In a post on Facebook I discussed an article on young learners and music. I had mentioned that parents have repeatedly asked me if their child was "too young" to start lessons. There are always factors that play into when is a good time to start, but there are also keys that a parent can note to determine whether their child is truly ready.
To start, you really want the kind of teacher or coach who is willing to work with younger kids, I was on route to being a kindergarten teacher and I can attest that it can be daunting to have two dozen small humans to attend to. In fact the sheer number of students in one room was part of the reason I am now not a kindergarten teacher. However, a lesson is so much more manageable, not to mention beneficial to the child, thanks to the one on one attention available for them to receive the proposed information. It would be like tutoring, tailored to the speed and learning curves of the child.
Once you have a trusted and patient teacher the rest is really up to you as the parent knowing the limits of your child.
I start most of my younger students with only 30 minute lessons, and they can be grueling for some kids, and for others they can be a breeze. Why?
Well, it is all about the child's personality. Nothing wrong with a child who has more energy than they can figure out what to do with, but over time with consistency that same child learns how to focus that energy into absorbing the lessons.
Then there are the more mature students who at an early age can focus rapidly on the desired subject. This child would benefit from longer lessons sooner, but in the early stages, the 30 minute lessons work just as well.
The key usually is the teachers pension for patience. Some forget that the learning stages vary, and some children just need a little extra patience till they learn the proper way to behave in a lesson.
Much like holding a pencil, as adults we seem to forget the reality of the need to learn that simple step in life. I recall having to teach my students the ways to grip the pencil, pointer finger, middle finger and thumb, how to draw the first line that would begin the development of writing their name. The muscle memory and development of motor skills to engage development for most children would be difficult. Their hands couldn't hold the grip long enough. Their muscles in their hands would hurt, and they couldn't always understand why we made them practice and practice again.
It was vital that they learned to write their name and write it quickly, learn to draw the letters and the numbers. Learn to sound them out and recognize words.
In many ways early lessons are just like a child learning to write their name. They need to practice standing still, (as odd as that sounds) they need to learn how to breathe through diaphragm just like any other singer, they need to learn to read the notes and words and focus on the task of learning at hand. But most of all they need time.
The benefits far outweigh the pain of watching your child hate lessons early on. In an article from Bright horizons it is mentioned that early learning skill are directly correlated to the child's exposure to music. They mention the development of motor skills and language etc.
Now, for the opposite side of the spectrum, lets discuss the question of "Am I too old to start lessons?"
Allow me to start by saying, NO!
I have had students of all ages, and many have been nervous about starting the lessons who happened to be an adult who never took lessons before but just loved to sing and didn't want to sound "bad". I get that, that is a fair desire.
Usually the adult students who feel they have started late are not looking to be famous and change their lives entirely, though there are some, I am simply saying they are not the majority.
However this is still a wonderful option for adults as well.
Often my adult students will put more emphasis on the time they spend in practice, which makes them great students. The development can feel harder, or slower, but in truth the development is doing them more good than they may know.
In a study done by the Mayo Clinic they found that music, like songs learned will actually not be lost to Alzheimer's. Making it an enormous value to those who worry about their memory. If that isn't enough to get you to want to take lessons I really don't know what would.
Please take a look and do your own research on the subject, because it is worth it.
I personally have had a couple family members who had Alzheimer's disease, and it can be devastating, we had our members of our family being cared for by strangers in a strange environment when they couldn't remember us as their family.
It was when we began to sing that magic would happen. Suddenly they would know all the words, their eyes would light up and they would join in and sing each song with us. Sometimes the magic of the music would give us a moment of clarity for them, and those were wonderful precious moments of light. Then there were times they would sing along and love the music but still not know who we were, the key here is that we always had the music.
Music does something that nothing else can. It connects us to a deeper sense of ourselves.
Maybe its time you took a step towards your dreams of singing, or give your child the opportunities up you wanted them to have, or just let them love what they love and have them sing because they love it. Lessons can only do good.
Below are the two articles mentioned above feel free to read for yourself and get a good idea of why lessons are so vital in a humans life.