The best age to start piano is up to you. The classic age is 6. That is when a child’s brain is just beginning to develop the connection between the two hemispheres. At 4, there is less connection. At 8, there is more.
From my experience, there is a slight advantage to starting later, allowing the brain more time to develop.
Any child who can count to ten is a good candidate for Piano By Number, the best starting platform for kids. Say, four or five.
But counting to ten is only a starting qualification.
Other skills, having more to do with maturity, are necessary as well.
- The ability to complete a task.
- The ability to concentrate intensely for a short period of time.
- The ability to make mistakes and take constructive criticism.
Make sure that you separate the tasks of playing music and reading music. Kids can play music for a long time, but can summon up the mental wherewithal for only a few minutes of music reading.
Age 2 to 3
For this age group you simply want to convince the child that the piano is a fun place to be.
There are few skills kids this age can absorb, except maybe up and down.
You’re really looking for a psychological victory, not an educational one at this age. Convince them that they want more.
Your pace should be glacial, never ever pushing the child, but laying out games and seeing if they bite at the bait. If not, move on.
It will be practically impossible for them to go from the page to the keys, as they will lose their place almost instantly. Concentrate on the keyboard.
Age 4 to 5
Kids can now go from looking at the page to looking at the keys, so it is possible to play actual songs. If not, continue to concentrate on the keyboard, getting them used to the geography.
Find their favorite songs and translate them into a form that is transparently easy for them to play.
You may be able to introduce the black keys, flats and sharps, but I would concentrate on finding the white keys 1-12 at first.
Fingering is only dimly understood at this age, but encourage them to use specific fingers if it does not frustrate them. It’s a good age to let them explore “crazy fingering,” wherein they try any combination that strikes them. It often helps them feel the logic of the “proper” way.
Age 5 to 6
At this age, the child’s brain is finally ready for more complex tasks, and is ready to try to complete tasks.
You must still lower the bar and keep a game feeling to the lessons. It should seem more like a fun half hour with a sympathetic adult rather than a lecture.
You can try playing with both hands, and fingering. But you must know when to back off and let the child simply do what comes naturally. Later, you can convince them there is a better way.
Now begins the process of bait and switch, between Piano By Number and reading music.
Motor skills take a jump at this age and kids are able to control the hand with more assurance.
The proportion of numbers/games to reading should be about 8 parts numbers to 2 parts reading.
The child, now about six, has had the opportunity to play games and have fun and play familiar songs. They are ready for a little work on reading music, as long as the exposure is short but often.
Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press