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#1 Rach

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 03:54 PM

My son is 6, able to read well, and is very interested in music.  He sings on key, has decent rhythm, and is interested in playing both the piano and the trumpet.  We are happy with him playing trumpet someday, but would like him to start with piano.  It's been years since I took piano lessons and once I got into band, my lessons were through my school, I don't know what to look for.

 

I know we have a lot of options in our area.  In a quick search I found a lady down the street with 25 years of experience, she majored in piano and taught elementary music.  The local piano center has several teachers, all have degrees in performance or pedagogy, they all have several certifications & associations that mean nothing to me but sound good.  I haven't asked my friends where their kids take lessons yet, but I know I'll have several additional options.

 

What should I look for in a piano teacher?  

  • Is a degree or certain certification preferred?
  • How much experience?
  • Group or individual lessons?
  • How frequently should lessons occur?  Weekly?
  • Is a certain method preferable for a 6 year old?

We have a full sized keyboard and we can have my mother in-law's piano.  It's located in another town and would need to be moved to our house and tuned.  Is the keyboard OK for starting out?

 

I know this varies greatly by area, but what is a reasonable price?

 

I am hopeful to start lessons in the spring, but if the general consensus is to wait a bit, should we get a lesson book and start working through it now and then start lessons next fall?

 

Any other suggestions?

 

 



#2 ashleysf

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 05:04 PM

I looked for experience teaching very small children when I enrolled my son at 4 years old. We started with group lessons and switched over to private lessons and that transition was gentle and the initial group lessons were fun for my child - though there is no reason to start with group lessons for a 6 year old. I prefer to stay with a Music Academy instead of private teachers because the academies tend to belong to associations and have certain standards to their curriculum and their teaching methods. Also they have plenty of recital opportunities and exams which eventually help in polishing a player's skills. Since I know nothing about piano music, this was important to me because I had some reassurance that the curriculum was good and the students from our academy had won several national level prizes (and hence had to have great teachers!). Also, make sure that they teach not just how to play songs - but include sight reading, ear training, music theory, music history, improvisation etc in their syllabus.

As for keyboards, most teachers in my area insist on acoustic pianos. So, you might want to get that piano tuned and ready.

And, your son can start anytime.

PS: My son's teacher uses the Faber Piano Adventures now but used a mix of curriculum for the first year.



#3 Stellaluny

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 05:46 PM

I'm a violin instructor.  My son, 7, is taking piano this year for the first time.

 

When I was looking for a piano instructor, I knew I did not want a group class.  I wanted 30 minutes of dedicated one-on-one learning time.  If my son is going to learn a skill, he needs to be able to make consistent progress and feel succesful.  That requires math-like focus, which is most efficiently produced one-on-one at his age.

 

I got lucky with our piano instructor.  He is an older gentleman with a PhD in music education who teaches through our city park system for $31/month for weekly lessons.  I would send out an email/ask around your homeschooling community.  That's how I landed this gentleman's name... I would definitely be looking for a college degree in music education, piano performance/pedagogy with experience teaching young children, not necessarily in that order.

 

A weighted keyboard is generally OK to begin on.  But I'll defer to a pianist on that one.

 

As far as when to start... if your son is asking, then do it.  At age 7, my son wasn't asking and he wasn't interested, but I insisted because I know it's good for him.  And thankfully, he is really enjoying it. 

 

You can start your son, but I would advise discernment.  The first taste of something like music is really special.  If you start at a good age, make it a unique part of your week (a dedicated teacher), and make it a consistent part of your week, your kid will ride a wave of momentum.  I wanted to aim for the wave instead of schlepping around and leaving a bad taste to come back to later. 

 

HTH!

 

Peace,

Stella     

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 



#4 Alicia64

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 07:52 PM

We started with a homeschool curriculum that my boys really enjoyed: Pianimals. It took my boys through about six months of work with me by their side. And the authors say after a year of Pianimals to find a real-life teacher. I'd amend that to "after six months."

 

The other point I heard and agree with is to find a teacher your child really clicks with. We found a homeschooled 18 year old who my son wants to impress. So he practices. The teen has been in lessons of his own since he was 6 and can play beautifully.

 

Does the teen teach perfectly? I don't know, but my son is playing amazing pieces and reading music.

