Make some music, baby
Friday, October 17, 2008
Any parent who has heard her child make a symphony out of pots and wooden spoons knows that kids love to make music. So, when are they old enough to learn an instrument?
As it turns out, it’s never too early to start.
The Suzuki-Orff School for Young Musicians in Chicago begins Baby Step classes, with simple percussion instruments, at 6 months old. In the classes, the children learn "the mind-body component of music" so they learn more quickly when they start traditional music classes, says Cheryle Dobnikar, the school’s director of development.
Darrell Jones, program manager for primary and secondary programs at the Old Town School of Folk Music, agrees. Classes for young children should remain playful, he says. "Piano for 3-year-olds is not about the motor skills or teaching mechanics. If a child has a positive experience banging the keys, she’s more likely to want to learn the skills at age 8."
Percussion instruments are the most prevalent for preschoolers, with many music classes using egg shakers, triangles and xylophones. But don’t be afraid to let your child explore other instruments and find the one he likes.
For school age children, mastering an instrument means daily practice (another great reason to allow your child to choose his instrument). For many children, this also means using an instrument that is the right size. First Act Instruments (firstact.com), for example, offers every kind of instrument you can imagine, many with customized decorations to make them even more fun for the child.
Whether you decide to rent, own or borrow, ask your child’s music teacher for reputable sources and guidance.