If you want to expose your young child to music early on, or if you have a young child who is already showing an interest in music, you might be wondering what age is appropriate for piano lessons.
Maybe you’ve heard that it’s better to wait until they can read and have more dexterity in their hands, but you’ve also seen plenty of young children learning to play musical instruments.
Is there an ideal age to start piano lessons?
We’ll answer that question and explain why it can be beneficial to start piano lessons at an early age. We’ll also share some tips to make piano lessons a success for your young piano student.
Table of Contents
- How Early Can a Child Start Piano Lessons?
- Why Age 3 Is an Ideal Age to Begin Piano Lessons
- 3 Benefits of Starting Piano Lessons At a Young Age
- 5 Tips to Prepare a Child for Piano Lessons
- It’s Never Too Late To Start Piano Lessons With Northwest School of Music: Classes for Age 3 to Adult
How Early Can a Child Start Piano Lessons?
The answer to this question depends on both the child and the preference of the piano teacher.
Does your child like to sing? Do they often stop at the piano to tinker with the keys as they walk through the living room?
If your young child shows an interest in music, they may be ready to start piano lessons right away. If their interest is non-existent or if they have other interests, you may want to wait a while to start piano lessons.
Music teachers differ in their opinions about when to start piano lessons with children. Some teachers wait until students are five to seven years old to begin, believing that by then they have a greater:
- Attention span
- Desire to learn
- Ability to read; and
- Hand size
While those factors may indicate that some children are ready to begin piano lessons, at Northwest School of Music, we believe those aren’t the only markers of a child’s readiness to begin lessons. We believe that starting piano lessons as early as age three has many benefits.
If you’re interested in piano lessons or lessons for a variety of other instruments, Northwest School of Music may have what you’re looking for.
Why Age 3 Is an Ideal Age To Begin Piano Lessons
Because three-year-olds are growing and developing physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially, starting piano lessons at this age allows instructors to take advantage of the many areas of their natural development.
This is why age three is often the sweet spot to begin piano lessons. Your little one may not be playing like Mozart at age three, but there are lots of reasons why it’s a great age to get started.
#1: They Are Excited To Learn
Young children are learning new activities all the time — things like:
- Riding a tricycle
- Stacking blocks
- Running and jumping
- Speaking and singing
And they’re not like the teenager who complains about learning biology. Young children find so much pleasure in learning new things.
This is also true when it comes to learning to play an instrument.
Rather than being a chore that they have to be coaxed into doing, playing the piano is a fun, new activity that captures their attention. Their excitement to learn keeps them coming to the piano to learn new musical skills.
#2: They Can Learn the Fundamentals of Music
Though the fundamentals of music become more complex as a student progresses, young children can begin learning the fundamentals of music with great success.
Young piano students are sponges and can grasp the fundamentals of music in many ways, including the following:
- Discriminating between high and low sounds
- Understanding tempo (slow vs. fast)
- Experiencing and practicing dynamics (soft vs. loud)
- Feeling the beat with the body
- Moving fingers, toes, and feet to the beat
- Tapping the beat on the piano keys
- Clapping to the beat
- Learning and playing the notes of the scale
- Playing simple tunes
#3: They Can Gain a Well-Rounded Overview of Music
Learning to play the piano can open up a child’s musical world and can help give them a well-rounded overview of music in general.
Learning the basics of the piano can help give your young child a strong musical foundation for the following reasons:
- The piano is an easier instrument for a child to play because:
- The size of the keys is suited to small hands
- Pressing the keys is easy for a child to do, as opposed to the actions necessary to play a wind or string instrument
- Because of the linear quality of the piano, it is the perfect instrument to easily learn notes, melodies, rhythms, harmonies, and chords.
- Piano lessons are the perfect platform to learn basic music theory like:
- Notes (whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, etc.)
- The names of the notes on the scale
- Reading music on both the treble and bass clefs
- It’s easy for a child to produce a nice sound on the piano by simply stroking the keys. Wind or string instruments require more practice and a technique that may take longer for a child to master.
3 Benefits of Starting Piano Lessons at a Young Age
Learning to play the piano at a young age comes with many benefits:
- Increased memory functions
- Enhanced listening skills
- Advanced language skills
- Expanded creativity
- Improved hand-eye coordination
- And more
In addition to these, let’s take a closer look at these top three benefits:
- Physical and mental development
- Ease in learning another instrument
- Strong academic skills
#1: Physical and Mental Development
When learning to play the piano, the brain creates new neural connections, enhancing the way the brain works. Since the brain is like a muscle, the more it is exercised, the stronger the neural connections become. And when the brain is strong and active, it’s easier for children to learn other things.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that beginning music training before age seven can have a strong effect on brain development due to the connections between the motor regions.
