Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Musical Home: P is for Piano

From http://www.examiner.com/x-1510-Seattle-Music--Parenting-Examiner~y2008m11d11-The-Musical-Home-P-is-for-Piano-Part-One-What-AGE-should-my-child-be-when-they-start-piano

The Musical Home: P is for Piano, Part One: What AGE should my child be when they start piano?

by Linda Sebenius, Seattle Music & Parenting Examiner

Year after year, THIS is the number one question I hear from parents. There are so many answers! I usually offer the response that the age of seven is a good age to start, typically. That’s the short and easy answer, so for those that want the short/easy, no need to read any further! (Just in case you’re still reading, in the following paragraphs, I’ll share why this is typical, and when to do what is not typical.)

But, let’s talk about the goal here first. The hope is that taking piano lessons will be a successful experience your child will launch from and explore music for a lifetime. So, OK.  the goal is to have a successful experience. What in the heck does that mean?!!! My theory is if you are enjoying learning, you‘ll want to learn more. If you aren’t enjoying learning, then you’ll want to stay as far away as possible. It’s the old go towards pleasure and away from pain ever-so-human thing we ALL do. So I would say the goal is for your child to enjoy learning piano. The best way to ensure this is to really know what your child enjoys.

So let’s start with what is typical.

By age seven, most children are enjoying reading symbols on a page, and in music they will be reading left to right. The ability to track symbols will help them be successful at reading piano music too.

By age seven, most children are able to sit and focus (sit being the key word!) for longer periods of time, say…20 – 30 minutes at a time. If your child struggles at sitting still, piano lessons my not be so enjoyable for them.

By age seven, most children have a great degree of fine motor skills, and have integrated the left and right hemispheres of their brain, thus they are able to use both hands fairly equally at the piano.

Here’s when I recommend doing what is not typical.

If your child is 3 or 4 and is beggggggging to play piano, then by all means find a teacher that specializes in very young beginners. The Suzuki method starts children on piano when they are very young, although reading music comes later.

If your child is 5 or 6 and is already reading, sitting and focusing for long periods, and finds the piano interesting, taking piano lessons (again with a teacher that specializes in very young beginners) would be a great supplement to their learning world.

There are many reasons you may want to have your child in piano. Maybe you always wish YOU had had lessons, maybe they come from a long line of musical geniuses, or maybe you believe they are the first family musical genius! Whatever the reason, piano is a great way to begin or continue your child’s musical life. Having private lessons with just the teacher at the right time will meet the goal: Enjoy learning piano!

If you have questions about piano lessons, feel free to contact me at Linda@musicshinemedia.com

Coming soon: P is for Piano Part two: What kind of Piano should we have for our child?

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