From time to time I am asked by parents and teachers to what degree music is important in the early years of a child’s life, at what age they should enroll their children in formal music classes, what instrument they should begin with, and how music can positively affect the development of their child’s brain.
What age should I enroll my child in music classes?
This seems to be a question many parents are asking these days due to all of the options out there for enrolling children in instructional classes. There are a couple of ways to approach this matter.
1. If you wish to place your child in a class where they will learn one instrument such as the piano, the violin, the ukulele or the recorder, they will no doubt need to be able to sit and concentrate for a period of 15 to 20 minutes at least in order to learn the basics and technique for that instrument. This can often happen at the age of 4 or 5 years depending on the child’s interest in the instrument along with the teachers’ ability to make classes fun for the kids.
2. If you have the option in your area to enroll your child in a music and movement class where they are learning basic musical concepts such as keeping the beat, tempo, dynamics and pitch recognition, they may begin much earlier, as young as 18 months as the songs and games are simple and relatively short. Even babies from birth to 18 months are welcome in the class if they have an older sibling participating. The idea in these classes is to include everyone, even the youngest who, if they are too young to hold an instrument or play the games, may simply enjoy the music for its own sake, feeling its pulse, experiencing the music’s timbre, dynamics and so on.
Music is a language like any other and if children are exposed to it from birth they will learn it the same way they learn their native tongue. They will soak it up like the little sponges they are and it will become a great creative outlet during their adolescent and adult lives.