 

Alley



#5 wintermom

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 08:13 PM

I took piano lessons for 10 years starting at age 7, and 3 of my children are taking piano, two taking violin (dd does both). They all started at about age 6 with private lessons (violin has private and group). The private lessons are wonderful for accomodating the speed the child progresses at and there are no distractions. My son loves his group violin for the social and motivational aspect, along with the group performance opportunities.

 

All the teachers my dc work with have University degrees in music and experience working with children. Learning proper technique is so critical in building a strong foundation when learning an instrument, which is why I think it's worthwhile to spend more money for a teacher with a degree in music rather than a less qualified teacher.

 

The private lessons started at 30 minutes once a week. This year the older three are up to 45 minutes per week.

 

We have an upright piano, and I do prefer playing a piano rather than a keyboard. There are some advantages to a keyboard, such as a volume knob/head-phones so that the student can have greater flexibility with practice times in a busy household. It's also cheaper and doesn't need tuning. I'd probably invest in the best instrument you can afford right now, as it will sound better and be more enjoyable for the student to play, as well as for your family to listen to.

 

Starting lessons in the spring may not be great, unless you plan to continue with lessons throughout the summer. It's more common to start in the fall and take lessons until the spring, then break for the summer or at least take lessons less frequently.

 

After experiencing my children learn to play violin, trumpet, clarinet, drums and piano, I can see that the piano is definitely the easiest instrument to get a nice sounding, in-tune melody very early on in the learning process. This quick and early success really helps motivate them to keep going!

 

All the best on the musical journey!



#6 tranquility7

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 09:10 PM

I cannot say enough good things about our Suzuki piano experience.  We started DS when he turned 4, and he is now 7.  He had absolutely ZERO musical interest or ability when we started.  Maybe even less than zero!  But I believe in music instruction for a lot of reasons, and so I begged DH (from whom DS inherited his complete lack of musical interest and ability, LOL).

 

Three years later, we are *amazed* not only at the progress he has made - he plays very well, imho - but even moreso by how much he truly LOVES it.  It was hard in the beginning, but he has grown to truly love it because he has learned to play beautifully, and he has a wide memorized repertoire he can play anytime, anywhere (he can probably sit and play lovely pieces from memory for at least 30-40 minutes). 

 

We have a wonderful teacher who has rounded out his Suzuki repertoire with other skills (music reading and such), but his musicality, and his true enjoyment of music is what really brings me such joy to see.  Those are 110% learned - not innate - and that is why I'm so happy to see it.  I can only imagine how much moreso those would be present with a child who is already showing musical ability before even beginning!

 

ETA - I took organ as an elementary student but never really made much progress in about 2-3 years of lessons... and I'm generally quite a musical person!  So I contrast the progress and enthusiasm DS has with the progress I made, and I'm even more amazed and convinced of the wisdom and efficacy of the Suzuki method.



#7 Rach

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 09:26 PM

Thanks for all the advice.  I have heard so many good things about the Suzuki method, but as far as I know we only have a guitar instructor here.  I will check with my local homeschool community about teachers, thanks for that reminder.  

 

I am excited for him to get started, I just hope that his interest and love for music continues.



#8 duckens

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 07:19 AM

We started dd at age 4ish.  She is now nearly 7.

 

1) For a child this young, you may need to sit with him for daily practice.  Basically, you may need to "teach him how to practice."  Not all 6yos know to read the teacher's notes in the assignment pad and how to go over trouble parts.  Loverboy was saying just last night how much he appreciates that I sit with dd to get as much out of the piano as we can.

This is what works for us:

a) When introducing a new song, I play it for dd6 several days in a row so she can get the tune in her head.  I start doing this a week ahead of time, plus daily as she is learning songs.

b  ) We divide the song into 4 parts.  Dd plays each part 6 times in a row (because she is 6). 

c) We play Dice. Of. Dooooooooooom! (must be said in a thunderous voice).  I put a 6-sided die in a cup.  She rolls it. 

1 -play section 1

2 -play section 2

3 -play section 3

4 -play section 4

5 -play whole song

6 -done with this song for the day, even if it is the first roll

We usually do 5 rounds when playing this game, unless she rolls a 6 (which cuts the game short).

d) we play the song daily, then weekly, forever.

 

2) An educated piano teacher would be great, but I would prefer one with experience teaching YOUNG children.

 

I have no musical degree.  I have no college degree beyond a 2-year community college degree in liberal art.  My musical education is spotty.

