“Music education must begin nine
months before the birth of the child.”
Another question that often plagues parents is when to start teaching their children music? To answer this question, we first need to distinguish between three types of children’s music education: home activities, which introduce children to music in informal ways; group music classes, which teach children basic music concepts and help develop all-around musical abilities; and private lessons, which focus on learning to play a specific instrument, e.g., the piano. Each of these categories emphasizes a different aspect of music education, and is equally valuable, depending on the age of the child. In this chapter, I discuss the merits of an early start to music education, and various activities and programs for children of different ages.
So what is the best age to begin music education? In my view, there is no time like the present—it’s never too early to introduce a child to music. A popular story amongst educators tells the tale of young mother, who asked a famous teacher at what age she should start educating her son. “How old is your son?” asked the teacher. “He is only six months old,” said the woman. “You are already six months late!” was the teacher’s reply.
I recommend that parents first introduce their children to music in the home as soon as possible and then, when they’re a bit older, to group classes. These activities will help them develop all-round musical abilities, such as an ear for music and a sense of rhythm, as well as coordination and communication skills. The group programs usually include singing, moving and marching to music, and playing simple musical instruments, such as children’s drums, rhythm sticks, maracas and tambourines. This music-making can be complemented by creating a home environment in which music, be it recordings, the radio or a piece that is performed live on a musical instrument, becomes part of a child’s everyday experience. While this type of musical education is a long-term program and requires consistency, patience and some knowledge, rest assured that such efforts would not be in vain.