How Early Should Children Start Taking Piano Lessons

A lot of parents are very excited and motivated to have their children begin piano lessons at a young age.  This usually studio taylor 1inspires the question of what age is best to begin.  Unfortunately there is no age that can be given at which all students should begin.  Every student is unique from every other student in their maturity, musical ability, and academic level.  For this reason I recommend that a student begins piano lessons as early as is possible for them.  Determining the exact age for each individual should be assessed by parents, a piano teacher and an expressed interest by the student.

Academic Skill

Academic skill is one of the most important factors in determining your child’s best age to start piano lessons.  Some parents do not realize the complexity actually involved in reading music.  Students have to have a strong grasp of the alphabet from A to G and be able to say the letters backwards.  If a student cannot go backwards from G to A they are not ready yet.  If you as a parent really want to get them into piano practice those letters backwards every day until they can say it backwards as easily as forwards.

Reading

A young student will have a much better chance at music if they are reading.  Although there can be some progress and improvement without reading it is highly recommended.  Books that piano teachers work from contain explanations of what is covered during lessons and teachers usually right down assignments each week for students to work from.  Reading will make students more independent from their parents allowing them more ownership of their lessons.

Basic Math

Basic math is also critical for piano students.  A simple grasp of addition and subtraction is needed to begin lessons.  Without it students will not be able to understand note values or be able to do the counting necessary to determine the correct number of beats.  If you student cannot add 2 + 2 or subtract 3 from 4 they are not yet ready to begin.

Maturity

Emotionally, children will need a certain level of maturity to begin.  Music is excellent for determination, patience, and concentration but unless children already show some of these qualities they will have a very difficult time sitting for half an hour and designating time for practicing.  Ultimately this can lead to frustration and potentially ruin their desire to continue learning an instrument.  It might be a good idea to meet with a teacher and have a trial lesson.  The teacher will usually know right away if the student can handle lessons.  If students seem ready to begin on all other levels except for patience and concentration there are some teacher who will be willing to teach shorter lessons.  On request I will occasionally teach 10 or 15 minute lessons until the student is ready to begin full length lessons.  If there is a sibling already taking piano consider asking the teacher to do a five minute lesson with the younger student.  This will usually be very exciting for a younger student because they associate taking piano with being older.  They will gain some knowledge and experience with this and gain a very positive association with music study.

Musical Ability

All children have different levels of natural musical ability.  Some people just seem to pick it up fast and have a passion for music that has nothing to do with age.  These students are usually motivated to study and love their lessons.  They tend to progress very quickly and usually hum or sing a lot throughout the day.  If they are academically and emotionally ready these student are usually very successful with piano.

Financial Readiness

If money is tight consider waiting a few years.  The older the student the quicker they will progress.  A student who is 8 years old can learn in two months what a 5 or 6 year old can learn in two years.  Although I suggest starting as early as possible for the benefits that music brings to very young children I do not recommend it if it will be financially tight.

Parental Involvement

When you do decide to start your child in piano at a young age they might be more successful with a lot of parent involvement.   Children often do much better with their parent in attendance.  It can help with problems of discipline and focus.  Parents who listen to their lessons are also more likely to be able to help their student with practice as they tend to remember what the teacher said long after the child has forgotten.  Be sure to always ask the teacher if it is alright for you to sit in on lessons.  It can make the teacher uncomfortable to have someone looking over their shoulder and although it is usually best for the parent to be in attendance some children do better with just the teacher present.  Talking to the teacher and your child to decide what is best for your family.  Remember that piano teachers do this all the time and can usually tell within the first few minutes if a child will do better with or without a parent.

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