Many parents feel that getting their child started in private lessons as early as possible is the best choice. One of the most common questions we hear at our studio is “when should my child start playing an instrument?” I’ve had many (yes, MANY) people who insist that their 1, 2, or 3 year old child be enrolled in private music lessons. What we’ve found is that young children thrive in a research-based group class (such as our Kindermusik program), and the LATER the child starts private lessons, the more likely they are to enjoy lessons and want to continue.
Anyhow, these inquiries made me start to wonder when all of my musician friends and our studio teachers started “officially” studying their instruments, so I turned to the professionals. I wanted to try to find the sweet spot, that magic age of when it seems to “stick.” So I interviewed all of the musicians I know to see when they started, and here's the result:
Many people shared that they started lessons at a young age and then got frustrated and quit, which is what we often see with very young children (under 6). The majority of students who began in the 10-13 range started in their middle school orchestra/band/choir, and most children in the 4-9 year old range began on piano or violin. The very young students (4-5 years old) who continued playing were from musical families whose parents were able to help with their practice. Many of them quit for awhile and then re-start when they were 8-9 years old.
THIS is what we do at Bucktown Music, create a solid foundation so that all students will be successful in creating any kind of music they enjoy for many years to come. The message I want you to get is that YOU HAVE TIME! True, some children ARE ready at a very young age, but it is a huge parental commitment, and we've found that if you wait a few years, ALL children can be successful. We are not going to let you miss the window of opportunity, we believe that ALL students, young and old, have the ability to love and enjoy making music, because a good beginning never ends!
Patty LeClair Kennedy, one of our voice/piano and Kindermusik teachers, shares her musical journey:
I began piano lessons at age 4. My very well intentioned parents noticed that I gravitated toward music and they enrolled me in piano lessons before my 5th birthday. I could not yet read and I was overwhelmed immediately. Both my teacher and parents were very supportive, but didn’t catch that for the first few years of my lessons I did not read music (or any written notation), and was playing only by ear. Eventually my pieces became too difficult to learn only by ear, and when all of a sudden I couldn’t play my music, everyone thought I must be acting out or wasn’t trying. By that point I was extremely anxious and was so afraid of letting my “grown ups” down. I felt stuck for many years, making very little progress. I remember the day reading music suddenly clicked for me, and it was in 4th grade while I was having the time of my life at choir camp (no surprise that it came through singing for me.) I began studying saxophone privately shortly after that and began studying formal classical voice by 10th grade, and never stopped. I wasn’t ready to read music or study privately until I was 9 years old, and I still went on to become a professional musician! Even more importantly, I went on to a life of finding utter joy in music every single day!
In addition to teaching Kindermusik, voice and piano lessons at Bucktown Music, Patty leads the female vocal ensemble La Caccina.
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