A few weeks ago, my three year old daughter’s music school opened their doors to all current or potentials parents and kids. They do this once a year to grow the awareness and interest in music playing in the community. They organize performances with the kids and they let the visiting children try instruments for the first time.
My daughter has been participating in the group music classes since she was one and a half years old. The classes are appointed as two sub groups between the age of 18 months to 2.5 years and 2.5 years to 3.5 years. Toddlers sit in a circle with their parent or grandparent. They participate while singing, listening, moving and playing with simple rhythmic instruments such as the triangle, wooden sticks, wood maracas, rattles and tambourine. The instruments are made from wood with the exception of the triangle of course. (The reason why I mention wood is because the touch of wood ignites a different sensation in children compared to plastic. But that’s for another blog post 😉 ) As the kids grow, their capabilities also grow and they not only play simple rhythms but also play them in an organized manner similar to an ensemble/small orchestra. These early group lessons are the perfect musical start for a toddler. [Bringing toddler music classes to you is another project of mine. Continue to check your mailbox in the future for information.]
Now back to that day when the school had their doors open to all current or potential parents and kids. First, my daughter’s musical group performed their many-times-rehearsed piece for the audience. After a few more school performances, there was a break and people started to check out the classrooms. We walked into each and every room to try all the instruments that were on display. Based on the categories I have mentioned last week in my blog called “Overhead Bin Instruments“, we can divide them into categories such as:
- Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar)
- Woodwind (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone)
- Brass (Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba)
- Percussion (Timpani, Percussion, Marimba, Harp, Piano) (Yes, the modern piano is a percussion instrument. The historical pianos (clavichord, harpsichord) were plucked instruments.)
The portable instruments come in smaller sizes suitable for the children’s ages. For example a full size violin (4/4 violin) is 14 inches to 23-23.5 inches (35.5.cm/60cm) in body and total length while the smallest possible violin (1/32 violin) is 7.5-13-13.5 inches (19cm/32cm) in body and total length. That means that a child can start learning an instrument as early as their attention spam permits it. If he/she is 3 years old and have an incredible interest in piano and violin, it is very possible to do so as long as you find a suitable teacher for the job. (For the article on the subject, check out my blog post of January 3rd, 2017. http://tugcetariroth.com/choosing-music-teacher/ )
However, what I have heard from all the woodwind and brass teachers was that first, the child needed to loose their front baby teeth before starting with the lessons. This meant that they had to be at the age of 7 or 8 as the permanent front teeth usually erupt at that time. It made sense since the front teeth and the lips are the main contact point with the wind or brass instrument therefore, very important.
For string or percussion instruments, there are no hindrances other than the attention spam or the interest of your child. However, if your child has interest in woodwind or brass instruments and he/she has already lost his/her two front baby teeth and got the permanent ones in place, it is an indication that you may start looking for a proper teacher. If not, make a call to the tooth fairy and ask the latest status on the subject.