In my many years of experience teaching beginners piano and voice lessons, I have learned to tell by observation if the child is ready to begin music lessons. I have a number of strategies put in place to ensure that the child succeeds in this new adventure. I outline my strategies below.

1. Open Interview with the Child

Whether I book a time with the child to come and see me for this interview, or whether it is done at the child's home, I often find the open interview session a valuable resource for determining the child's preparedness to undergo formal music lessons.

I look for the following:

a. The child's interest in talking to me. As a teacher, I need to know whether the child and I can connect.

b. The child's ability to read and listen to musical cues. I usually require the child to be of reading age to be equipped with the skills of reading and counting to music notations. However, there are some children who are not yet of full reading age but I can tell they are eager to learn by listening and observation. This is one crucial step in fast-tracking their music literacy skill.

c. The child's interest in musical sounds - I usually bring in my props and check whether these would interest the child.

d. The child can sit still - as the lessons are usually repetitive and at a minimum of 30 mins, I need to determine whether the child is ready to concentrate and can sit still. I need to know whether their attention span is long enough to be able to focus on the lessons.

2. Requesting the child to play or sing When parents approach me to say they want music lessons for their children, I do applaud them for taking up an interest in music education. However, what parents think what is best of the child is different from what the child wants to do, then there becomes a potential problem. It is for this reason I usually ask the child to sing or attempt to play the piano by touching the keys.

If the child instantaneously or readily responds by offering a few phrases of a song, or touches the keys without hesitation, then I can tell whether the child is generally interested in music. If it takes time to coax the child to play or sing it might be a potential difficulty to get them to do something similar for the lessons.

One additional strategy I use is to get one of my children to play to "break the ice" or to do a demo. If my children are not around, I play a video of another child playing.

Then I get the child to try and imitate with the child in the video does.

Parents sometimes say things to convince me that their child is ready - but in reality, it is the child that will determine whether they can be committed to their learning. I then help step in to make that happen. I need to know that both the parents and the child are on the same page.

3. Parent Interview

The third method I use is parent interview. I discuss what the expectations are as the parents are to be involved in the process as well. I ask questions like what is the child's attitude to music at home, is there a time and place where the child can practice at home, have they done any previous music lessons, what the outcomes are, and I also them about what their expectations are. I also emphasize that this is not only their child's commitment but also theirs to regularly send the child to lessons, and to help in at-home review or exercises for the child. There are other question that I ask during this interview and it is best that I really spend time with the parents as well.

I believe that the music lessons that I offer are not just "a fee-for-service" kind of environment. I love music, I respect my craft, I know I can teach and I want the best outcomes for my students. I am also a parent that understands that children may have mood swings and can easily give up, and I too have taught my own kids to play and can really say appreciation for music is heightened if they are actively involved in the process as well. They perform well in school because they have music as an 'add on' interest to break the monotony of academic life.

If you would like to speak to me about a potential voice or piano lesson for your child, send me an email at or head on to my website page on music education for more information about the music services that I provide.