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When Should My Child Begin Music Lessons?

Below is reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago. I thought I would repost it here, since this is a perennial question that I am asked by parents of three- to seven-year-olds. Is there a perfect time to start music lessons? Here are my thoughts.

Shutterstock, Dmitry Naumov

I am a trained Waldorf early childhood teacher and have also completed training as a “Music Together” teacher (a music and movement program for preschoolers and their parents) through the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, NJ. In addition, I am a Suzuki parent and a strong supporter of Suzuki music education. I have been interested in comparing the similarities and differences between Suzuki and Waldorf pedagogy ever since discovering how much they share in common.

In spite of the number of similarities in approach, one fundamental difference between the two pedagogies is regarding the age at which a child should begin formal music instruction. Suzuki students are encouraged to begin instrumental lessons as early as age two or three. On the other hand, students in a Waldorf school do not begin lessons with string instruments until third or fourth grade. My personal opinion is that Suzuki, for many children, starts too early, and that Waldorf schools may start too late. Based on my research and observation, I believe that the age of seven may be a more appropriate age for most children to begin private music lessons — for many of the same reasons that make seven the ideal age for a child to begin formal, academic learning at school, according to Waldorf philosophy.

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