Many people wonder when to start their child in piano lessons. Should you start them when they first seem interested in a musical instrument? Should you wait until their in school? What about if they can't seem to sit still? Will my child learn anything at such a young age? I can answer these questions and maybe help parents understand when the best time is for their child to begin a formal musical education and why it is the best time.
For most children, their interest with music begins early, probably between 4-6 years old. Whether it's singing in the car or having watched a family member play or use a musical instrument, they try to copy. I used to watch my mom play piano and then "pretend" I was playing something when I had no idea what I was doing. (My mother even took a picture of it!) This is when most parents start thinking about offering piano or another form of music lessons to their child. And let me just say, this is a fantastic idea. Investing in your child's musicality early is a very good thing. In fact, it's the best time to do it. Why? Because when they get older, they're more interested in sports, or friends, or something else, and it will be harder to dedicate the time. But first, do these things.
1) Decide whether your child has a true interest in music.
Begin your child's musical development early. Whether it's through singing songs in the car, or letting them have a toy instrument, just see if they like music. Some would say "Oh little Johnny is going to be a prodigy and he needs music lessons!". You mean well but this is not always the case. Make sure this is not your dream, but truly an interest of your child. Some kids will take years of lessons but cannot play a lick of piano because they never really "loved" it. It's a balance of knowing whether your child "wants" it or would just rather play instead. This has to be the parents decision since they know their child the best.
2)Decide whether your child is mature, despite their age.
Age is not always the answer. One 5 year old could be ready but a 7 year old may not be. Give your child time to develop social skills. If they are extremely shy and have a hard time being separated from you, they are probably not ready. Some children do better in group lessons rather than one on one. Some need the one on one attention. A lot of this depends on the teacher too. There are a few things a child needs to be able to do when they're young before he can begin any type of musical lessons. They are as follows:
-The child needs to know the difference between his left hand and right hand.
-The child must know his or her ABC's and count to 10.
-The child must understand basic commands and follow through them such as "Let's sing a song together" or "Show me the notes that repeat".
So no, five years old is not too young. Yet, knowing when your child is fully ready is dependent on their maturity and development. No child is the same. But any child can be made into a student if given a chance.
3) Decide if you are ready
Contrary to popular belief, it requires just as much work from the parents is it does the student. It's take hard work. Once your child begins music lessons of any kind, it is now your responsibility to make sure that part of their life is facilitated. It cannot come and go. It's will now always be a part of them just as music is a part of everyone of us. If a parent is not ready for the commitment, and half-heartedly begins piano lessons and unfortunately has to stop, this is not good for the student. However, a parent that is fully committed to helping their child through many years of lessons, the student has much more potential.
My suggestion as a piano teacher, if you're thinking of putting your child in piano lessons, is to think through these three things Then, find a good teacher and ask their opinion. Let them assess your child to see if they are ready. They're the professional. If you don't know, let them decide. If you find that their are not ready just yet, try to instill an appreciation for music, whether it's through singing songs in the car, or letting them have a toy instrument, allow them to experience it at a young age. If they are ready, get a teacher who likes kids. Not someone who can't handle their wiggles or silliness. Someone who is patient enough to bypass those things and grasp those moments of learning. Basic principles and fundamentals of music will help your child in many other aspects of life such as discipline, responsibility and accomplishment. It's never too late to start your child in piano lessons. I hope this helps someone decide when is the best time for their child.