Let us face it. Most of us can be a bit vain when it comes to our kids. The moment they tap on the table when they can barely sit, we see a drummer in them. The day they are able to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in the right tune, we see a singer in them. If they sing it in a different tune, we see that as improvisation and see a composer in them. If they mix up songs, we see a DJ in them. And thanks to all this over enthusiasm, most of us want to start music lessons for our children as early as possible. So is there a right age? Read on.
Is It True That Early Music Lessons Can Help Children Learn Music?
As research has it, yes, early music lessons do hold significant benefits for kids. Your over enthusiasm might not really be completely off the mark. A child as young as three can start formal music classes. This is because, by the time they are three, the part of the brain that appreciates music has become mature. Moreover, early trainers also show better accuracy to carry out finger movements and coordination, and more precision than counterparts who started training late. However, most teachers take in kids only from the age of 5 – both for vocal and musical. This is mainly because older kids are easier to manage. Their span of attention is also much more than the easily distracted three year olds. Further, a five year old already goes to some kind of school, so understand the basic rules of sitting down in one place and taking turns. This makes music teachers’ lives much much easier!
But My Child Hates Music Classes?
Many of us have had the experience of being forced to learn an instrument when we were young and hating it. If your child detests the classes, throws tantrums every time he has to practice, or gets stressed, all advantages of starting music lessons early may be lost. Many adults feel that if they force their kids into music lessons too early, then they will start hating it…for life. This is, in a way, true. Which brings us to a very important point – the main objective of any class you put your child is to ensure that your child enjoys. When they are as small as three, it might be difficult for parents to find out what kind of music your child enjoys.
Toddler Music Programs
So, one thing you can do is to look for toddler music programs near your area. These are not formal lessons. These programs focus more on rhythms, rhymes, clapping, tapping and above all, self-expression. Since it is designed for a small child, and includes many activities (not just sitting in a chair idly for an hour). It will also give you a chance to see if your child really enjoys and understands music! And the biggest advantage is you are not forcing your child to learn one kind of music – your child gets a chance to explore different aspects of music. And by the time they are 5, they will know which one they want to pursue!
Sometimes, It Won’t Work. And It’s Okay
No matter how many times you hear that every child is different, you still become a bit worried when you hear your neighbor’s child reciting a raga perfectly. Feeling this way, is okay. After all, we are humans. What is not okay is to pressurize your child, just because someone his age has a true gift. This is what leads to your child hating music! Your child might be interested in music, might be good at it, or might not be. Everything is okay, as long as your child is enjoying the lessons.
Finding A Music Class Your Child Likes
Sometimes it has nothing to do with music. Your child might like a class because the teacher is nice and friendly. Your child might like a class because his best friend is in it too. Your child might like a class because there is a play area nearby where he can go after the class. And for reasons as non-music related as these, your child might hate a class too, even if he does like the music involved. So, what we are trying to say is that it is a trial and error. If your child expresses disinterest, then try to find out why.
It Is Okay To Start Late Too
Okay, so early music lessons do help. But even if you miss that boat, that is alright. By the time they are 10, the child will have a mastered a number of vocal and motor skills required to take advanced music lessons. So, if they show interest – whatever age they are in – please nurture that and find a class that your child enjoys.