While I stopped teaching general music and chorus in public school after just three years to stay home with my own children, I still continue to give private lessons to a few students. As a result, I am often asked by friends and others when is the appropriate time to start music lessons (most frequently piano) for their children. This is the advice I always give:
- it is never too early to develop your child's interest in music - and always a great idea. Providing opportunities to listen to a variety of music or tinker with music makers and instruments, just singing to your baby and helping kids to clap in rhythm will go a long way towards developing musicianship.
- try enrolling very young children in group music classes at your community center for example, so they can EXPLORE and ENJOY music, though this isn't necessary
- A 4,5, or 6 year old may be ready to start lessons if they show any interest, can understand directions, and are able to be attentive for a period of time. Choose a knowlegeable teacher who will offer relatively inexpensive lessons for no longer than 30 min. at a time, has some understanding of young children and who is first interested in teaching your child to enjoy and love music and learning about it. This isn't the time to begin you child on a strict, technical and laborious road to classical piano.
- As your child grows in their knowledge and affection for the piano, find a teacher who will continue to inspire and encourage your child while teaching good technique and proficiency.
- teach your child to stick with something even when it becomes difficult - if this is it, then encourage them not to quit, if it is something else then let it go and spare them the dread of a terribly frustrating and humiliating lesson each week.