“What is the best age to start piano lessons?” this is a question I am often asked by parents who dream of giving their child the life long gift of playing the piano. I believe that it is good to start learning the piano at a young age, but how young is too young? and, is it ever too late to begin learning to play the piano? If you ask ten different teachers, you’ll probably get ten different answers, but here are my thoughts about when to begin piano.
Before getting to the subject of formal piano lessons it is important to realize that music education starts at birth. Some might argue that music education starts even earlier. There are studies that show that newborns respond to the music their mothers listened to while pregnant. In either case, musical development begins way before a child is mature enough to sit on the bench. The first music most babies hear is the sound of mother’s voice. But today’s little ones can be exposed to incredible music of all genres with ease. So even if your child is too young to start lessons with a teacher it’s never to early to start music education. Babies can listen to all kinds of music, you can also take advantage of mommy and me classes, and other activities for babies. For toddlers and preschoolers the are a plethora of excellent music and movement oriented classes such as; Kindermusik, and Music Together (I will list the links below). Dance is excellent, dance is about music and rhythm, dancers make excellent music students and most children are ready for dance class about a year before they are able to begin formal piano lessons. The bottom line is if you want your child to be a musician, surround him with music. It’s no accident that most musical people come from families that love music. Think about Mozart, he was born into a family of musicians, if he wasn’t, he probably wouldn’t have been “Mozart”.
As for piano lessons I like to to start children as soon as they are ready. I think that there are many advantages to beginning piano lessons at about four years of age. With the right teacher, parent involvement and realistic expectations most four year olds (and even some three year olds) have a very successful experience with piano lessons, and end up way ahead of the game. Children who start playing and performing early usually develop a level of comfort with the instrument that is hard to come by for those of us who start later. Little kids are not self conscious, at least they shouldn’t be, with loving and patient teaching playing the piano becomes a natural part of their lives. Most students who begin piano lessons very young in life can not remember a time when they did not play the piano. In my personal teaching experience many of my students that start lessons as preschoolers become accomplished pianists before reaching high school.
So how do you know if your child is ready to start lessons? When I start at little one I want to make sure he is going to have a great time learning to play the piano. I want him to be able can sit on the bench, focus on learning for 5-10 minutes, and communicate with me. I also want to him to be excited about piano lessons. As long as a child comes to me happy and ready to learn I feel that he is ready to start. There are so many things a small child can learn about the piano. The main point that parents and teacher must be patient and have realistic expectations. A four year old will not learn as quickly as he would if he were eight years old, but by the time he is eight he certainly will not be a beginner.
All of this may seem like great news is you have are the parent of an infant, toddler or preschooler. But what if your child is older? What if you yourself are an adult who has always dreamed of playing? Is it too late? No it’s never too late to learn piano! Most kids start around seven or eight years old and become great pianists. Many of my colleagues start students at seven years of age as a rule and this is standard very respectable. I myself began playing piano at twelve years old. My oldest student is eighty seven!
What is the best age to start piano? Let’s just say this; it’s rarely too early, and never too late,
What do you think? Leave a comment.