The age to start piano lessons depends on the child. Some teachers will say no earlier than 6 years old. And other teachers start as early as 3 years old. Who is right?
Preschool & Kindergarten Lessons
The answer to “How young is too young?” has many factors. But the most important factor is whether the child can meet the teacher’s expectations for lesson behaviour.
For those of us that teach preschool & kindergarten lessons, we can tell you that lessons for these precious little ones look & sound quite different than lessons for older students.
Great programming at this age has:
- Frequent changes in activities
- A variety of activities that can include:
- Exploring the piano: both sitting & standing, also known as “keyboard geography”
- Moving our bodies: feeling how our muscles work to play piano, also known as “whole-body movement activities”
- Imaginary play: using what is known to learn something new
- Games: reinforcing new ideas
- Singing & making up words to songs
- Improvising: What happens when we play notes in different ways?
- Playing pieces: Sometimes without music & sometimes with music
The right age to start piano lessons depends on what a teacher offers & expects in their studio. In my studio, parents have learnt we may:
- Play a song all the way up & down the piano.
- Lift our arms way up high or reaching our toes as we explore volume or pitch.
- Pretend to be elephants, kangaroos, or other animals as we explore articulation.
- Sing new lyrics as we learn a tricky spot of the music.
- Play “wrong” notes to hear how the song changes.
- Record videos for practice during the week or to celebrate how well the student played.
While your child will learn music, it probably will look & sound very different than what you may expect. If that is the case, talk to your child’s teacher about your concerns.
What research has shown is that very young children learn best by experiencing & exploring. Your child’s mind is making many connection throughout the day. Piano lessons should be a place to make even more connections!
What IS the Best Age to Start Piano Lessons?
The younger your child begins piano lessons, the more likely it will be a music appreciation class. This type of class will have only a little playing at the piano with lots of exploration using their whole bodies & singing. And, this is NOT a bad thing.
There are child prodigies that wow us on YouTube, but expecting this from every child is not reasonable … and an almost sure-fire way of driving a student away from playing an instrument in the future.
What the majority of teachers will tell you is that a child needs to be able to:
- Follow age-appropriate instructions: For very young children this may be 1 instruction at a time.
- Pay attention: This attention span doesn’t have to be as long as you think when lessons are a series of activities both at the piano and away.
- Treat other’s things with respect. Ripping or destroying a teacher’s games, music, etc. is not okay.
Keep in mind, the goal for preschool & kindergarten lessons is:
- Music appreciation: What sounds ‘good’ & what sounds do we not like?
- Basic foundations for technique: How do we play the piano safely in many different ways?
- Keyboard geography: What does the piano look like & how do we find notes or patterns?
- Improvising & exploration: Links directly to how young children learn best.
Are YOU Ready for Lessons?
When my children were younger I taught them piano. But the deal was that while I would teach, my husband would take care of practice during the week. It was quite the learning curve for him during the week.
Young children need a lot of reminders. Even when it comes to routine tasks such as:
- Brush their teeth
- Clean up toys at the end of the day
- Put on a hoodie before heading outside
- Eating over the plate
Just like setting any other routine in your day, piano practice takes time to set up as a routine.
Your child’s piano teacher will do everything possible to set them up for success during the week.
But they aren’t in your home the 6 days in between lessons.
If your child is young enough to need your help with homework, you need to be involved during the week.Ms. Rosemarie
Is My Child Ready?
Because teachers have different expectations, it is best to interview with a teacher before signing on for lessons. This allows you to find out what the teacher expects & whether he or she is comfortable teaching your child.
At Must Love Music:
- All new families & student have a “meet ‘n greet” before committing to lessons. This gives everyone a chance to see if we will be a good fit.
- Students could be as young as 3 years old & span to adulthood.
- Parents of very young children are expected to sit in on lessons & involved with every practice session during the week.
- Parents are also encouraged to ask questions, both during the lesson & week so we can all support the child as they learn.
- Often we will use a family device (phone or tablet) to record videos so students & their parents have more help during practice times.
If your child is young, remember that you are an integral part of how much progress your child makes during the week.
As a piano parent you are an important part of the team! The teacher sets up your child for success during each week’s lesson. You set them up for success during the week. And, your child sees & learns how their consistent, active practice leads to great progress!
Click below to access the “Secret Sauce Questions Every Parent Should Ask”.
Spoiler alert: You can also modify these questions when looking at other extra-curricular activities.