Should I enroll my child in private music lessons?
Yes, especially if your child is expressing an interest in playing a musical instrument. Learning an instrument can open your child to a new world of experiences and can be a great way to help your child develop maturity and responsibility. Research tells us that learning music is a key part of brain development. Below are some questions to consider in deciding on music lessons for your child.
1.What time is right to begin music lessons for my child?
- To play an instrument a child must reach a certain level of physical and mental maturity. Some children are ready as early as ages 3-4 but they are exceptional. While every child is special, most children need to achieve a kind of maturity in order to process and sustain the lessons learned. Some indications of readiness would be:
- Ability to sit for longer periods of time
- Ability to read the alphabet, since musical notes use A-G.
- Hands able to reach and press keys on the piano, or able to hold a string instrument like a violin or guitar and press down on strings.
- Generally, age 5 is not too early - but all the above must be taken into consideration.
- When your child expresses repeated interest in learning to play an instrument.
2.On what instruments should I consider having my child begin music lessons?
- A keyboard instrument such as a piano is always an excellent choice. If you are able to have a real acoustic piano that is ideal. But that may not be possible in smaller apartments and attached housing. A portable electronic keyboard with a headphone plug-in and touch-sensitive action is a second best choice. It should be at least 61 keys, better if it has the full 88 keys.
- Another good choice is a violin. Violins are made in smaller sizes when a child is younger and can often be traded in for larger models as the child grows and keeps playing. Many violin teachers use the Suzuki method. The Suzuki Method emphasizes learning by ear before note reading takes place. This is an excellent means of ear training before students are asked to interpret notes on a page of sheet music.
- The guitar is a popular instrument and child-sized guitars are available.
- The recorder is an easy to learn wind instrument. It is a historical instrument that pre-dates the modern flute. The recorder requires gentle but steady air pressure and is a wind instrument well suited for young children. The holes are also generally within reach of a smaller hand and fingers. Originally made of wood, many music stores sell a hard plastic version of this popular instrument. They are quite inexpensive and children can make music right away.
- oThe standard brass and woodwind instruments require too much air pressure from a young musician and are not recommended. Generally a child should be around 10 years of age to begin an instrument like the clarinet or trumpet.
- Some parents ask about private voice lessons for their young child. While voice lessons might help a young child, voice lessons should wait until a child has matured physically. Private voice lessons should wait until a child is older, such as a teenager or young adult. A great way to have a child become a better singer is to encourage him/her to participate as fully as possible in school and community singing activities. Class voice lessons are also a possible option if they are offered in your area.
3.Who can teach my child?
- A qualified music teacher should be someone who has spent considerable time learning his or her instrument, has performed on his/her instrument publicly and/or has studied music at a college or university. A qualified music teacher is a mature and reliable adult who has experience and a good reputation working with children.
- A music store may be a good place to find teachers you can contact. Ask at a music store for the names of teachers in your area.
- Music staff members at AISW may also be able to point you in the right direction. Some may also offer private lessons outside school hours.
- Ask parents of other students who are currently taking lessons for recommendations.
- In general, a teacher who understands children’s learning styles will be best for your child. Don’t be afraid to ask any private music teacher how he or she teaches young children. Trust your instinct. A teacher who has many younger students may be a good choice since he or she has experience working with young musicians.
- Ask any prospective teacher for references from parents whose children have studied with him/her. This is important especially if the teacher is previously unknown to you or anyone you know.
Please feel free to ask any of your child’s music teachers at AIS West for further advice and help. We are deeply interested in helping your child learn and grow musically. Thank you for your interest in your child’s music education!
Music Teachers at AIS West
**Except for any AIS West staff members, AISW does not endorse any private music teachers. We only offer them as a possible source of contact. The school is not responsible for the person giving the lessons, payment, quality of lessons, etc. Please use common sense and caution in engaging any private tutor, especially a music teacher, for your child."