Our DS has been a very passionate (and very good) drummer since he was about nine months old. He drums on everything, all day long, and even makes up drum soundtracks for his books. He plays well on a djembe, drum set, and a Native American drum (along with pots/pans/buckets/tables/sister/etc) and has better rhythm than his mommy or daddy. Over the past few months, a few professional drummers have suggested that he has a gift for drumming and should be in drum lessons.
I'm feeling a bit stumped. DH is eager to move forward with lessons and I'm concerned about stifling his enthusiasm and creativity. DS only recently turned 3, and I'm not sure lessons are even a good idea yet, developmentally. But on the other hand, I don't want to hold back on something that might be right up his alley (assuming we find an instructor experienced with young children).
We do Music Together and take him to drum circles and other drumming events. We're also planning to homeschool and many HS "methods" recommend holding off on formal lessons until age 6ish.
For those of you who have young children exhibiting musical or artistic talent, when did you decide to take the next step into something more structured? Any positive or negative stories to share? TIA!
Crunchy mama to DS (born 10/08) and DD (born 07/11). I'm also a childbirth educator, birth doula, and urban homesteading hopeful.
My daughter has definite artistic talent. I have degrees in Art so it makes it a bit easier for me in that respect. Overall though I just encourage her talent. I will through in stuff learning about different artists but its mainly just fun. I want her to enjoy it and not loose the creativity and imagination. I just try to make it fun. I will do art along side with her and that encourages her to do more as well.
I have no clue with musical talent since I'm no where close to being musically inclined.
: Mother (4/11/06) to Josephine and (4/23/09) to Oliver and baby (due June 1st)
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Babies: Angel (6/29/02), Tiberius (3/8/11), Lillianna (12/27/11)
Professional musician, piano teacher, and mom of a couple of musically talented kids here...
OP, I think you are right that at this point the most important thing is that music remains fun fun fun. Private lessons for kids *can* be fun, but it depends hugely on the teacher. Drum lessons for v. little kids are pretty unusual (I'd say that if anything drum lessons usually start at a later age than some other instruments such as violin and piano). For that reason you might find it really difficult to find a teacher who is experienced in working with preschoolers, and I think it's crucial that you find someone with that experience if you want to start him in lessons now. What I'd do is probably keep him in group music lessons and keep my feelers out for an exceptional and experienced teacher. If you don't find a teacher right away I wouldn't sweat it - just keep on providing lots of fun musical experiences for him. When he's school-aged lessons will almost certainly be a good fit.
ETA dd didn't start lessons (violin) until she was 5. Dh and I are both professional musicians and our kids get lots of informal exposure to music, but dd wasn't ready for the structure of lessons until that age. Ds is 4 and isn't ready yet, but we play lots of music games together and I've taught him a bit on the piano.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
My little brother started Suzuki cello lessons when he was four years old, and the private lessons were only fifteen minutes long! Even then, I remember that his attention span fell far short. So yes, like the pp, I think that private lessons are premature at this age.
The local Suzuki teacher has some violin students as young as 3, but even though she is very good about changing things up in rapid succession to keep the child interested and very experienced with teaching preschoolers, it must be a very rare child with an attention span long enough to be able to benefit from violin lessons at the age of 3. And that's for a stringed instrument. Percussion instruments may very well be different, as the pp suggests.
I do have three ideas that you can pursue.
1. I would suggest that you and your husband take a few drumming lessons yourself. You can learn some basics.
2. I would search youtube for some brief 3 or 4 minute videos in which drumming instructors give some quickie introductory pointers aimed at beginning students.
3. I would pay drumming teachers for consultations, without your child present, to help you brainstorm ideas of brief activities that you could do with your child.
Then, you can modify what you learn into VERY SHORT duration activities and have your child do them for a minute or two.
You know, things like clapping exercises (to practice rhythm) that you and your child can do together for a couple minutes while waiting in line at the store.
Or you could demonstrate syncopation for a minute or two while driving around town on errands.
Then, another time, you could give your child a pencil and see if your child can mimic from you the correct hand position to hold the drumstick. (I assume that there is a right way and a wrong way, but I don't actually know what it is because I don't know anything about drumming.)
Or maybe you can have your child chant different words to learn different rhythms, like the Suzuki classic miss-is-ip-pi-hot-dog.
Or maybe you could have your child learn to sing the melody of the old standby song from the musical Westside Story (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6wo2wpT2k) "IIIII like to BE in a-MEriCA" to learn how to switch back and forth between triplets and eighth notes.
If you just think creatively (perhaps in consultation with a music teacher), you can think of all kinds of quick short fun things that teach your child some basics of rhythm without your child even realizing it.
Instead of a lesson, per say, I think at this age it is more effective to insert what I guess you could call Teachable Seconds. If you change it up constantly, never make it last longer than a couple of minutes, and spread them out throughout the week, then it will stay fun.
Ds started formal guitar lessons at 4 and he loved it. He is in the Suzuki program, which is aimed at young kids. His lessons are 30 min long and his teacher was great at making up games and giving him encouragement and little treasures at the end of each class. The Suzuki music school is like a big community in our city; parents and children playing different instruments meet on Saturdays for group lessons, and we have pizza together.
Ds loves to practice his guitar and he puts up shows for the family and for his friends. We also try to expose him to music by going to concerts and shows.
You know your child best. He may or may not like to take lessons at this age. It's certainly not necessary in my opinion. But they can be fun.
You may want to look for Orff music programs. They are very popular for pre-school, kindergarten and primary age groups. The lessons involve lots of rhythm and movement and revolve around percussion instruments like xylophones and glockenspiels. It's all about the fun, or at least should be. As others have pointed out, it all really depends on finding the right teacher.
There's nothing wrong with waiting, if that's what you choose to do. My ds didn't start formal private music instruction until he was 10 or so and now at 18, he's played with community orchestras and bands, he plays professionally with his own band, and he now teaches some private lessons himself. He didn't really discover a passion for music until that age, though. If he had demonstrated an interest in music lessons earlier, we would have pursued it.
I am a strong believer in a child-led learning philosophy. Just because a theoretical ideology says formal lessons should wait until a certain age, I wouldn't let that limit my own child's opportunities IF my child showed an interest and enthusiasm. After all, if lessons aren't working out, you can always try a different approach or a different teacher or decide that you need to give him a little more time, wait a few months or a year and try again.
If he's already a promising drummer-- at 3yo no less and with no training-- I think he's been doing fine without formal lessons! Keep doing what you've been doing. He's enthusiastic, he's creative, he's *good*. Sounds like you're already on the right path.
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
No, I'd just play a lot of music and a lot of different rhythms. Get a metronome and let him play with it. Go to drum circles together.
Lessons might be OK, but who the heck has experience teaching 3yos? And how would things be any different at age 12 for starting at age 3?
So I'd unschool on the drum thing, and maybe think about more exposure to a second language, or another instrument ... not just playing to his strength.