How to Help a Young Child Start Learning Music

Are you ready to help your child learn to love music? However, it's not as simple as deciding to enroll your child in just anything. You'll need to choose the instrument, understand the limitations of age and enforce regular and consistent practice for this to turn out to be a long-term benefit.


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    Be certain that the child wants to take music lessons. The desire to get involved in learning music varies greatly, depending on the child as well as on the expectations for the lessons. A typical music lesson is thirty minutes in length and therefore requires an attention span that can last for the duration of this time.
    • Some children near the age of four will have no difficulty focusing for an entire lesson while others cannot yet hold their attention and they are not ready. If you feel that your child is very focused for their age, then perhaps a single lesson can be arranged to see if it is correct to assume that they are ready.
    • It should also be mentioned that no matter how talented a child may be, progress is typically slower at the very young ages.
    • The risks of beginning lessons too early are the learning of bad habits with the instrument, as well as becoming frustrated and turned off to music. If, however, the lessons are structured in a fun and exciting way and proper technique is being reinforced, then the lessons are a success and it works wonderfully.
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    Decide which instrument might be the best to begin with. Music educators will sometimes disagree with each other on the answer to this but typically the piano is the best choice, followed by the violin. The way the piano is organized makes it easier for students to understand how music is structured and the learning curve is easier on the piano compared to many other instruments. Sometimes, however, children seem particularly drawn to the sound of a certain instrument and they should follow this inner guidance.
    • If children are fascinated by a particular type of instrument and ask specifically for it, then listen to this desire and choose the instrument they are longing to play.
    • It should be mentioned that the piano and violin work well for students at the age of four but other instruments, such as the flute or the guitar, have physical demands that require waiting until about the age of six.
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    Consider the methods for learning music and which one would be the best. This question can be answered by looking at the roadblocks that students can run into along their musical journey. The first example is when a student learns to decipher music purely by ear without any attention to note reading or music theory. If a student is kept in this method for too long, they eventually reach a plateau where the music has become so complicated that they can no longer understand how to play these newer pieces. At this point, students either quit due to the frustration or they begin a long and difficult path of heavy note reading and theory in an attempt to catch up to the demands of the music.
    • Young children typically do not enjoy note reading assignments and if they are too long, they become bored and frustrated. It is much easier to assign very short note reading assignments over a long period of time so this skill is developed easily and without struggle.
    The second example of a roadblock that students can run into is the complete opposite of the first. This is when the lessons begin with a heavy emphasis on note reading and theory while playing the instrument is extremely limited. There are many stories of students who have attended lessons for two years but they still have not learned a song. This is much like going to swimming lessons for years and talking all about swimming techniques without ever going into the water. It is important to dive in when learning an instrument and play songs early on so you can connect with and learn to love the instrument.
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    Find a program designed in such a way that it allows students to both learn to play by ear and learn note reading and theory in small amounts along the way. This approach will provide the best of both worlds. Children will be able to enjoy playing their instruments every day and they will begin to understand how music is structured through the note reading process. This combination approach keeps students motivated by playing lots of songs and it avoids the risk of not being able to understand the more complicated pieces they will learn in the future.
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    Take into account how much practice time will be necessary when learning an instrument. This varies depending on what your goals are in learning to play an instrument. Most parents are not pushing their children into music as a profession but they want to see them learn the skill and be able to play well. A quality, thirty minutes of practice four or five days a week can produce excellent results over time. Students who continue with this amount of practice will eventually be able to play extremely advanced works, such as concertos and they will produce a beautiful sound when doing so. Music is a wonderful skill that children can have for life and will enrich their lives in so many ways.
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    Have a realistic vision about how long it will take for your child to become a skilled musician. This depends, of course, on how much time is devoted to practicing. Typically, if a student is practicing thirty minutes a day, four to five days a week, they should be able to play a Christmas carol within about four to five months of practice and sound good while performing. To be able to perform more complex works such as gavotteā€™s and minuets, this will take about one and a half to two years, while concerto performing will take about five years of consistent study. Small, consistent practice over years can produce truly amazing results.

Things You'll Need

  • Instrument
  • Suitable teacher
  • Practice time

Article Info

Categories: Music Techniques