Is Your Child Ready for Piano?
Years ago at a Montessori school, I was asked to teach 3 and 4 year olds the piano. My director and I decided that lessons would be short, 15 minutes usually, sometimes 20 minutes if the child insisted. At Montessori schools, activities are child directed and many times a child will be very eager to play the piano. It was a fun program, and I had many opportunities to be creative and to find new ways to support and teach these very young beginners. They would usually play the piano for months or even a year or more, and then go off to another activity. Many would come back at 6 or 7, ready to go again.
The interesting thing was that when they came back they had an excellent ear; they recognized the movement of melodies quite easily and they also remembered and memorized music quickly.
- had stronger and more dexterous fingers than new beginners
- had stronger brain to finger connections
- matched pitches with their voices more easily
- had a stronger sense of rhythm and pulse
Working with children who had these strong aural and physical connections, it became apparent to me that in the same way we learn a new language more easily at a very young age, early learning at the piano really made quite a positive impression on their abilities. So how do we know when a child is ready? I had, and still have, three criteria that students need to meet:
1. know their numbers 1 to 10
2. know their letters A to G
3. be able to take direction (right?)
With these skill sets, and with pre-notation music material, young beginners are able to learn simple songs, develop their voices and grow their basic musical understanding. Piano is an interesting, user-friendly instrument. If you play, help your child pick out a little tune. You will find that your child will return to play it over and over. If your child is ready and shows interest, it may be time.