How long a piano lesson for a 6 year old girl?

(75 Posts)

DD3 has been learning the piano for about 4 months and has been having a 30 minute lesson once a week. She's coming on well, our teacher doesn't usually take them until they are 7 so was only giving her a trial but says she's got some musical ability and is able to concentrate well so can continue. She's almost finished the first
Now the teacher has asked if she can go up to 3/4 hour lessons as she wants to push her a bit harder. DD1 and DD2 already have an hour each with the same teacher and are doing well ( grade 4 and grade 2), so I trust her, but I was wondering if it was a bit long for her age? She's just little and my now 8 year DD2 didn't have go up to that length of lesson until she was 7.5.
What are other 6 year olds doing with regards to length of lesson?

bluefootedpenguin Wed 23-May-12 19:45:59

Hi. I would suggest your DC stays with a 30 min slot. I am very surprised to see your older children have such long lessons. In my experience these are not really necessary pre grade 5-6 or even later, with most benefit being gained from regular practice, consolidating the learning from the lesson. This is based upon my own education, I have a BA Music Hons, 25 years playing, I have been a private teacher and 10 yrs teaching as a secondary Music Teacher. Of course, all children learn differently, but I don't know of any pre grade 5 pupil having a regular 1 hour lesson. Hope that helps.

bluefootedpenguin Wed 23-May-12 20:12:24

Just thought I should add that if your teacher is covering a good amount of music theory in the lesson, especially for your dd at grade 4, then 1 hour seems reasonable.

BackforGood Wed 23-May-12 20:15:46

My experience of all lessons - certainly up to Grade 5 ish) is that 1/2 hour is long enough. Doubly so if she's only 6. Might the teacher be keen as it will earn her more money ?

morethanpotatoprints Wed 23-May-12 22:38:40

my dd 8 y3 private violin 30 min lesson. Singing 20 mins from LA. Piano 30 min lesson. Saxophone 15 min lesson. (Sight singing, sightreading, Aural, theory) 1 hour every other day. Both parents are teaching this though.
I think 30 min lesson is plenty at this age and would say effective practice is the most important thing.

CURIOUSMIND Wed 23-May-12 23:00:54

I have a big question mark about these 45 mins lesson for under grade 4, whatever the age.
From my experience , 30 mins weekly lesson is perfectly enough.We only started 1 hour lesson when it's close to grade 5 exam .
I heard one case that the child did not practice enough ,so 45 mins literally means supervised practice.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Thu 24-May-12 00:39:36

Another vote here for 30 minutes being enough. DS 2 started at 6.5 on 15 minute lessons, graduated to 30 minute lessons 3 months later. He will be doing Grade 4 in the autumn aged 9 and while I appreciate that doesn't put him in a child prodigy category he is doing OK.

Thanks everyone. By the time the older ones have gone through their scales etc, and a couple of pieces, plus some theory an hour is easily up. I think the teacher wants to start doing some theory with DD3
The teacher is pretty good really, she's not proposing to charge any more for the extra 1/4 hour as I have lessons with her too, so she makes plenty from us anyhow.
They all practice daily; 10min for the 6 year old, 20 for the 8 year old and 30 for the 10 year old, unless an exam is looming. then they do a bit more.

Wafflenose Thu 24-May-12 10:14:04

Hi, I have a 6 year old who's about to do Grade 2 recorder, and is working towards Grade 1 piano and has been learning the flute for 3 weeks. She has a 20 minute flute lesson and I do the rest with her for a few minutes here and there. When I eventually pass her on to someone else for piano, that's likely to be for 20 minutes also. My Grade 6 and 7 pupils usually still have 30 minutes - the only ones who've ever had an hour were doing their theory grades as well as two instruments with me, so we'd do two out of three of those things each week. If your dd is really exceptional, she will improve rapidly with good practice - not longer lessons.

ZZZenAgain Thu 24-May-12 10:55:12

maybe you should trust your teacher. She has taught you and your other two children, so you know how she operates in a lesson and how she paces it. I have found that some teachers pack a great deal into a lesson, so that it is extremely dense - others concentrate on a few things, regardless of the actual time involved.

She seems to feel she could do with more time with dd3 that for some reason 30 minutes is not ideal. I am not sure what she means by wanting to push her harder but I expect she wants to give her more to work with during the week since she is making good progress with only 10 minutes practice. I am personally a bit wary of all this rush in music, it seems the more dc learn and practise, the more gets thrown at them and I wonder sometimes what the whole point in that is. However, since your teacher is generous enough to offer this at no extra charge, perhaps you could try it and see how your dd is when she comes out of the lesson. It is a long time to concentrate but if she is breaking up the lesson into some theory work, improvisation or whatever else and is not going through piece after piece, it could work.

gelatinous Thu 24-May-12 22:52:08

I suppose it depends on the child and the teacher. Ds only ever had 30mins per week in term time only right through to grade 8+. He was older than 6 when he started but my gut feeling is a long lesson that young might have put him off. Your dd3 may be different though, especially having two older siblings as role models.

Just a thought, and this may be me being cynical, but do you think the teacher might be suggesting longer lessons for your dc because she has falling numbers due to the recession?

gelatinous Thu 24-May-12 22:56:15

I missed your latest ost - obviously not your teacher trying to capitalise on your dc if she's not charging extra.

