What age can my child start piano lessons? And other questions parents ask about learning piano.Tuesday, Aug 9 2022
Are you thinking about piano lessons for your child but not really sure if they’re ready? To help out, we’ve put together this detailed blog with insights from an experienced piano player and music teacher that covers all aspects of children’s piano lessons. Let’s get started.
Assessing suitability for piano lessons
What age can my child start piano lessons?
Most children can start learning piano around age 7, but that said, every learner is different. If your child is much younger and shows particular aptitude for music (or a strong interest in piano) there’s no reason why they can’t start lessons at 3 or 4 years old.
Pro Tip: “There is no specific starting age per say, in my experience every child is different. I say give it a go as the teacher will be able to quickly tell if it’s too early for the student to start.” Klara, Principal Teacher, Music with Klara.
How do I know if my young child is ready for piano lessons?
If you’re really keen to get piano lessons for your pre-schooler, make a realistic assessment for each of the following questions. Can your child:
- Sit straight and reach the piano without strain?
- Easily distinguish between their left and right hand?
- Count to 10?
- Recognise and use the first 7 letters in the alphabet (A-B-C-D-E-F-G)?
- Hold (and use) pencils, crayons, and scissors with reasonable control?
- Follow instructions and guidance from a non-family member?
Also check your child’s attention span and their overall interest in music. It’s important to remember that even if your pre-schooler is exceptionally gifted, they will still want a play break after about 10 minutes of playing.
Choosing a piano teacher
What sort of qualifications should a piano teacher have?
You can expect your child’s teacher to be an accomplished piano player and hold a nationally recognised music qualification such as the:
Some piano teachers who hold qualifications in music performance or instrumental studies may have additional teaching qualifications. These may include:
What other certifications should my child’s piano teacher hold?
Make sure that your piano teacher has an up-to-date Working With Children Check (WWCC). At the same time, established piano teachers won’t mind providing a National Police Check and evidence of infection control training.
Many piano teachers are members of the Australian Society for Music Education and are also accredited with the music teachers association in their state or territory.
Reputable piano teachers will happily provide their music qualifications, accreditations, safety protocols, and teaching experience.
Deciding on lesson format
How long are piano lessons?
Piano lessons are generally from 30–60 minutes. Beginners and small children will only need 30-minute lessons, but more experienced students usually require longer sessions of 45-60 minutes.
What type of music will my child be learning?
That’s totally up to you and the teacher. Small children and beginners will learn simple phrases from popular songs, nursery rhymes, and folk music. As your child gains experience and develops an interest in music they can pursue genres such as classical piano, jazz piano, blues, theatre music, contemporary, or rock piano.
What else will my child learn?
Piano lessons include skills and techniques for reading sheet music, listening for pitch and rhythm, sight reading, left and right-hand coordination, musicianship, performance skills, and instrument care. A quality teacher will have an emphasis on finding your child’s unique interests and individual needs.
Does my child need to do piano exams?
Again, that’s totally up to you. If your child develops a keen interest in piano, you can eventually enrol them in the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) piano curriculum. ABRSM students work through 9 levels of piano and music theory and must pass exams before progressing to the next level. Just ask your piano teacher if they are an ABRSM accredited teacher.
How about online piano lessons? Can my child learn piano online?
While online lessons aren’t for everyone, Klara, the principal teacher from Music with Klara says that online piano lessons definitely work, and she’s successfully taught many kids via webcam with no issues at all.
Online piano lessons really aren’t that different to face-to-face classes. They are great for parents with busy schedules as there is no picking up, dropping off, and parking. At the same time your child won’t miss their weekly lessons if someone in the family is sick with COVID19.
How many piano lessons will my child need each week?
Most kids will be fine with just one lesson per week. Children progressing through the ABRSM piano curriculum may benefit from extra lessons before an exam, or when learning new pieces.
Intermediate and advanced students often prefer one face-to-face lesson with their piano teacher each week, plus a few online classes to supplement their learning and get assessed on their practice pieces.
Getting set up
What equipment do I need to buy?
You don’t need to invest in a grand piano for your kids to begin music lessons. Get started with a digital keyboard that has 88 weighted keys that are touch sensitive. Weighted keys are very important (even for little kids) because they replicate the resistance, pressure, and spacing of an actual piano.
Sometimes parents are tempted to buy a reduced-sized keyboard, MIDI board, or synthesiser with unweighted keys — often because they are smaller and cheaper. However, if your child is serious about piano, it will only be a few months before you’ll need to upgrade to a fully weighted model anyway.
Pro Tip: If you’re not sure what ‘weighted keys’ are, just look underneath each piano key and make sure there is no space beneath the keys.
How do I set up for online piano lessons?
To set up for online piano lessons, you’ll need a stable internet connection and a device with a webcam, microphone, and speakers. Desktop and laptop computers generally work best because the screen is larger, and you won’t have problems seeing your teacher.
Klara, the principal music teacher from Music with Klara explains that the device with the webcam (i.e. computer) needs to sit on the side of the piano, at an angle that allows the teacher to see your child’s fingers and playing posture. She says, “a laptop might be easier to place on a stool rather than a phone, but both can do the job”.
She also reminds parents to keep the phone handy because your child’s teacher may need to share/send sheet music and other resources during the lesson.
Supporting your child
As a parent, how can I support my child while they learn piano?
The best way to support your child’s piano journey is to make lessons and practice time consistent and enjoyable. Your child will do better if you make a timetable or schedule so that practising piano becomes part of their daily routine.
Try not to miss lessons and check-in each week with your child’s piano teacher - to find out what they should be practising before the next lesson. Most of all, enjoy learning alongside your child.
Do I need to attend lessons with my child?
Many parents underestimate the commitment and encouragement that is involved in learning an instrument. Klara feels it’s worthwhile for parents to occasionally sit-in on lessons.
She explains: “I don’t think it’s necessary for every lesson as you need to give space so the teacher and child can bond on their own.”
Any other tips for parents?
Finally, encourage your kids to listen to different types of music, especially the pieces they are learning on piano. You can also inspire music appreciation by attending live performances with your kids, watching musical movies and theatre, and just singing together in the car. Music and piano is a rewarding journey that can bring the whole family together.