The piano is one of the most popular instruments studied amongst children and for good reason: studying piano has numerous proven benefits including but not limited to development of fine motor skills, focus and perseverance. But when is the right time to start lessons? The answer is different for every child, but here are 5 factors to consider:
Your Child's Interest
Was it your idea to enrol your child in piano lessons, or has your child shown interest in music? As a parent you know that it is very difficult to get your child to do something that they do not want to do, particularly at a young age. If your child has expressed interest in music or piano then they will be more willing to focus and put the effort forth during lessons.
Your Willingness to be Involved in Lessons and Practicing as a Parent
Learning to play the piano is not easy but it can be done with the right support. If you would like your 4 year old to start piano lessons you should ask yourself "how willing am I to be involved in my child's lessons and their daily practice?". If you live a busy life and cannot see yourself supporting your young child in their music study, then save your money and wait a few more years! However, if you are able to observe lessons and practice with your child daily, it is amazing how much can be accomplished at a young age.
Emma (5) performing from memory at her first recital. Emma's success in piano lessons at her young age is a result of her genuine interest in music as well as great support from her parents.
Your Child's Attention Span
A child's attention span is not directly correlated to their age, but often older children have a longer attention span than younger children. Is your child able to sit and focus on one task for at least 10 minutes? If not then it is best to hold off on lessons for now. That it not to say that a child must be able to sit on the piano bench without moving for 30 minutes. An experienced teacher that works well with children will include off the bench activities and movement in the lessons to keep your child engaged.
Your Child's Experience In School
Does your child have experience in a formal school setting like daycare or preschool or have they been at home their whole life? Are they experienced with following rules and taking instruction from a teacher? If not, the transition into piano lessons may be a challenging one.
Your Child's Basic Reading and Writing Skills
Basic counting and knowledge of the alphabet are essential for beginner piano lessons. Can your child count to 10 and sing the alphabet? Can they write their letters and numbers? If so that should be enough to get them started. This also correlates back to your willingness to be involved as a
parent. Will you help your child read their homework assignments and make sure they are all complete? If this is not something you are willing or able to do then hold off until your child can read and write fluently and independently.
My child isn't ready for piano lessons - what can I do instead?
If after reading this post you have determined that your child is likely not ready for private piano lessons there are alternatives to consider. Enrolling your child in a general group music class is a great way to start learning about music. Group music classes are play based, movement oriented and encourage social interaction. They also serve as a great foundation for private piano lessons.