When is the right time to enroll your child in music lessons? According to various “experts” whose advice I read when researching this question for myself, it can be anywhere from 18 months to 7 years old. Come on, can a toddler really learn an instrument? Well, probably not, but that is the time to expose them to rhythm and movement. They can learn to identify instruments and how they sound. Good information but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted to know when is the time to start playing an instrument. All I knew was that my then 3-year-old seemed to have an inclination towards musical instruments that I wanted to encourage.
What I did find out is that most children who start very young begin with either piano or violin. Apparently they just don’t have the lung capacity/lip movements for horns and woodwinds and many strings require much more dexterity than little ones have yet. My grandfather gifted us a lovely upright Steinway piano. I’d start there.
Once I decided on an instrument, I began calling various music schools. Interestingly enough, only two called me back. Though they offered to send someone to my home, the prices were too rich for my blood, upwards of $140 for 4 half hour lessons a month. Frustrated, I went to talk to the owner of a local music store for guidance. He assured me that if a child could recognize his letters, he could learn to read music and play piano. He recommended someone who had experience with young students and her prices were reasonable. My son liked her and so we began the journey.
Rocky was just turning 4 when he started and I didn’t know what to expect. Would he lose interest? Could he physically sit still long enough to learn? Were his fingers strong enough? These were all issues when my sister tried to teach her little ones piano. They were just not having it and there she sits with a background in music and a fabulous baby grand that the kids don’t want to do anything with but pluck the keys now and again. Which just goes to show you – you can’t force a child to learn an instrument, he has to want to learn it. At least a little bit.
Surprisingly, Rocky turned out to be one of those kids who wants to play piano. One year later, he is making amazing progress and genuinely enjoys his lessons. I’m not going to lie, getting him to practice on a regular basis hasn’t always been easy. I’ve resorted to bribes and even threatened to stop taking him to lessons (fingers crossed – don’t call my bluff!). At 5, he’s now gotten to the point where he sits at the piano for his own pleasure. He even asked for a metronome for his birthday. Recently he started singing and playing at the same time. If you’ve ever tried to do this, it is challenging. I sure hope he sticks with it longer than I did (still stuck at the easy level music). I don’t expect him to be a full on musician, though he can if he wants to be. I just want him to have the background to pursue it just for the joy of it at any time in his life. Maybe one day he can teach me!
***The Gen X Moms are no longer writing as a group (too many scheduling conflicts) but you can continue reading about my adventures with Rocky on my new blog at: