Child's Basic Music CompetenceDoes the child sing in tune and in rhythm, with or without other music
Does the child move, especially legs/feet, with accurate rhythm with or
without other music present?
Child's Physical Readiness for the instrument.
Can the child use scissors?
Does the child color fairly well "within the lines"
Wind instruments: is jaw developed, according to dentist?
Piano: when the child sits on the bench, are his forearms fairly parallel
to the floor?
Does the child's hand measure at least two inches across the width of
the large knuckles?
Child's Mental ReadinessCan the child say the alphabet?
Can the child count to 20?
Can the child sit still and concentrate for at least 10 minutes at a time?
Can the child follow multi-step directions?
Does he know his left from his right most of the time?
Child's Emotional Readiness:
Has the child asked for lessons? For how long has he been asking?
If he has not specifically requested lessons, does he go to the instrument
to experiment (or is he drawn to one like a magnet elsewhere if there is
no instrument in the home)?
Does he pretend to play (such as on the arm of a sofa)?
Does he react favorably when the parent suggested lessons?
Does he respond to music he hears by dancing or moving to it? Have teachers
at school or church remarked on his interest in music?
Are you ready to sit on the bench for 20-30 minutes daily to
If your child doesn't need your active help, will you keep him
in the instrument room if he desires?
Are you willing to play the "games" with the child and encourage
family members to join in?
Are you willing to run interference with other family members to
quiet time for practice and to stave off negative remarks about
Can you generally count on other family members for support and
Are you willing to commit to the on-going dollar and time costs?
willing to buy/rent an instrument if you don't have one?
For more information on Tonal and Rhythmic Competence, see Stanley L. Schleuter,
A Sound Approach to Teaching Instrumentalists, 2nd ed., Schirmer, 1997.
Information specifically about piano readiness adapted from How Can I Tell if My Young Child is Ready for Piano Study
, copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
For more information about parent readiness and parent-child interaction
style, see "Development and Validation of an Instrument to Determine the
Goodness of Fit between Parents and Children in a Suzuki Lesson Environment,"
Carol Gwen Kiefer, M.Mus.Ed., SIU Edwardsville, 2000
Based on their sales projections, Warner Brothers Publishers prints twice
as many of Suzuki Volume One as Volume Two.
Zoltan Kodaly said,
"Nobody should start music education until the voice and the body are
ready." Shinichi Suzuki said,
"Music education should start nine months before the birth of the
mother." What are we to make of these
contradictory suggestions for our own children? And what about the fact
that 50% of students drop out of instrument lessons before they get to