Piano for Babies

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Piano for babies? People actually ask me if they can start piano with a two year old. It depends on the two year old, and I’m not being snarky.

If your two year old is Mozart, go ahead, but if your two year old is like most kids that age, they will have no idea what symbols (letters, numbers) are.

Only certain skills (there are still some that are purely physical and do not require symbols) can be taught to a child that does not understand symbols, and cannot connect them with real objects like piano keys.

Let’s assume that we are dealing with an average two or three year old, and they have a dim but incomplete view of the numbers 1-10.

Let’s further assume that the child is so young that they have to be taught visually, and cannot use symbols with facility.

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THE MAIN SKILL FOR A YOUNG CHILD

You must find a way for the child to enjoy coming to the piano. It cannot be a place of criticism. It has to be a place the child associates with joy.

You can use candy, money, praise, rewards, toys. But the child cannot feel uneasy or out of control while at the piano.

THE LENGTH OF THE LESSON

Are you prepared for a six minute lesson? The lesson is over when the child says it’s over, no exceptions.

You really cannot go against this rule, or you risk the child not wanting another lesson. Let them lead the lesson, at least apparently.

Games for the Piano Book By MailFINGERING

If you get past the index finger, it is a miracle. Pretend it does not exist.

RHYTHM

It exists in the simplest form: you produce it, and they feel it. Don’t expect a three year old to understand it the way even a six year old does. See the FOURS piano game.

CHORDS

Can you get the child to skip a white key? That is a chord. Forget them being able to name chords, move between chord. Teach them what a chord is, most likely a C chord.

BLACK KEYS

Way too confusing unless the child expresses interest. Try playing all the black keys in a row, going up.

COUNTING

Easy and natural to do, just don’t make it complex. Counting to four is hard work if anything is expected at the same time. Once again see the FOURS piano game.

HAND POSITION

Irrelevant, since they cannot control their fingers. If you insist on it, you will only frustrate them. If nothing else, just make them aware of it. Many kids this age offer the “karate chop” position, the hand on its side. Laugh. Move on.

SITTING PROPERLY

You’re going to have enough trouble getting them not to fall on the floor. Seriously. Little kids this age have trouble balancing.

PRACTICING

There is only one method: THE SONG. Find a song they are crazy about and they will not stop playing it. For a two year old, this is practicing.

ATTENTION SPAN

I would assume five minutes, anything more is gravy. Never force the length of the “lesson.” When their fleeting interest has passed, it’s over. Wait for next time.

Remember, in conclusion, that five minute lessons may take 6 times as long for the child to learn as compared to 30 minutes lessons.

Go slowly, glacially, expect nothing.

You may be pleasantly surprised.

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