Is my child old enough to start lessons?

I am often asked some variation of this question by parents and grandparents eager for their child to begin their piano journey. While each situation is different, there are several basic ideas to consider that can help with the decision process.

1. Each child is unique and you know your child best.

Are they excited about the piano? Have they shown an interest in it? Do they have a piano or keyboard at home on which they can play? Will they be just as excited for lessons next month as they are now?

If you think they are emotionally ready...

2. Hand size and strength matters.

The truth is, those little fingers need to be able to press down the piano keys. They need to be able to stretch out so each finger can play a different key. And sometimes, they are just not physically able to do so. But sometimes they are!

If they are physically ready...

3. Attention span matters.

Can they sit at the piano for more than a couple of minutes? Will they be able to focus on a new concept? Can they look at a page in a book and follow along? Will they be able to remember what they learn from week to week?

If they are mentally ready...

4. A good teacher will adapt.

Lesson times can be shortened. Students can alternate between time on the bench and a game on the floor or a table activity. Toys, stickers, manipulatives, and creative techniques can turn lesson time into an age-appropriate music experience beyond just learning to play the piano. Find out if your teacher is willing and/or able to provide this experience.

If not...

5. A good teacher will be honest.

It shouldn't be about gaining another weekly fee but rather providing an enriching musical experience, so a good teacher will freely acknowledge when a child is not ready or if they are not up for the challenge.

If they are not, or you have determined that your child is not ready at this point...

6. Explore other options.

Is there a preschool or toddler music class available in your area? Oftentimes, a school district or a private daycare center will offer one. You can also check out Kindermusik, Music Together, or a similar organization. While these do not teach piano, per se, they offer a variety of musical experiences that will be of benefit once your child is ready to tackle individual lessons.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this more in-depth, leave a comment below :)

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