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To encourage my child to do an instrument before they ask?

(74 Posts)
XyZhe Tue 16-Oct-18 01:37:37

Hi! Unsure if I'm unreasonable here. Our little boy is 4 (think he might still be too little?) they start music lessons (optional and obviously a charge) at school from 7+, but some outside of school start at 3! I think 3 is a little too little.

Is an instrument something you encourage and if so, at what age? Or do you wait until they ask?

What age did your children start?


bumblebee39 Tue 16-Oct-18 01:52:40

My daughter is 5. She would have started already but changed areas. Never too young, I started recorder at 4 and went on to play 5 instruments X

HerRoyalNotness Tue 16-Oct-18 02:12:45

Depends on the child. Can they concentrate for 30 minutes for a lesson? Are their hands big enough, eg hand span for piano.

My middle started piano at 4yo and while he did well with lessons and reading notes, his hands were a bit little so we stopped and started again when he was 6. Older was 7, he had a year off for family reasons and started again at 9 and is also playing trumpet from this year.

TheClaws Tue 16-Oct-18 03:30:28

It’s great to start with something little hands can manage, such as introductory piano or percussion. Make sure it isn’t too intense or for long periods. Don’t apply pressure or make the child practice - IMO that’s one of the quickest ways to kill a love of music. Then, if your child says they would like to try a certain instrument, let them.

ShackUp Tue 16-Oct-18 04:17:34

He's too little.

I started recorder at 6, piano at 7, violin at 9 and oboe at 10. I was an extremely keen musician but still had to be nagged to practise.

Do lots of singing with him, have a keyboard he can play with, but wait a couple of years for formal lessons.

ShackUp Tue 16-Oct-18 04:19:01

DS1 is nearly 6 and I'm waiting until he asks. He sings really well but I'm not pushing instruments, despite being a music teacher!

ThePoliticiansPraiseMyName Tue 16-Oct-18 05:43:25

Dd is 6 and we just got a piano with the intention of her starting lessons. 3yo ds is desperate to have a go too but will probably teach him basics myself first as he will only want to do 10 mins or so at a time.

justilou1 Tue 16-Oct-18 06:04:17

I would recommend piano for several reasons. Firstly because it teaches them to read both bass and treble cleffs, secondly, to read and play more than one note at a time and thirdly, this is the really cool part, you read vertically and play horizontally, which stimulates both sides of your brain in a criss-cross pattern, opening it up in a way that encourages language development, mathematical pathways, etc.... it’s pretty clever!!!

justilou1 Tue 16-Oct-18 06:06:14

Sorry - got in a bit early. Try and find someone who does Kodaly-style musicianship, which teaches music like a language, so that kids sing first before they play an instrument, or read music. Much more fun and less pressure (and less spendy for you!)

CherryPavlova Tue 16-Oct-18 06:17:02

Mine started at four with violin, recorder and piano. They’ve never regretted it and despite years of trudging to youth orchestra and concerts, neither do I. Music is very good for all sorts of things - maths being most notable. We also avoided loud and constant heavy metal type noise through their teens - a definite bonus.

ThisIsTheFirstStep Tue 16-Oct-18 06:23:16

Nothing wrong with starting them at any age as long as the lessons are appropriate. I live in Korea and the lessons here are mad - we went to one piano academy for a demo lesson with my little girl and the teacher was literally barking at her. 'NO. NO. Not like that. NO. NO.' This was the first time she'd ever even SEEN a piano, so it was a bit much. (So...don't come to Korea for lessons is my advice lol.)

But if you can find a teacher who makes it easy and fun and who knows how to work with kids, there's no age that's too young imo.

lambdroid Tue 16-Oct-18 08:23:19

I teach music and we start from age 4 in a group setting. We do mostly modern pop songs, the odd Disney song, focus is on getting the kids interested, a bit of basic theory and lots of playing. All good fun, showcase at the end of term etc.

We usually recommend private lessons from 7 and up. Happy to start earlier if parent and child are keen but it can be hard work and 30 minutes is often too long.

Perhaps not the most popular first instrument, but we’ve had a lot of success with the drums. Brilliant for coordination, and all timing theory transfers to other instruments.

Mine is 16 months and we’ve been going to baby music groups since he was 12 weeks. Obviously that’s just percussion and singing but he’s obsessed with music - can’t wait to get him started for real!

LokiBear Tue 16-Oct-18 08:43:55

Dd started the keyboard at 6. We've put zero pressure on her. She has a 20 minute lesson, practices a couple of times a week for 10 minutes or so - although that isnt as consistent as it should be. Shes been doing for about a year, although only in term time, and is now working on her entry exam pieces. Im pretty sure she could have been further along if we'd been more strict with practise but im trying to encourage a love of music rather than force her. At the minute it is working and she loves it. Lessons are expensive at £9 for 20 minutes, but I think it is worth it. She loves singing and I want her to be able to take GCSE Music if she wants to. The truth is, in todays climate, unless she is a grade 4 or above by the time she gets to Year 9, she cant. They need that foundation for the exam. I teach Drama and work closely with the Music teacher so have followed her recomendations.

Sipperskipper Wed 17-Oct-18 14:21:47

Following this with interest. DD is 17 months and loves music. If we put anything on she runs for her tambourine to shake it along!

I play the piano (not very well these days, but passed grade 7 years ago), and am keen to teach her. She will sit with me whilst I play and bash along with me, but wondering when I could start to actually teach her.

