Children love music—whether they are listening to it in the car or making their own drum set out of Tupperware. But when is it time to consider formal music lessons for your kiddo?
Unfortunately, there's no magic number. Look no further than your own circle of friends to find someone who will never play the piano again because Mom forced them to when they were young; and, in turn, someone who went on to play first chair in their college band because they fell in love with the clarinet in the first grade.
The best way to determine if your child is ready for formal music lessons is to simply observe how he/she reacts to music, their interest level in instruments, and how often they engage in musical activities. It's usually not until age six or older that kids are truly ready to learn to play an instrument successfully for the long term.
So, how do you get your child excited about music?
Watch, Learn, Engage
For many kids, just having access to musical instruments piques their interest. Do you have a piano in your house, or know someone who does? Does your child sit at the piano and bang on the keys to make "beautiful" music? Does your elder child have a drum set that your youngest is obsessed with? Perhaps hiring a private tutor or looking into local lessons are in order. You'll find out pretty quickly how interested they are in music based on how they react to practice and lesson time.
Set Some Ground Rules
If you do decide to take the formal lesson route, it is important to set ground rules with your child about lesson and practice time. If your child isn't ready to put the time in, perhaps he/she isn't quite ready to tackle the musical world in a formal way yet. Hiding in the closet until the lesson is half over is a good sign that more time might be needed.
Be Their Biggest Fan
Even though it might sound like nails on a chalkboard, it is essential for parents to take a supportive role when their children are learning to master an instrument or beginning to sing. Reinforce that they are getting better, encourage practice, and follow up with rewards to keep them energized. If they feel your support, they are more likely to continue their dedication to music.
Join in the Fun
If you played an instrument when you were younger—or still do—don't be shy about it. Join your child and create a family band. Or if you just like to sing, grab a brush and rock out to that piano solo. Your interest will in turn keep your child's interest alive and growing.
There's no magic number quite as strong as a mother's intuition—so practice the above, and you'll soon sense when your child is ready to graduate from Tupperware to tuba.
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