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Music Lessons 101: A Parent's Guide to Private Lessons

Posted by Jessica Owens on Aug 10, 2018 9:14:00 AM

which instrument should my child play

When should my child begin music lessons?

There is no shortage of research proving music instruction is vitally important in the development of the whole child, but many parents wonder when a child should begin taking lessons and what kind of lessons are best.

Here are some questions to help you determine your child’s readiness for private lessons: 

  1. Can the child focus on an activity for at least 20 minutes?
  2. Does the child seem interested in music or does he gravitate toward a particular instrument?
  3. Are you as a parent able to consistently provide the time and attention necessary to support your child’s practice time?

Because most instruments are available in smaller child sizes, students have lots of choice of which instrument they might play.  However, some instruments are suited better for students of a certain age and development.


As a general rule, piano is good for everyone and can be taught as early as a child is able to focus for about 20 minutes at a time.  It develops the ear and helps children learn to read music.  Many people think the size of a child’s hand is important, when in fact, it has no bearing on piano readiness.  For example, Mozart was playing for the crown heads of Europe at age five, and his hands were no bigger than any other five-year-old. 

What lessons are best for my child’s age group?


For Early Childhood students, experts agree it is best to begin with group music instruction such as Kindermusik, Suzuki Strings, or Music Garden.  These programs build music awareness, focus on the fundamental elements of music, and help students understand ensemble and social interaction through the music they play together. 

parent guide to music lessons

Primary Elementary Grades

Along with piano, Suzuki strings, traditional strings lessons and guitar lessons can also be introduced in the early elementary years, providing the child is given an instrument properly sized for their smaller hands.

Upper Elementary Grades

If your child has their heart set on playing the trumpet or the clarinet, it is best to wait until about fifth grade to begin.  Brass and Wind instruments are heavy and require a level of coordination with the breath and mouth to create the proper embouchure for sound production.  Drum lessons are also recommended for this age group as they are now developing the ability to move large muscle groups independently.

tips for children's music lesson

And finally, Voice lessons

While you may see an eight-year-old singing on America’s Got Talent, great care should be taken when developing a child’s voice.  The human voice can be manipulated into creating all kinds of sounds and pushing extremes, but crossing these boundary lines consistently damages the voice permanently and what you end up with is a very young person with a very old sounding voice.  You may remember the 13-year-old sensation Charlotte Church from about 15 years past.  She was on television and was praised for her mature sounding voice, but sadly, her best singing days are behind her.  Even pop singer Adele has had vocal surgery because of the strain she has put on her voice with poor singing technique. 

Group/choral instruction is best in the elementary years when the vocal mechanism is still developing.  I would recommend students who want to begin formal voice instruction do so in high school or at about age 15. 

everything you ever wanted to know about music lessons

A few other thoughts:

  • If your child matches pitch well, he would do well on an instrument that requires him to use his ear to play the correct pitch such as a string instrument.
  • If your child has a good sense of rhythm, and generally prefers to be moving, drums would be a good choice
  • If your child likes to sing and wants to accompany herself singing, then guitar might be a good choice
  • If your child has good fine motor skills and is able to hear multiple lines in a piece of music, then piano would be a good fit.

Music instruction at any age is a good thing and helps children to appreciate music developing in them a love for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Click here to check out CCA's School of the Arts which includes private music lessons.  

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Topics: Fine Arts