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What's the best age to start a musical instrument?

(15 Posts)
OliviaOllyLivvy Sun 17-Sep-17 14:39:10

Thank you!

Wafflenose Sun 17-Sep-17 15:28:13

There will be lots of disagreement about this, but I have taught beginners from age 3 to 94 and would say 7-11. Older is fine (and faster). I teach a lot of 6 year olds and it can be fun. It can also be slow and tedious, for me. From 8+ they progress much faster and often catch up with early starters. It depends on the instrument though. It's possible to teach a handful of things at 5, and pretty much anything by 11.

Icouldbeknitting Mon 18-Sep-17 15:55:32

When the peri music teachers came into school they said that they preferred them to start in Y4 rather than Y3 (so aged eight rather than seven) simply because the older children had better listening skills and got more out of the lesson.

Minimusiciansmama Mon 18-Sep-17 17:40:24

My daughter learnt from 5, she loved it and has so much joy from her music. She'd had probably picked the piano up quicker later, but she's having so much fun along the way with children's workshops and family concerts and music festivals that it's all good for us. It has given us a few issues like having to hold off pedalling because she couldn't reach and issues with losing teeth for her clarinet. But it worked for us starting at that age- she was a precocious reader so picked up reading music easily and concentrated well. The right teacher made all the difference too. It's a "down to the individual child thing", I reckon. As waffle says (she's a wise one, that lady) the early starters are often caught up anyway.... and there's a wide range of starting ages!

AliceLutherNeeMorgan Mon 18-Sep-17 17:53:17

My DD started piano just before her 7th birthday, and violin just as she turned 8. She has always been a very good reader and picked up reading music well so progressed reasonably quickly (but presumably not as quickly as if she were only playing one instrument).

I don't think she'd have benefitted from starting any earlier, although she started ballet and tap a couple of years before that and that might have helped.

Malbecfan Tue 19-Sep-17 17:29:19

Doesn't it depend on both the instrument and the chid? Bright kids can start string instruments before they go to school, Suzuki being a prime example. You can get very small violins/cellos etc. I thought that woodwind and brass teachers liked kids to have their permanent front teeth but waffle can probably confirm.

Both my girls could read before starting school and older DD was adamant that she wanted to learn the cello at the age of 3. We found a small cello and someone who would teach her and she started at 4. She had a term of lessons before starting primary school. She still plays regularly now - it's going with her to uni next week...!

Schwanengesang Tue 26-Sep-17 23:19:54

I think there is huge value in starting early, in terms of the child doing brain-stretching complex stuff that takes time away from vegging in front of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol. Particularly if parents have time and willingness to practise with the child, and if there is more to practice than "now play your scales like teacher said" - playing games, clapping rhythms, singing words to tunes learnt on the instrument, playing extra stuff from other books. Having fun is more important than passing grade exams early on.

However, the child won't necessarily end up better or more advanced by starting aged 3 rather than age 7 or 8, and with the wrong teacher (typically ones who like preparing docile older children for exams but don't like teaching kids who make little progress but enjoy it) might get put off. So you have to be realistic about age-appropriate progress and find a teacher who is happy to muck about with a little kid rather than just wanting exam results. And ideally practise/do extra stuff with your child. Music teachers should be able to recommend plenty of good books full of extra material.

Also consider what instrument a 3 year old can learn without too much frustration. A violin might require too much coordination of fine and gross motor skills and intonation and reading and concentration for most (and is expensive to replace when flung across the room). Piano is easier (doing different things with each hand and reading two lines is not necessarily too hard if introduced gradually). Recorder is easier still (there are smaller sizes than the descant used in schools if descant is too big), and cheapish plastic ones are good these days.
Starting with one instrument makes it easier to move to something else when coordination, concentration and endurance are all more developed in a few years (and progress will be way faster)

Rose0 Wed 27-Sep-17 16:24:30

I would definitely say 6-11ish but it mostly depends on the instrument. My youngest DD (now 8) was desperate to start the clarinet aged about 5 or 6 but found her fingers couldn't properly cover the holes so opted for the flute instead! She has now just started to learn the clarinet alongside and she's definitely picked it up at a much qkicker rate, but id say that's more to do with it being her second instrument than her age, although she is perhaps more determined and enthusiastic about practise having started out of choice at this age. String instruments are often better for younger children (say 3-6) starting, though I've no idea why that is!

KinkyFruits Wed 27-Sep-17 16:53:54

Schwanwngesang, in what universe do you live in that all children are at all times either playing a musical instrument or watching cartoons?? What an odd post!

Thistly Wed 27-Sep-17 22:40:51

Kinky,
I didn't read schwan's post that way... I think she makes a fair point that learning an instrument challenges the developing brain in a way which telly doesn't.

Schwanengesang Wed 27-Sep-17 22:48:39

Kinky, I meant it entirely as Thistly said. Sorry I phrased it so it could come across badly. Will try harder to not sound like a twat next time blush

BubblesBuddy Wed 27-Sep-17 22:49:29

My DD did Recorder at 5, Y3 was selected for violin and started piano at the same time. So aged 7. The brass instruments started later due to the maturity needed for getting a sound out of them. Other children who did the clarinet also started from Y3/4 if their hands were big enough. Flute was also about Y4. Again the position of the lips must be mastered and very young children struggle. Other DD did drums from y6.

BackforGood Wed 27-Sep-17 23:04:15

Does depend on the instrument (and things like if 2nd teeth are through and sometimes hand size / length of arm) but I'd do with 7or 8, too as an overall generalisation.

MollyHuaCha Thu 28-Sep-17 21:09:55

Mine all started their first instrument aged 4 and their second instrument age 6/7.

ilovesushi Sat 07-Oct-17 18:07:26

My DD age 7 has just started the clarinet. During the first couple of weeks of practice I thought I'd made a huge mistake and should have held off another year. The instrument felt so big for her and she was struggling to get a decent sound, but a couple more weeks in, she is sounding great, managing to read the music and most importantly enjoying it. I can see that being 8/ Y4 you would get off to a more flying start, but totally doable one year earlier.

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