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.
- 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.
- 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!