Anxious to provide their children with every opportunity, many new parents fret about when and how to introduce their child to music lessons. While each child responds to music differently, you can use the following key developmental milestones to help guide you as you seek ways to include music into your child’s life:
Birth to 24 Months
The earliest months of a child’s life are a great time to introduce your child to the wonderful sounds of music. Whether in a school setting or at home, it is important to fuel your child’s innate response to musical sounds. Young children should have the opportunity to play and explore musical activities without any performance goals attached. They should be free to imitate and improvise, developing their own musical sense of direction.
2 to 4 Years Old
The preschool years are characterized by a new streak of independence. When being introduced to music, most children will want to try things “by myself,” which will most likely result in an overwhelming amount of noise. Children at this age love exploring the dynamics of musical volume, and can go from “whisper” to “ear piercing” in just a few seconds. To reach the preschool-aged child, you can combine music instruction with reading, counting, and identifying colors and shapes. Using singing and movement to explore the world is both fun and educational.
5 to 6 Years Old
At this stage, children are ready for a more formal introduction to music, usually as part of their elementary school curriculum. Most students start out learning the piano or a string instrument because they are easy for children to handle. Children introduced to these instruments benefit the chance to play rhythm and movement games that reinforce the lessons they’ve learned. While some children may be ready for private lessons, many children are not at this age. Continue to encourage your child to include music in every aspect of their day.
6 Years Old and Over
How to Choose a Teacher
Your child’s music teacher has the power to ignite a passion for playing an instrument, or to permanently douse your child’s dreams of musical glory. For this reason, it is imperative that you select the right teacher based on your child’s temperament and disposition.
Finding the right music teacher can be a challenge. Ask friends and family for recommendations or referrals. Often, the best teachers gain a reputation that everyone in the community hears about. Ask at local community centers or places of worship as well, especially when they offer musical camps and programs that are open to the public.
When interviewing a potential teacher, it is important to ask questions about the person’s credentials and teaching style. Don’t feel awkward about asking questions—good teachers won’t hesitate to provide you with the answers you need. Some relevant questions might include the following:
Early introduction to music appreciation can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment and pleasure. As children grow, the sounds they hear influence their interaction with the world around them. Music provides a tool for identifying and classifying those sounds, and can bring beauty into the listener’s life.
Allowing children at every stage of life to experience music is one of the most effective ways to ensure that they become an adult with musical knowledge. While they may not become the next Mozart, they may gain a love and fondness for music that will last a lifetime.
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Photo used under Creative Commons from Marina K Caprara