If you’re reading this, chances are you have a kid who seems to love music and yet seems a little young for lessons. Maybe they belt ‘Old McDonald’ at the top of their lungs. Or somehow they miraculously know all the lyrics to ‘Here Comes the Sun.’ Or maybe they’ve fashioned a drumset from all your pots and pans with out any  help.  But do all these signs point to music lessons and private instruction? 

It can be so hard to know when your child is ready for lessons.  One minute they’re gently picking out some notes on your old piano and the next minute you’re dealing with a full blown melt down.  The truth is there is no clear sign that a child is ready for lessons.  

In my 14 years teaching, there are signs that often indicate a child is ready for lessons.  Here’s a few that I’ve noticed :

1) Fascinated by Playing Instruments or Watching Others Make Music

Is your child magnetically attracted to instruments and making sounds?  If there is an instrument at grandma’s house, in the hotel lobby,  or in your home is that where you will find your child?  Then on some level they’ve identified that music is at the very least interesting and worthy of their attention, and that’s a clear signal. 

2) Singing and Making Up Their Own Songs

Some might argue that making up your own songs and singing is just part of being a kid.  I would agree and I would also add that kids are inherently musical.  So if your child is singing songs regularly and even likes to make up their own songs, this can be an organic entry into music instruction. 

3) They Ask for Lessons or For Someone to Teach Them

This may seem wild, as how many 4 year olds are aware of music lessons?  Turns out there are quite a few.  Parents talk about other kids, about how they learned to play as a child, and kids listen to all this talk about lessons and realize, ‘this is the way I get to play.’  Pretty soon you may find your child asking for lessons.  One suggestion I always tell parents is to let the kids build some interest.  If they ask, wait a little bit to see if they keep asking, then research teachers. The delayed gratification actually helps to really reinforce their interest. 

4) They Know Their Numbers, Colors, and Basic Shapes

If your child can count to four, name their colors, and basic shapes, then they have all the skills necessary to learn from a teacher who specilizes in early childhood music instruction.  It’s important to note that most private teachers do not teach students before the age of 5. Often before the age of 7.  That does not indicate anything about their teaching, other than it may not be developmentally appropriate for your young child.  I’ll post more about finding a developmentally appropriate music teacher in a later post.

5) They are Listening and Paying Attention

Are they micmicking bird sounds? Emmulating sirens and cars?  Or talking different kinds of voices?  These behaviors are indicators of listening.  Playing music and listening go hand in hand.  So, a child who is really engaged in listening might really enjoy lessons.  

6) They Go To School or Participate in Activities Without You

If your child enjoys school, then a 15 minute or 20 minute lesson is not such a stretch.  Especially if they already participate in other activities such as art classes or swim lessons without their grownups.  

Keep in mind these signs are show that music lessons MIGHT be a potential activity for your child.  Ultimately whether or not your child enjoys and thrives in the lessons will depend on the teacher and the home environment that supports the child’s musical growth.  And when in doubt, be patient and wait it out. You can always start next year.  Hope this helps you and your family on the creative journey!