Piano teachers for 3Y old around Sevenoaks/ Tonbridge

(19 Posts)
Manoxlon Mon 08-Jun-15 17:13:15

Hello, I am looking for a piano teacher/ piano school/ conservatoire willing to teach my 3Y old dd in the Sevenoaks/ Tonbridge area. So far no luck. Teachers seem to start kids from 6Y onwards. Has anyone come across piano teachers for younger kids? Thanks!!

Wafflenose Mon 08-Jun-15 17:24:58

I remember a similar request on another forum years ago. The mum put up some videos of her 3yo tinkering/ composing, and someone suggested a teacher for her. The girl turned out to be astonishing, can play complex sonatas and all sorts of jazz, and got her grade 8 last year. I think she's a year younger than my DD, so about 8 now! So although it's the exception rather than the rule, some children can do amazing things at that age, and I'm bumping the thread for you. Do try to find someone who specialises in Early Years. Or... do you have the knowledge to start them off yourself?

OnionsAndApples Mon 08-Jun-15 17:31:19

Can your child place five fingers on the white keys in the proper position and move them independently? This is the absolute minimum they should be able to do and can be tricky for even five year olds which is why I would imagine the tutors do not start until six.

Is there a reason you want her to play so young?

JulieMichelleRobinson Mon 08-Jun-15 21:20:30

I am nowhere near you, but I start them at 3yo.

However

When we start at 3yo, we are very much not attempting to play 'proper tunes.' We use the piano as a vehicle for exploring musical concepts like high/low, loud/quiet, and work on recognising patterns, sign-to-sound recognition and counting skills (at 3yo it's not obvious if there are three or four sounds to play). We work on the ability to move just one finger independently. We mix in singing/dancing/gross motor movement for developing rhythm skills. I use a programme called Wunderkeys - the website is www.wunderkeys.com and there is a teacher search facility.

At 4yo (reception), depending on the child and his/her literacy, we are able to learn the white keys, begin reading 'proper' notes (first as rhythms with letter names, later on the stave) and to play tunes that only require a few fingers on each hand (using 1-2-3 eliminates the need to reach 1-2-3-4-5 in their correct position). At this age, I concentrate on good timing and a solid basic technique. I also insist on the children reading the music for themselves and try not to show them how to play things unless they get stuck. Most of my 4-5yo students play with a good legato (smoothly, without gaps between the notes) but not quite all of them have the motor skills necessary, and they tend to forget to apply it when playing actual tunes. We also play with teacher accompaniment so they get used to ensemble skills.

IOW, with young children, progress is usually slow. I refuse to teach children unless the child wants the lesson, and I always make this clear to the parents who usually appreciate that the slower pace is age-appropriate. We do lessons as long as the child enjoys them, and because the child enjoys them, not to do exams.

Worriedandlost Mon 08-Jun-15 21:40:58

My dd started piano soon after 4 and she has really long fingers (I understand that one of the main reasons why teachers reluctant to take young students is not long enough fingers). Three years on - she is doing good progress, but having this experience - I would not start that early. Mentally she is more than ready for the level she is in, but physically - it is quite a drawback (pedalling, not big enough hand to press all the keys on the level she is playing). Therefore even if a child is very bright (can count, has no problems with understanding abstract concepts) and musical it may turn out that it is not enough.

Wafflenose Mon 08-Jun-15 22:28:25

I don't usually take them until 7/8 - mainly because it's not the only thing I teach, but also because of the slow pace, and because I'm not an early years expert. But I wonder if the OP is asking because her child shows considerable early potential, like the girl I mentioned? We were all ready to say, "Wait until she's 7"... then we saw her and were astounded!

Worriedandlost Mon 08-Jun-15 22:58:04

Wafflenose, define "considerable early potential"? smile

Worriedandlost Mon 08-Jun-15 23:09:44

Btw, my friend who was dd's first piano teacher takes little one (she is actually convinced that the earlier the better), but it is 50 mins drive from Tonbridge sad

JulieMichelleRobinson Mon 08-Jun-15 23:12:53

Worried,

PianosKlein in France make a mini piano. It's a real piano, five octaves, full size keys, short in terms of physical height. I want one for my young students! They could reach the pedals then!

