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Monday
Mar142011

Your Piano Questions Answered!





When I put the call out earlier this week for questions about music education, the most popular topic that came up was piano lessons. I'll answer those questions in this post, and if I didn't cover something, feel free to ask me some more!

I feel so very strongly about music lessons for children. I see discipline, self confidence, and a love of something beautiful as valuable things to teach our children. Learning a musical instrument provides all of these. I heard once that a pianist makes at least seven decisions per second while they are playing. That's an amazing thought, isn't it? As an adult I love having the piano to go to when I am nervous, stressed, happy -- just about any mood. I play the piano and can express my emotions and often calm my emotions as well. In short, music is a gift from GOD.

To get the discussion started, I will tell you my nine year old daughter does take piano lessons. I started working with her when she was seven, then sent her to an outside piano teacher when she was eight. She could have continued to learn from me, but there is a teacher here whom I love and who I knew my daughter would get along with wonderfully. It has been a great fit, and Miss B is flourishing as a pianist.

My six year old son isn't showing nearly the interest his sister did, but I will start him in the next year or so with some no stress piano adventures. I'm trying to instill the love of music in him through fun songs, dancing, and by teaching a co-op music class for his age group. It's all about exposure!

Here are some of the questions readers had about piano lessons:

I asked a family friend who teaches piano about lessons and she stated that she refuses to teach children under the age of 8! Says they are too wiggly and have no attention span. What are your thoughts?

I have taken children as young as five... depends on that particular child, and it depends on the teacher's style. My lessons are thirty minutes, and for the younger ones we use a program where the child is singing, moving, and playing the piano. I don't expect any child younger than seven or so to be able to sit still for a "traditional" piano lesson. That's torture!

Find out your teacher's style! There are many teachers who take younger children, and many who don't take them until the age of second or third grade. If you wait to start your child until they are a little older I do think their fine motor skills are more developed and they will be more self-motivated to learn. (That's just my experience.) I advise parents of young children to have a trial lesson with me - usually it will be obvious if the child is ready or not.

So, I guess I just answered the next question:

What age do you like to see a child start private lessons?

This is all a matter of your child and their maturity level. It's kind of like the age a child is reading - one size does not fit all. If you need a ballpark age, though, I would say eight.

What, if any, are your favorite piano curricula?

For the littlest ones, I love Music for Little Mozarts. It is the sweetest little curriculum, and you can do it with your children if you aren't a musician, too. Check out the program here. Many of the reviewers have great thoughts. The Curriculum Choice also has a wonderful review of the program.

For children eight and up I recommend a couple of curricula. These are the only two I use in my studio. I'm sure there are other good ones out there, but most of the teachers I know stick with these.

  1. Nancy and Randall Faber's Piano Adventures: I like this series because it has children transposing music within the first two years. Theory seems to go hand in hand with playing in this series, too. This series also doesn't have a lot of childlike pictures, which appeals to the more mature students. I've had great success with this method, and students continue to use these books for several years.
  2. Alfred's Premier Piano Course: This is the series I use the most in my studio. It also seems to be the most popular one out there. The songs are very catchy and the kids always love the words and pictures. I can't put my finger on it, but I think this would be the students' favorite.

If you are thinking of piano lessons for your child, you can always find a qualified teacher through Music Teachers' National Association. Teachers who are in this organization (I am a member) are qualified by degree and are up to date on current piano pedagogy, etc...

I hope this answered some questions.... stay tuned this work for more posts about music education!

*This post is linked to Teach Me, Tuesday - I am so glad Maggie is "back" and hosting this linky again. She has a beautiful blog, so please check it out!

And, as always, I'm linking up with some Hip Homeschool Moms!

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Reader Comments (7)

Great ideas! We do Suzuki here- violin. My oldest has been studying for 3.5 years, my daughter (8) started at 6 but it was such a challenge with her personality and defiance. I think we're going to try on piano at some point.

Our two youngest- 5 and almost 4- will start on Suzuki violin in September. They are very excited!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Yay! Thank you for answering questions. I think I'm going to wait on having Joseph start lessons, but I may let his little sister try it come fall - she's very musically inclined and really wants to. I'll have to look into the Music for Little Mozarts more.

Looking forward to reading more about music this week!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTristan

Great post, very informative. My oldest has always done Alfred. It works well for us, think I will check out one of the others for our youngest, she is a very different learner than her sister. Happy HHH.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie

My girls did both programs you recommended. My younger has been in and out of piano. When she finally hit G position she told me she did not want to work through her frustration. She is on a break and hopefully she will return to it. My older daughter (10) is passionate about piano. She is on level 4 and plays daily. At times I actually have to ask her to STOP playing!
I would love to find her a piano/music camp this summer but I am blown away by the tuition $1,000 + for a week! I am still looking.

Do you have any advice on how to put together a piano ensemble class for children? My daughter was part of a flute ensemble and loved it but I can't seem to find her one for piano......

Thanks!!!!!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Hi! Being a music teacher and homeschool mom, you have touched some topics near and dear to my heart. I agree that all children should have some sort of music education at all levels. Suggestions for people seeking music for their curriculum would be to possibly find a co-op which offers music. I have been blessed to teach choral music, general music, and instrumental ensembles to groups of students at several co-ops plus at my home. Private lessons are wonderful, also, to give each student one on one attention in their development. Many private teachers like myself have created ensembles to play in and opportunities to perform in nursing homes, churches, etcetera. If those are not an option, there are still ways to encourage music via the library and internet. I've been on a mission to create free online lesson plans, games, materials, and resources for all music teachers, but especially for my fellow home schoolers - anyone interested may find me at Joyful Songs. ~ Thanks for a great post! =D

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoyfulPamela

Hi from HHH!

I also have a friend who teaches Piano and who refuses to teach anyone under 8. So...we decided to enroll him in a recorder class. I would have liked to try the suzuki method, but there aren't any schools close to me.

I will be checking out your Piano sites. But I wanted to include one more that we use. Pianimals. I have been teaching my kids to play (I don't play myself) using this program and it is fantastic. My 6 and 9 year old are doing great. We are hoping to get a piano teacher one day but just not in the budget but this program is in expensive and I have seen first hand the results.:)

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Adventurer

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