Learning the piano(20 Posts)
Mine both started at about 7. One took to it and one didn't.
Both DCs (aged 9 and 5) started at the time, with teacher coming to home. The youngest only had half a lesson for the first year. The eldest is progressing really quickly and enjoys it - I know if we had started him a lot younger he would have struggled and possibly given it up. Depends on the child's concentration and interest really, although a minimum width of hand span is recommended.
DD is 5 and is playing a bit at home but not reading music, just picking out notes and tunes. School don't offer it until yr2 and she's only just going into yr 1. We were discussing her having lessons and finding a private teacher coming to the house but don't want to put her off or waste our money as its quite pricey.
Kids can learn from 5, if they are keen and interested, but I think formal lessons too early for the average child can put them off. Music should be FUN at that age, not hard work!
But there are other things to consider: can she sing in tune? Can she pick out a recognisable tune? Can she make up little tunes of her own, that sound reasonable? Starting on Middle C can she sing to the piano, going up one white note at a time? (Don't use black notes at this stage.)
As a Teaching Assistant in primary schools I have been involved in helping kids enjoy music for over twenty years: ran a keyboard club, recorder groups, coached kids on percussion to play for the Christmas production. But note I say ENJOY, rather than learn!
And listening is also important. Not just having the radio on all day, but selective listening whether it is ZingZillas, Lazy Town, or the Proms, (currently on radio, and some TV.)
Do adults in the house play at all?
The John Thompson children's piano books are easy enough for any parent to help their child start to learn the basics of piano; I don't know the current editions of these, but years ago 'Teaching Little Fingers To Play' was one of his introductory books. They have pictures, cartoon characters and are very 'user friendly'!
If you want to reply to some of my queries, I'll see if I can help a bit more.
According to my daughter's piano teacher:
- when they can read well enough to cope with learning to read music, musical terms etc
- when their hands are big enough to stretch over the keys (pianos don't come in half sizes like some other instruments
- when they are old enough to sit still and concentrate for the duration of a lesson
- when they really want to!
In practice, she advises waiting until they are about 7 or 8. Before that, progress is more likely to be slow and/or frustrating.
That is assuming you are talking about reasonably traditional, classical piano lessons, including reading music and an expectation of daily practise!
Ds started in Yr 4 , so 8 y.o. Only showed an interest because he wanted to play the piano in the school leavers assembly.
He ended up playing 'The Entertainer' - quite well to my surprise.
He is still learning to play now at aged 11 y.o. and is keen on classical pieces.
She can sing up the keyboard in tune. She knows what all the keys are called and where middle C is (we bought her the Usbourne learn to play the piano book and she's teaching herself). She doesn't totally want to learn the piano though, its a means to an end. She wants to learn the harp of all things! I have no idea where she has got this idea from but she's been adament and nagging for well over a year and clearly she's too small for that and anyway everything I've read about learning to play the harp is that they recommend you are able to play the piano first before taking up the harp. So she's now nagging about piano lessons so she can then play the harp later. She's like a dog with a bone over it!
I am very musical (piano, clarinet and bassoon player as well as in a choir) so I can understand why she's musical as its a big part of our lives. But I just don't want to put any sort of pressure on her by starting formal lessons too early. Pressure was put on me and as a result I rebelled and spent a long time refusing to play at all which was a shame really.
Ferguson I forgot to say that yes, she listens selectively to music. She has a CD player in her room and is allowed to choose CD's from our selection which is everything from heavy metal (DH) to rock to pop to classical to childrens nursery rhymes. She tends to lean towards things with more tune than rhythm iykwim. She's announced she doesn't like Daddy's music!
rebl - if you're musical yourself, can't you get her started? Less pressure/expense then, if she's finding it hard and/or doesn't want to practise.
My younger daughter is similarly keen. She's also 5 and DD1's teacher won't take her for lessons yet. But I play the piano and sing, so she suggested it would do no harm for us to have a go ourselves, to keep her interested.
She recommended this book as being one that presents the basics very, very simply for younger children. It starts off with a simplified form of notation that doesn't require children to read the whole stave, but uses the shape and form of "proper" music, so they begin to be familiar with musical notation (and feel that they are keeping up with their big brothers and sisters, in my daughter's case!)
Chicken Love the name btw! She doesn't take well to Mummy suggesting anything let alone teach her anything! I'm doing the best I can but its all got to be through the back door. So I bought the book and just left it out for her to pick up and read. I'll play and she'll come and sing along side and try and copy the notes I play but if I so much as comment on what she's playing she walks away! Shes a very head strong girl in that respect. She's like it in everything. I can't comment on art work until its finished otherwise she just gets up and walks away. I like the look of that book. I might get that.
Hee hee - totally know what you mean. My eldest is just like that - I would be her worst teacher! Although to be honest it sounds like you are teaching her quite a bit "by the back door"!
rebl - your DD sounds like me as a kid. I started to learn the piano at age 6 and took up the harp aged 16. I don't regret learning to play the piano, but it isn't necessary to learn to play the piano before the harp. Most adults and children that I know learn to play a non pedal harp before moving onto a pedal harp at a later date. The non pedal harps are more suitable for kids. May be worth speaking to a teacher about it. You can get a list of teachers who will teach the non pedal harp on the clarsach society website. Alternatively, affairsoftheharp.com also has a list of teachers. Pilgrim Harps are also a great source of information and their website is very user friendly. John Hoare there is very helpful. Many kids start learning at about age 8. I heard a 9 year old playing last week and she was fab.
rebl - I would keep going with what you are doing for the moment. I am a piano teacher, and when I was younger I was sometimes pressured into teaching children younger than I wished. I now recommend Year 2 as the minimum age, because reading two stave simultaneously where the same placed note in each clef means something different is so hard. And that's before you think about counting of course...
Year 4 I find an absolutely ideal age - old enough for wanting to play not being a flash in the pan, secure enough with English and Maths to read the music, large enough to reach the keys and old enough to concentrate for the duration of the lesson. And more understanding of the need to practice.
When I took on younger children, I noticed a lot of frustration from them because of the speed they were able to progress at, and the drop out rate at five was extremely high. I started my own two DS's off at home when they were 4/5, but not as formal lessons, just five minutes here and there, which I feel is a much better way to work with this age. (They wanted to be like all the big children coming to the house for lessons). If your DD is adament she wants to learn something 'properly', how about looking at violin or cello, which you can get in small sizes and only require her to read one line of music?
Dd started at 6 and loves it. Must say, I hated it the whole time I learned and as a result, if she says that she wants to stop or is bored by it, we will stop straight away.
Ds loves it.
He has been asking me to email his teacher during the holidays for lessons. He was the one who asked for lessons. He has no problems picking up the concepts reading 2 staves etc (does so faster than me ! but I am learning as we go along). Yesterday he said he was going to invent a piano with more keys for the tunes he will write but in the mean time he will just burp those low notes instead!
I think it depends on the child ( it was suggested to us by his school so I think they felt he was okay).
All but 1 of my dc play piano and many at their schools do. Most have started around 7/8. Some started at 5 but most struggled or moved so slowly it made little difference. DS in particular started at 7 and has rocketed to g4 aged 11. Its a great thing to do.
It doesn't seem worth starting them too young - friend of DS's started at 4 in reception, DS started at 7 at the beginning of yr3, come round to beginning of yr 4, they're both grade 1!
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