Your little one hears a song on the radio and they start to dance, giggle, sing along, tap on the table. :) It's not only cute but it makes you think - COULD their be some untapped talent there?
MANY times in the last 25 years I've been asked by parents "When should I start my child in private lessons?"
Hopefully I can help answer your question and give you some direction on just what to do with the budding virtuoso or future Beyonce in your household :)
Infants thru age 3 - KEEP THE TUNES GOING! Turn on the radio, put in a CD, hit the tunes on your Kindle or iPad. Expose them TO TASTEFUL music. During the day keep upbeat things on. At nap time or bedtime, hit some soft piano or classical music or if you're a family of faith, some soft christian music. My kids LOVED going to bed listening to praise and worship music especially if I was playing it on the piano while they were falling asleep.
What else can you do at that age? There's a few music classes for moms and children to participate in. Google "kids music classes in....(whatever your area that you live in). You should be able to find some. If you can't PLEASE email me and I will give you some referrals. :)
Ages 4-5: NOW this is a toughie sometimes. I HAVE and currently DO HAVE some preschool students taking piano/keyboard lessons in their homes once a week for about 15-20 minutes. Keep in mind that NOT ALL children this age can sit for that long - you may have to wait but I've had success with children this age and the first thing I ask parents is "How's their attention span? Can they focus for 15-20 minutes before they need to move on to something else?" If they CAN then I say, "Let's try lessons for about 4-6 weeks and see how it goes." I can assure you that I will tell you if this will work or not - I DO NOT believe in taking people's money if a child is NOT interested in lessons. Sometimes waiting until they are 6 or 7 makes a big difference. Now SOME 5 year olds can handle a full 30 minute lesson with no problems. I have 5 year old students that take lessons currently and are doing very well.
Ages 6 & up: 30 minute lessons once a week on the instrument that they like. Some studios will not take a child younger than the age of 7 for guitar lessons. Most studios or teachers will take a child when they are 5 years of age for piano/keyboard lessons. I also teach beginning voice and require that students be at least 7 years of age before starting voice only because their vocal chords are still developing and they are still learning to read also. Once they reach age 7 it's pretty safe for them to start :)
BIG THING: TEACHER/STUDENT CHEMISTRY - YES this is HUGE! Find a teacher who is compatible with your child's personality. If your child is very serious and concentrates well, a more subdued teacher will work. If your child is animated, likes to have fun, is outgoing and learns better in that sort of situation, find someone with a more outgoing personality. A teacher should be able to make lessons FUN for your child. If your child hates to practice, hates the music they're learning and is practically in tears before going to lessons then there's a BIG problem. Find someone who matches your child's personality needs.
My child has a learning disability or other disability: PLEASE be upfront with a prospective teacher if your child has a disability or learning disability. Most teachers will cater their style of teaching to help your child get the most out of lessons. Not all will do that. Some shy away from dealing with any issues. If your child is mildly autistic or has aspergers, it's super helpful to know that. For me it makes a big difference in understanding how a child learns.
YOUR ROLE: You NEED to support the teacher. I think one of the most bizarre statements I've ever heard a mother say to me was, "I just want them to experience it...." Ok I'm all for kids "experiencing" things but private lessons is NOT the place for that. Private lessons or group lessons are for them having a chance to really LEARN something and to learn commitment and doing their best. That means they need to practice (more on that below). Please help your teacher make it a successful experience by supporting the teacher and asking how your child is doing, making your child practice, etc.
PRACTICING: OUCH! Soemtimes that's a bad word lol :) NOW - NO ONE knows more about what makes your child tick than you. I encourage parents to create a chart and to tell their child, "If you practice this week for the time you're supposed to, then at the end of the week we will....(fill in the blank - go for ice cream, watcha movie, play at the park, put a quarter in the jar, etc). I had one mom who to me was a genius - she told her daughter, "Practice for 15 mins, you get an extra 15 minutes on your computer games or Wii." It worked like a charm! Do what you need to in order to motivate them. (Ok, in the old days it was called bribery but it works!) :)
Right now I'm accepting students on Fridays in the Westchase area. If you're interested in lessons in your home after school contact me. If you're a homeschooling mom, I have openings on other days earlier in the day and offer reduced rates for homeschooling families.
I hope this blog has helped you and given you some direction on what to do with your child's interest in music. Give me a shout out if you need more info or have questions - I'm happy to help!