We receive many questions about our opinions on when a child is ready to begin lessons. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are some pointers and signs that you can use to determine when your child is ready for lessons. One cannot magically deem a child to “be ready” for lessons at any given point. More important is the idea that the child needs to be tuned into music from early on. Perhaps the best thing you can do to get your child ready to begin lessons is to expose yourself and your child to classical, jazz, and other forms of well performed music. An appreciation of good music will help get and maintain your child’s interest.
There are varying opinions as to when a child should “officially” start lessons. The younger the child is when beginning lessons, the more involved the parent will have to be with practice time, attending and being positively involved during the lessons. Generally, the child should be able recognize numbers 1-5 and understand the correlation between the numbers on the page and the finger numbers. If the child knows the alphabet letters of A through G, that is all that is required from a beginner. Most beginning books will spend a lot of time reinforcing these skills, so don’t be too concerned if the knowledge is not always perfectly articulated. Your child should be able to sit still for about 10-15 minutes while focusing on having fun at the piano. If your child can do these things, chances are you can start meaningful lessons for the child.
There are of course exceptions to any claims of appropriate starting ages for children. Don’t let your expectations and desires be the sole determinant of when the child begins lessons or how fast you feel they should progress.
Although having an acoustic piano is not mandatory for the beginning student, it certainly is beneficial to have. If you choose to get an electronic keyboard initially, the keys need to be the size of a normal standard acoustic piano and touch sensitive. Make sure the physical practice space has adequate lighting, ventilation, and a solid, secure seat. If you have an acoustic piano, please make sure that it is in tune.
If the previous exposure to music has been going on for a long time, and if the parents have reasonable expectations for their child taking lessons, it should be a positive and life-long endeavor for all involved. Always feel free to communicate honestly and openly with your child’s music teacher, if there are any misgivings or questions about what should be done, or if things are not going as smoothly as one would wish.
Being a Supportive Parent of a Piano Student
Many successful musicians regard their parents’ influence and inspiration as sparking their own interest in serious music. Whether or not your child makes a career of music, your efforts in bringing the world of music to your child will make his or her life fuller and happier. You can help your child learn faster and enjoy lessons more by doing a few simple things:
• Become Involved With Your Child’s Piano Training.
• Encourage Your Child As Much As Possible.
• Avoid Negative Criticism.
• Make Sure Your Child Knows That You Consider Music a Serious Commitment.
• Provide As Much Cultural Enrichment As Possible.
My Kid Wants to Quit Piano!?!?
It’s very common for kids to begin to temporarily lose interest in their piano lessons. If they are allowed to quit lessons, they usually regret it in later years. It is possible to get your children through this difficult period without having them make a decision they may later wish they hadn’t made and for which their young age and limited experience ill prepares them. Chances are your children will thank you when they get a little older for encouraging them to stay in lessons.