One of the most frequently asked questions from parents of small children is about the appropriate age to start lessons. I believe there are two main factors in deciding what the right age may be. The first has to do with how well the child is able to focus attention and the second is the differences in the instruments they wish to learn.

In my experience, young children can vary quite a bit in terms of attention span, so age in itself may not necessarily be a factor. We have all seen or heard about very young kids being able to play with great skill. Some four or five-year-olds may be able to sit through a  half hour lesson without any problems and are eager to learn and play.

Piano and violin seem to be two instruments that are commonly associated with the very young player. Both of these instruments have an early stage of learning which is not too difficult. Pressing down on a piano key or drawing a bow across a string does not require a lot of strength or dexterity so learning simple exercises and melodies can be achieved easily. So as early as four, five and six may be a good age to start piano or violin lessons.

The guitar, banjo or mandolin on the other hand, does have a fairly difficult beginning stage. Even some adults may complain a little about the stinging fingertips and difficulty getting any kind of sound when first starting to learn on these instruments. I usually recommend waiting until about the age of six, seven or eight to start lessons. Guitars also come in a variety of sizes to accommodate smaller players. Drums and wind instruments are also better at a little later age, around seven or eight.

Because children vary in dexterity, attention span and real interest, age may not be significant as to when the right time is to start lessons. There is always a sure way to tell and that’s just giving it a try. Try out lessons are easy and fun!