Teaching preschool piano visually is always the best course at first.
Kids are very good with their fingers if you don’t demand heavy brain work at the same time.
It’s difficult to say whether a four or five year old is ready to start the piano, for every five year old is different.
But there are common factors that link most preschool children and their attempts at piano lessons.
Strangely enough, it is the personality of the piano teacher that has the most effect on piano lessons at this young age.
What type of piano teaching personality suits such preschool children?
First, one must be realistic about what can be taught happily to a child of this age.
One of the primary obstacles is the natural personality of the child. Most children at this age are a little silly and scattered, bouncing from one interest to another, but a master teacher can teach children the piano without dampening their natural personalities.
The process of learning to read music will most likely be too attention-intensive for these kids to learn happily at first, if reading music is the only medium offered them.
This is especially true if the teacher uses a conventional method and is determined to push only a certain curriculum.
A looser approach brings better results at this stage.
Instead of launching into reading music immediately, try a more leisurely method of getting started, using Piano by Number.
In Piano by Number, children delay reading music, starting instead with the piano keyboard numbered from 1-12. They can then immediately start playing familiar tunes, and start getting their fingers and hands familiar with the postures they will later need to play and read music.
Don’t forget that, ultimately, playing the piano requires two broad categories of skill. One, reading music, is largely mental. The second, playing the keys, is largely physical and visual.
In my experience, starting with reading music is a recipe for disaster in almost all children.
For this reason, children make a better start at the piano if they are given the chance to simply explore the piano in a physical, non-notated manner. Piano by Number allows them this opportunity.
In the same slow manner you can introduce the elements of reading music when the child is comfortable and happy playing familiar songs at the piano. I Can Read Music is an excellent introduction to these elements, presented as a game that any child can enjoy.
You cannot really make a misstep if you delay reading music until the child is comfortable with the piano.
This period is their “comfort zone,” to which you and the child can retreat when learning to read music becomes too tedious.
Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press