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Are We There Yet?

At what age should a child start taking private music lessons?

As a kid, I had no choice but to play the piano. Although neither one of my parents played any instruments, they somehow got it into their heads that their children had to take music lessons.

For my parents, it wasn’t all about fun. Learning music became a test of discipline. In addition to hour-long lessons every week, we were expected to practice at least two hours a day. We not only had to perform at recitals, we also had to compete with other kids who did nothing else but practice and who had been playing piano from the time they were 3. We gained a lot from the experience — knowledge and appreciation of Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary music; the opportunity to learn from some incredible teachers; a means to express ourselves. Playing the piano also helped us become fairly adept at math and taught us alternative ways of learning.

But by the time I was in high school, playing the piano became a drag. I wanted to participate in sports and do other things, but my parents had high expectations when it came to our musical education. In other words, we had no choice but to keep practicing two to three hours a day.

Now that I have my own kids, I’m a lot more laid back about the lessons. We have a piano and I still play every once in a while, but I haven’t forced my children to play at all. Then the other day, I heard my 6-year-old play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” with one finger — practically on his own after I showed him the notes and how they corresponded with letters. He has since been begging me for lessons.

I’m not sure if he’s ready. He can barely sit still for 15 minutes. At the same time, he seems very interested and willing to learn.

During his preschool years, he did Kindermusik and also Music Together, two wonderful programs that combine music and movement for young children. I’m wondering if he’s ready to take private music lessons. I don’t want to push him like my parents pushed me, but at the same time, I also don’t want to discourage him just because of the burnout I experienced as a teen.

Does your child take private music lessons? What age did he or she start? How has music enhanced academic learning for your child? How do you encourage your child to do his or her best without becoming a pushy parent?


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This blog is intended to provide a forum for parents to share knowledge and resources. It's a place for parents young and old to combine their experiences raising families into a collective whole to help others.

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