what age is right to start

October 12, 2012 at 03:40 PM · Hello,

I am a father of a 2 1/2 year old and would like to get her started on music (preferably violin).

My question is at what age I should start getting her to a class or instructor? And if it's too early, what I can do to prepare her for the journey.

We live in a suburb of Dallas and if anyone knows of a good instructor or institute, I would appreciate the tip/referral.

Replies (22)

October 12, 2012 at 06:46 PM · There's no one right anwer. However, I'll offer up my opinion.

I was told - that all things being equal: If you start one child at the age of 4...and another at the age of 9, the 9 year old will play at the same level that the other child has attained, in a very short period of time...often within a year or so.

Knowing that...I started my daughter on piano at the age of 4 because she desperately needed a challenge. I didn't push her very hard - I let her take it at her own pace (within reason of course - we still aimed for a level a year)...and she's recently completed her Grade 10 RCM (who knew? She went further than expected! She's 20 years old). She also plays oboe - but the piano is her instrument of choice.

If your daughter is desperate to play the violin, start her earlier...4 is early enough. You could try around 3, but don't expect too much.

Or...you could just put her in a kiddie music program from ages 3-4 or 5. She'll learn some basics and learn rhythm (invaluable!) and have fun all at the same time. Then you can start her on the violin if you feel she's interested.

Whatever you do, don't push too hard too soon. Kids burn out surprisingly easily...

October 12, 2012 at 06:56 PM · Does your daughter want to start music? if so, it's a good time to start SOME sort of program; if not, maybe wait and make it look attractive.

October 12, 2012 at 09:48 PM · I'm not a teacher, so I don't know what age is appropriate for starting violin.

However, if you just want to get her started doing something with music, there are music programs such as Kindermusik which are designed for very young children.

October 13, 2012 at 02:51 AM · Soheil

There are many things you can do right now to prepare her for her journey:) I have some videos on youtube that are geared for toddlers. These activities you can do together while you search for a violin teacher. I wanted to play the violin at the age of three but my parents didn't know where I could start so young but they knew where I could start piano so I started piano with a teacher at the age of 5 and then the violin when I was 9. Check out my youtube channel and my website for information to help you and your daughter on this journey:)

Happy Practicing!!!

Heather Broadbent

www.onlineviolin.net

www.youtube.com/user/heatherkbroadbent

October 13, 2012 at 03:21 AM · As we all know, violin is a tough instrument. I don't think most kids have the manual dexterity to become proficient at violin at an early age. With my son, we started him on piano at age 4, then he switched to violin at age 7. Within 1 year, he was ahead of another violinist who started at age 3 and had been playing for 3 years.

By starting on piano, he learned to read music and developed his ear, so when he started violin, he already had music fundamentals under his belt. To start violin from scratch and have to learn note reading, in addition to violin technique might be overwhelming for a youngster. For that reason, I would highly recommend starting on piano, then switching sometime between age 5-8 depending on the child.

I have heard many stories of people learning violin for a few years then quitting -- seems like every other person I meet played violin as a child. But most give up because it is just too difficult. I believe the odds of sticking with it increase if you start at a later age -- not too old, but old enough so it is not overly difficult to hold the bow, press the left fingers down, basic skills for playing simple tunes. Just my 2c.

October 13, 2012 at 06:41 AM · The answer varies per child. The youngest appropriate age to start the violin is the youngest age that the child has the maturity to be able to handle a half-hour lesson and actually try to do what the teacher says.

If you start your daughter very young on the violin and it doesn't work out, then let the idea rest for a bit and try again when she shows more maturity. She might take to it just fine but if she doesn't, it doesn't mean she doesn't have potential, it just means the timing isn't quite right.

Anyway that's my opinion based on what I've seen.

October 13, 2012 at 02:58 PM · It is a proven fact that kids' brains are built as absolute sponges when they are young! This is why Suzuki and others encouraged starting early.

However it is also a proven fact that kids' motor skills are not fully developed when they are very young; also their learning style is usually more subconscious, less structured. This is why many teachers feel that young starters can have diminishing returns.

For myself, I've had the most success starting kids between 5 and 8, depending on their motor and learning readiness. There are kids that started anywhere in that time frame that took off because they were ready. There have been others that started on the young end (i have never taken younger than 4), that really moved very slowly either because they weren't ready for the organized process, or their fingers/arms/hands really just didn't have the control to do it. We moved forward, yes, but it was baby steps and it was frustrating till they started getting to where things clicked.

Buri, who used to post here a lot, suggested that the best balance is to fill those fabulous, sponge-like early years with general music classes and activities, allowing the child to really absorb music and musicianship into her soul; then add the violin lessons around school age when the structured skills catch up. I agree. You can do a lot of music developmental activities--and a lot of learning developmental activities, and a lot of motor developmental activities--in those young ages, apart from a violin, that can really grow your daughter and then when the time is right, add the violin lessons. Not that it can't be done the other way, but I think this would be more enriching, fruitful, and enjoyable.

