When Should My Child Start Taking Piano Lessons?

Children, just like adults, love music, and it’s best to nurture their creativity while they’re still young. A lot of kids show interest in musical instruments pretty early. You may have noticed your child loves banging on any piano she (or he) comes across, and you may be wondering whether it’s time to start her on formal lessons.

Young boy playing the piano
Image Courtesy of StaticFlickr.com

It’s never too early to start developing your child’s piano passion, but it may be too early to start her on lessons if she hasn’t yet celebrated her fourth birthday. Yes, you may have watched a YouTube video of a 3-year old playing Mozart, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for your child.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop her interest in music. The Kawai music empire that includes the Kawai Music School is famous for its children’s music class that includes children as young as a year old. Hirotaka Kawai, its president, has this to say about musical development for young children:

“A child as young as one year old can’t really do much just yet. They can’t really speak or walk. So, learning how to play instruments is a thing reserved for them in the future. But, what we want for kids now is to listen to the music, the rhythm and know what’s going on. We can see a change in them when they do. Their body reacts and responds to the music,” said Kawai…

At the school, it is astounding to see toddlers who can barely walk enter music classes with their parents. They would sit on their parent’s lap. Two instructors are moderating the class, playing piano for the children in a group lesson. The instructors adjust the rhythm as necessary to suit the children’s progress in the child-centered classroom…

“On the first week, kid’s naturally know very little. But, by the second week, they start to know what they need to do. They start clapping and moving along to the rhythm. They get to develop their motor skills, sense, emotions, personality and concentration. Concentration, I’d say, is the area we have seen the most development in,” he said… Via Bangkok Post

Young child playing the piano keys
Image Courtesy of StaticFlickr.com

So when is the best time to start piano lessons? The general consensus is at least 4 years, and this could go up to 8 years depending on your child’s unique needs. For instance, her hand should have grown enough so that she can comfortably place five finger on five adjacent white keys. This alone is a big stretch for many five-year olds!

It’s also really important for parents to think about why they want their children to learn music. Ideally, your child should express interest in the instrument. You will probably have thought about the fact that learning the piano will help your child’s brain develop, and while this is a great benefit, it should not be the only motivation.

Remember, it’s all really about your child, and if piano lessons are only going to frustrate her and make her unhappy, then it’s not worth the trouble. Keep in mind that learning the piano will sometimes get challenging, and it’s her passion and your encouragement that will keep her going. Here is some advice from a parent whose daughter started piano lessons at 4 years:

1. Know your ABCs. As soon as they have a good handle on their alphabet, they can start music lessons. General consensus was probably 4 or 5yrs old would be the youngest.
2. Piano is an easy instrument for young ones to start off on. With piano there are no issues with the instrument being too big to handle and no frustration with technique or enough air capacity to even make a sound on the instrument. You press the key and that’s it.
3. It’s not the amount of time but the frequency of practicing. Regular daily practicing for 5-10 minutes is all that is expected. As much as this is trying to teach them to focus, you can’t expect a young child to focus for more than that so regular practicing in smaller chunks will help them retain the information.

4. Music is like learning a language. Speaking a new language doesn’t happen overnight so set your expectations accordingly. It’s a steady skill build that takes years not months to develop.
5. Expect highs and lows with motivation. Help support them through these humps while keeping the bigger picture in mind. The novelty of trying something new will quickly wear off when they figure out they have to put effort in to learn. Once they start seeing results, it will help with the motivation but again, expect another low period that will require your support… Via All About the Child

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