I get asked all the time, “what is a good age to start kids in music?” Great question! So much of the answer depends on the child in question, the parents, the instrument the child is interested in and the teacher. All of these considerations must be made before I can accurately answer this question.

We have all seen those Youtube videos of really little kids playing a musical instrument or singing at the top of their lungs like a pro. That raises a lot of questions about when to start.

So let’s first talk about the child in question.  Does the child have an interest in music or does the parent have an interest in the child taking music lessons? It really is important to know whether the child wants to learn music or not. If a child resists or has lukewarm enthusiasm toward learning music, then as the parent you have begun an uphill battle if you force your kids into music. And trust me, it will be a battle. I have witnessed many times over, kids that begin music lessons because mom or dad want them to, and a great deal of the time the child quits. Worse than that, the child leaves the music experience with such a bad taste in their mouth that they rarely return to music later in life. Parents, please don’t do this to your kids.

To a certain extent, music is a calling to the soul. Some kids experience this calling earlier than others. Some people don’t hear the call until they are in their senior years. Others never hear the call at all and are content to be the audience. The best time to start investigating music for your child is when the child shows more than mild interest and aptitude. If little Suzie spends all her waking hours plinking on grandma’s piano, making up songs that aren’t half bad, it’s a pretty good indication that either grandma’s house is really boring, or Suzie wants to learn to play piano. If Johnny always has dad’s guitar in his hands then you might want to explore lessons for him. It’s not so much a question of age as a question of interest. A child prodigy is just a kid that was born with music calling his/her soul.

Parents, your responsibility in determining when your child is ready to start their musical journey or not is simply to pay attention! There are clear indicators as to the child’s interest level and aptitude in music. You know your kids better than anyone so be observant about how music affects your kids. Once it is understood that your child has more than a passing interest in music, begin the journey with them to explore what they want to do with their musical calling. Above all, be supportive and encouraging. Learning to play a musical instrument is difficult… and sometimes painful… to the listener as well as the player. Support and encouragement, patience and tolerance, will all be vital to the success your child has in their musical endeavors.

There are so many avenues available for kids to express themselves musically. They can play an instrument, sing, or even use computer software to create music. A competent teacher can help a child determine which avenue to pursue. A good teacher is a vital part of the child’s musical journey. They encourage, support and reward students as they progress. A bad teacher on the other hand, can snuff out a child’s musical fire faster than grandpa falls asleep in church, so choose your teachers wisely. Most retail music stores have their thumb on the pulse of the teaching environment in their areas and can make good recommendations.

So… age is not as important as interest when determining when to start your kid in music. Support and encouragement are also vital to your students success, as well as a good teacher. When this recipe is combined in the proper proportions, then you can bet your child will have a long and rewarding musical experience.

– Chris
Please send questions or comments to chriskasper@chesbromusic.com