My Child Wants to Start Learning An Instrument… Help!

At what age can a child start learning a musical instrument?

Children have to be able to focus on the skills of learning a musical instrument and also be prepared to put in sufficient home practice on an instrument. Most children are not physically or mentally ready untill they are at least 6 to 7 years of age. Just because a child may say they want to learn an instrument doesn’t mean they are ready to learn an instrument!

Can it be detrimental to a child to start too early on an instrument?

Yes! If a child is not ready within themselves to learn an instrument it can become tedious and hard work for the child and even cause them to totally lose interest in learning an instrument. There’s no rush. Children’s first start with music needs to be easy and fun. They need to discover music and musical instruments and build their confidence with music before embarking on learning a specific instrument.

What instruments can a child learn for their age?

Children from 6 to 7 years are physically able to learn keyboard, guitar, ukulele and violin. From 8 years they may be able to handle flute, clarinet, trumpet or saxophone but would need assessing to be sure. From 9 to 10 years of age they can learn larger instruments such as cello, bass guitar and trombone. Drums are better left till children are at least 10 as younger children tend to just bash on drums and also they don’t learn as much about music on drums as it is solely rhythm.

How should a child first start when learning an instrument?

Initially, children need to discover and relate to their instrument, become confident with key and note positions, learn basic techniques relative to their instrument and simply have fun on their instrument playing basic songs by ‘ear’ and developing their natural feel and rhythm. This is very hard to achieve if they are having to focus too early on the reading of music which is all visual and is the approach adopted by schools and many private music teachers. The reading of music needs to be introduced gradually and supported by a thorough understanding of music signs, symbols and other essential elements of music which can be achieved with fun quizzes and activities.

Creativity .. music from the soul!

It is essential that children become creative at their instrument. This means being ‘expressive’ on an instrument .. being able to vary a simple melody and add natural rhythm and feel to make a song sound pleasing and not mechanical or boring .. being able to improvise .. being able to hear a song and work out the notes on their instrument and play it by ‘ear’ .. being able to play along confidently with other young musicians .. and in general, being able to make an instrument sound so good that people stop and listen, and especially tap their toes. This is called music from the soul!