When Should My Child Start Violin Lessons?
I regularly have parents asking me if their child is too young to start taking lessons, so this post is dedicated to helping you understand at what age your child should begin taking violin lessons. Some start as young as age 3 while others say it’s better to wait until age 8 or 9 when children are more developed in their motor skills and maturity. We all want to give our children the best education possible and see them thrive, and choosing when to start can make an impact on whether or not they will continue. Here are some things to consider.
Whose Idea Is It Anyway?
It seems simple, but the interest level of your child is a really big factor in when to start. If your 4-year-old seems musically inclined but doesn’t really exhibit much interest in playing the violin specifically, chances are he or she will not stick with it. Waiting until your child really lights up at the idea of it will make the experience way more enjoyable (and most likely sustainable). I, for example, begged my mother to play violin from age 7, and I finally took it up when I was 8, and I was well prepared and motivated to learn.
Tangent thought: Worried about your young child damaging her instrument? It's a common method to start young beginners playing on a "box violin" so they get accustomed to holding the violin. They move on to the real violin feeling confident and having respect for their instrument.
Can Your Child Sit Through a Lesson?
By “sit through” I actually mean stand through, because we stand up in lessons!
The ability to focus on the teacher and what the child is learning is a huge determining factor in whether your child is ready. Some 3-year-olds may manage fine and some 6-year-olds may have a hard time. While taking music lessons can help cultivate focus in children, your child should start lessons once they are mature enough to focus for that 30-minute stretch. From there it’s my job to help make the learning process fun and engaging for your child. :)
Is Your Child Patient?
I know, I know, what a loaded question! We know that patience is probably not the most natural thing for children, but the main thing here is the ability to persevere when things are not quite EASY at the start. As I’m sure you’ve heard, violin is not the easiest instrument out there to learn. Believe me, it’s so worth it, but it may take your child a few months to figure out exactly how to hold the instrument correctly, to get the proper bow hold, and be successful in making a clear, pleasant sound that they enjoy. It’s best to wait until your child is old enough to understand delayed gratification, or at least to be able to have fun in the learning process!
Side note: I’ve worked with talented students who were discouraged because they didn’t sound like a concert violinist within a month. This generation of children today are smart! And they also live in a world of fast results and instant gratification, so helping your child to be patient through learning a musical instrument is actually giving them a valuable life skill.
Are You Willing To Be Involved?
Even the most motivated young children will have a hard time practicing on their own regularly and effectively without the help of a parent. If you can be in lessons to take note of what your child needs to work on and encourage good practice habits at home, then your child has a much better chance of being successful and sticking with it.
So Is My Child Ready?
To sum it up, by age 5 or 6 a student is typically ready to embark on the journey of learning violin (of course give or take a couple years is normal). So how do you encourage your child to learn music until then? Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (creator of the #SuzukiMethod) believed that all children have capacity for musical talent given the right environment. What environment is that, you ask? One filled with music.
You can teach your child to appreciate music, to have an ear for music, and even to integrate the concept of pitch and intonation into their brains and beings from infancy. Children learn just from hearing, just as they do a language. #mothertonguemethod
Obviously beyond that there are activities one can do with children to cultivate love and understanding of music, including singing songs, learning note names, rhythms, etc. Simply put, if you would like your child to have a propensity toward playing classical music, then expose your child to classical music early on and often. Playing violin music daily in the background while your child plays or in the car is a great way to do this.
Is There Such a Thing As Too Old?
It is also worth mentioning that I personally believe it is never too late to learn violin. So if you’re reading this thinking, “well my daughter is 13, not 3, so is there any hope for her?” The answer is of course YES! If your child is motivated, then she too can play beautiful music and grow into a beautiful human in the process. Same goes for the adults reading this who have been dreaming of picking up the violin! It’s never too late!