Imagine if I could tell you the perfect age to start a child on a musical instrument. The magical number is…how I wish there was an easy answer!

How Can I Tell When My Child is Ready to learn an instrument?

1. Is your child expressing an interest in playing an instrument without being prompted?

2. When talking about music or musical instruments do they get excited?

3. Do they sing a lot, compose or already write songs?

4. Do they have the physical dexterity and the emotional understanding for lessons and the responsibility of practice?

Singing and dancing can be a wonderful way to introduce music making in your home. I’m sure you have seen how much your child enjoys doing both. Instead of starting an instrument between 0-5 yrs, consider enrolling them into a music centre which creates a structure of singing, dancing and learning the basics of music. This could set up a solid foundation to starting an instrument in mid-primary level.

Recommended Beginner instruments

  • Recorder
  • Keyboard/Piano
  • Guitar/Ukelule
  • Strings

I love recorder for its simplicity. It’s easy to quickly learn a new song, fingering and remember notes, however there are not many private music teachers who concentrate on just recorder as a beginner instrument.
Start Age: 4 onwards.

Keyboard is fantastic. It can make a hundred different groovy sounds, is portable and another easy way to start music. There are lots of private teachers available. There are also some cool apps that are available to assist.

Start Age: 5 or 6yrs

 I would keep away from piano initially or until your child has the physical dexterity and strength to push each key: 7 or 8yrs.

Acoustic Guitar and ukulele are also wonderful beginner instruments. Once your child has learned a few simple chords, music making is fun. The instrument is portable and easy to play and there are lots of private music teachers available who will teach these two.

Start Age: 6 or 7yrs.

The violin and cello should also be considered, as these instruments are available in smaller sizes. The Suzuki Method on violin is a wonderful way to start learning due to its group learning structure as well as solo lessons.

Start Age: 3yrs with Suzuki method or 5/6yrs if enrolling in another form of teaching.

What About Other Instruments?

I would keep away from brass, woodwind, and other stringed instruments as your child’s first instrument, due to waiting for small teeth to be established, and physical strength required.

You can start your child on percussion or anything in the xylophone family; however it will be harder finding a private teacher for these instruments.

Don’t ask about drums or electric guitar: no!

If you are concerned about how much it will cost you, purchase a second hand guitar, a cheap small keyboard or violin. Then you won’t feel like you wasted money if your child isn’t ready to commit.

Attempt a different instrument, teacher or method of teaching if your child doesn’t want to continue after a short period of time. It doesn’t mean quitting, but you will have to find a new way to get the fun back into learning.

With your input into daily practice and positive reinforcement at home, you will have your own Mozart or Ed Sheeran in no time!

Paula Kelly – Biography

Paula is passionate about kids learning music. She is a mother of four, choral director and obsessed with lists and lattes.


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