studying music is between this age and nine years old. It is during this age that the child experiences rapid brain growth and is able to learn and retain information quickly. Children who take formal lessons during this age often retain their musical abilities well into adulthood even if they discontinue them after a year or two. Those who continue into adolescence have a high chance of reaching a professional level.

Choirs and group classes

As children move towards the teenage years the importance of peer groups and social interactions becomes a primary motivating force in their life. This provides parents who want their children to continue their musical education with a perfect opportunity to get them involved in choirs, band practice or other forms of group classes. Since many formal choirs and bands require some skill level, any previous private lesson training is going to be an excellent form of preparation for group musical activities.

In short, rather than asking what the best age to begin music lessons is, it may be more helpful to see the whole process as a continuum that can begin as early as possible and extend throughout the whole life.

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