Best to you both!

October 13, 2012 at 04:22 PM · "The youngest appropriate age to start the violin is the youngest age that the child has the maturity to be able to handle a half-hour lesson and actually try to do what the teacher says."

Not necessarily. For young children, the 30-minute lesson doesn't have to be written in stone. I've often started out youngsters with 10 or 15 minutes.

Dexterity isn't also necessarily needed. One of the main things to be cultivated at a young age isn't fast fingers but the simple ability to focus, and to track notes on a page with the eyes.

October 13, 2012 at 04:47 PM · Here is my take: Prodigies start on their own. You would be hard pressed to stop them. Give them an instrument and a good teacher and stand back. The talented need a little more encouragement and should start a little later. The intelligent and interested start about 9-10 and they are apt to get frustrated and quit. They need incentives(bribes) and some coercion to help them get over some hurdles. They also need very good instructors who can challenge them to solve problems with their heads. They don't go as far but their instrumental skills are a lifetime blessing. They bless their parents for their patient investment in them.

October 13, 2012 at 08:33 PM · All,

These were great responses. I think I know more than anytime regarding this subject. I agree with all of you that 2 1/2 is too early and some sort of kid/music program works much better at this time.

I am glad I found someone in Plano (Where we live) so i will make sure to reach out to the instructor as soon as my daughter is ready.

Again, thanks for the kind advises, I really needed it.

regards,

Soheil

October 14, 2012 at 11:40 PM · I'm not an "expert" (I'm only a high school student) but here's my take:

I've been in many youth orchestras and all the top players in whatever instrument they play (violin, viola, cello, flute, etc.) chose to play the instrument - their parents didn't have any influence in starting them. Last year's concertmaster of the orchestra I'm in started when she was ten (out of free will) and is now at Indiana.

If you want to get your daughter interested in music (especially the violin) maybe start her on piano first, maybe when she's four or five. (Many of the talented kids I referred to earlier started on piano to build a strong musical foundation). I think introducing the idea of violin when she's older or letting her find out about it on her own is better than trying to get her into it at such a young age.

October 15, 2012 at 01:53 AM · Since your child is so young, and while not a parent myself, I have had several gifted students on the instruments I teach (in fact, saw one of them pay a concerto a little more than a week ago with his university symphony orchestra), here's some ideas of creating a musical environment:

http://clariniano.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/26-ideas-for-creating-a-musical-environment-in-a-home-before-a-child-is-ready-for-music-lessons/

October 15, 2012 at 07:36 AM · Hi,

I would say there is no "right answer"

I started the piano (forced by my mom) when I was 6. I'm now 32 and very grateful for my involuntary musical education. My kid, on the other hand, started asking for a violin around 5. So I would say, if your kid a) needs a challenge b) begs for lessons, then by all means start 'em young. Bear in mind though that when you start kids that young, the parent will need to commit at least 1/2 hour a day to monitoring the practices. 99% of young kids won't practice unless they're reminded to.

However, it's never too late to foster a love of music in your children! no matter what age they start lessons, it helps to expose them to all kinds of music from the moment they're born...that way when they hit their first bach or mozart piece, chances are their ear already "knows" how it should sound.

October 16, 2012 at 08:03 PM · The age to start varies so widely that it would be impossible to really say, not knowing the child. I have had some students ready at 3, while others were not ready even at 9.

If the child is showing signs of interest in the instrument, by all means encourage the interest! If there is no interest yet, expose the child to the instrument often, and wait for the interest to grow. Encouraging exposure and interest does not necessarily mean beginning lessons. Find a teacher who has experience with young students and ask whether you and your child can observe other children's lessons (provided your child can do so quietly and without distracting - you may need to watch from the next room). Take your child to recitals and concerts, preferably those with child performers. Watch videos together on YouTube of young violinists. Purchase the Suzuki CD 1 and play it often in the background while your child plays, or in the car - make up words (or google them) to the songs and sing along until the tunes become very familiar to your child. When your child starts asking for an instrument don't immediately buy her one. Tell her that maybe she can play when she gets a little older - and then watch to see whether it's a passing fancy, or something she persistently asks for. (Note: I am a firm believer in parents having the final say in what their children learn/do, but if you want your child to learn an instrument that she has absolutely no interest in, it's better to wait until she is considerably older than 2.) KinderMusic and other such programs are not the only answer. Chances are, you, as her dad, can teach her just as much as she'll learn in such classes.

