FOR THE VERY YOUNG
correspondence from many people who want to start their child at
the piano at the age of two or three.
I think that
there is no age too young to start piano, in the sense that
alphabet training, and This Little Piggy are appropriate for
any age, and represent the beginnings of reading and math.
approach must be completely different from that of conventional
piano lessons, and with completely
If you teach a
three year old and have five year old expectations, you are
in for a rude awakening. True, there are amazing talents even at
three, but 99.9999999999% of three year olds are very delicate
your motives. If you want the child to be a concert pianist, you
are close to engaging in child abuse, for the life of a musician
is slavery, and it is unthinkable to condemn a child to that
without their mature assent.
your motivation is to simply awaken music within the child by
means of the piano, you have selected an easily attainable goal.
Let the child's reaction guide you as to how much further to go
past awakening a sense of enjoyment.
doesn't exist. The index finger is fine.
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
mostly if YOU play them, but you can try to introduce two note
chords, just to get them to use two fingers, and to plan for the
future. Don't expect much on their part, but they usually can
participate in ear training: is it happy or sad?
exist at first. Later they might, but they confuse the very
young, who can't understand an extra set of keys on another
plane. Stick with white piano keys at first.
natural to do, just don't make it complex.
exist. You can play an exploratory game with a quarter on the
back of their hand, but you'll be lucky to get them playing with
two index fingers, much less a flat hand position. It is
meaningless to a child.
unless they're not even on the bench. Avoid bringing up issues
they can barely control.
kidding? Find a song they LOVE and see if you can interest them
in it. Insist on nothing, expect nothing, and you may be
may be a maximum. You have been warned. When the child says the
lesson is over, specifically or implicitly, the lesson is over.
Period. Most kids are happy with maybe ten minutes, and very few
regularly want twenty-odd minutes. When the moment has passed,
it has passed. Your job is to make sure they want another five
the brain hemispheres comes much later, but you can try.
Children vary wildly in this development, and there is no one
rule. I've seen 12 year olds who still have issues with it, so
be very careful not to frustrate the child. In general, though,
very young children have extreme difficulty with anything
approaching two-hand coordination in the pianistic sense.
keep it fun, forget pace and curriculum and instead try to find
some element that amuses and fascinates them, and then elaborate
The younger the
child, the more you must make a piano lesson seem not a chore.
Think of the
piano as this big furry animal, and you have to get the child to
like it and want to interact with it again and again.
You can only
win the battle of the piano over the long term.
And the battle
can be lost forever in a single moment of impatience, anger or