The main issue with starting violin lessons early is that kids adopt inappropriate body or hand position and get used to inconsistencies, which during the later stages hamper their development.
There's a lot of buzz that goes around on how early exposure to music helps in brain development. You often find parents lining up at music schools introducing their little ones to tiny instruments.
Is it really required? Darin Varbanov, who founded the Musical Art Studio in Singapore, says, parents should wait till kids are at least four years old, before they embark on any formal music training.
Varbanov, meets me at his Crawford Court studio one afternoon, and shares his thoughts on music education for children. Our talk is focused on violin lessons in particular, which is where his experience lies. Edited excerpts.
How early can kids start violin lessons?
"There are certain general student’s abilities, which are essential at the starting point. Some of them are, the overall level of motor skills development, particularly the ability to stand upright at least for few minutes; to possess certain kind of independence (at least to be agreeable to stand himself/herself, apart from the parent); to be able to pay attention, although it might be for a short time; to be able to follow simple instructions. All these qualities show a readiness to start."
At the same time, we need to keep in mind that the learning of the violin is a continuous and long process, if the goal is accomplishment or even perfection. "Physically, the finger joints start aging and stiffening around the age of 16-17, hence the building up of violin techniques will be more efficient before this age or up to about 2 years after that."
Apparently, this fact will urge the teachers to achieve higher results with the students as early as possible, which nowadays is witnessed frequently.
When we consider the proper age to start playing the violin, we need to take into an account all of the above factors, as well as many personal student’s details. "However, the vast majority of kids are ready to start a meaningful training around the age 4 and a half or above, while the minority might be comfortable doing it at 4. Below the age of 4, the kids are seldom prepared for a meaningful studying process."
Why do you not recommend starting around 3-4 years which is becoming a fad these days?
"There are teachers, who presume that an earlier start is better. It could be, provided the teaching is handled in a very slow pace, with great patience and with no expectation for instant results." The issue is that kids adopt inappropriate body or hand positions, and get used to inconsistencies. During the later stages, this hampers their development, and takes long for the necessary corrections.
The student may show some progress at an early age, but unfortunately it is not lasting. At the end of the day, students, who start later even overtake those who start earlier. "It has its exclusions, again due to personal qualities of every student. This is an important professional consideration, before drawing conclusions - whether the achievements are a result of the early start and methods used, or the particular student possesses overwhelming qualities."
Read on to find out which type of violin is good for a beginner.