Ferguson Mon 08-Jun-15 23:20:02

OP - if you already have a piano, or an electronic keyboard with full-size keys, it should be possible to introduce her to some of the 'fun' aspects yourself, either buying suitable tutor books, or looking on-line - however, avoid some of the freaky advice that is out there!

Come back if you would like more information.

Worriedandlost Mon 08-Jun-15 23:23:32

JulieMichelleRobinson, really? I did not know such thing existed! But too late for us, we already invested in one... Fortunately dh is playing piano, so there will be some use of it anyway smile

Manoxlon Tue 09-Jun-15 09:19:17

Thanks to all for great and insightful comments.
I think dd is very interested actually. She loves going to classical music concerts and is always talking about instruments in her play. We have a piano at home and my dd is always fooling around there. She has a small "play" piano which comes with a small book where the notes are in different colours and she can recognise them on her keyboard- would love to at least try her on lessons.... Has anyone used the "Dog and Bird" method? Any thoughts?

Wafflenose Tue 09-Jun-15 14:01:07

I have bought Dogs and Birds, but haven't used it. I do like it, but as I said, don't teach anyone young enough. I bought it for DD1, used it for a few weeks and then decided to take the conventional route with her. She was doing well... and later swapped instrument anyway.

OK Worried, I'll try. And bear in mind that I'm of the opinion that almost all children are 'musical' - it's all about drawing it out. That is partly due to the right instrument and the right teacher. And I also think that a lot of 'talent' is in fact hard work, efficient practice, good teaching, and a desire (by the student) to be taught. In addition, whether a child can sing or play something, or shows any interest at 3, probably bears no relation to where they'll end up later. But considerable early potential (if I use the example of the other girl I mentioned before) might be things like picking out tunes by ear, and trying to add harmonies with the left hand at age 3. Or age 6! This particular child could also not be kept away from the piano for any length of time, so interest definitely plays a part.

Worriedandlost Tue 09-Jun-15 15:59:57

Thank you Wafflenose, always interested in professional teacher's opinion. I see it that way too. Dd was showing "considerable early potential" at age 4, but... When it came to the formal study and exams it faded away a bit. Mostly on enthusiam part smile So, I believe it would not make any harm if she started later smile

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 09-Jun-15 18:00:23

I have investigated Dogs and Birds but I prefer the Music for Little Mozarts books. The latter are probably easier for a non-musical or non-pianist parent to use with children, especially as they come as a complete set (lesson book, theory book with lots of colouring, discovery book with non-piano musical activities and listening) with CDs. The instructions on the page are very clear and I encourage parents to follow them during practise. The full set also includes cuddlies ;-) and while it seems dear (the Deluxe Starter Pack is around £40) it's user-friendly, age-appropriate and I like the story-line and songs. While I'm not sure a non-pianist and possibly non-musical parent could teach good piano technique etc., I'm pretty confident that anyone who can read could teach their child to find the notes on the piano, learn to read music, learn to enjoy listening to different sorts of music and singing songs and learn to play the tunes in those books - even if the mum or dad had to listen to the "lesson book CD" to figure them out.

There is a sampler here: www.musicforlittlemozarts.com/teacherresources/

Manoxlon Tue 09-Jun-15 18:37:10

Great feedback, thanks. I have heard of the Music for Little Mozarts and sounds like it's worth looking into more closely. If I may ask, where are you based JulieMichelleRobinson?

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 09-Jun-15 18:52:56

Manoxlon,

I'm in the Channel Islands, so no help to you!

After much umming and aaahing I settled on MFLM for the younger ones, leading into Alfred's Premier (which is different to the main Alfred series, and which I also use for 6-8yo beginners). The only drawback is the American nomenclature for crotchets/minims etc. but I tend to say "note, long-note, ve-ry-long-note" anyway. Noone else round here seems to use the same stuff.

Manoxlon Thu 11-Jun-15 21:07:16

These are great tips Julie, thanks!
Very keen to get started on the MLFM :-)

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 11-Jun-15 21:31:08

Awesome. I do think it is worth getting the full "Deluxe Starter Pack" with the cuddly toys, flashcards and everything rather than just the books. I use them frequently, at least for books 1&2. If you don't play at all, I'd suggest having one or two lessons yourself if you can just to make sure you have an idea of the proper technique (hand position, curved fingers etc.) so that your DD doesn't pick up too many bad habits that will need to be unlearnt later.

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