Is My Child Ready for Formal Music Instruction?
(Or perhaps more to the point, AM I?)
Good Question! Here are some of the attributes you should look for in your child/family if you want music lessons to be a wonderful (both productive and fun) thing.
- The child hears good music played and enjoyed by the family frequently at home.
- The child regularly attends live music events and enjoys them.
- The child has seen other children perform and realizes that making music is something that kids do!
- The child is able to focus his attention for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. (Young beginners are given frequent changes of pace and “sit down” breaks during the lesson as the attention span continues to develop.)
- The child can move his fingers independently, on purpose.
And here is a check list for YOU.
- Do you have the commitment needed? Surely, your young child does not. Don’t expect him to. If there is to be commitment, it must come from you.
- Are you interested in learning how to become a home teacher for your child? Young children do not practice on their own. You must take notes and ask questions during the lesson so you can work with the child daily at home and assure that progress will be made throughout the week.
- Are you willing to set aside a regular time every day to work with your child as he practices?
- Are you willing to commit to playing the recording of your child’s Suzuki music every day – no matter how tired you may get of listening to it?
* Most Suzuki teachers prefer to start girls no younger than 3 years old and boys no younger than 4. But age is less important than the criteria listed above. The younger the child, the slower he will learn at first. But the more natural (like breathing) music will become to him.
If your child is not yet ready for formal lessons, here are some things you can do to prepare for that day in the future when music lessons will begin to fill the need your child feels to make “real” music himself.
- Play recordings of all kinds of good music often at home.
- Bounce, pat or dance with your child in rhythm with the music.
- Play singing and patty cake games.
- Read books that have a strong rhythmic structure. (Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb and Over in the Meadow come to mind.)
- Play an instrument of your own if you have one and know how to play it. Or get a child’s rhythm set and play with your child while singing or listening to music. Be sure to keep good rhythm – your child will be imitating you!
One more very important thing I must mention is the frantic pace some parents set for their children. If you must sandwich lessons and practice time in between sports practices, dancing, Scouts, babysitting, your job, etc. your child will not benefit from the lessons. He may learn to play the violin, but the overall effect will be stressful for him. Children need time to be children! Please remember this when considering the possibility of your child taking lessons.