How young can a child start piano?

(30 Posts)
MIFLAW Mon 09-Aug-10 13:59:36

Fairly straightforward question - how young can a child start the piano and what, if any, special adaptations need making for a small child (don't play piano myself so don't know anything.)


RespectTheDoughnut Mon 09-Aug-10 14:01:26

My old piano teacher insisted on waiting for the child's 6th birthday. No adaptations that I was aware of, though.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Aug-10 14:57:10

Thanks - was he or she unusual in that respect, do you know, or do most people agree?

On a realted question, we haven't got a piano yet. How snobby do teachers get about using an electronic piano and, if this is acceptable, again, what are the practical considerations (e.g. I know they need to have a certain type of key to imitate the experience of playing a "real" piano.)

MathsMadMummy Mon 09-Aug-10 15:09:11

I think it's good to be allowed to mess around on a keyboard or piano from a young age TBH.

I was a piano teacher for 5 years and at my music school we mostly started from reception age with no problems.

I really don't think there can be 'rules' about this though, some are ready much earlier so why not go with it? if you're not pushing them that is, obviously. I was given a keyboard very young and before I was 3, my dad walked past my bedroom and wondered where the Bolero theme was coming from - it was me

sorry for shameless showing off there - but I just reckon it's worth letting a child explore the keyboard themselves.

how old is your DC?

elphiethropp Mon 09-Aug-10 15:14:36

I think that they need to be able to read first.

Dd was 6 when she started but I was teaching her in a very non pressure lets see how you go - doesn;t matter about practice way. To send her to a teacher I would say minimum age 7.

No special adaptations are needed.

Keys need to be weighted not touch sensitive. We only have a digital piano as it needs to be transportable for dh's teaching.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Aug-10 15:29:51

Daughter is two and a half. TBH I want to learn myself and she is my excuse to get my arse in gear! Also I like it when we share interests.

Elphie - are you saying, then, that a digital piano CAN be acceptable for learning on, as long as it's got weighted keys? How do I know whether it has or not - is that part of the spec when you buy it?

elphiethropp Mon 09-Aug-10 15:33:26

Yes, in fact you can even take exams on a digital piano with weighted keys. They are not cheap though, in fact ordinary pianos 2nd hand are a lot cheaper.

The spec should say. Best to go to a speicalist shop where they can advise you.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Aug-10 15:37:46

"in fact ordinary pianos 2nd hand are a lot cheaper." Music to my ears (no pun intended) - can I get something adequate, either real or digital, for under 500? More than happy with second hand.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 10-Aug-10 15:46:23

You can also rent a piano to see how it goes first.

Go to a music shop and they will tell you everything you want to know. When I bought mine I went to 5 shops. By the 3rd one you can even pretend you know what you are looking for!

I'm teaching DS1 who is 6 and DS2 who is 4. Much easier with older one. You don't have to know how to read. The suzuki method relies on listening - like learning a language. It is amazing what they can learn just by listening!

MIFLAW Tue 10-Aug-10 17:44:27

That's interesting - does it work out a lot dearer doing it that way?

Do many teachers use the suzuki method or is it a "teach-yourself" methodology? I ask because I can't play myself, let alone teach my child to play ...

I believe that it's easier with the older child, Copper - but do you get the impression that your younger one enjoys it, at least?

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 10-Aug-10 18:11:17

Don't know how expensive it is to rent, but I suppose it will be more expensive in the long run but in the short term it gives you flexibility, and also until you know what type of sound you like from your piano you get to try without commitment.

Suzuki - don't know much about it myself apart from reading about it. It is very much a taught thing - there are specialist suzuki teachers around. They are expensive and suzuki lessons require a fair bit of commitment on the parents' parts. A friend's gone for that and her son loves it, but they do spend a lot of time on lessons and practice. I am doing a bastardized version. grin

They both enjoy learning. You just have to be flexible in teaching and in expectations!

domesticsluttery Tue 10-Aug-10 21:33:55

DS1's teacher likes them to be 6 or 7 before they start. They would need to be able to read and write fairly confidently to deal with the theory.

We have a digital piano as we don't have room for an acoustic one. But PIL have one that he can practice on as well.

RobynLou Tue 10-Aug-10 21:37:50

my DH plays the piano and has sat at the keyboard playing with DD on his lap since she was a tiny baby. She's 3 next week and can play a couple of simple melodies with one hand that she's picked up very naturally, he's never actively taught her, just played with her at the keyboard.

