The best age to start piano lessons
Updated: Mar 1
Does your young child show some musical aptitude, but you're not sure if they're ready to start lessons? Well, first thing is that piano is a great instrument for a young student to start playing. But it is somewhat difficult for a parent to know what age to start piano lessons. We'll make sure to help you out on this today.
3 Years old is the youngest most piano teachers will teach.
However, there are many teachers who won't start teaching lessons until a child is 6 or 7 years old. The youngest age that a teacher will take for a private student is specific to each teacher. At Southern Music Academy, we usually start as young as 4 years old. However, we will start a 3-year old on piano if the parent believes that they're interested in taking lessons.
Don't think too harshly of the teachers who would like to wait until 7 years old to begin teaching students. Most of the time, the teachers would like to wait because preschool students usually have shorter attention spans. Focus during a lesson is somewhat important. A great piano teacher will approach music lessons with a plan and have milestones that they're helping the student complete. When working with a preschooler, these plans many times have to be secondary to the whims of the student. This is due to the fact that younger students have not always learned how to quiet their minds. It is complex work to converge the fingers and the brain to express written music. So, preschooler piano teachers will typically have backup activities for the student to do when it is necessary to deviate from the planned lesson. This offers flexibility, to the student, to feel that their independence is respected. These activities will also help reinforce what the student is learning. Most of the time, these activities are made to feel like games to the students, therefore releasing the tension that may have built up.
What to consider when determining what age to start piano lessons.
1. The lesson could be as short as 15 min to get started.
Usually, no one actually knows how the student will respond to taking a private lesson. This is still the case if the teacher is bubbly, has games and activities for the student to do in the lesson. To help the student get acclimated to taking private music lessons, a teacher can start teaching the young students for 15 minutes every week. This amount isn't very long, and will cover a limited amount of material. But, having a preschooler take 15 minutes of weekly piano lessons will give the student easy and digest able intervals to learn their teacher. Having lessons in this way will also help the student get used to the structure of a lesson. This is because the style of instruction could be very different from the parent or preschool teacher to which the student is accustomed. Young students prefer routine and every teacher has their own structures and routines for their class. It may take a little while for a student to adjust and get comfortable with a new teacher's routine.
2. The student will mostly learn music by colors, numbers and shapes.
At the preschool age, teachers mostly teach students with familiar pre-reading tools like colors, numbers and single letters. In addition to using those familiar concepts, the teacher may add shapes in the mix to help differentiate certain musical concepts. So, this is something that the student will need to know prior to starting lessons. If the student cannot identify a few colors and numbers, then it may be a bit too early for them to start piano lessons. However, even if they have some familiarity with colors and numbers, this may be all that's needed to start lessons. Mastery of colors, numbers, letters and shapes isn't completely necessary, but a comfortable familiarity will certainly help. Many times during the lessons we find ourselves helping young students practice handwriting and shape recognition.
3. Even after taking lessons for a few months, they may still need assistance playing songs.
Piano lessons for preschoolers will take quite a while before the student is able to play songs independently. So, when considering what age to start piano lessons, don't worry about there being progress. Many times, a preschool student just needs extra help to stay focused. This is because playing the piano is a complex combination of motor skills, cognitive skills, and spatial reasoning. It may take a while before your child can play independently. However, the concepts that the preschool piano student is learning will be deeply embedded when they do begin to play songs on their own. This may add to the enjoyment of the students as many songs will feel "easy" to play for them.
In conclusion, it is perfectly fine for a 3-year old to begin piano lessons by taking 15-min weekly lessons at first. The goal will be to get to playing songs independently and having fun at the lessons. This will be through a combination of games, activities and fun performance pieces. At Southern Music Academy, we use a unique milestone program. This program is suitable for all ages, including preschoolers, and teaches them playing music and understanding theory through fun activities.