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You might want to look into the Suzuki method...they regularly start kids when they are toddlers. I took a Suzuki violin class when I was 5 and I was the oldest child...the youngest was 18 months. I have mixed feelings about it, especially since my mom was a Suzuki teacher and I saw a lot of kids go through the Suzuki course, play really really well at a young age, but then totally burn out and drop piano altogether. I think it's something that can be fantastic if it's child-directed...not so fantastic if it's more parent-led. Any child learning an instrument through the Suzuki method also needs repertoire that is not in the Suzuki books, IMO, especially jazz, folk songs, other nonclassical repertoire. It does get boring playing the same songs all the others are playing, even though the pieces in the Suzuki books are incredibly well-chosen and appealing.

Most "traditional" teachers would not take on a child younger than 5. However, if your child shows significant interest and musical talent from a young age, you might look into it - I'm sure there are teachers who will take students of any age who show promise. There is a program at Juilliard for very young prodigies. Formal lessons require a lot of focus, both for the lesson and for the required practice, but there are profoundly musically gifted children who can do this from a very young age. (Just for comparison, though, most kids are not ready until about age 8.)
 

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I recommend Musikgarten or Music Together. Kindermusik if your town doesn't have either of those; it has a lot of good things in it but I prefer Music Together and Musikgarten over Kindermusik. It's less systematic about teaching musical elements and is more commercially oriented. Also, it doesn't have as many folk songs in its curriculum. Suzuki could be good, in addition to one of those, after about 3 or so, if YOU learn the instrument first. (Start taking lessons from your child's teacher, a few months before you want him or her. It's based on the premise that a child wants to imitate his parents. So you can't just sign your kid up for Suzuki; YOU have to do it too.) Ask if you can attend free classes. As with anything, it's the teacher that makes or breaks it.
 

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I could write a book on this.


I'm a registered Suzuki violin teacher, and I love the method. It's based on a philosophy that every child can learn to play a musical instrument, just like every child can learn to speak. One of the important philosophies is that a child learns best ina loving, positive enviroment, and lesson concepts are broken down into tiny teaching points that are mastered one by one. It's also incredibly parent friendly if you find the right teacher- you don't have to have any musical instrument experience to help your child be sucessful. I respectfully disagree that a parent should start lessons before the child- I really haven't found it necessary; but a parent does have to be very involved in practicing, lessons, acitvities, etc. My best advice if you decide to go that route, is to observe a lot of teachers if possible before comitting to one, so you find one whose personality and style fit with you and your child.

I teach several children inthe 3-4 year old range and it's wonderfully sucessful. Just like learning a second language is easy as a young child, so is learning an instrument. I love watching my little ones discover and learn- they don't know that playing the violin is supposed to be hard, and they get so excited by their progress. My almost five year old is also doing Suzuki Violin with a different teacher and it's done wonderful things for her.

We have also had terrific experience with Music Together. I can't say enough good about that. My kids still listen to and sing the songs all the time, even though we haven't been to the classes in a year or so. I also founda range of "crunchy parents" there. My two year old would frequently nurse during class and she wasn't the oldest nursling!

Good luck in your journey, and pm if you have more questions. I'm always happy to talk someone's ear off about Suzuki.
 

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ashley these are purely my thoughts based on the personality of my child. she loves music. she lives for music. she learnt how to work the cd player at 10 months so she could put on her own cds.

BUT she is also a free spirit and doesnt like formal lessons yet. she is v. high energy and it is v. hard for her to actually sit down and follow 'orders' no matter how good and patient the teacher is. she gets excited and wants to do things her own way.

sooooo i have decided not to put her in any formal school yet.

BUT.... i have surrounded her with musical instruments. whatever i can afford. for her first bday she got a casio keyboard. within a month she 'killed' it trying to figure out the buttons. she got the kazoo when she was what 9 months old and an egg 'shaker'. since then she has had drums, harmonica, banjo, guitar, recorder - a bunch of cultural instruments. she and her friend formed their own band the zanjoes and they have soooo much fun making up songs and playing their instruments.

and i also surround her different kinds of music which is when i discovered she loves japanese opera, opera, musicals, rock, the beatles (she can even tell you everything about them) and rolling stones.

she has told me she wants to take piano lessons. but i dont think she is ready to sit down and actually follow 'orders' however little it is.

i have also found she doesnt really like any of the music classes they do here because she always wants to do her own thing.

so right now i am just surrounding her with opportunities and giving her the chance to explore. and if she really wants to learn i will sign her up when she begs me.

i dont play any musical instruments but her dad does. so she follows him and strums on the guitar and creates her own lyrics and tunes. she is pretty good at strumming and knows about the different notes and chords. so i think when she is visiting her dad she kinda picks up by asking questions - the closest to lessons right now.
 

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I am currently reading a book called "And the skylarks sing with me" that deals with the Suzuki method and homeschooling. From the small amount that I have already read, it sounds like a very promising method to any child that is very young and driven to learn a certain musical instrument.
 

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Stacymom said:
I respectfully disagree that a parent should start lessons before the child- I really haven't found it necessary; but a parent does have to be very involved in practicing, lessons, acitvities, etc.

