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Piano lessons for children. The best age to start.

Jun 6, 2008
Parents of very young children often ask me if their offspring are old enough to start to learn piano. Well I've known some four year olds to start to learn to play piano successfully. Most, however, at that age find it too much of a challenge and I see them return later when they are closer to six years old.

I specialise in a course designed for very small children which uses a lot of singing and all round musical tuition, but there are the physical hold ups of tiny hands that just aren't ready to use the fingers independently and most children will progress much faster and therefore enjoy the experience much more if they are around six.

It may appear obvious, but there is a marked difference between a five and six year old learning to play piano. It's not just hand size to reach the piano notes but ability to concentrate too. Basic knowledge in other ways of the world makes a big difference too. For example, knowing the first seven letters of the alphabet.

The type of course offered too makes a big difference. My course for the very young is taught in a group of six or seven pupils. Parents are encouraged to sit in and help. I can demonstrate and encourage from the front whilst parents can guitde their own child's hands on the piano keyboard. I can move around the group and check each is coping.

Lessons for little ones need to be fast and flexible. They should incorporate singing, perhaps even dancing to allow the children freedom of expression and a variety of different concepts. Even most adults have relatively short attention spans if the work is pretty intense and playing the piano is very, very intense.

It is not just physical skill that is limited in the very young but piano lessons require more analysis and intake of information than most can cope with. Remember you are asking a child to think in two languages at the same time, use their hands independently and all with expression and feeling. Quite a task for anyone.

I therefore have all praise and admiration whenever I see a six year old, who probably has difficulty reading English, make a success of playing the piano. There are lots of children of this age who cope very well, however. It's wonderful to see a small child learning to sit comfortably at the piano and looking at ease as they play their simple but challenging pieces.

So to sum up, I would generally say that the age of seven would be the best time for the average child to begin to learn how to play piano. By this time they should be physically, intellectually and emotionally mature enough to cope. Still a keen and musical six year old from a supportive family will be far more successful than a reluctant eleven year old being pushed into lessons by eager parents.

Every child is different and every teacher is different. Don't despair if things don't turn out right on the first attempt. Once you achieve the right formula, you and your child will experience the joy and overall benefits that good musical tuition will give.
About the Author
Rachel Branston has designed a superb dvd course to teach piano to all ages. Pick up her free piano lessons for beginners and find everything you need to know about piano music lessons at http://www.playyourpiano.com .
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