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Learning to play an instrument

If your child expresses a genuine interest in learning to play a musical instrument, consider pursuing lessons. Learning an instrument can be an important part of your child’s education.

Studies show that children who are actively involved with music become better readers, have higher self-esteem, get along better with peers and are more likely to go to college. What’s more, learning to play an instrument improves reasoning skills and cognitive development, coordination, goal setting, concentration and cooperation. Even better, playing an instrument is fun and opens opportunities for your child to make new friends and join groups like band and orchestra.

Is your child ready?

Most kids aren’t ready for formal instrument lessons until at least age 5. A music teacher can help determine whether your child is ready and may consider these factors:

  • Physical ability. Does your child have the physical development and fine motor skills to play?
  • Focus. Can your child concentrate on one task for 20 to 30 minutes at a time?
  • ABCs and 123s. Can your child identify and manipulate letters and numbers?
  • Musical exposure. Can your child tap or clap to a steady beat, repeat basic rhythm and pitch patterns and flag incorrect notes in a familiar song?
  • Commitment. Is your child willing to attend lessons and practice regularly? If your child isn’t yet ready for instrument lessons, you can still promote musical activities by having him or her dance, join a chorus or listen to various kinds of music. Or make music a chance for family fun: Buy or make your own musical toys like drums, kazoos, tambourines and harmonicas and play along with your favorite tunes.