When I was five years old, I started music lessons, which is pretty common in American families. But really, is this the right time to start?
Is there a best age or a worst age to start learning an instrument?
Recent studies have found the answer. There is a clear body of research that indicates a window of opportunity from birth until the age of nine, where children have the greatest potential to successfully learn an instrument. During this age range, the developing brain has a unique potential to learn music, if it’s exposed properly. Engaging with music at an early age can strengthen connections between the brain’s motor regions, which are responsible for planning and carrying out movements.
For these scientific reasons, an increasing number parents are having their kids start lessons at young ages. However, for every story of a young prodigy, there are so many others of kids quitting. They hate practicing or are frustrated by the lack of results. Some children begin to resent being forced to play an instrument, and others who end up quitting as a kid never pick up an instrument again.
It’s clear that starting at an early age is no guarantee of success.
In order to have the best chance of making music a recurring activity, parents must figure out the method that best fits their child’s individual needs.
This information is helpful for parents, but what about everyone else who might be interested in learning? The bottom line is that it is never too late to learn an instrument. Whether you’re 15, 25, or 50, experiencing success as a musician is about the right attitude and the right application. Even if you can’t afford or don’t have the time for formal music lessons, you can easily learn a lot using materials found on the internet and helpful apps.
If you’re feeling discouraged, just know that tons of musicians have been successful after starting late.
Jazz legend Thelonious Monk didn’t make it on the charts until age 40, and singer/songwriter Rachel Platten didn’t write her hit “Fight Song” until age 34.
So we can confidently say there is no true right time to learn an instrument. So get practicing!