There are two thoughts to this in the teaching world – once the child can concentrate for extended periods or when you see they are excited about music. This first line of thought I feel is more about the teacher than about the student. Not every teacher can teach a 4-ye
ar-old to play piano, as the child does not sit still as easily as the 8-year-old. Their attention spans are shorter and their learning is in smaller snippets of information. If I tell a 4-year-old to untie their shoes, take them off and put them in their bag, the child may untie their shoes and take them off, but chances are you will not find the shoes in the bag but in the middle of the room where they took them off. Basically, I was asking too many actions after each other instead of giving the requests in smaller bites. Obviously, if I ask the same of the 8-year-old, the shoes are more likely to land up in the bag. This is not the problem of the child, but rather the expectation and teaching style of the teacher.
So, a 4-year-old can learn to play an instrument if they are taught in an age-appropriate way. Often the key word here is “play”. Approaching this in a creative way often takes more effort and preparation – but it’s not impossible, and is extremely rewarding.
Parents come to me all the time saying other schools and teachers have told them to come back when their child is 5 or older – some even only want to start at 8 years old. What a crazy idea, and a waste of the most important foundational years of a child.
So I encourage you to take the limits off – let your child explore – if the school in your area doesn’t take your child because they are “too young”, keep looking for the right teacher – or at least get some instruments at home and have them play with the instruments often!