Is my child ready for music lessons?

Toddler girl playing piano, illustration of a child who is ready for music lessons

Your child is ready for individual music lessons if they can sit still and listen for at least 30 minutes without a parent supervising them.

Is your child ready for music lessons?

A young child will only benefit significantly from one-on-one music lessons if they are capable of sitting still and listening to an adult for at least 30 minutes a parent intervening. They need to focus and follow instructions. If a youngster can’t manage that yet, then they aren’t ready for lessons, not at Jazz Workshop Australia anyway.

To be sure, there are teachers who specialize in private lessons for very young beginners, but not our teachers. At JWA we are about teaching and learning, about building knowledge of how to play instruments, how to play jazz, and how to improve at music. Apart from our Little Jazzers program, we aren’t about training children in how to behave. Nor are we set up for ‘infotainment’ or child minding. There are other music schools who cater to that need and do it very well.

Readiness for group music lessons

Group lessons can be great for young children, but they do need to be ready. You will usually find lower expectations for social skills because that’s one of the things group lessons for younger kids are designed to teach. However, you child should be comfortable in a group of other children, be able to sit reasonably still for about 15-20 minutes and listen to adults other than a parent.

Group lessons for little ones, like our Little Jazzers program, teach children how to cooperate in a group, how to follow teacher instructions, how to listen, how to focus on the task at hand. This is as well as building fundamental musical and ensemble skills. The social skills of listening, courtesy, and cooperation are fundamental to leaning to play music in a group and are just as necessary as musical skills like rhythm and pitch awareness.

For older children joining musical ensembles, readiness to listen, ability to concentrate, and courtesy are very important. Group classes for young and very young children are a great preparation for this.

Is your child ready to join a jazz combo?

Your child will be ready to join a jazz combo at Jazz Workshop Australia if

  1. They can play an instrument. They need to know how to play notes and what their names are, can get a controlled sound out of the instrument, can play at least a few different major scales if it is a melodic instrument, or play a steady beat if they are a drummer.
  2. They have the social and learning skills of listening, concentrating, showing courtesy, sharing, and taking turns. They need to be able to do this without a parent supervising them.
  3. They need to be interested in learning to play jazz in a jazz band.

When kids first join our jazz combos, we realise that early on they will need some help to learn how to behave in that setting. It can be quite unlike their experience in school band or classroom music. The excitement of that, the less-formal setting, and the apparent musical freedom can lead some children to instinctively react with exuberant behaviour. Over time, that can become disruptive misbehaviour that stops everyone from learning and making progress.

Kids who can’t control their disruptive behaviour will eventually be asked to leave to group. That’s because when disruption ends, learning, knowledge-building, progress, and serious fun begin.

To learn more about readiness to learn music, read this article about child prodigies and what things help them to excel.

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