Piano for pre-schoolers

I’ve been asked what I think about piano lessons for pre-school children. I believe that starting too young in formal lessons can actually be a setback. If a child is being taught beyond their developmental abilities, it can just become a frustration for them, leading to discouragement, and potentially hurt their future interest in music. Also, pre-schooler’s hands are really tiny compared to the size of piano keys. Even for a 6 year old, the keys are really big.

If you have a child who wants to make music on the piano or keyboard in your home, here are some ideas.

#1 The best thing you can do is keep it fun. No pressure. When she wants to play, let her play. As with any activity, you can offer “Do you want to play with the piano?” She might, or she might not. But don’t push it, anymore than you would push her to play with a toy.

#2 Point her to the black keys. There are five black keys in a set, in groups of two and three. This pattern repeats itself up and down the piano. Staying on the black keys makes it is easy to make music. Much of blues and rock is based on the sounds you hear on the black keys. So she is guaranteed immediate success when she plays on the black keys. And the music books I start elementary students with all begin on the black keys.

#3 Sometimes ask her to play one note at a time. Kids will gravitate towards playing as loud as possible and as many notes as possible. This is fun! But may drive you, the parent, crazy! There is nothing wrong with her experiencing the full sounds of a piano. If it’s an actual piano and not a synthesizer (which isn’t a problem for me) then she can hold down the foot pedal and it will make the notes stretch out longer. Again, really fun for her. But might get to be a bit much for your ears. So alternate her playing with just one finger.

#4 The last thing I would add is play a variety of music in your home. Pandora and Spotify are wonderful sources to expand your family’s exposure to different styles of music. I would start with classical, and blues. Then expand into jazz. Always remember, we did not learn to talk by taking english lessons. We learned to talk by being around talking people. We become musicians by being around music. Even as four-year olds.

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