Excel Music - Serving Tampa, New Tampa & Wesley Chapel

WHEN TO START MUSIC LESSONS




When to Start Music Lessons


When is My Child Ready for Music Lessons? Here I sit surrounded by my research puzzling over the best advice to give to parents. The one thing we all know is just how many opinions can be found regarding every subject and, of course, we each have an opinion regarding that. So here goes... Just when is a child ready for music lessons? I've found countless studies online from such reputable sources as UCLA, the Academic Press, Neurological Research and others touting the benefits of starting your child's musical education at an early age. With the promise of improved spatial skills and the threat of your child lagging behind in kindergarten scholastic performance, a sudden sense of urgency overwhelms you. What if your child could learn to entertain you at Christmas parties and ace math quizzes without bribery? Perhaps this is a wonderful world! And then I pause to look at a three-year-old whose parents want piano lessons for them and I can't help but think that we're all a bit delusional. This child isn't old enough to legally play in McDonald's play area, and if they did you know that they'd never come back down. :Please Kaylin, Auntie Sheri loves you..."

So, here are a few guidelines that I've come across to help you in your decision.

  • Expose your child to music and concerts at an early age. Give them musical toys to play with and sing with them. Your
    child should know the alphabet ut to G and recognize numbers before seriously focusing on an instrument. Age, physical development and a desire to play are all important.
  • When choosing a first instrument, consider the recorder. It's inexpensive and good for progression to other wind instruments. It sounds beautiful when played well and is increasingly played to concert standard. Children can begin as soon as their fingers are large enough to cover the holes.
  • The piano can be played as soon as your child can reach the keys and has developed the strength to press them down. Begin by teaching them the difference between their right and left hands.
  • Stringed instruments often come in smaller sizes for younger children and can begin at a very early age. Some children can handle a small violin from the age of four. A more realistic age to begin is probably six. Guitars are suitable for children from around eight upwards depending upon the strength and size of their hands.
  • Wind instruments, with the exception of the recorder, should not be played before the child's second set of teeth come in because pressure is applied to the teeth when they are played. A child needs to be big enough to hold and blow into these instruments. Strong lips
    and good breath support are essential.
  • The rattle that your child shook in the crib and the hand-clapping included in a game of patty-cake are percussion instruments, so, obviously, percussion can be learned very early in life. Learning to play a drum requires independent control of left and right hands and requires enough patience to handle repetitive counting. While some children could be ready at three, a more realistic age to begin is probably six.
  • With vocal lessons, you must be careful not to push a young voice too early in case the child strains it. Learning to read music, sing for enjoyment and hear pitch can begin relatively early. Once the student has reached their teens and the voice is a little more developed, a more focused approach can begin.

So, we've chosen to walk the line. we do have children as young as 3 studying with us. In those music and vocal classes, we try to take a more general approach, never pushing a child past their limits, but rather encouraging them to have a general love and appreciation of music. Our teachers will work with you to let you know when your child is ready to move on to a more focused lesson plan. And in the meantime, although you may not be able to get your child to come down from the upper reaches of the McDonald's play zone, you may just hear them singing a happy little song and pounding out a lovely rhythm on their friend's head.

- Sheri Thrasher


As published in the Parenting magazine, 2007. Sheri Thrasher is a co-owner of Excel Music, professional vocalist, published author and lifelong artist.



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Press Articles
- Tune Yourself Up - by Robert Yaniz - New Tampa News, September 2006
- Excel Music Owners Share The Joy Of Music With New Tampa - by Melissa O'Brian - New Tampa Neighborhood News, May 2007
- Excel Music: The Art of Teaching Students One Note at a Time - by Alicia Pack - New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News, September/October 2011
- Tony Coleman, Drummer for Blues' Great BB King at Excel Music - by Sheri Thrasher - The Advisor, February 2012