In addition to these powerful neural connections, learning to play the piano can also encourage creativity and enhance the brain’s ability to process emotion.
Physical benefits of playing the piano include:
- Stronger hand muscles
- Improved coordination
- Improved dexterity in the hand muscles
- Strong fine motor skills
- Hand-eye coordination
- Reduced stress
#2: Good Preparation for Learning Another Instrument
Since piano lessons provide a well-rounded musical foundation, piano students often have an easier time picking up a new instrument.
Though they may not have mastered their piano playing technique, a firm understanding of the basics of music theory gained through piano lessons gives them the foundation necessary to learn a new instrument, whether it’s a string, brass, or wind instrument.
Piano lessons can truly open up a child’s musical world.
If your child is ready to start piano lessons or if they are ready to try their hand at another instrument, Northwest School of Music offers a variety of music lessons to meet your needs, including:
- Bass guitar
- And more
#3: Promotes Strong Academic Skills
Remember those brain connections we mentioned above?
Those same connections contribute to developing academic skills in areas like:
- Language arts
- Reading comprehension
- Science; and
- Memory retention
In particular, mathematical and musical skills go together. When learning to play the piano, children develop rhythmic skills through the instruction of beats and scales. Those skills carry over into math class when they encounter patterns, grouping, organization, and fractions.
Studies also show that music students perform better in math, science, and English than their non-musical peers. Because of enhanced verbal memory skills, music students may find it easier to pick up on new ideas and concepts in school.
5 Tips To Finding Success When Starting Piano Lessons at an Early Age
If you think your young child may have an interest in piano, or if you are ready to get them started in piano lessons, consider the following tips to help ensure musical success once your little one begins formal lessons.
#1: Have a Piano in the House in a Prime Location
Strategically place the piano in your home to encourage playing without being a distraction and without being distracted.
Children will be more likely to practice if the piano is in a communal part of the home instead of being hidden away by itself. But make sure to place the piano in a different room than the one where the family watches television to avoid the distraction of both your piano student and the TV-watchers in the family.
#2: Encourage Tinkering on the Piano Before They Start Lessons
Even though they won’t necessarily be producing beautiful music, encourage young children to play the piano even before they take lessons.
By tinkering with the keys on the piano, children can:
- Learn the layout of the keys
- Become familiar with the sounds (high sounds to the right, low sounds to the left)
- Experiment with sound effects like soft and loud sounds and the sustained sounds from using the pedal
With this kind of early familiarity, your child can begin piano lessons with confidence.
#3: Attend Kinder Music or General Music Classes
Kindermusic classes are an excellent way to introduce children to music in a fun and engaging way.
Kindermusic classes give children aged three to five an exciting first music experience. In a group setting, children and parents enjoy:
- Singing activities
- Movement to music
- Listening to many styles of music; and
- Exploring different instruments
To explore Kindermusic classes at Northwest School of music, click here.
#4: Talk About Your Child’s Musical Discoveries
When your child tinkers on the piano keys, what kinds of discoveries are they making?
- Do they try to pick out tunes?
- Do they play across the whole keyboard, or do they prefer to play in the middle?
- Do they like to play softly or loudly?
- Do they experiment with the pedals?
Paying attention to the activities your child enjoys on the piano can give you opportunities to discuss what they are learning through discovery. Even if you don’t know the proper musical terms, you can discuss the discoveries your child is making and how those discoveries make them feel, and what the sounds make them think of.
Music can be a fabulous way to express emotions and enhance communication skills.
#5: Practice the Basics: Right/Left Hand and Alphabet A to G
Learning the right and left hand is an easy first step to prepare young children for piano lessons. Though reading is not a necessary prerequisite for a child to take piano lessons, understanding the basics of the alphabet can be a huge step in the right direction. Even young children can begin learning the musical alphabet of seven letters that repeat over and over again (ABCDEFG ABCDEFG).
It’s Never Too Late To Start Piano Lessons With Northwest School of Music: Classes for Age 3 to Adult
Music training and learning an instrument are beneficial for everyone, no matter what age. Northwest School of music offers music and instrument lessons for both children and adults.
With lessons for …
- And more
… there’s something for everyone.
And if you or your child are interested in basic music lessons or vocal music, Northwest School of Music offers:
- Kindermusic classes for children ages three to five
- Voice lessons for children and adults; and
- Choirs for ages four through adult
Our team is made up of qualified and experienced instructors with either college training or professional performance experience. They will get to know you and your child and will design your lessons around your goals and desires.
Get started and register online today.