What Age Should Children Learn To Play Instruments?

A lot of children want to introduce music into their life, but for many parents, it can be difficult knowing which instruments will be right for your child to begin with, or whether or not they are too young to start.

We often get asked “How young can children start learning how to play?”. We’ve all heard stories of musical prodigies writing music at incredibly young ages – such as Mozart writing symphonies at just 8 years old, or Stevie Wonder signing with Motown at just 11.

In short, the answer is… Children can start at any age! We’re firm believers that music can (and should) be enjoyed by absolutely everyone – Let us break down a few reasons why we believe music is for everyone, no matter your age!

Sensory Development!

We’ve written before about the social and emotional development that music can have on children, but something that is often overlooked, especially in babies, is the sensory development that occurs when playing an instrument!

No matter the age, anyone can enjoy hitting a bongo, or seeing what happens when you press a piano key. Just because something isn’t particularly musical sounding, doesn’t mean it isn’t being enjoyed by that toddler or young child…We all have to start somewhere after all!

Research also shows that younger children from birth to around aged 9 are perfect for learning instruments as much like learning a new language, the mental structures for development and understanding are primed to intake information, meaning the basic structures of music can come more easily.

Which instruments are appropriate?

Now we’re of course not saying that you should be giving your newborn a double bass to play with…But lighter instruments such as recorderviolinguitar or ukuleles can be perfect for youngsters. From the age of around 5 most children have the social skills and physical capabilities required to play an instrument cohesively. Simple chord progressions, note strumming or bowing are all created techniques to learn.

Many instruments, such as the violin, also come in a great range of smaller sizes for exactly this reason, covering sizes suitable for children as young as 2 or 3! If you’d like any further information on choosing the right sized instrument for your child, read our guide.

Of course as children continue to develop, these skills and physical abilities also increase and many are able to progress into bigger instruments such as brass, or full sized instruments. Around this time, the goal of a music lesson also changes from gaining experience to developing performance ability and technique. 

How can I encourage my child to learn an instrument?

If you want your child to begin learning, ultimately, producing a nurturing, caring environment is required. Showing children that music is a fun, expressive and creative art form is always the best way for young learners to discover their own interest in music. Many of us will have stories of being forced to play instruments we hated by our parents when we were younger, why did you hate it? Because you didn’t have that passion to learn!

As with most things, the best approach would be to include your children in the instrument decision process, let them decide which sounds they like and which instruments they love, then create a full immersive and enjoyable experience that they will love for life!

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