Wednesday 18 March 2020


It’s reasonable to expect that if you’re hungry, tired, sick or urgently need a toilet
your readiness to learn is hampered. You cannot easily focus when your body is
not in balance.
Some needs are obvious, others aren’t. Stress from abuse or loss of loved ones
leave mental scars far less noticeable than visible physical impairment.
Emotions can disrupt physical and mental stability.
Like an iceberg which is mostly underwater, humans can look right but haveissues such as health which are not obvious at first glance.
Humans have “drives” beyond satisfaction of hunger, some controlled by instinct
like sex, or adrenalin response to fear and pain revving up our bodies.
Maslow was a prolific psychologist who famously developed  a list of needs
starting with basic things like food and water & progressing to “self-actualization”
where the drive to reach personal goals was recognized. Maslow wasn't the onlyone to develop these kind of lists but his list has stood the test of time.


Different ages require different  teaching.
All ages are teachable but in Music Education, you will spend a lot of time &
effort to get a baby to a stage where they accept direction, let alone play
an instrument. There is physical readiness & there is emotional and intellectual
A most asked question is “how old is old enough to start?”
In theory, any age is fine. Even babies can be introduced to instruments & show
a bit of sense about them in a quiet moment. The baby pictured was very curious
to the sound & touch of the guitar. Now at 9,  she is singing well and expressing
her musicality with a strong desire for formal lessons.
An interest and curiosity is not always ‘readiness’ to hire a teacher and commit a
budget to developing your child’s musical progress.
Suzuki started teaching violin to very young children with exceptional supportive
parents and achieved great results from children of preschool age. Most families
don’t have an Asian tiger mum to bring this level of discipline & dedication to daily
practice.  Most parents won’t take the time to turn their child into a prodigy, even
if the child shows interest & aptitude.
Some parents are disappointed after spending big money on lessons with their 5
year olds to get little or no results.  5 year olds are usually not disciplined to
independence & need a lot of hand holding & encouragement to play an
instrument proficiently. You simply can’t say to a 5 year old “ now go to your room
and do your practice” and expect this to happen. 
Some can, but in general terms most can’t.
Older children have more ways to absorb information. Reading skills compound
their other existing senses, they have more independence & experience to take
on a new hobby more easily. They still need support and parents who can push
them in a good way (as distinct from bullying them into practice). From around
age 7 a good learner may have developed many tools to learning that will speed
their ability to learn music.
Adults have a rich history to draw upon. A child  has to learn a song first, but an
adult may know already what it sounds like and have a head start to the learning.
A child needs to learn to move little fingers first but most adults have at least
basic dexterity. Adults often have commitments which reduce their practice time.
An (imagined) ambition isn’t the same as a commitment.
That said, many late starters do very well.
Every person is different. Even adults drop out so readiness to commit to
a budget and time on music education needs to be thought out
well in advance. 

If money is no object, music lessons can be just an amusement that might lead
If getting skills is the main object, preparing the time and resources and support
to make it happen are all part of getting a good result from your spend.
Most people realize quickly enough that without practice, skills don’t develop.
Space in your life to set aside time to practice won’t happen if you can’t prioritize
a commitment. Bite off more than you can chew and maybe you can chew like
mad, or, you could choke. Ambition without commitment to time and energy
through your body is wishful thinking.
We don’t teach driving a car to a 5 year old generally because it bears no
relevance to their lives. Learning happens best when ideas, information and skills
come at a relevant time.
Some of the seeds of learning planted will nurture and grow before fruition.
Others never find a place in learning because they are perceived as irrelevant by
the learner.


Having tools that don’t hinder a performance are a minimum.  A terrible musical
instrument can be part of learning experiences but its limits are low.
Quality instruments can inspire your consistent attention. It won't make you play
well, that is a separate issue. It is fortunate with modern production most tools
(musical instruments) are at least usable. Be certain that the tool you choose is
usable and suitable to the size and physical characteristics of the user.

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