When should you start your child in music lessons? There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. In fact, there are many teachers who won’t accept a student who is under the age of 7 – or sometimes even 9. Others begin lessons as early as 3! How can you know what age is right for your child? And which program or curriculum will work best?
A Child’s Brain: The Window of Opportunity
First, a little science: there is increasing evidence of a “window of opportunity” in music development between birth and age seven. A child’s brain is a learning machine during this time; brain growth is rapid and neurons are forming connections and pathways to other neurons at a faster rate than any other time in a human’s life. It’s a marvelous time to learn new things!
After this window of opportunity passes, the growth of intra-brain connections slows down and it becomes much harder to learn new information and form new habits. For example: children who learn a second language before age seven can have native-like proficiency. After this age, children may achieve “near-nativeness” but will never reach the level of those begin earlier.
So when should you start? The earlier the better, but definitely before age 7. Musicologie has programs and curriculum tailored to each age, from infant to age 7 and beyond.
How to Find the Right Class, Teacher or Curriculum For Your Child’s Age
Now that you know you should start your child sometime before age seven, which program is right? There are a couple of paths to consider:
1. Group Classes: Infants through age 5
Group classes are a great way to start your child in music in a fun and low pressure environment. One of the best things about these classes is the social aspect. You’ll meet other parents and kids and have an awesome time exploring your child’s love of music.
We designed our group toddler class, Musicologie Junior, with this in mind. It’s a mixed-age class that explores different instruments, rhythms, melodies and genres and does a great job preparing kids for private lessons.
Read more: The methods behind Musicologie Junior >>
For a child under 5, our Musicologie Junior program is a perfect place to start. Register your child for a free first group class >>
2. Private Lessons: Ages 4 and Up
When should you start your child in private lessons? The short answer is to start when they’re excited about an instrument! Some kids can be ready as early as 4. Most kids are ready by 6.
Regardless, it’s important that you find a teacher who has experience teaching your child’s age group. Our teacher page lists all our instructors along with their qualifications and experience. They need to know how to deal with the inevitable challenges and which curriculum to use. It’s a very different skill to teach a 4 year old than it is to teach a seven year old. That’s why many teachers don’t start kids until later. It’s not that kids can’t learn music at a young age – it’s that the teacher doesn’t have the skills to make it a valuable experience!
Is your child over 5? Private lessons is the place to start. Sign up for an assessment lesson >>
What Should Young Beginners Learn?
At Musicologie we have teachers who specialize in early childhood education, including me. We’ve all seen a lot of different kinds of learners at different stages of development. I don’t expect my young students to be able to sit still for the whole lesson or hold them to the same practicing and focusing standards as older students.
Games, hands-on sound experiments, dance, and improvisation make things exciting and engaging for little learners. I really like Alfred’s Music for Little Mozarts series for 4 or 5 year olds. These books take things at a manageable pace and incorporate cute stories and pictures into each lesson. They also have an awesome app that reinforces basic concepts with fun games.
In the end it’s all about keeping things fun and cultivating your child’s natural love of music. And when they grow to have greater capacity for focus and discipline, they’ll already have all the basics down! It’s a no-brainer to take advantage of that excitement to give them a head start on their musical education.