Is my child ready for instrumental lessons?

If you have a young child at home who loves singing or who is always banging on a drum or tinkering on Daddy’s piano, you might be asking yourself, “Is my child ready for instrumental lessons?” Children develop at different rates, and the age at which children are developmentally ready to learn an instrument varies. Over my years of teaching, I have noticed specific skills that impact a child’s ability to succeed in learning to play a musical instrument. When children begin lessons before they have mastered these skills, they often struggle with lessons and home practice. Their confidence is affected and they make slow progress, which can lead to a belief that they are not musical; the reality is that they were just not quite ready for lessons.

Below is an outline of some of the skills children need to demonstrate before commencing instrumental lessons with confidence and enthusiasm.

Musical skills

Children do best in instrumental lessons if they have developed some essential musical skills before beginning lessons. These include: clapping to the beat, clapping patterns that include sounds and silences, aurally recognising and vocally producing high, low, and mid pitches, and the ability to connect sounds with symbols.

Physical skills

One of the most often overlooked areas in instrumental readiness is a child’s physical development. Being physically ready to learn an instrument makes a significant impact on how quickly children progress and how much they enjoy playing. Physical skills include: a child’s ability to balance and hold weight, an awareness of their bodies and how they move, and the development of fine motor skills, particularly finger independence. All these skills are essential to being able to hold and physically produce sounds on an instrument.

Academic skills

Learning a musical instrument requires specific thinking skills. A child who has mastered the following thinking skills will find it much easier to learn to read music, which is essential to becoming a good musician. These skills include: the ability to track left to right (being able to read words left to right), recognising patterns, competence with relating symbols to action.

Home Environment

One of the most critical factors for success on an instrument is the home environment. Instrumental lessons for children under the age of 8 require commitment from the parents because children at this age are usually not ready to tackle practice tasks on their own. It could mean that a parent learns alongside their child to help them practice at home.

It is also essential that children have an appropriate instrument to practice on at home once lessons begin. We recommend that the musical instrument that your child will be learning on is purchased at least three months before they start learning so they can explore how the instrument works.

We have created a handy checklist for parents who are considering instrumental lessons for their children it can be downloaded below.

Get the checklist here

The Benefits of Performing Arts Lessons

The benefits of being preschool performing arts lessons are wide ranging. Aside from helping them develop foundation skills in music, dance and drama, educational based performing arts lessons will also help your child gain many skills that will be useful for them as they prepare for formal schooling.

Music


Learning and participating in musical activities helps preschoolers to develop their listening skills which is vital for language accusation and reading. The ability to be able to distinguish between sounds is one of the most critical skills needed to be able to be able to decipher written language. learning the difference between high and low sound, different sounding instruments and even being able to identify different rhythmic elements help prepare students to become good readers both of music and of language.


Music is also full of patterns and when children are immersed in musical listening and creating they begin to identify what comes next, or which sections of music are a repeat or are different, helping them to understand patterns and sequences in readiness for maths at school.

“Children who experienced more frequent parent-child music activity at two to three years showed stronger vocabulary and numeracy skills, more prosocial skills and stronger abilities to regulate their own attention and emotion at four to five years old,” Professor Barrett University Queensland

Australian Research Council funded study titled Being and becoming musical: towards a cultural ecological model of early music development.

Dance

Dance teachers preschoolers how their body moves through space and how to control their bodies movements. You may just see your child skipping and jumping etc but what is happening to children who take dance lessons is the ability to take those movements and to control them so that their body is able to create each movement beautifully to the music. The ability to be able to control ones body helps preschoolers learn the skills they need to be able to sit and listen during classes when they enter kindergarten. Being able to master sitting is critical to being able to focus and learn in a classroom environment. Through dance children are learning to control the muscles that will help them to sit, stand and move.

 It affects everything from their capacity to sit up for along periods of time, to holding a pencil, to learning social skills to regulating their emotions…..It seems there are some seriously important reasons why your young child (under 5) needs to be able to jump, skip, catch, hop, balance, throw or kick! – Maggie Dent on Movement

The magic of movement still really matters in our digital world – Maggie Dent

Drama

There is a very big focus on teaching young children things like reading and maths to help give them a leg up in school, right? However it is just s important for children to enter their school years having good emotional intelligence. Unlike anything else the act of playing pretend is one of the strongest ways for children to develop their emotional empathy. Pretending to be a character in a story encourages children to think about the characters emotions and thoughts and teaches them to use empathy as they take on the role. Developing empathy is the best way to help children to grow strong positive relationships with people

because dramatic arts like acting are all about recreating emotions, they’re an ideal way to help kids pump up these all-important skills

7 ways for kids to learn empathy through acting – Amber Ankowski

The ‘Little Adventures’ performing arts program at Hope Performing Arts centre is designed to nurture preschoolers creative and thinking skills in a joyful environment that supports the development of the whole child. find out more by clicking the link below

Little Adventures Program

4 Reasons Why Early Music Education is Important

I have recently been watching the ABC’s Don’t Stop The Music.  It has been amazing watching the children’s transformations in such a short period of time.  Children who would not normally ask questions now have confidence to do so. Students who wouldn’t normally push themselves are learning that hard work really does pay off. Having them all come together to play music as a team, listening to and in staying in time with each other, is such an amazing outcome for these kids.

As a music teacher, I get to see these transformations in children’s lives all the time.  I know that music education is a key that helps children, even the very young, to form pathways in the brain that can help a child grow academically, socially and musically.  Below are 4 reasons why, consistently participation in a variety of music-making experiences  are important for young children, and babies.

1. Shared musical experiences may help children with numeracy and literacy.

The Mind Institute is studying the impact of music on human intelligence. Their studies are showing that students with musical training improve spatial reasoning, which results in better problem-solving and mathematic skills.

A University of Queensland study also shows that shared music-making has a greater impact on learning to speak and read than just reading aloud to your child.

2.  Music-making strengthens your child’s auditory perception.

Developing good auditory perception is essential to language development. The MAARs Institute has discovered that learning and participating in music-making is one of the only ways to develop the ear so that it can hear and discriminate between pitches, rhythms and tones.  All these skills are necessary to learn words, speak sentences and understand the meaning of spoken and written language. Children who are surrounded by musical experiences from a young age learn to speak earlier than those who do not.

3.  Singing with your child strengthens their social bonds.

Young babies who are sung to in the womb and after birth are more easily settled and respond quicker to their caregiver’s voice.  Continuing to sing to a child after they are born, especially using folk and cultural songs, provides them with a rich cultural context from which to draw their identity.

4.   Early music education prepares children for successful instrumental lessons.

Children who have had at least one year of early childhood music lessons that are supported at home and which include learning musical symbols, playing musical instruments and singing, find learning an instrument to be an easier experience and progress faster than those who have had no prior music lessons.

 

Knowing that music education is such an important aspect of early child development, I would like to invite you to join me for a personal introductory lesson.  This lesson is complimentary and will provide you with a great firsthand insight into the benefits that music education has for your child.

Free Introductory Lesson