This is my son. Isn’t he cute? My husband and I are both professional musicians with music degrees so we naturally hoped our kid would be into music and did everything in our means to make music appreciation and learning available to him. We expose him to everything from Mozart to Little Richard to The Killers. He’s got a drum kit, a keyboard and a little guitar (these were all gifts from other people, actually). We let him play our own instruments (violin, mandolin, guitar, etc) with assistance. Thankfully, he LOVES music. Big sigh of relief!!!
His favorite song right now is “Roar” by Katy Perry to which he knows most of the words and he expresses his love for the song by krumping (He doesn’t know that it’s is not stylistically fitting and yes, he has seen part of Rize… no regrets there). If you ask him, he’ll say his favorite instrument is the piano but a few months ago it was the drums, so he’s still deciding.
(This video was taken when he was 1 and drums were still his favorite instrument!)
He’s only 2 but I’ve determined that he’s ready for piano lessons! I’ve been teaching young children music lessons since 2002 so by now, I know the signs.
Perhaps you’ve heard the theory that a child’s attention span is roughly equivalent to their age. For example, a three year old can pay attention for 3 minutes. In my experience, this is generally true. However, that doesn’t mean that your child can’t start music lessons!
In fact, there are numerous studies that show a multitude of benefits from starting music lessons at a young age (we’ll explore these in my next blog).
Lessons are usually 30 minutes long for beginners so a key factor in your young child’s success in lessons is a teacher who understands this age group! For example, when I teach a three year old piano lessons, I start with a fun song that we play together (like “Will You Play?” from My First Piano Adventures), then we play a game with finger numbers, then we play a rhythm game, then I see if the student can find all the C notes on the piano or knows where the high/low notes are on the piano, etc. You catch my drift? I’m doing a new activity every 3 minutes for the duration of the lesson.
Here are several indicators that your child is ready for lessons:
1. Your child shows an interest in music!
I think it would be pretty rare to find a kid that doesn’t like music but an interest is necessary. Does your kid play air guitar? Do they bang on pots & pans with sticks? Do they sit on a piano bench and drive you crazy mashing the keys as loudly as they can? Do they have a favorite song? There’s a high likelihood that your kid digs music!
2. They focus on one activity for at least 3-15 minutes.
Watching an entire episode of “Thomas & Friends” or “Dora the Explorer” may or may not count. 😉 If your child can focus while coloring with crayons, playing with a train set or learning with flash cards then you’re on the right track.
3. Your child can follow simple instructions.
I often use the song “Will You Play?” as a test of a child’s ability to follow instructions. During the song they are asked to play only white keys, play only black keys, hold the keys down for a long time, etc. It’s a good sign if they can execute these skills when asked. You might want to consider setting up a trial lesson with a local teacher to explore your child’s capabilities.
4. They are little copy-cats!
If you sing a line from “Old MacDonald” or clap a rhythm can your child imitate you? You could try this out right now! Why don’t you CLAP, CLAP, STOMP and see if your child can do it too!
5. They demonstrate fine motor skills.
Can your child wiggle their fingers independently? Can they hold & color with a crayon? Good!
Here are some skills that make the job easier but are not absolutely necessary:
6. Your child knows the difference between right and left hand
As both hands are required to play instruments, knowing the difference between the two definitely helps!
7. They can count from 1-5
Whatever instrument you & your child choose, finger numbers are used in the teaching process. When a child understands what it means to put finger 1 (the thumb) on a C note in piano lessons things get a lot easier for both teacher and student!
8. They know letters A-G
In western music, notes are assigned the letter names A-G. Therefore, knowing these letters and their order is helpful when learning the notes & their placement on a musical staff.
At any age, your child can definitely benefit from early childhood music classes and might even be ready for lessons.
Did your child start music lessons at a young age? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience (good or bad)! Do you have any question about lessons for toddlers/preschoolers that I could address in a comment or future blog?