Every parent wants to be sure that their child is actually ready for private lessons, before embarking on the commitment of lessons. There are a few factors you should consider when determining if your student is ready for lessons:
1. Interest Level
While age guidelines are helpful, what is really important is if your child is the one asking for lessons. I started 3 of my kids in piano quite young. One was not ready at age 6, so we waited another year. My middle two kids started at age 5 and loved it. With my last child, I was determined for her to wait until age 7 or so, but she BEGGED me to start lessons at age 6. She loves it and practices every day without being asked! So you just never quite know what the "right" age, but if they are asking (or BEGGING), then it is time!
Teens who have tried many activities and have discovered that music is their passion will often throw themselves into lessons, taking a 45 or 60 minute lesson per week. They will thrive on performance opportunities and will enjoy joining a performing group, such as Rock Band, or our Homeschool Band or Orchestra. It is not unusual for passionate middle schoolers or high schoolers to devote many hours to music because they really want to.
If your student is constantly playing music, making up songs, and looking up "how to play" on YouTube, they are definitely ready for lessons! Kids who have a natural affinity for music are drawn to it and that's how you know you have a musician on your hands!
2. Attention Span
Another guideline that I give to parents is asking about the student's attention span. Are they able to sit through a 30 minute lesson with a teacher? The lesson will vary in activities, from playing to talking to writing, but if the child is too bouncy to pay attention for that long, it is best to wait one more year!
Don't be discouraged if you have to "quit" lessons for a year or so. We see kids come back to lessons after a few months or even a few years off and then THRIVE because the extra time allowed them to grow and develop. Oftentimes the student comes back more motivated than ever and finds himself having a very successful experience!
Older students may take a break from lessons and decide they want to come back and try a different instrument. Let them! If you ask a musician, it is very common that they tried several instruments before they found their perfect match! I honestly believe every person is wired for a specific instrument. Learning styles and personality styles play into the attraction of a specific instrument. Only by trying will you discover the best fit for you! At Rogers School of Music, you can switch instruments at any time. As students peek in the windows of the other studios, they are often inspired by what they see and hear other students playing!
3. Other activities
A very important factor to consider is how many other activities your child is involved in. If your student is at karate or dance 4 nights a week, plus daycare, plus chess club, plus theatre, it will probably be too much to add music lessons, too! As parents, we want to give our child a taste of everything, but just like over-stuffing ourselves at a buffet, having tried too many things makes everyone want to push away from the table. Students who thrive in music lessons are involved in other activities, but they also have time for playing their instrument at home, discovering new songs, practicing, and enjoying playing (or singing). Most students practice around 30 minutes a day. Students who start school a little later in the morning may practice before school. Those with early school start times will practice after school or before bed. It's important to build in space for practice time, because that's the secret to successful music lessons!
In conclusion, if your student is asking (or begging) for lessons, has the attention to give to the teacher, and has space in their schedule, it's time to jump in! We do not have long-term contracts, you can change teachers or instruments if you are not happy, and with a 30 day notice, you can withdraw. Fall is the perfect time to try music lessons. Give us a call to choose a day and time that works for you, or Request Info for more information on choosing a music lessons provider. We'll see you at the Studio!
Next time we'll tackle: Which Instrument Do I Choose?
Jen Hickle, Author
Since I was a little girl playing "school" in the garage with the neighbors, all I've ever wanted to do is teach. I'm passionate about passing on knowledge to other people!