When is my child ready to learn violin?
When is a child ready to start violin lessons? Should I go by age or aptitude?
One of the most common questions I get asked as a music teacher is "How old does my child have to be to start music lessons?"
The answer is quite simply: Age isn't a factor. Maybe a little. But not really.
Instead, here's how to gauge whether your child is ready to start music lessons.
1. Can they sit through at least 5-10 minutes of instruction?
2. Can they listen to and follow instructions without a whole lot of coaxing?
3. Do they show interest in music or any type of instrument?
If you answered Yes to one or two, but not all three questions, here's some other considerations:
Say, your child can sit through 5-10 minutes of instruction, and they can listen to and follow instructions without much fuss, but they haven't shown any interest in any type of musical instrument.
They're probably ready! It just might take them some time to learn to love the instrument. Several children have come to lessons with no particular interest in the instrument, yet have soared in lessons.
If, however, they show a lot of interest in the instrument, but can't follow instructions or sit still for very long, chances are they probably need some time to mature before lessons will be productive.
I once taught three-year-old triplets. One loved the violin and would copy the movements of violinist he saw on TV. The second one just wanted to do what the first one did, and so he did everything I asked without question. The third one wanted to goof off the entire time, so he struggled to progress. In this case, age had nothing to do with ability, but the child's willingness to follow instructions or learn the instrument.
If your child cannot sit still for 5-10 minutes, but they can follow instructions and show an active interest in music, then I would leave it up to the discretion of the parents. Simply understand that progress will be slower, and that the parent is going to pay for a half-hour time slot that the child may not entirely use up. If this is the case with a student I come across, I use this opportunity to teach the parents. Some teachers may not do so.
Even if you don't think the child is ready to start lessons, continue to encourage them in music by watching videos of other children playing. Buy the Suzuki CDs and have them listen to them just for fun!
Still not sure?
On average, I recommend waiting until the child is four. By then, most children are mature enough to handle following instructions and learning.
I once had a parent come to me with a two-year-old who had an aptitude test showing she was at the level of a four-year-old. Unfortunately, she did not meet any of the criteria I lay out above and was not ready for lessons. In this instance, age can be a deciding factor on starting lessons.