A common question parents have is when should they enroll their children in formal music lessons. Here are some guidelines to determine if and when your child is ready.
Watch and Learn
Observe your child and listen to her attentively. I recall one day when a delivery truck stopped in front of our house and men started unloading what to me was a huge piece of furniture. This huge piece of furniture turned out to be a piano which my father bought from a friend of his. At five years of age, the piano looked both intimidating and fascinating to me. I would bravely sit on the piano bench and start banging on the keys which, to my delight, sounded really nice. My parents must have noticed my interest in the piano and decided to hire a private tutor.
Determine whether your child is keenly interested or not and if it's something she'll lose interest in the long run. Shortly after, my parents decided to hire a private piano teacher for me and my brothers. Once a week our piano teacher would come to our house and patiently teach us how to play. My brothers were aged 7, 10 and 14, and I was a skinny little 5 year old. Surprisingly as the years progressed, all my brothers lost interest in playing the piano. As for me, my fascination with this instrument continues to this day.
Talk to you child. Explain to her that if she wants to take music lessons she should be willing to learn, study and practice. When our piano teacher would arrive, my brothers would scamper off and hide. Obviously I was the only one who was interested in playing the piano but there were times when I too grew tired of practicing the same pieces over and over again. Yet as my teacher said, practice makes progress and it did help me a lot in the long run.
Encourage your child. My folks really supported me to continue playing the piano, even at times when I doubted my own abilities. It is important to let your child feel your support so she'll continue to be inspired to learn.
Sharing and Praise
Share your child's enthusiasm. My folks were both musically inclined although they didn't exactly play a musical instrument. Rather, they had good singing voices and would sometimes ask me to play the piano while they sang during family gatherings.
Joy in Music
Never force your child. It is never a wise idea to force your child to do anything she's not ready to do unless it's a matter of utmost importance. Learning to play an instrument should primarily be enjoyable. If your child isn't enjoying it, then perhaps it isn't for her.
Finally, there is no exact age for a child to start taking formal music lessons. As a parent, it is your role to determine if your child is ready based on your observations. Thus, the ultimate answer will be child-led.