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What is the Best Age to Start Piano Lessons?

Updated on August 1, 2012
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How do I know if my child is ready?

Your daughter races home from school to inform you she wants to take piano lessons. How can you tell if your child is ready to learn a musical instrument and focus for a 30-45 minute private lesson? Consider these factors before taking the financial plunge into the world of private lessons.

AGE
There is no right age to begin piano lessons. However children between the ages of six and seven are in that “golden” window of opportunity when intelligence, enthusiasm, and fine motor skills converge together to give the child the greatest chance of success.

Younger children can benefit from private instruction if they have shown an exceptional ability to concentrate, follow two and three step instructions, and know their numbers and letters.

Do not despair if your child is above the age of seven. Students who begin at a later age often catch up to their younger counterparts quickly; the accumulation of skills and understanding happens more rapidly in an older child as they are able to handle a more demanding workload.

TIME
Frequently parents and children underestimate the amount of time it takes to master an instrument like the piano. If you and your child have a full schedule of sports and other after-school pursuits, adding a piano lesson may not be the best idea.

The average piano lesson is between 30-45 minutes once a week. Assuming your child can sit still and pay attention for that length of time, you must set aside anywhere from 15-30 minutes a day at least five times a week for practice. Younger children will need a parent to be present and available during practice as many concepts may need adult reinforcement.

NATURAL ABILITY
Certainly raw talent is not a prerequisite for starting piano lessons, but it does help. Observe your child during playtime. Do you notice that she hums along frequently to the radio or sings to herself while doing other tasks? If you have a piano in the home, do you find her plunking away at it when others are not enthusiastically praising her? Can she sing on key relatively well? All of these clues suggest that your child may have a natural “ear” for music, and would flourish in private piano instruction.

Do not dismay if you fail to notice any of these signs. Children who tend towards mathematics, building, and engineering can also thrive in piano lessons. Sometimes it is a matter of providing the right opportunity for a child to showcase talent that was previously hidden.

Ultimately the decision to start piano lessons hinges on the commitment of the parent to help his or her child succeed. Be prepared to fork over some money, time, and space in your home.

It’ll all be worth it that moment when your daughter sits down at her piano in front of a crowd, and moves the audience to tears with her masterful fingers. You will have given her a lifetime of enjoyment making music.

Give it a test run

Find a piano teacher who will let you try out lessons for a month or two. If you don't have a piano, don't go out and buy one just yet. A keyboard will work for the first several lessons. If you and your child can handle the first couple of months (when it's not as enjoyable because of all the initial steps to learning), then you can be reasonably sure your child will be able to handle the practice and discipline necessary.

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About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer who specializes in the area of psychology, music, relationships, and adoption. She has been a private piano instructor for the last ten years and studied privately for over 15 years.

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    • chinesescore profile image

      chengguo 3 years ago from china

      "children between the ages of six and seven are in that “golden” window of opportunity when intelligence, enthusiasm, and fine motor skills converge together to give the child the greatest chance of success."

      I quite agree with you on this point.

    • iheartkafka profile image

      iheartkafka 4 years ago

      Thanks for the info! My boys are only 1...but I can't wait until they are ready to begin lessons!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @barber- yes you can save a lot of money by starting at the right age....as for rent or buy, I often encourage parents to purchase a keyboard first. They take up less room, never need tuning, and are far cheaper! Once your child is three or four years into lessons, you can make the leap. But that is just my two cents!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Great job. Last year when we moved to our new house, I took advantage of my friend who plays piano. Actually, she was talking about her animals and how she can't walk them every single day. Well, I bartered with her. I would walk the dogs a couple times a week if she gave my oldest daughter lessons once a week. That has been almost a year already and just recently my other daughter asked if she could get lessons as well. I am so proud at how much enthusiasm they showed for learning the piano. However, my friend made a comment that my other daughter might not be ready. I don't think that is the case and this just cemeted that. Thanks for the info. Now - to rent or buy... that is the question. I have seen a few pianos on Craiglist for cheap and not sure if they are being sold because the piano is junk or because it is a pain to move! :)

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