The age at which a child should begin taking music lessons varies from student to student. However, there is compelling evidence that suggests there are significant benefits to starting music lessons at a very early age. Studies have shown that the mental structure and mechanisms associated with processing and understanding music are in the prime stages of development from birth to age 9. Brain scans of musicians who started learning an instrument before age 7 show stronger connections between motor regions than those who began lessons later on, despite having the same amount of experience overall. Furthermore, research suggests that taking music lessons as early as age 3 can increase your child's overall brainpower. Studying music develops intelligence, discipline, hand-eye coordination, and more.
Keep in mind that the goal for very young children is not to master the instrument, but rather to develop a meaningful relationship with music. If you don't feel like your child is ready for formal lessons, you can start him or her off with a music appreciation class. These classes usually focus on fostering a love of music and self-expression by exploring different instruments and elements of music. Whether you start with a music appreciation class or a formal lesson, the key to finding success in early music education is active participation from the parents.
What about taking music lessons as an adult? Anyone of any age who wants to learn, and is willing to put the time into practicing, can reach a high level of skill and enjoyment. Learning an instrument as an adult may even benefit other areas of your life. For example, learning an instrument is a way to improve your coordination, concentration, and memory. Making music can also help alleviate stress by releasing endorphins and focusing your energy into a positive activity. It's never too late to take start learning music!
The decision of when to begin taking music lessons ultimately comes down to the student's desire to learn the instrument. Enjoyable activities that bring us happiness are much more likely to create changes in the brain. Forcing an uninterested child to start taking lessons will only cause resentment and eliminate any potential advantages of starting early. Regardless of age, the most successful students are always the ones who have a deep love and passion for music making.