I have a student now who at age 2 started showing an interest in the violin and wanting to watch other kids' lessons. We started lessons at 3 1/2, and after 6 lessons she has learned how to hold the bow (no "beginners' bow hold" - she does the real thing) and violin (they need frequent correcting, but when handed the violin/bow she knows and is able to do what she's supposed to do with it); she can play/pluck/tap/clap/jump the Twinkle A rhythm; she knows all the parts of the instrument and bow and is learning the string names; she can do a number of bow exercises, and this week we learned the first two notes of Variation A. She has weekly 30 minute lessons, and easily has the attention span to concentrate for that length of time. Her mom (who has no previous experience with strings) attends all lessons and works with her at home. Now, let me plainly state that not all children are ready at this age! But if, after exposure to the violin and music, your child's interest is there and growing and you find a good teacher who accepts students this young, 3 or 4 is not too early to start. I have a 5 year old student who has had 5-6 months of lessons who loves the violin and has practiced more than 2 hours in one day - at her insistence, not her parents'. She's the same student who cried her first week of lessons (age 4) when her mom told her it was time to stop practicing - after 40 minutes. I agree with those who stated that a child beginning at 3 or 4 and one who starts at 8 or 9 will be at about the same level in a short amount of time, but if a child really wants to start young, I see no reason to wait. Usually those started young will pay a lot more attention to detail since they learned things slowly and one at a time, instead of all at once.

October 17, 2012 at 04:47 AM · I started 2 months ago (Age 16)... Honestly, I have learned so much these months!! But...

I'm of course, quite experienced with piano so maybe that's what it helped.

In conclusion, I agree with Smiley's opinion

October 17, 2012 at 08:37 PM · The thing about piano is that there's only one size. One could argue all day and night about whether that's a good thing or bad. But if you cannot reach a fifth the piano is kind of hopeless.

October 18, 2012 at 02:59 AM · 2 1/2 could be a great age for you to start the violin, so that when she's ready to start earnestly she can have your informed help, sympathy and accompaniment.

October 18, 2012 at 03:26 AM · I don't think any age is too young. I have sat my baby nephew on my lap and sung notes to him on the piano, and put his little finger on the note to play whilst singing it to him. It's all brain training.

I have taught students the piano and violin from the age of 3. If they can't reach a 5th, it's not an issue. They learn to relax and jump their hands - a good technique for later on.

For the violin, there are clever tools called 'bow hold buddies' that make life so much easier to learn to hold the bow. Younger students learn the 'feel' of where to put their fingers straight away, and they look cool too!

Games, games and more games.

There are some websites out there that have free printable games for beginner piano and violin students. You don't have to be on your instrument the entire time, you can sit on the floor and learn to read music through games.

The most important thing I think is that littlies don't often have the muscle stamina to play for a great length of time, so do 3-5 mins of playing, 5 mins of a game, then another 5 mins of playing, then another theory game etc. They're little sponges and pick things up so quickly!

I wish you all the best for your little one! It sounds like she'll have a LOT of fun and support along her musical journey.

October 18, 2012 at 03:50 AM · Dianna

I couldn't agree with you more!! Here are some playlists I have made in youtube with music games:)

Happy Practicing!!!

Heather Broadbent

www.onlineviolin.net

www.youtube.com/user/heatherkbroadbent

October 18, 2012 at 05:02 AM · I might be the lone wolf in my opinion on this, you can start your daughter as young as their is an experienced teacher willing to take her. That being said, any instrument built for her tiny hands will work just fine. The violin is no harder for her than a guitar or piano. That being said, you have to foster a home attitude that keeps it fun, interesting and exciting.

December 26, 2012 at 01:52 PM · It really depends on the child.

Is the child drawn to music, willing to practice, blessed with sufficient coordination at a young age to do it, blessed with sufficient attention span? Some are. Some aren't.

If the child has the inclination, starting as early as possible has many advantages and that means exposing them to good music as much as it means encouraging them to play and practice.

Most of the solo-quality violinists in our junior orchestra began between the ages of 3 and 5. That gave them a great advantage over those who started later. While some were complete beginners at the age of 12, others of the same age had been playing for almost a decade. The difference showed.

December 26, 2012 at 07:08 PM · While every child is unique, there are common stages in cognitive development, well know in developmental psychology. One of the theories that describe them is Piaget's theory of cognitive development.

It is essential that the teacher is aware of this and that is trained well for different age groups.

In other words, even if the age is appropriate to start, if a teacher does not know what he/she is doing, the time is wasted and the errors may take long before corrected.

Psycho-motor skills, such as riding a bike or swimming can be acquired at early stage. Although violin playing is more complex, the basic skills that are the foundation of a good technique can be learnt early. When the child gets older, these can be re-aproached and incorporated on a different cognitive level.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Violin-Strings.com

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Warchal

Barenreiter

Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe