Kids love music. They sing, they boogie, they bust out the ol' air guitar. And they boost brainpower in the process: “The pattern recognition in learning music as well as the discovery aspect are enormously helpful later with math and science,” notes Lindley Schmitt, a veteran children's music instructor at the University of Puget Sound's School of Music, in Tacoma, WA. But when are they actually ready to rock an instrument? Here's a sound, er, reality check:
Age to start: 4 years
Skills needed: Mallet wielding!
Where to learn: Kindermusik classes (kindermusik.com) are loads of fun because kids learn by singing and playing games with other preschoolers. The Kid's Xylophone app by Goatella is pretty cool, too. ($1; market.android.com or itunes.com).
Piano and Violin
Age to start: 4 to 5 years
Skills needed: A love of patterns and rhythm. Does your child enjoy a game of Memory or like to sort his Hot Wheels cars by color? Then he's probably good to go.
Where to learn: The Suzuki style of teaching is big on parent involvement; suzukiassociation.org.
Age to start: About 7 years
Skills needed: Hand strength and dexterity should be naturally developed enough at this age. Coordination helps, too. See if your kiddo can rub her belly and tap her head while walking with ease.
Where to learn: Childrensmusicacademy.org has age-based classes.