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

What’s the Weather Game

What crazy weather we are having at the moment in Australia.  From 47 degree days to 4 days straight of rain creating flash flooding it really is that crazy.   Learning about the weather is the focus of our current performing arts unit for our Little Adventures Class from windy days, to the cold snow, to thunder storms and rain our youngest students will be dancing, singing and acting their way through the next 4 weeks.

To help our students continue the fun of each class at home we have creates a game that parents can play with their child.  Playing our performing arts games with your child at home is both fun and helps your child develop good practice habits long before they begin formal, music, dance and/or drama lessons.  

What’s the Weather is a simple dice and card game that can be enjoyed by all the members of the family.  To play the game simply roll the dice and then turn over a card with the matching colour then each play takes turns at doing the activity on the card (or everyone can attempt to do the activity together).  The game ends when there are no more cards to turn over in a particular colour (i.e. if you have used all the green – Say cards then the game is over).

About the Cards

Blue cards are songs that we are singing in class.  If you are unsure of the songs check out our Spotify play list here

Purple Cards are acting cards, these cards are to encourage your child to use their imagination to act out the actions.

Pink Sound Cards.  – These cards are to help develop your child’s ear as they try to create weather sounds, feel free to use items that you have a home to help create the sounds of thunder storms or rain.

Yellow Move Cards – These cards are related to our dance activities and help students to practice their dance steps at home,  at these age these steps are very simple, you can use some of the music from the Spotify list for these cards so that your child get use to moving to music.

Green Say it Cards – These cards are short tongue twisters to help your child gain expand their vocabulary, we often use tongue twisters in to warm up the voice in vocal classes they are a fun way to engage students in exploring their voice.

Red Fingers Cards – these cards are to help develop children’s fine motor skills with their fingers.  In order for student to be able to play a musical instrument they need to have independence in their fingers by practicing different finger play activities we help our students develop these skills.  

To print a copy of the cards and dice simply follow this link. Happy playing