A lot of parents wonder what is the the best age to start their child in piano lessons.
The truth is, the answer to this question can depend on a number of factors.
Some teachers have a specific age or stage at which they recommend that kids start piano lessons. Maybe it’s 7 years old, or once a child learns to read.
While these milestones are helpful, it’s really best to consider each child on an individual basis when deciding when to start piano lessons.
I’m a huge advocate of encouraging musical interest as early as possible, even in newborns and babies. It’s definitely possible for kids to start piano at very young age such as 3-4.
However, starting at just the right age for your own child is really the best choice.
We’ll look at a number of areas to consider when deciding if your child is ready for piano lessons.
If your child already possesses these skills or is quickly developing in these areas, it may be a good time to go ahead and start piano lessons.
Fine Motor Skills
Playing the piano requires a lot of fine motor skills that take children many years to develop. Playing a fairly small piano key with just one specific finger is a really tiny movement that takes a lot of control.
If your child seems to have good control over moving each finger independently and can do activities that use very small motions such as cutting with scissors or writing or drawing with fine details, it may be a good time to start piano.
Of course, learning piano will help your child to develop their fine motor skills, but having a good start in this area is helpful and will reduce a lot of frustration.
We sync up a lot of different skills and activities simultaneously in order to play the piano. Having good coordination is crucial to playing an instrument, especially the piano.
At the piano, each hand is working independently and in different ways. We have to tap our foot or feel the steady beat in our body as we’re playing. Sometimes we have to sing, count or speak as we are playing.
All of these things require piano students to coordinate doing different skills at the same time.
If your child can ride a bike, do dance moves that incorporate both their arms and their lets or catch a ball with two hands, it’s a good sign that they might be ready to learn the piano.
Many piano lessons for beginners last for 30 minutes. It’s important that kids come to piano lessons with an attention span that will last the full lesson.
A teacher who is good with young kids will break up the 30 minutes into smaller blocks of time to help keep the child’s interest. But, you’ll definitely want to make sure your child can stick with an activity for 10-15 minutes to get the most out of piano lessons.
Interest In Piano
A lot of parents hope that their child will be interested in playing the piano, but, it’s really important that your child shows their own interest in learning the piano too.
Forcing a child to learn the piano when they are not interested will be frustrating for everyone – the child, the parents and the teacher.
Here are some good signs that your child might be interested in learning the piano:
- They gravitate towards touching or playing a piano without being prompted
- They seem intrigued when watching other people play the piano
- They ask questions about playing the piano
- They show a general interest in music by singing a lot, dancing when they hear music or pretending to play instruments
Ability To Focus
Not only does your child need a good attention span to play the piano, it’s also important that they can focus their attention. Playing the piano can be difficult and there are a lot details involved in learning the piano.
Having good focus will help your child to pick up on all the details and be successful at the piano.
Ability To Follow Directions
There are a lot of directions to follow at piano lessons. Students will be asked to put their hands in specific place on the piano. They be asked to perform specific skills. Many instructions at the piano include multiple steps that build upon each other.
Make sure that your child shows signs of being able to follow and complete directions given by adults.
In piano lessons, students encounter both numbers and letters. Kids learning the piano will need a good grasp on their ABC’s both in terms of sequencing and with basic reading. They will also need to be proficient with numbers for counting and adding note values, understanding finger numbers and other skills.
There are a number of larger overarching concepts that come into play at the piano. If your child does well in school, is eager to learn and catches on quickly, they will definitely be ready for piano lessons.
On a similar note, the ability to read and success in school shouldn’t be the only factors to consider. These are not requirements for learning the piano. Many kids who struggle in school find that the piano is just the right outlet when academics feel frustrating. The piano can be therapeutic and the perfect way for a child to express themselves even if they aren’t cognitively “ready”.
Time and Interest in Practicing Outside Of The Lesson
Your child is most likely to be successful with piano lessons if you make a commitment practice consistently in between lessons.
Make sure you have a good piano with 88 full-size, weighted keys in your home. (This is my recommendation for a great keyboard for beginners.)
Help your child find a daily practice routine.
Teach your child that learning the piano requires delayed gratification. It’s not something that will happen overnight. Learning the piano is a long term commitment that requires many years of practice.
Get your whole family on board with the expectation that piano practice will become a daily part of the routine. Ask family members to minimize distractions during practice time.
Make sure your child understands that practicing is an expectation from the beginning.
While it’s hard to pinpoint an exact age when kids are ready to learn piano, there are some general guidelines you could follow.
- Many kids are ready around the ages of 7-8. Generally by this age, all of the areas we discussed above are actively developing or mastered.
- This is a generalization, however, girls tend to develop fine motor skills a little earlier than boys. Girls may seem ready to learn the piano sooner than boys.
- Starting too early may cause a lot of frustration and could cause your child to resent learning the piano.
- It’s never too late to start learning the piano. If your child is truly interested in learning music, they will pick it up quickly as they mature and get older. You can’t really miss the best window for learning because even adults can learn the piano successfully.
Here’s an age-by-age breakdown of what to consider at each stage:
- 3-4 years old: At this age, it’s very uncommon that a child is ready to start formal piano lessons. Find a local preschool music class and encourage musical interest at home. In the rare case that you have a child prodigy, reach out to a local piano teacher to discuss what it might look like to start lessons at this age.
- 5-6 years old: During these years, all of the developmental skills listed above are just starting to come together. This could be a really good time to start piano lessons if your child shows an natural inclination towards music and is very interested in starting. Expect to be very involved in both lessons and practicing at this age.
- 7-8 years old: Kids at these ages tend to be very ready for piano lessons. They have mastered most of the developmental milestones necessary to play the piano and usually show independence in learning new things and practicing a skill.
- 9 and beyond: It’s never too late to start and as kids get older, they can pick up skills more and more quickly. However, as older kids start developing their own interests, they may be distracted by other activities or have less time to practice. At this stage make sure your child is truly interested and committed to learning piano.
Good luck as you help your child begin to learn piano!