I’ve got no idea about child development and when / how to start teaching her (I have plenty of beginners & children’s piano books but they are definitely too old for her).

Seafoodeatit Wed 17-Oct-18 14:26:32

DS started guitar lessons at 7. We asked if he would like lessons and he said yes, we gave him a choice of any instrument and that's what he picked. He has to practice 5 minutes at least every other day but he doesn't mind doing it as he likes impressing his teacher.

NotAnotherJaffaCake Wed 17-Oct-18 14:28:23

Definitely see if you can find a Kodaly class - they are awesome!

I do think that kind of age is too little for a "proper" instrument - although Suzuki works for littlies for violin. We backed quickly away from the Suzuki crew locally as it was terrifyingly tiger-parentish with insistence on 30mins parent-led pratice a day from age 3 or 4. Hence the phenomenal "success" but mainly from parents who wanted their children to eventually sit private school music scholarship exams. Which is a shame as I think the method is sound.

My DC want to do wind instruments, and at that point you generally need to wait until they have lost their front baby teeth and the adult teeth have stabilised. Violin is a popular choice because quarter-size violins exist and you don't need to wait for teeth; piano generally requires bigger hands.

BearSoFair Wed 17-Oct-18 15:21:17

We waited til they asked. DS1 started guitar at 8, now 16 and it's really his 'thing', from about 10 onwards he really took to it. When he started I think he'd do about 15 minutes every other day or so, with one proper lesson a week. Now he spends at least an hour a day playing, most days! Entirely his choice.

DD is 10 and has never had any interest at all in learning an instrument, neither has 9yo DS2. I don't see any point in making them if they aren't interested, they have other hobbies.

5foot5 Wed 17-Oct-18 15:40:22

DD started violin at 5, although she did ask to start. (Honestly, she did, violin would not have been my choice. I would have preferred she wait until she was a bit bigger and play a wind instrument but nope, it had to be violin)

DC2018 Wed 17-Oct-18 15:44:31

My niece started the keyboard at 6 and now plays the piano beautifully at 11. I think it's good to encourage children to play an instrument. There's plenty evidence to show learning an instrument helps children academically and like anything the younger they start the better they become. X

BumsexAtTheBingo Wed 17-Oct-18 15:53:52

Certainly no harm in encouraging it but I wouldn’t be too pushy for fear of putting them off.
It’s a great skill to have and food fro brain development in general. Plus ds has just got into a very good secondary school on a music scholarship so I’m really glad I got him lessons.

Broken11Girl Wed 17-Oct-18 16:08:29

It's not about age but maturity. Toilet trained (completely), able to cope with new adults without clinging to a parent and to have a conversation with them ie comprehensible speech and good understanding, are minimum requirements imo. Able to follow instructions, and sit still and concentrate for a few minutes - although any decent teacher will have young kids moving around, dancing and clapping to music etc, there was a lovely game I saw a video on YouTube of a little 4 or 5yo girl using the stairs to understand pitch. They would need to at least understand the concept of the alphabet and reading. Hand size isn't a huge deal as very little ones will just bash the keys with one finger to start with, at that age they don't really play with 5 fingers.
I wouldn't make him, but think there's no need to wait, I'd offer and see if he's interested. If he shows an interest in music, can beat time, can sing reasonably and remember a tune those are good signs. I'd advise finding a general music skills class, libraries, community centres etc often have them (I don't know if he's at school yet but should be some after school or at weekends if so).
I don't actually agree with those stereotypes that you need to start at 3 to become any good, tbh, the early years are more for fun and developing general music skills and appreciation, those starting at 7-8 catch up as they progress much more quickly. No-one needs to be grade 8 by age 10 grin

PlinkPlink Wed 17-Oct-18 16:14:26

I started piano at 6 but only because I kept asking and asking

Voice lessons at 9. Again because I was incessantly asking to do so.

I won't put DS into anything until he's 6 or 7. Good thing to do though, teaches resilience. 4 is too young I feel.

April2020mom Wed 17-Oct-18 16:49:48

I have been wondering about when to start. For me personally it’s all about the attention span of the child in question. And finances are also important. I’ve been looking online for a decent local music teacher for a while now. They are approaching 2 years old now. I have a old guitar in my bedroom currently unused. The teacher must have qualifications and relevant skills and experience with children of all ages and be able to do his job well.
It’s worth learning to read music or play a instrument. Definitely see if you can find a music store. They can help you find a good teacher. They also should be able to give you some additional advice on suitable books to try. As a child I learned the violin and recorder. Make sure that you encourage your child to practice too outside the lesson.

ifonly4 Wed 17-Oct-18 17:27:09

I'd only do it if he's interested as a lot of practice and dedication is required. Just let him do what he's interested in.

My DD pestered us for a year and we gave in when she was 10 and let her do violin, now working towards violin diploma, grade 8 piano and voice. Her violin was enough to get her a scholarship and great education at a private school for sixth form, but it all came from her as she was prepared to put in lots of extra work.

Karachii Wed 17-Oct-18 19:00:14

I know music is wonderful (truly), but I wanted to give a counter view...

I learned cello from a very young age at my DM's instigation. I don't think I was given a choice, let alone asked for it.

It bored me to tears, but I wasn't allowed to give up till I was a teenager.

I now see all music as a real chore (can't bare the thought of going to a concert, for instance), which I'm sure wouldn't be the case if it hadn't been forced on me.

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