As early as is practical for the instrument, this does vary though, so speak to a teacher. Like any subject, it’s good to do some preparation… listening to and preferably attending some concerts and demonstrations of various instruments. Always allow the child to show a personal preference for an instrument. Also, we don’t always choose the right instrument for ourselves first go, so be flexible.
It is of course possible…Les Paul had no electric guitar lessons: because he invented the instrument! There are more and more resources and lessons online, however, the vast majority of people will progress more quickly and securely under the guidance of a good teacher.
There’s so much to learn! Also, the relationship a pupil builds with their music teacher, over a period of time, becomes in itself a valuable part of social learning and a real, broad resource in that child’s life.
If your child is totally disengaged from the activity for a period of time, say six weeks, then we are probably doing more harm than good! It may not be a broad activity though: you could try changing instruments, groups or teachers. Remember that playing an instrument is a team activity so joining a group or band is vital…you wouldn’t practice football skills for years and years before playing a game!
Classroom music is part of the national curriculum in the UK and should be taught, in school at least at KS1 & 2. When looking at instrumental music lessons, if one considers the hours of practice and years of college study that go into becoming an instrumental music teacher, rates are not that high and purchasing or renting a musical instrument is better value for money now than ever before. However, all families need to prioritise both the time and money they invest in activities for their children and despite the proven benefit of learning an instrument for general educational development instrumental music lessons are a big investment.
It is possible to learn an instrument in a small group setting of three or four, which can be more fun and of course reduces the cost of lessons, so getting together with some like-minded parents or discussing group lessons with the teacher could really help. At the end of the day, it’s rare to meet an adult who regrets learning an instrument as a child and the life-long opportunity for a deeply rewarding hobby is a fantastic gift for a parent to give to their child.
Read how pBone has revolutionised music lessons in a school here...
Kate has always had a love for music and after starting to play the clarinet aged six went on to study music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She joined Warwick Music Group in 2010 as Social Media Manager and now serves as Chief of Staff where her role is the day to day management of the team. She ensures activities are streamlined within the organisation, supporting the priorities of the business to help it grow. She now spends most of my spare time supporting my three children as they learn their own instruments!