Some start optimistically young, others driven by passion start much later in life, but when is the right time to start violin lessons? Like any other form of art, there’s simply no black or white when it comes to exploring music.
The right time to start can’t be measured exclusively by age. Some ambitious parents start their kids at the age of two, and while many go off to become YouTube sensations, a whole lot more tend to give up by the age of five. So what should you consider before diving into violin lessons with your children, or even personally? In this article we’ll explore thoughts around age versus aptitude, as well as a few options to consider if your little one is not quite ready to start violin lessons yet.
How Young is Too Young to Start Violin Lessons?
While the first five years of life are crucial to brain and motor skill development, the window of opportunity for developing musical sensibility is said to exist until the age of nine. Of course that does not limit learning music to the primary years, but the first nine years of life are considered to be the optimal time for physical and mental progress in relation to musical ability and when to start violin lessons.
Knowing when to start violin lessons for your child depends on multiple factors. The common ones relate to the typical signs of mental development, like counting to five or the ability to recite at least the first six letters of the alphabet. That said, just because your child is able to do these things, doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is ready to start violin lessons.
As a parent, you should also factor in the relationship you have with your child. Here are some questions to consider:
Can he or she play cooperatively with you and others?
Does your little one pay attention when you’re explaining something?
Are you ready for your child to start violin lessons, and will you assist with practice?
Perhaps he or she is cooperative and able to focus – fantastic! But now, you’ll have to have to find the time in your schedule to give your child the required attention to nurture this new passion. Being the parent of an aspiring violinist takes significant commitment and patience. It’s key that you’re also prepared to get involved in practice games to make the overall learning experience a fun one!
How to Prepare Your Child to Start Violin Lessons
If your child is not quite ready for lessons yet, don’t force it; instead, take a few steps to prepare him or her in a relaxed, comfortable environment. Of course, some kids are naturally more musical than others, but there are plenty of ways to help develop your little one’s sense of tune, rhythm, and focus without making it seem like a chore. Here are a few suggestions:
Try playing violin music during long drives or while your child is doing other activities. Even if it’s just background music, it’s important that your child starts to hear the violin daily.
Sing along together while listening to music. This will help build your little one’s attention to tune and pitch. As you find his or her skill developing in this kind of play, you’ll feel the ability to handle lessons getting a little closer.
Give your child as many opportunities as possible to hear live violin playing. Do some research about local informal settings that will allow for this kind of exposure, such as street buskers or even at church, but stay away from long and expensive concerts at first – even super-focused kids can get noisy or restless a few hours into classical concerts.
To gauge your child’s sense of focus and cooperation, regularly do one-on-one activities together. Even if it’s not a musically-related activities – think baking or gardening – these activities will help prepare your child for participating in an activity and staying focused on one task.
When to start violin lessons is less about the appropriate age, and actually more about your child’s ability to focus and follow instructions. While doing a few of these preparatory steps you’ll have a better indication of where your little one is at. It’s also up to you to pay careful attention to what your child is doing well, and offer positive feedback.
Starting Violin Lessons
If you feel like your child is ready to start violin lessons, go ahead and find a violin teacher who has experience with teaching children. Take some time to consider what you want your child to get out of the lessons. If you simply want to encourage musical appreciation, then opt for a relaxed lesson plan that highlights fun over discipline. If you’re going for a more intense route, then regular lessons and daily practice will be essential.
And while you’re getting so involved, keep in mind that young children aren’t the only ones who can learn to play the violin! We encourage students of all ages to explore the violin. When there is interest, music can be learned at any age. Good luck!
Photo by Derrick Coetzee