Is My Son Too Young For Violin Lessons?
There is a trend going on, fueled by YouTube child “prodigies”, that consists of trying to turn young children into gifted violin players before they even finish primary school. It has caused an unhealthy obsession for some parents. After all, if other children can do it, why not theirs?
A small child can start taking lessons very early. As early as 3 or 4 years old. Any earlier it would be better to expose them to a lot of music at home, and maybe some musicianship lessons so they get acquainted with simple melodies and rhythm.
The most important thing for a parent is to manage their own expectations for their child. Yes, child prodigies do exist, but that doesn’t mean that ANY child can become one. And they shouldn’t, it’s not necessary at all to reap the benefits of music, or to even become a professional.
What matters is that they learn about music, that they love it, and that they understand the discipline of it. A child needs to respect music, the violin, and their teacher, those are the most valuable lessons.
Make It A Game
For the youngest ones, the violin needs to become a game. That keeps them engaged and interested. You don’t need flashy stickers or shiny colors, but everything they learn has to be like a little adventure.
Parent involvement is key. But you have to make sure you are encouraging, not forcing. It can be good if the parent can attend the lessons and learn the “games” so he can play at home with his son.
For ages as low as 3 or 4, it’s always better to keep the lessons short. You may start for as little as 10 minutes and then lengthen it progressively. You can also divide a 20-minute class into 10-minute slots, one for learning new things and the other to play favorite melodies.
Don’t try to make them do more than the teacher suggests, you need to understand that they can take a long time to reach even the lowest grade.
There are Limitations
Small kids have small hands, so naturally their hand span won’t cover as many frets as an older child. Technical work should be delayed and the focus should be on musicianship. Melodies with one finger may be the only thing they work for a while. Bowing can wait.
I’m not saying all this to discourage you, on the contrary, early music lessons can be incredibly useful. A lot of the information becomes really well embedded in a young learner and it sets them up well, so they can make good progress through the grades, sometimes better than older pupils that started their lessons later.
It will also help develop their ear, which is the most important thing in music. They may naturally get absolute pitch, which is the capacity to know a note by listening to it without a reference.
While the normal age to start violin lessons is around 8 years old, an early start comes with a lot of advantages. Just remember it takes time, and the most important thing is that the child enjoys the process.