We’ve all seen this video of young Korean kids playing the guitar:
Pretty astounding and it probably leaves some parents wondering if Junior should be starting music lessons in the womb. I’ve taught guitar for over 15 years and I’ve talked with parents who thought their two or three year old was ready for private lessons because “He loves music.” All kids love music and benefit from live music but some aren’t ready for lessons until a certain age. When should your child start lessons?
My child might be a prodigy
Those Korean kids might be prodigies or they might have been forced to practice every day on instruments too big for them. Be careful about turning your son or daughter into a miniature adult. Give them an accessible instrument like a drum or ukulele and let them play rock star for a few years.
Music in the home may be all your child needs for now
Sing with them, even if you think you can’t sing. Kids don’t care. Make up songs about bedtime, their pet, going swimming – whatever they want. If you play an instrument, it’s a bonus. Let them strum your guitar as you hold it. Put him or her on your lap while you play the piano. Bang on pots and pans with them. It’s all good.
Classes for wee ones
There are great classes out there for kids under five. They have lots of movement and singalongs to keep little ones interested. It’s great bonding time with your child, too. And again, don’t worry about your own musical abilities. No one cares if you have no rhythm.
Suzuki lessons for three to six year olds
This is a special program that is a great way to get young ones started. Parents are very involved so don’t expect to just drop your child off at lessons. Look for a certified program. Many programs offer violin, viola, cello, guitar, and flute.
Private lessons and classes
I take children as young as seven for private lessons in guitar, ukulele and mandolin. This is my personal preference based on years of teaching. (I teach via Skype and in Ottawa, Canada. Contact me here.) Kids need to be able to sit still for a half hour or more, and they need the discipline to practice. I have had kids as young as six and some who aren’t ready until eight or nine. It depends on the child. You might want to schedule a trial lesson with a teacher to see if your child is ready.
Some teachers take younger students. Sit in with the lesson to make sure the instructor knows what they’re doing. Unfortunately, some music teachers say they take all ages when really, they don’t have the right skills or program for little ones. Conversely, others may have a great program that includes movement and games that’ll keep a young student engaged and learning.
Click here for a post about how to find a teacher.
Some schools offer band, orchestra, or chorus opportunities for your child. Take advantage of these. Even if she or he doesn’t become a lifelong clarinet player, it will benefit them in the end. Students who come to me with experience in any instrument always learn faster on a new instrument.
Make sure they have the right instrument
Your child may need a ½ or ¾ size instrument. Check with their teacher to make sure they have what they need. The guitars the kids in the video above are playing are too large for them. Find tips for buying a guitar here.
Want lessons? I teach guitar, ukulele and mandolin via Skype and in my home studio in Ottawa, Canada. Contact me here.