At What Age Should Your Kids Start to Take Music Classes?

Bay Area Piano Lessons

It’s a perennial question for any parent searching for Bay Area piano lessons: at what age should your child start playing?

Obviously, one blog post is way too short to address all the arguments and counterarguments — all the philosophies and counter philosophies. But we’ll give you an overview.The Suzuki Method

This popular teaching philosophy encourages young instrumentalists to find joy in the process of discovering music (to become “beautiful human beings” first) and then to master the “technical stuff” down the line. It suggests that children can fiddle around (metaphorically and literally) as young as 2 or 3 years old.

The Waldorf School

This method, on the other hand, recommends that children should wait until 9 or 10 years old to start playing!

You can find pedagogues who agree with these estimates, rabidly disagree, and everything in between. Part of the challenge is that there is not enough science to know the optimal age. Think about the enormous number of variables that go into a child’s musical education.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • The child’s disposition;
  • The child’s innate passion for music in general and for specific musical instruments;
  • The parent’s commitment and involvement;
  • The child’s innate talent, if that term is even really applicable. Some educators and researchers, such as Geoff Colvin (“Talent is Overrated”) and journalist Malcolm Gladwell (“The Tipping Point”) might disagree and say that “deliberate practice” is ultimately what determines your level of mastery;
  • The parents’ schedules and means;
  • The child’s schedule and other interests.

If you’re looking to create a musical prodigy – the next Mozart or Rachmaninoff or Yo-Yo Ma or what have you – then, by the logic of Colvin and Gladwell, you should start your child as early as possible and push him or her hard.

Of course, most parents would agree that this monomania would be unfair to the child.

On the other hand, if you simply want to give your child the opportunity to learn how to joyfully experience musicianship, you have more flexibility. In that case, probably the age range is wide open. In fact, your child could wait until the age of 25 (or 55!) and still become a master!

Check Out [The Enormous Role of the Pianist’s Mind]

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4 thoughts on “At What Age Should Your Kids Start to Take Music Classes?

  1. Waldorf School is part of Steiner’s philosophy where literacy is not taught before the age of seven. My elder son attended such a school in France for a short period. I remember how sensitive and wise were all of the children. Unfortunately this kind of alternative education doesn’t fit our modern scary world any more where the mainstream of art practice is sadly nothing else than competition.

  2. Your description of the Suzuki method is sadly inaccurate. I would suggest readers visit the Suzuki Association of the America’s website to understand that although reading music is not taught in initial lessons, children are not just “fiddling around” in early preschool (usually age 3-4, rarely 2) lessons. Finding joy in the process of discovering music, yes, but learning proper technique is emphasized from the beginning. Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes for babies and toddlers and their parents are also now available in some areas, however, and in those classes I don’t believe there is an emphasis on technique! 🙂

    Many schools which teach using the Suzuki method also have good video introductions which explain the methodology as well. Here are a few I happened to have come across recently: (this one includes info on the SECE class)!introduction-video/c98b

  3. Waldorf schools don’t teach reading, writing and math before age 7,
    But learn art,colours,shapes, sounds etc.
    Susuki doesn’t teach reading(music) before a student has,not managed to play 30 pieces by memory. There was a trend in NZ to teach toddlers how to walk very early. Then the psycholgists found out that we need the crawling stage. A book on biology stated that in an experiment of birds they tied the wings of some and not of others, When the birds matured,the not tied ones practised flying and finally flew off. Now they untied the wings of the others and without hesitation they flew off too,
    Maybe it takes a certain time for the flying software to mature.

    Personally I would say as humans we should sing to the kids and with the kids. Most of the Polynesians do that and they are expert harmoniser (all by Ear)

  4. Really, there isn’t a “correct” age for everyone. Some people have a better ear and sometimes that turns them into “prodigies”, but other skills, like musicality, are just as important (and take a while to develop). That’s a great summary of two popular systems. Thanks for sharing.

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