For many parents and adult students, the questions of when the appropriate time is to begin lessons and why, are often questions I am asked when someone is first considering or exploring lessons for themselves or their child.
The simple answer is: It is never too late to start learning an instrument-I strongly believe this to be true. In other words, if a parent is looking for lessons for their child, the earliest or youngest age that I would recommend is at the age of four. At four, basic motor skills and coordination are better developed which in turn, will help with learning the basic posture and position of the violin and bow go more smoothly and easily. Starting your child out early is beneficial, but not an absolute necessity. Put another way, if there is an expression of interest, or simply the willingness to explore the instrument through lessons, it is an investment that is well made into your child’s future at any age. Both young children and teenagers can develop not only a new skill, but more importantly, learn valuable life lessons through studying the violin. For example, I encourage my students to participate in studio recitals and competitions when they are ready and prepared, and through the process of preparation, important concepts such as accountability, goal setting, and self confidence are learned. Of course, all of these concepts are very much applicable to anything we pursue in life. It is quite an amazing thing to see a student develop from a shy, quite person, into a self confident, and assured person. I have what my students call a “cheesy”, but effective motto that I frequently tell them. The motto is: play loud and proud. This applies to beginners and advanced students alike; I always stress the importance of not being afraid to try. Whether it is the first attempt or the twenty fifth attempt at a passage, it is absolutely crucial to believe in yourself- by trying and playing a passage in a confident manner at all times, one can improve much more quickly. In my teaching, I enjoy helping my students become the best musicians they can possibly be, but more importantly, I get the greatest satisfaction if an important life lesson is learned too.
For adult students, the same applies, starting at any age is okay. The progress that a person makes is strictly based on their willingness and being open to learn, much less so on natural talent and age. I currently have students as young as 4 to 78, and no matter the age, every student is encouraged to give it their best, and with this in mind, if you gave your best and the lesson or practice went spectacularly, or not quite as well as one hoped, it is okay either way because regardless, progress is being made however small or big it may be on any given day.
Why a student takes lessons can have varying answers and reasons based on their own goals and circumstances-whether it will be a hobby or a way to earn a college scholarship, for example. However, most importantly, along with all of the benefits mentioned above, the violin is a great way for people of all ages to find an outlet for self expression, and that is always fun and at the same time, healthy to explore.