Saturday, June 07, 2014

Starting Piano Lessons: When is a Child Ready for Piano Lessons?

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As a piano teacher, I am frequently asked, "What is a good age to start piano lessons?"  Truthfully, the answer is that it depends on the child.  Ideally, I prefer to start with kids around age 6-8 due to reading skills, but I have taught quite a few kids younger than this age group as well.

Although there is no clear-cut answer to this question, there are numerous signs that indicate whether or not your child is ready to begin piano lessons.

Tips from a piano teacher: 8 signs that your child is ready for piano lessons from And Next Comes L

8 Signs That Your Child is Ready for Piano Lessons

Here are the readiness signs that I look for when interviewing potential new students:

  1. Does your child know the difference between left and right?  Playing the piano requires the use of both hands, so being able to distinguish one hand from the other is an important skill.
  2. Does your child know the alphabet, specifically the first seven letters (A-B-C-D-E-F-G)? The musical alphabet is made of seven letters.  It is important for your child to be able to identify and name these letters in order to read music.
  3. Can your child count to ten?  With really young beginners (age 4-5), I focus on counting to four.  The note values and time signatures in beginner music focus on one count, two counts, three counts, or four counts.  However, it is ideal if a child can count to a higher number as music is heavily based in math.  Distance between notes (intervals) rely on counting the number of notes that separate them.  Even the basic scale patterns are mathematically based.
  4. Can your child focus and pay attention for 30 minutes?  All of my beginner lessons are 30 minutes in length.  However, I usually reserve ten minutes of each lesson to do more hands on music activities, especially for really young beginners.  As a result, I need students to be able to focus and pay attention for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  5. Has your child expressed an interest in taking music lessons?  Children who have expressed an interest in taking piano are more likely to be motivated to practice.
  6. Can your child follow basic instructions? Your child needs to be able to follow simple instructions for practicing the assigned material.
  7. How are the child's fine motor skills?  Can your child hold a pencil or cut with scissors?  Playing the piano requires a lot of fine motor dexterity, so having well tuned fine motor skills makes a huge difference.
  8. Can your child read?  Teaching piano to a child who can read makes a lot of things easier, including practicing more independently and reading practice instructions on their own.  Plus, beginner piano music tends to have lyrics for the child to sing while they practice.  Being able to read allows the child to sing the lyrics while they play which can increase their rhythmic accuracy and timing.

Parents Need to Be Ready Too!

Parents also need to consider the following when assessing whether or not their child is ready for piano lessons:

  • Are you willing to help your child practice?  Young beginners (ages 4-6) will need help reading instructions, practice suggestions, counting, and more.
  • Do you own an appropriate instrument?  If not, are you willing to purchase one?
  • Are you prepared for the cost and time commitment?

Once you've decided that you and your child are ready for piano lessons, then it's time to find the perfect teacher!  So stay tuned for tips on finding a piano teacher for your child.

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