There are so many benefits to music education, but I truly believe that kids do not get an early enough start with formal music. At Lakeview Elementary, we start in pre-K. Most of them are 5, with a few older four year olds. By the time they are done with their Transitional Kindergarten year, they are playing B, A & G on their recorders beautifully, and showing the beginnings of reading music. They understand rhythm, counting and following a cue in the music. They are truly amazing in my book.
Some of the benefits include:
- Increased understanding of basic math concepts
- The ability to connect both sides of the brain, improving creativity and logic
- Many studies indicate a correlation to language
- Reductions in behavior problems
- Increased standardized test scores
This, in my mind at least, brings up some valid questions:
How early is too early for formal music education?
I think each child is different, but most have the maturity for simplified music training by the time they are in kindergarten. When I say simplified, I mean we’re not throwing the entire staff at the poor kids, we are giving them one note at a time. Anything more than that is just too much. In general, the older the child is, the more information they can take in at one time. For brand new beginners in music though, I do not stray from the one note at a time template until after we get past the first three notes. After that, the learning tends to start snowballing, and I have noticed a marked increase the pace at which they want to go.
Aren’t their hands too small for a recorder/violin/piano..?
It’s true, their hands are very small and not very strong. But, if you move one note at a time, they will develop the strength and dexterity needed to master the instrument. The biggest mistake I have seen made with young students, is expecting them to learn faster than they really should. Take each lesson slowly, don’t rush them. They’ll meet the challenge, and often ask for more!
How do you know when they’re ready for more?
They’re pretty up front about being bored with something because it’s now too easy. But most often, I see them asking about different notes. Is there an F, is there a D, how do I play that? What is this note(as they demonstrate it with their fingers)?
When they ask that type of question – it’s time to give them a new challenge!
You never know how fast kids can go, until you give them the tools and let them fly. Don’t hold them back because you have a preconceived idea for how they should learn.