In the book "Kindergarten is Too Late," Maseru Ibuka implies that from birth to age 3 is the best time to mold your child's intelligence. As a music teacher, I would have to agree that those years are definitely the best time to begin molding a child's "musical intelligence" as well. While many parents wait until their child is much older, to pursue music I always encourage parents to begin piano lessons no later than first grade, and here's why:
As a former Kindermusik instructor, I have seen children as young as 9 months begin their musical journey. Although a 9 month old cannot physically play the piano, there are other things they can do to tap into their musical intelligence. In my own private studio, I work with children as young as age 3. Does this mean that all children are ready for paino at age 3? Of course not!
Before accepting any student in my studio between the ages of 3 and 7 years old they must pass a cognitive skills test. All of my students must successfully complete a skills test, but because this age is so critical, there are certain skills that the student must have before moving forward.
My cognitive skills test may actually be considered as easy, but in fact it is anything but easy for some. Each piano teacher accepts students based on different things. I have learned years of teaching that a child will only learn certain things when he or she is ready. Here are "5 Things Your Child Should know Before Beginning Piano Lessons" !
5. How to Count
The child should be able to count from numbers 1-10 on their own. One of the first questions I always ask a child is their age. This will give me basic knowledge of their ability to memorize and count.
4. Number Recognition
In addition to counting, the child should be able to recognize numbers 1-10. This means, if a 6 is placed in front of a child, they will know it is a 6 and not a 9.
3. Letter Recognition
A child does not have to know how to read before beginning piano lessons; however, they should be able to recognize letters A-Z in the alphabet. This will not only help with reading sight words, but it will make the music lessons much easier when completing guided activities.
2. Right and Left Hand
Right and Left Hand are very important when learning piano because we play the piano with our hands. While I do not emphasize this as much with preschool age children, it is a skill that I expect to be mastered before or in early kindergarten. Because I place much emphasis on mastering right and left hand recognition, most children that play the piano master this skill very quickly, if they have not already mastered it before they come to me.
1. The Purpose of Piano Lessons
Lastly, the child needs to understand why they are attending piano lessons. They should know that they are not having a play date, but they are there to learn how to play an instrument. Familiarize the child with pictures of a piano, or watch videos of famous pianists so the child can see what they are capable of. The parent should explain to the child that piano lessons are fun and they will help the child learn many great things. Feel free to share with the child the many great benefits from playing the piano.
Phylicia Hollis is a professionally trained musician, singer, and educator. She is a highly sought after vocal coach that has worked in various capacities of the music and entertainment industry.