I still think it's a long time for a 6 yo, but you also need to keep good relations with the teacher. If your dd3 wants to give it a go, why not say you have some reservations but are prepared to try it for a while and see how it goes?

FredQuimby Thu 24-May-12 23:02:04

I'm a piano teacher, of many, many years (sigh!) and wouldn't recommend more than 30mins for a six year old. Theory should sit side by side with playing, throughout the lesson. Apart from the odd homework exercise, it shouldn't really be treated separately from the practical side of playing.

pianomama Fri 25-May-12 13:40:24

My Ds did 45 mins from about 6.5 (having started from 15 mins which I thought was totally useless considering the "getting into it time" and a "chat after it time" .

Children are so different at that age - if you trust the teacher and don't think they just after a bit of extra money, there must a a reason why this has been suggested and the teacher believes it would suit your DD.

At that age teachers should do a bit of supervised practice I think , to make sure whatever they are practicing at home they are doing correctly.

Theas18 Fri 25-May-12 13:48:09

Mine never did more than 30 mins and some theory that they did whilst sat waiting for siblings lessons.

Like gelatinous that was through to grade 8 standard for DD1 and the others are still plodding on (started at 7-8yrs)

Theas18 Fri 25-May-12 13:50:06

Just to compare, the kids do an hour alternate weeks with their " first instrument" teacher and 30mins weekly piano.
(they both play 3rd instruments in school lessons too, I think that's 30 mins now individually but it was group lessons even in early secondary school)

pianomama Fri 25-May-12 14:03:58

Wow , G8 at 30 mins once a week?

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 25-May-12 20:30:59

I always had 30min theory + 30min practical through to grade 8 too.

HandMadeTail Fri 25-May-12 20:37:36

DD's violin lessons were about 40 mins at that age. Her teacher likes to explain theory as she goes (although DD now has separate theory lessons) which meant that she didn't get through everything if the lessons were 30 mins.

If your DD can concentrate throughout the lesson, then it's fine. If she gets a bit tired, it may be worth going back to the 30 mins.

gelatinous Sat 26-May-12 00:26:19

yes, grade 8 (distinction blush) with 30 x 30min lessons per year. He's playing a concerto in a few weeks time too. Theory was a part of that up to grade 3 standard.

unitarian Sat 26-May-12 01:39:34

Go for it.

The teacher feels your DD can cope with the extra time. Presumably your DD is enjoying the lessons and is doing the practice. It seems like a no-brainer.

I remember when my DD thought 40 mins might be a bit much. She went for a first lesson with a new teacher and came out after an hour thinking she had only been in there for half an hour. Time is relative.

If someone is telling you that your DD has the ability then seize the opportunity. It may come to nought (when she opts for a science degree) but at least you won't ever regret it.

unitarian Sat 26-May-12 01:59:03

When I said 'it might come to nought' I certainly didn't mean that any time my DD (or anyone's DC) spends on music is in any way wasted.

My DD's life is enormously enriched by her music even though she has chosen a different career path.

I do regret not realising sooner that she had such a talent and I wish someone qualified to recognise it had said so earlier.

pianomama Sat 26-May-12 08:09:24

Just out of curiosity, the G8 @ 30 mins lesson - how did you manage to get in scales + pieces ? 10 mins per piece and no scales? Did they only ever learned 3 exam pieces for each grade?

DS teacher spends 15 mins just on scales, sometimes even longer..

gelatinous Sat 26-May-12 10:59:09

pianomama as he had lessons at school so I don't really know what went on in them, but I know he's always hated scales and only ever practised them before an exam and I've a feeling he said once he didn't do them in lessons much either, I think the focus was on pieces. I've just remembered he also had aural classes separately arranged in break time at school, so that was something that didn't need to be covered in lessons. Set against that though, when he was doing exams on his other instrument he would use his piano lessons to practise those pieces for a lesson or two as his piano teacher was his accompanist.

He plays loads of stuff that isn't exam repertoire - he only did 3 exams in 5 years (grades 5,7 and 8) since starting secondary school (he took grade 3 at the end of the summer term of primary and then grade 5 just 2 terms later with the new teacher, so there was quite a jump in levels very suddenly, and only 2 terms to prepare for grade 5 in which time he definitely learned at least one other piece too). Once a year he plays a duet piece (and usually also an 8-hands and even a 16-hand piece); every other year he would do a couple of pieces (plus another duet) for the school piano competition; and every term there was an informal concert for his year group which he played a piece at (though this was on his other instrument about half the time). He would only perform an exam piece if an exam was looming, otherwise it would be something else. He's played keyboard for the school swing band since year 11 and sometimes accompanies singers/other instrumentalists for performances too and occasionally plays harpsichord in baroque group which all give him extra practise and experience playing a wide range of styles.

I know he's done really well, but this wasn't actually all that unusual at his school - there were at least 2 others in his year who did the same (gr 8 by year 11) with the same quantity of lessons in school, and one or two others at the same level who had lessons out of school (which may well have been longer). To be honest I don't really know how they fit it all in.

gelatinous Sat 26-May-12 16:17:39

pianomama I have just thought that 30mins is the standard length of lesson for a second study instrument at the RCM junior department too and they have 10 week terms. A lot of those children would have piano as a second study and get to grade 8+ on that regime too. Perhaps the key is in doing a lot of other musical activities (ensembles, orchestra etc. as well).

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