Scootergrrrl Tue 10-Aug-10 21:39:44

DD started learning with a friend who is a qualified piano teacher at four. She has a book called Tunes for Ten Fingers, which I got on Amazon. The only thing she struggled with was the shaping of her hands which I suppose would be a good thing to practise as soon as possible. We got our piano second hand for £150. Be prepared to hear Twinkle Twinkle played very slowly A LOT. Thats all.

picc Tue 10-Aug-10 21:42:30

I did Suzuki method on violin when I was little and thought it was great. Still do. Think it really develops your ear, without worrying about reading music. You can always learn that later.

Remember, a 2nd hand piano might be cheaper than a keyboard, but you have to get it tuned (at least) once a year. Costs us about 50 quid each time.

RobynLou Tue 10-Aug-10 21:44:47

reading other's replies it sounds like Dh and DD are doing a sort-of suzuki method, sounds a lot posher than playing around with the piano, how exciting smile

onimolap Tue 10-Aug-10 21:47:28

You can get pianos on rental, the cost of which can then be deducted from the purchase price if/when you decide to buy. Not a bad way to get a taster.

My DCs started formal lessons at 6 (after much messing round on piano for themselves and deciding they wanted to have a go). Most of their friends started around 6 - 8 yrs old, though there are atwo or three who started younger.

Being able to read (or at least recognise letters) will make reading music much easier.

There are many different teaching courses (I did Thompson, DCs on Pauline Wilson: no ideas of strengths weaknesses of the courses), plus other music that took their fancy as their scope increased (Match of the Day theme tune is quite good for keeping boys at their practice!)

snorkie Wed 11-Aug-10 00:14:23

A keyboard with weighted keys is OK to start with although some teachers don't like them. My piano teacher friend thinks they're OK (not ideal, but OK) up until the point where you start using the pedals (grade 4ish?).

If you have a very young child needing to use the pedals, then it's possible to get pedal extensions if they are too short to reach! Apart from that I can't think of any particular adaptations.

Suzuki start children very young (age 3ish?), but it's very parent intensive and doesn't suit everyone. There are arguments to start later rather than earlier - some think a child is less likely to get fustrated over slow progress and give up that way. Mine were both about 7 when they started & it seemed about right to me.

elphiethropp Wed 11-Aug-10 15:25:01

Pedalling would be quite advanced though. I didn;t really start pedalling until around Grade 4 thought I think that was a bit late.

bruffin Wed 11-Aug-10 15:38:11

DCs started at the age of 6 at primary. We only had a yamaha keyboard which was touch sensitive.

MIFLAW Thu 19-Aug-10 10:37:33

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. Am seriously looking into the rent-to-buy thing now - fantastic news, as I really don't have shed loads spare at the end of the month to throw at a piano.

Don't know about my child, but I'm really looking forward to starting!

Nickoka Thu 19-Aug-10 10:51:35

We bought a Casio Celviana AP-200 a few months ago (electronic with weighted keys). It sounds really great. We have it in the hall (semi-detatched house) so can use headphones if I want to play in the evening or when kids are in bed. Also you don't have to factor in the costs of piano tuning (£60 a year).

You can get some good online deals if you look.

My girls started lessons when they were seven, and that seemed to be a good time to me. They have been keen enough not to need much nagging to practice.

MIFLAW Thu 19-Aug-10 11:28:39

How much does a Casio Whatsit cost, Nickoka?

amidaiwish Thu 19-Aug-10 11:43:03

At age 4 DD1 was reading well and keen to play the piano (we don't play but she was always tinkering on it at friends' houses and studying their piano books).
Just after she was 5 we bought a digital piano with weighted keys (about £600 iirc) and she started lessons. The teacher only took her on because she could read so well and clearly wanted to do it.
She got through the first book "ten tunes for ten fingers" and loved it. She practiced morning, noon and night. Through the second book she gradually lost interest and by the end didn't want to practice and didn't/couldn't be bothered to concentrate on the lessons. Piano starts off easily enough but after a term or so it gets difficult quite quickly - introducing two hands at once etc. She wasn't mature enough to be able to cope with the frustration/not being able to do it easily.

So we stopped. sad

She is going to be 7 next feb and we might start again, though we still have the piano at home she doesn't show much interest in it anymore.

Therefore if you go down the traditional piano lesson route i would honestly wait until they are 7.

amidaiwish Thu 19-Aug-10 11:44:35

oh by the way we didn't shop around at all for the digital piano. we just walked into a music shop in kingston and bought it. blush so i am sure you can get it at a much better price. I think that included the very good adjustable foot stool though (frantically justifying herself).

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