Instrument Readiness


Here are some important things to consider before starting instrument lessons:

Child's Basic Music Competence
  • Does the child sing in tune and in rhythm, with or without other music present?
  • Does the child move, especially legs/feet, with accurate rhythm with or without other music present?

  • Child's Physical Readiness for the instrument.
  • Fine motor
  • 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 Readiness
  • Can 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?

  • Parent:
  • Are you ready to sit on the bench for 20-30 minutes daily to help your child practice?
  • If your child doesn't need your active help, will you keep him company in the instrument room if he desires?
  • Are you willing to play the "games" with the child and encourage other family members to join in?
  • Are you willing to run interference with other family members to ensure quiet time for practice and to stave off negative remarks about music study? Can you generally count on other family members for support and cooperation?
  • Are you willing to commit to the on-going dollar and time costs? Are you willing to buy/rent an instrument if you don't have one?
  • References

    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.

    Is your child ready to start taking lessons on a musical instrument?

    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 Book Two?