Kids in band

When is the right age to start your child in music lessons?

Studies have shown that the earlier in childhood an individual starts to play an instrument, the larger the motor cortex region of the brain becomes. Playing an instrument in general has an influence on this region of the brains size, but there is evidence that suggest this region of the brain shows the greatest contrast for those who start to play music early (source). Early was defined in the cited study as 7 years or younger.

Following this logic, as soon as your child can hold their head up, its probably time to start placing a microphone under their chin and practice the C major scale right? It turns out it isn't exactly that easy. Enjoyment is a component that needs to be taken into account as well. If your child doesn't like the music lessons and therefore becomes stressed out or angered by them, these negative effects may out weight the positive. Stress increases the amount of cortisol that the brain releases, and high levels of cortisol have been correlated with obesity, high blood pressure and insomnia. So although an early start in music can be beneficial, that benefit should not be sacrificed if it places the child under stress. In this scenario, it is probably best to wait for the child to grow into the act of taking lessons. There are still many brain and life benefits just from listening to music.

The brain benefits that have been studied from playing music are numerous and conclusive. Playing with a group or even just listening to live music in a group environment has been shown to increase and stimulate the brain hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is the brain hormone that is responsible for helping people bond and trust one another. Oxytocin has been labeled as the “moral molecule” and the “trust molecule”. Exposing your child to music in settings such as group lessons or simple sing along shows can be a great way to get the benefits of music, with or without supplemental music lessons at any age. At what age your child starts to play music is really an individual decision, the important thing is to know its never too early or too late to reap the benefits of music, whether that is playing it, or listening to it.

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