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850f810af82a5b99037a16787e93e47cThe quick answer here is that kids can – and should! – get involved in music at any age. The type of music instruction is where the answer varies.  It is dependent on many things, including the personality, ability and age of the child, the expectations of parents, the structure of lessons or classes, etc.

It’s well-known that right from infancy children can benefit from musical experiences. While they may seem light and simple to some, those baby music classes are wonderful for little minds and bodies. As toddlers and preschoolers, children become able to feel rhythms, mimic and memorize vocal melodies, and begin to control their hands to allow more structured music-making, which can often involve full body movement, too.  So many benefits start at this young age, from neurological development to coordination skills and more.

Once kids hit school age, the opportunity for exploring additional musical development comes into play for most children. Instruments like piano can be started at this point, when the child can sit through at least a half hour lesson, and can start to learn basic music literacy and coordination skills on the keyboard. Piano is a wonderful instrument to start at any age.

Ukulele is another instrument well-suited to small hands although the ability to have a certain level of finger dexterity and focus is important. While some kids can pick up a fretted instrument at a very young age, a great time to start is around age 8.  At this point, they can master some of the basics and reap the rewards of being able to make music.

All this to say, there is no magic age that is consistent across the board but the general guidelines above can give you some things to think about.  When in doubt, ask a music teacher!  Each child is an individual and you’ll know your own child best. Have a conversation with a music educator who can help you choose what options might suit your child.

Music making is a wonderful experience that every child deserves.

 

There can be a place for music making in the lives of each of us. Music making has the ability to meet many needs and each one just as individual as the person it inhabits.

For some of us, the process of mastering a challenging classical piece fires up our neurons and fills us with energy and focus.Hands Playing Piano

For others, the rewards of learning are found in making music within a group, whether a garage band, community orchestra, song circle or a cappella choir, helping us feel part of something meaningful and teaching us to work “in tune” with others, creating cohesive musical sounds.

There can be literal healing in the making of music, such as in the case of Gabrielle Giffords who, after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head, worked to rebuild her ability to speak through singing therapy.

It can be the outlet for working through challenging times, such as coping with a major life event, depression or illness. Songwriting, in particular, has been known to work miracles here.

Some individuals have never believed they could even be musical. In this instance, the opportunity to simply make music at the most basic level is a thrill.

Music builds minds. It also builds hearts, character, culture and connection.  It offers relief and growth, challenge and reward.  And most of all, it’s a language we can all understand.

There is always a lot of dialogue going on about the importance of music on many levels: as a tool for brain development during childhood, as therapy for myriad issues during the course of one’s life, as a mood lifter, as a release for stress, as the great communicator, and on and on the list goes.  I could point you to a lot of studies that highlight all of these things, most of which I wholeheartedly agree with. I can also point you to a lot of reports of the ongoing cuts of arts funding from schools, but that’s a post for another time…photo 3

As the quote by Plato states, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

I’m certainly a believer. There is a magic in music. It’s felt by listening, playing, and learning. I have experienced it directly and have seen it over and over in others around me. In children and adults, alike.

It’s a pure pleasure to have the opportunity to teach others about that magic. To help people learn to make their own music on an instrument is pretty awesome. To teach them to listen with a critical ear and to connect with others.  To work hard and reap the rewards of mastering a song.  It’s all good stuff.

But music itself is what touches us. Whether the complex nature of classical music, the simplicity of a nursery rhyme, or the hip-shaking groove of a funk tune, all music has the ability to connect us with something meaningful and unique. Something that moves us emotionally or physically.  We all experience it in different ways but every person has at least one piece of music that can touch their soul. Or have them clapping and singing, doing the Night at the Roxbury head bob, or up on the dance floor.

I think the experience of actually making music has a tremendous power that way, too. It is challenging and rewarding and can be pretty darned fun.

Today, I encourage you to think about what music moves you and make sure you get some of that into your days. Because music is a good thing.