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Is your child ready for piano lessons

Updated on March 5, 2011

Kid Playing piano

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Is your child ready for piano lessons?

Many parents wonder what age is a good age for their child to begin piano lessons. As a piano teacher with over 10 years of experience in teaching kids of many different ages, I will have to say that there is no “right” age for a child to begin piano lessons, as there are many factors that determine a child’s readiness for piano lessons.

Some parents believe that once their kid can identify the letters of the alphabet, has the ability to comprehend, and has access to a piano he or she is ready for piano lessons. The truth is, those are the bare minimum requirements for determining a kid’s readiness for piano lessons. Kids develop differently- attention spans, hand-eye coordination, self-discipline, and eagerness to learn are all factors that determine a child’s readiness for piano lessons. If you see signs that your child has at least two of these attributes, then I would say that your child may be ready for a trial period with a piano teacher.

Attention Spans

A child’s ability to concentrate at length develops with age. I have found that many of my four and five year old students quickly lose interest in the piano lesson and need to take breaks every 5 to 10 minutes during a 30 minute piano lesson. By six or seven years, students usually need only one brief break during a lesson. Beyond the age of seven, students may be able to complete an entire piano session without a single break. However, I always encourage at least a small break between warm up exercises and the playing of the piano pieces.

From conversations with both students and parents, I have found that younger students who are encouraged to read, write, participate in conversations and complete tasks at early ages usually develop their attention spans faster.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand- eye coordination is the ability to synchronize hands and eyes or the ability to perform tasks that involve coordinating the movement of the hands and eyes. Can you imagine what remarkable coordination between eyes and hands is achieved by a pianist as he or she glances rapidly from sheet to piano and back again? This finesse of this hand- eye coordination is mastered only after years of piano practice, but the fundamentals of hand- eye coordination are developed during infancy. From birth to three years children develop the ability to manipulate objects with fine motor skills. From three to five years kids develop the ability to climb, balance and take stairs one at a time. From five to seven years kids improve their fine motor skills such as using scissors and handling writing tools.

Young kids who are encouraged to read, write and draw usually develop hand- eye coordination at earlier ages. Playing the piano also improves hand- eye coordination, but demands some level of it from the onset of piano lessons. Students with better hand-eye coordination are able to read sheet music much faster than others, and are usually able to play the piano with both hands faster also. If your child is at least able to identify his right hand from his left, you will know that he or she has developed the bare minimum amount of hand eye coordination that is required to begin piano lessons.

Eagerness to learn

Children become eager to learn the piano for different reasons- seeing and listening to an older family member play the piano may spark an interest, watching pianists on television or at church may fascinate them, or just the presence of a piano at their home may pique their curiosity. Whatever the reason, having a child who is undoubtedly excited to learn to play the piano is a piano teacher’s dream. About one in every 10 students is sincerely eager to play the piano. Earnest students usually complete more than is required of the music teacher, and capitalize on any opportunity to explore the piano whenever and wherever possible.

Self- discipline

Parents usually hope that piano lessons will help to instill self-discipline in their kids. This is in fact true. However, there is usually an initial threshold that must be surpassed before self- discipline is achieved. Parents can encourage discipline in their kids by having their kids follow a routine for a least a portion of their day. When parents set rules for their kids and encourage their kids to act in accordance with the rules, discipline is developed. When a child is able to routinely execute chores without being prodded by parents, this is usually a sign that the child is developing a sense of self- discipline.

There are many benefits that go along with the actual playing of the piano. One’s hand-eye coordination is much better generally, and one’s ability to think and reason will increase. This is especially true for children, and giving them piano lessons at an early age gives them much more than just the ability to play the piano. However, every parent should understand that there are also disadvantages in forcing a child into art forms that they are not ready for. Kids are not always willing to take piano lessons, but even worse, they are not always ready.

Please understand that your child’s readiness for piano lessons is most critical to your child’s progress once the piano lessons begin. Not every piano teacher has your child’s best interest at heart. Weigh the odds, do your homework as a parent, and with the help of a responsible music teacher determine whether your child is in fact ready for piano lessons.

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