This is a question we get asked so often! Part of the answer is very simple, and part is more complex. The simple answer is, don’t start your child in music lessons before age 6 (and wait until age 8 for guitar, due to hand size). At age 6, most children are familiar enough with the alphabet to be able to understand that music sometimes uses the alphabet backwards (only letters A-G, but it’s still challenging). Also, most children are gaining confidence by age 6 in reading simple sentences and instructions that will be printed in their music books. Additionally, they’ve been through at least a portion of first grade, and have started getting accustomed to what’s expected of them in a learning environment, such as sitting, listening, asking questions, and following directions.
Age 6 is a great time to start private lessons if your child seems comfortable with the skills listed above and has an interest in music. Starting at such a young age means there are many years ahead during which your child will develop many skills, and hopefully develop into a technically sound musician at an earlier age than someone who gets a later start. But there is something to be said for waiting a year or two if your child does not seem to be particularly interested in sitting through the lessons, or practicing at home. Sometimes, the best plan is to wait until your child is practically begging for a piano and lessons, or to learn to sing, so he will be highly motivated to do his part when it comes to practicing.
We have had students take up the piano at age 12, or 20, or 60, and they’ve all found measures of success. It’s truly never too late to start learning an instrument! The most important thing is that the student has a desire to learn and to put forth some effort in improving. Young children need a little extra help and guidance to start down the path of practicing, it’s true--and our instructors are able to help out with that. But older students usually have a lot of motivation, because they often make the decision on their own to start taking lessons. The formula for deciding when to start lessons boils down to readiness for learning, love of music, and dedication. If you check all three of those boxes, it’s time!