AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I START MY CHILD ON PIANO LESSONS?
There is certainly a “golden age” for children to start piano lessons. This ideal time is between ages 4-6 years old.
From age 4 to 6, children have two major factors working for them. First, they have enough concentration to sit at the piano bench and take instructions from a teacher. Secondly, they are still in that stage of brain development that allows their ears to absorb sound and language “without an accent”. The same ability that allows pre-schoolers to learn a language without an accent also allows them to deeply absorb music as a natural outgrowth of their being.
Ages 4-6 is a superb time to start piano lessons.
However, you are never too old, nor too young, to start.
I have had outstanding students who didn’t get to start until they were 12 or 14 and I’ve had some students take lessons (along with older siblings) since they were born.
Under age 4, a child first observes the parent’s lessons. In this manner, he or she learns how piano lessons work. That one sits at the piano and follows the teacher’s directions. That we sing songs and play listening games. That we take time to stop and learn small sections to play well.
At the end of the parent’s lesson each week, the child can be invited to have his or her own “lesson time”. But this is only an offer. The child is not pressured or required to play. If the child accepts the offer, their time at the piano will last only as long as their attention – usually 1-2 minutes.
We follow the young pre-schooler’s lead on lessons. Even if child has accepted the opportunity to play for the teacher for several weeks in a row, if he or she says, “No,” at the next lesson, then we respect that choice. Only when the child seriously wants to learn do we have “lesson time”.
You might think that these years of lessons make no difference. Why not wait until age 4 to start at all? But the love of music becomes very deeply ingrained during these “observing” lessons. The child experiences the parent’s enjoyment in playing. The child absorbs how learning music is accomplished. The child shares a parent’s sense of accomplishment in reaching a goal that took many small steps to reach. When this child says he or she WANTS lessons, he or she actually knows what they’re signing up for. And they truly know what the benefits are.
Over age 6, piano lessons do not seem any different than for the 4-6 year olds. Older beginners do have longer attention spans. This gives them some advantages in understanding concepts more easily. But all of us, no matter what our age, have to take time to develop our finger muscles, our coordination between hands and our musical ear training.
No matter what age we begin piano lessons, making music remains a fulfilling endeavor that feeds our internal spirit. I encourage you to start where you are now – don’t wait. You only have years of enjoyment ahead of you.