If you have a young child and have been thinking about getting him or her started in piano lessons, you have probably heard many reports about the benefits of starting at a very young age. It is true that crucial musical development takes place in babies and toddlers starting at birth, and that children need musical stimulation from very early on in their lives.
But when you take a look at your two-and-a-half-year-old, it might be hard to imagine him or her sitting patiently on the bench through a thirty minute piano lesson. And you are probably right.
Traditionally, most piano teachers have suggested waiting until a child has started learning to read before starting them with piano instruction- around the age of five or six. The reason for this is that most methods of piano instruction have centered around teaching children to read notes off of the page from the very beginning. Younger children tend to get frustrated very quickly when faced with understanding musical symbols and trying to make their little fingers cooperate all at the same time.
But this does not mean that you should hold off on your child's music education until they start school. Enrolling your son or daughter in an early childhood music program such as Music Together or The Music Class is a great way to offer them a fun introduction to music. At the same time, they begin to develop fundamental skills in areas such as pitch and rhythm that will give them a much greater chance of success when they start formalized instruction.
The absolute earliest age I would recommend starting a child in piano lessons would be three-and-a-half years old. This should be considered only with a teacher who has lots of experience working with children at this age. A child this young will have a much shorter attention span and will need a variety of activities, both at and away from the piano, to keep that young mind interested and involved during the lesson.
The worst thing we could possibly do is make music study into a chore. For the pre-school child, music making should be a creative and fun activity. The discipline and persistence needed to succeed will be developed over time. For now, it's enough to concentrate on kindling in them a love for music and helping them to master basic musical concepts that will set the groundwork for future success.
So, what is my final advice on this subject?
First, start by exposing your child to music from the time they are born. Sing constantly to them. Play your favorite music (in all styles) on the stereo. Dance with your child. And as he or she gets a little older, around the age of one year, look for an opportunity to start an early childhood music program.
Piano lessons can wait until the child is five and he or she will do just fine. However, if you are adamant about starting at a younger age, look for a teacher with experience and training in working with younger beginners.
And most of all, for you the parent- be patient. Learning a musical instrument is a lifelong pursuit. Take your time and enjoy the journey.
Luke Bartolomeo has been involved in the nurturing and development of young musicians for over twenty years. He is the host of the weekly audio podcast Repertoire Review, which allows piano teachers and students the chance to discover new [http://www.repertoirereview.com/]piano pieces for intermediate level students. He is on the faculty of the Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College in Chicago. He is also a developer of educational music apps. Flashnote Derby is an app he created to help students learn the [http://www.flashnotederbyapp.com/]names of music notes.
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