You must have heard that most famous recording artists from Michael Jackson to Barbara Streisand, writing their first hit at an early age of 10, to Elvis Priestly signing with the Sun record company when he could barely dance. Even if your child isn’t destined to become a star when he’s grown up, exposing him to a talent school for music is a good idea.
Many parents remain uncomfortable with a music career and would rather have their children pursued more “solid” careers like medicine and law. So, to overcome this negative feeling, parents will undoubtedly delay and postpone music lessons until their children can choose their preferred music instrument.
There appear to be a growing and at the same time impressive body of research pointing at the possibility of age nine as the best time in absorbing a musical sensibility. Evidence shows that during this age, the child’s mental structure that is associated with the process and appreciation of music are at the best stages of development. This makes it important to expose children to music at this age.
But what is the goal of music lessons for small children? For example, small children are not exposed to instruments to master them but to learn and gain experience to develop vital relationships with the music at this early age. If this is the goal, then the music exposure can and start immediately after birth and preferably within the child’s first year of life.
Swaying to the music
The lessons need not be formalized. A parent can guide his child by placing him in a music environment. Using simple movement activities in a music environment such as games, dancing or even swaying to the music as you hold him, or at the same time singing or playing an instrument for him.
When he reaches age three, you can introduce him to more formalized lessons. Ensure the goal is not to learn to play an instrument but to sharpen his skills like recognizing a beat in music, identifying the instrument, or identifying a melody.
These intimate child-parent lessons can be any number of nursery activities run by a private individual, a community centre or even an institution of higher learning. At every stage, ensure your goals and expectations coincide with the instructors’.
At the age of five, most children have developed a foundation that has prepared them for a solid music career. Even at this age, the objective of the lessons need not be a great performer on the instrument, but to understand the music. Violin and piano are the two most popular instruments that children can play at this age. Others have also embraced the guitar, ukulele, and recorder with varying degrees of success.