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Why Start Children on Music at a Young Age?

The ideal age to start children on music is something hotly debated across several fields of study.  Neuroscientists research brain development before and after musical education...teachers study a student's attention span after music exposure...math experts wonder if music students are able to understand fractions more quickly... the list seems endless.

I'm going to take a slightly different approach to this topic.  I wanted to talk about longevity.

Honestly, I feel that that the best reason to start a child on music at a young age is so the child can start forming the habit of music.  Playing an instrument is complicated. Any number of hurdles will hold back a musician's progress.  And the sad fact is that even if a child starts young only a small percentage of children ever "make it" (I mean this in the loosest of terms: mastering the instrument enough to have a degree of fluency).

Music is a lifestyle.  In order to be truly successful at learning an instrument, music has to be a part of a person's life.  Going to concerts, listening to music, associating with other musicians, performing... all of this has to become a part of who a person is.  It has to be.  Otherwise, what incentive is there to torture yourself with scales?

The older we get the more fixed our habits become.  Of all the possible pastimes a person can pick up, learning a musical instrument has to be one of the least accessible.  Besides all the time, money and lack of immediate gratification, it's just flat out hard!

Which is why learning an instrument at a young age gives someone such an advantage.  If that immersion into the musical lifestyle happens early on, the musician doesn't question why he decided to take up an instrument.  The instrument simply becomes a part of who that person is.

Comments

  1. This is an excellent post. I appreciate that you wrote about something that I've always regarded as the greatest benefit of starting early: that there is a greater likelihood that music will be integrated into their developing identity. Suzuki talent education is such a wonderful vehicle for identity development because it is so family-oriented. Children absorb so much of their early identity from that of their families.

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    Replies
    1. And you can even see it happening with the younger siblings that are sitting through the lessons. A one-year-old will recognize the Twinkle rhythm she likes and tries to dance to it.

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