How Children Learn Music

We don’t talk about this enough and we should.

The idea that waiting until a child is 9 years old to begin their musical learning needs to vanish.  We live in a different world. Music learning has to be handled differently.

Fifty-five years ago families were still singing together at home,  parents still sung their childhood songs to their infants and religious congregations viewed singing together as a vital part of programming.

Nowadays we are not making music at home,  parents are shy about singing a simple lullaby  out loud and the music in most churches consists of loud repetitive sounds.  

But parents still want their young children to learn to be proficient at music. In one year of lessons.

Children Learn music the same way they learn language

The following steps are an example of what happens when learning language or music.  Every individual moves through these steps at a different pace.

  1. Listening (infants listen to family interactions, family sings together)
  2. Imitating (a few months later they begin to imitate sounds they hear)
  3. Repeating (sounds turn in to meaningful words, singing parts of songs)
  4. Creating (finally sentences! making up songs)
  5. Reading (elementary school, ready for learning to read notes)
  6. Writing (school continues,  composing music)

Imagine teaching someone to read (step 5) who has not moved through stages 1-4. It is quite difficult.  So why do we continue to allow it for music?

this is what happens in a piano lesson?

This is what should be happening in a preschool piano class!  But more importantly the understanding that children need to go through these steps before learning to play an instrument, is the mindset that needs to prevail.  

So is there hope for my 9 yearl old?

Yes! Your child may begin lessons at any age. However, now I hope you understand why it might take longer than you expected!