Many parents know that playing piano even a few minutes a day has many benefits for children. Today we want to consider the youngest of the children, the preschoolers.
Among the benefits of piano lessons are better math scores, better handwriting and better handling of tasks in general.
But what age to start this beneficial process?
Research indicates that the younger a child starts piano lessons, the more benefit they derive from it.
In general, most parents look to start between the ages of three and six.
But there are many factors to consider the younger you want to start.
Every child is different, which is why the "one size fits all" attitude of conventional piano lessons does not work for the average child. So please read the comments below with that in mind.
First of all, the child must be old enough to understand symbols, both letters and numbers. Those children that have only a dim grasp of these symbols will benefit from a study of the piano, and Piano by Number in particular.
Next, they must have at least enough dexterity to be able to move their fingers independently. The younger the child, the more the likelihood that they will instinctively use their index finger. This is fine for a long while, until they demostrate the ability to get beyond that single finger.
Most important is the emotional maturity of the child. Can they be around strangers, even kindly and warm avuncular ones, without needing the constant presence of a parent?
Does the child have the ability to carry out even a simple task without frustration?
Even if the child exhibits positively all the factors above, to some degree or other, there is one more important factor that will help all the others: the teacher.
A patient, talented and kind teacher who specializes in teaching preschool kids the piano can be the most important element of all.
A good preschool piano teacher is be so patient and entertaining that the child is allowed to develop all the above skills while they are learning.
Look for a piano teacher that understands that the first victory to be won is to interest the child in the instrument itself. Once you have that, you can proceed in almost any direction. This means playing the piano for the child, so they see what it can do, and all the fun sounds it can make.
Lastly, try to find a teacher that will teach the child as an individual, not in a group. While general play and learning can be carried out successfully in a group, piano lessons require intense one-on-one attention that is not possible in a group.
Children also benefit from the one-on-one attention that piano lessons naturally provide.
Look for a piano teacher specializing in preschool, and who knows how to go slowly enough for your child that they are not frustrated in any way by their first piano lessons.
Look for a fun personality, not a stern task-master.
There are arguments against preschool piano. Here they are:
If you cannot find a fun professional who specializes in preschoolers, consider delaying lessons until you can find the right teacher. Think very carefully before sending a preschooler to a teacher, however well-intentioned, who has a reputation as a disciplinarian.
The reason for this is that you can only lose the battle of the piano once. Once a child decides that piano is too hard, and thinks they are "no good" at it, it is almost impossible to renew that first interest.
Make absolutely certain that the first experience at the piano is a happy one for the child.
By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2000 Walden Pond Press