I totally defer to you on this. I'm not a Suzuki teacher. All I know is what my sister in law (who is a Suzuki violin) has told me. I imagine there are probably a bunch of different positions on that! And now that I think of it, I think she was maybe referring to young toddlers when she said the parents needed to start off with lessons first (like the 18 month old, 2 yr old aged kids), rather than the preschoolers.
 

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Thanks for the ideas, everyone. My son just turned 3, and he has been asking about playing guitars and violins for a year now. We've gotten him all kinds of toy instruments and even a small (used) guitar, but he's asking for a violin with strings (his dad made him one out of cardboard, but he wants the real thing!) I've hesitated on calling teachers just because I don't want to push him if he's too young, but I also don't want to squander his natural interest and talent!
One tip I can share with you is that my children both love to watch Andre Rieu's concerts (televised by PBS, available on VHS and DVD at Amazon and through Netflix). They are getting wonderful exposure to classical music, watching the musicians play their instruments, observing concert behavior, without me having to lug small children to performances (which usually take place at their bedtime anyway).
 

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sarahlou also look around for free classical events around you. our public library has it and some of the symphonies have at least teh first performance for lower priced tickets. these are not easy to find but they are out there. and the good part is because these are for families (afternoons here) they open an hour early and let the children check out and ask questions about the instruments.

unfortunately my dd is off classical music for now. she is a big beatles and rolling stones fan. so we go to see bands in coffee shops since she is a night owl. she enjoys the music. all summer we also have concerts in the park at around 6 pm meant specifically for children.
 

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If you are looking for an informal music class try "the music class" themusicclass.com Their main "selling point" is making the class as informal as possible. If you are in Canada the classes are offered through "Music for Young Children" www.myc.com Hope this helps!
 

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Stacymom-- how would one go about finding Suzuki teachers in their area? I've visited several websites, but I know there are teachers out there and I'm not finding them.
 

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Hey Rynna-

Try www.suzukiassociation.org and click on the "parents" heading. Then you should be able to navigate a teacher search.

You could also try calling local music stores in your area and see if they can refer you to someone. Make sure you interview any of these carefully, because they may not have the qualifications you want. Often, teacher will say they "teach Suzuki" or "Use the Suzuki Books" but have had no formal teacher training. This will sound elitist, but I don't think anyone can teach the Suzuki method in its intended form without going through the teacher training courses.

Or, you can PM me where you live, and I can look up some teachers for you in my National Directory.


Good luck.
 

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Music Together!!!!
It's extremely rare for a toddler to be ready for formal music instruction. They are not truly ready until they can consistently sing a whole song in tune while keeping the beat.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Enudely
Music Together!!!!
It's extremely rare for a toddler to be ready for formal music instruction. They are not truly ready until they can consistently sing a whole song in tune while keeping the beat.
Keep in mind that this is a forum for parents of gifted children; some of these kids are even profoundly gifted. Both of my older children were capable of singing "a whole song in tune while keeping the beat" by the time that they could speak in complete sentences (15 and 20 months, respectively). I know that they're not alone in being capable of such a feat as toddlers.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by eilonwy
Keep in mind that this is a forum for parents of gifted children; some of these kids are even profoundly gifted. Both of my older children were capable of singing "a whole song in tune while keeping the beat" by the time that they could speak in complete sentences (15 and 20 months, respectively). I know that they're not alone in being capable of such a feat as toddlers.

I agree. And, kids who are capable of singing a whole song in tune without missing a beat or many of them may still enjoy Music Together type classes. I know my son really loved them and got so much out of the experience.
 

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Don't get me wrong, I *love* Music Together; Bean and I visited a class when he was a little fella, and it was so much fun. The trouble is, it's *very* expensive and it's designed for a one-to-one parent child ratio; I'd need an obscene amount of money to do MT classes, because not only would I have to pay for two of my three children, but I'd have to pay two other people to come along with them and chase.
 

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Wow, that sucks!
The Music Together program here is all about families, and most of the parents have two or three kiddos with them. Must be an instructor thing. But out MT teacher says that one of the hallmarks of MT is the multiage environment that mimics real life, which in turns helps you integrate music into the rest of YOUR daily life. A philosophy I totally love. Plus, I told the teacher that I really would *love* to take the class but it wasn't in the budget; could I barter with her, and she said that she didn't barter but to come on for free. Yay!
 

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we did the suzuki method as small kids oh that violin was so cute looking at it now I think it was a 1/16 or a 1/32 tiny. But my mom really didn't pick the right instrument for me, I cringe when I hear about you have to start with piano or violin type people I have man hands
even as a small child I played two notes at once on the violin it was painful (and for the people who heard me
Piano might have been a better choice but I could never get my left hand up to snuff.

Get creative with music there are so many cool instruments out there and teachers are not that hard to find. I eventually settled in the double bass which was great for my big old man hands!

Also there are great music things you can do as a family like african drumming, steel drum bands. I had a friend whose son was a natural drummer from the time he could crawl he was always interested in what tones an object made it was neat to see. Get a range of instruments to have at home lessons can make things seem external to the home environment not part of it. Expose them to music of all types.

Quote:
They are not truly ready until they can consistently sing a whole song in tune while keeping the beat.
LOL then my profoundly gifted mother will never be able to take music lessons! (actually she did piano fine as a child but man she still can't sing as babies she'd sing us to sleep and we'd START crying, we didn't even let her sing in church...at christmas time)
 
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