Piano lessons...when and how? Advice please!

Rebekah - posted on 04/16/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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My 5 year old son is very interested in piano/keyboard... he plays on his keyboard literally every day since he got it at Christmas, several times per day. He has an ear for music and expresses interest in lessons (though I don't know that at 5, he fully grasps what lessons, practicing, etc, are all about).



What advice do you have about what age to start lessons and what method? I started lessons at age 10, so that's my only frame of reference. How do younger kids generally do with it? He naturally loves playing, and I don't want to squelch that with added responsibility of lessons if its too soon--I'm hoping lessons nurture his love for it instead. And method...I learned the traditional way of learning to read music off the bat. But then there's the Suzuki method, which seems to do more with playing by ear first. I hear mixed reviews about Suzuki.



I still actively play, but I'm no teacher. I do show him things as it comes up since he's so inquisitive and open, but I believe there's an art to teaching and I don't want to hamper his progress. Plus he'd probably be a better student for a non-relative.



I thought I would sit down with some prospective music teachers and just ask them some of these questions too, but I was interested to hear from you all from a Mom perspective what you see happening with your kids, pros and cons.

Thanks!!

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My grandmother was a piano teacher for 40+ years. She said don't even bother with lessons until a child is at least 7 years old. Their fingers aren't long enough, and they don't understand the concept of practicing, etc. Plus, the burnout rate is high if you start them too early.

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Mandy - posted on 04/17/2011

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Rebekah,
I'm definitely a sight reader for music. I don't recall ever being able to play by ear but I may not remember the early days.

Corrie - posted on 04/17/2011

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As a music teacher myself i know that if a child isn't in love with the music they are playing, you will stuggle. They will struggle, and often a teacher will struggle. You need a teacher who is willing to teach within the childs comfort zone and not necessarily 100% to their tried and tested methods,because as you say, every child is different, as is every teacher. Perhaps some simple home teaching would be nice? Then you're involved and you, as mother, can read when your son has had enough for one day.
Tiny hands play tiny instruments. I played the violin when i was 4. Just go with the flow and don't worry too much if he doesn't decide to keep it up.

Rebekah - posted on 04/17/2011

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Thanks for the feedback, ladies...
Jodi, perhaps I don't give him enough credit to understand what lessons may require, but I assume that just because its a new committment unlike anything he's had before. He may be on board now with lessons and practice, but will he grasp that this is not intended to be a short term deal? Don't know, really. Their concept of time is limited right now. Glad to hear that you stuck with it successfully. That's encouraging.
Mandy--at what point in Suzuki do you learn to read music? Did you find it hard to transition to sight reading?
Schmoopy--from a practical standpoint, the size of the hands did cross my mind too!

I'm sure a lot of this depends on the personality of the child (and teacher too).

Mandy - posted on 04/16/2011

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I started piano lessons at the age of 5 and I did the Suzuki method so I don't know any other methods. I took lessons all through school until I was 18. I think it would be worth while for you to at least try it out. I haven't started my kids in lessons yet but I don't see the desire in them yet. I just don't want the practice part to seem like a chore. So if they really wanted to take lessons I would sign them up. Good luck!

Jodi - posted on 04/16/2011

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Why do you presume he can't fully grasp what lessons and practice are about? My son started paino lessons at age 5, and he was fine. He fully comprehended what it was all about. He did, however, give it up after 2 years - his interests are not really musical, he is much more sports focused.

I learned the keyboard/organ when I was young and started when I was 4, and I totally remember being fully aware of lessons and practice. I had lessons right up until I was about 12, and at that stage I dropped them because we had moved to a small town and there was no teacher. I took up guitar instead :) However, I can still sit down and play a keyboard proficiently if I choose to. I am now in my 40s and have never lost what I learned in those lessons. I can't comment on the methods. Just my experience is that he is not too young.

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