Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is the Best Age to Start Music Lessons?

Learn what's the best age to start taking music lessons.

In this video, Robert gives you some tips to choose the right age to start getting music lessons.

Released on March 1, 2017

  
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin. Welcome to livingpianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com. Today's question is, "What's the best age to start music lessons?" Now, there are different instruments that have different requirements, so we're going to try to break it down for you so you can make the right decision for your family.

Now, the piano is a classic instrument that many people start young...you know, their kids when they're very young. Same thing with violin and cello, while other instruments take time to grow into. For example, a trombone, just to be able to get to the outer positions, you have to be big enough to be able to handle it. Even a flute is hard for youngsters to hold. That's why they even make some flutes with bent headjoints, so they don't go out as far. So for some instruments, it's best to start a little later when kids are big enough, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, on some instruments that are heavy, that are cumbersome.

Well, what about starting younger, particularly string players and pianists? If you've ever seen young three, four-year-olds playing at a virtuoso level, you wonder, "My gosh, what age should you start at?" Well, it depends upon several circumstances. First of all, most importantly, the individual child you're dealing with. One size does not fit all. There are some kids who, at the youngest age, are just drawn to an instrument and can't get enough of it. Should you keep them from lessons if they're four years old or something? Absolutely not!

However, it's absolutely essential that you find the right teacher for early ages of study. Most teachers do not specialize on young children, and it can be a disaster if you have somebody who's accustomed to 8, 9, 10-year-old kids and older, and to bring your 4-year-old to them or 5-year-old, they might not have the patience or the real nurturing quality it takes to deal with kids of that age. More than that, it's really important to have a parent or other person who is in the home to practice with a child who's that young. It's really a lot to expect a four or five-year-old to work independently. So these are the keys to starting at very young ages.

Well, what is the appropriate age? For a lot of kids, starting the piano or even the violin at six, seven, eight, or even nine, can be a great age. Now maybe with string players, maybe even a little younger, particularly in a Suzuki program or modified Suzuki program, so that kids are working together in a group, and it's almost like playtime with music for them, developing great habits from the very youngest ages. In my experiences with pianists, teaching piano to young kids, it's really a pleasure to have kids who can take direction independently. This typically starts when kids can do homework on their own. That's why the six, seven, eight, maybe even nine, for some very, very rambunctious kids who can't sit still on the bench for very long, and maybe a little younger for some kids who are very mature and like to work independently from a young age. But this seems to be almost a magical age.

Well, what about starting later? Is it okay to start piano at 12, 13, 14, maybe at 15 or 16 years old? Well, sure! You could start piano any time. But just like developing language skills at a young age, you can have people who grow up with two languages who are equally fluent at multiple languages. Try to do that when you're in your 20s or 30s, it's much harder. Well, with music study, it's the same thing. There's parts of the brain that are developed from a young age that will not develop the same way if you wait too long. That's why it's really great in the early years when kids are just going to school and getting acclimated to working independently, it's almost a magical time to start lessons. But make sure you have the right resources, teacher, and someone at home who can work if you're going to start your kids younger, and don't force them if they're not ready for it. The last thing in the world you want is to have a kid who's burned out on an instrument when they're six years old.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any comments to add, we'd love to hear from you. Again, Robert Estrin at livingpianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com.
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Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on March 1, 2017 @5:29 pm PST
Mother wrote the date I started each study book on the piano, and the first one was the Beyer op. 101, at age 2 and 3 months old, and the Schmitt op16 one month later. I think she got tired of seeing me endlessly standing on my toes at the end of the piano while she practiced Chopin & Co ! Almost at the same time I started Bona theory book and the Diabelli for 4 hands.
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Robert Estrin - host, on March 2, 2017 @2:10 pm PST
Some people report having success in developing their children's musical aptitude and appreciation in the womb - it's ever too early!
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on March 2, 2017 @5:07 pm PST
It could be true! I do remember later on, mother telling me that her doctor suggested that she plays piano a lot while pregnant ! and if this helped me, I am forever grateful.

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