 

I have been teaching dd (nearly 7) since she was 5.  We use lots of games, and I sit with her daily for practice.  I use the internet and reference books and musically-savvy friends for things I don't understand.  I know my limits; I know the time will come that dd will surpass what I can teach her musically; and I know that there are some things I am bad at teaching.

 

Shameless bragging part:

And yet, dd6 can set and play with a metronome.  She can play in a duet.  She can move her hands from one place to another on the keyboard without prompting, as the music requires.  She knows about pentatonic scales (and can play them in a couple different keys).  She uses inverted chords spontaneously.  She know how many sharps/flats are in C major, D major, E major, and F major, and can play the 5-finger scale for them.  She is starting to take a song she knows, and move it into a different key.  We are starting to discuss the values of the Tonic and the Dominant notes on the scale.

 

My point is that one does not need a degree in music to teach beginning piano to young children.  Unless you are driven for your child to have the same piano teacher for the entirety of their musical career (one who can expand with your child's growth in music beyond what I know I can do for dd6), start with someone who will play musical games with your child and teach them what they need to know before moving on to the next level of a more challenging piano teacher or trumpet lessons.



#9 Smiles

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 08:08 AM

We started dd at age 4ish.  She is now nearly 7.
 
1) For a child this young, you may need to sit with him for daily practice.  Basically, you may need to "teach him how to practice."  Not all 6yos know to read the teacher's notes in the assignment pad and how to go over trouble parts.  Loverboy was saying just last night how much he appreciates that I sit with dd to get as much out of the piano as we can.

This is what works for us:
a) When introducing a new song, I play it for dd6 several days in a row so she can get the tune in her head.  I start doing this a week ahead of time, plus daily as she is learning songs.
b  ) We divide the song into 4 parts.  Dd plays each part 6 times in a row (because she is 6). 
c) We play Dice. Of. Dooooooooooom! (must be said in a thunderous voice).  I put a 6-sided die in a cup.  She rolls it. 
1 -play section 1
2 -play section 2
3 -play section 3
4 -play section 4
5 -play whole song
6 -done with this song for the day, even if it is the first roll
We usually do 5 rounds when playing this game, unless she rolls a 6 (which cuts the game short).
d) we play the song daily, then weekly, forever.
 
2) An educated piano teacher would be great, but I would prefer one with experience teaching YOUNG children.
 
I have no musical degree.  I have no college degree beyond a 2-year community college degree in liberal art.  My musical education is spotty.
 
I have been teaching dd (nearly 7) since she was 5.  We use lots of games, and I sit with her daily for practice.  I use the internet and reference books and musically-savvy friends for things I don't understand.  I know my limits; I know the time will come that dd will surpass what I can teach her musically; and I know that there are some things I am bad at teaching.
 
Shameless bragging part:
And yet, dd6 can set and play with a metronome.  She can play in a duet.  She can move her hands from one place to another on the keyboard without prompting, as the music requires.  She knows about pentatonic scales (and can play them in a couple different keys).  She uses inverted chords spontaneously.  She know how many sharps/flats are in C major, D major, E major, and F major, and can play the 5-finger scale for them.  She is starting to take a song she knows, and move it into a different key.  We are starting to discuss the values of the Tonic and the Dominant notes on the scale.
 
My point is that one does not need a degree in music to teach beginning piano to young children.  Unless you are driven for your child to have the same piano teacher for the entirety of their musical career (one who can expand with your child's growth in music beyond what I know I can do for dd6), start with someone who will play musical games with your child and teach them what they need to know before moving on to the next level of a more challenging piano teacher or trumpet lessons.

Not to hijack this thread but I have been wanting to teach ds 6 to play but I have no experience. My dh can
play guitar, drums, and has started bass. But I was curious of what program you use if any if you wouldn't mind sharing. Thanks so much.

#10 duckens

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 10:45 AM

 

Smiles asked:

Not to hijack this thread but I have been wanting to teach ds 6 to play but I have no experience.

 

Please note that I did not START with all of these things.  We started with the Piano Adventure stuff, and added things one at a time as we needed them.

 

Influences:

For books, we use:

My First Piano Adventures  (listed here on Amazon, but please support your local music store. They most likely have them on the shelf or would be happy to help you order them.  Also, you may find a music system you prefer to Piano Adventures there).

 

There is a Lesson Book and a Writing Book.  At first I didn't think that I liked this series, but the two books dovetail VERY nicely.  At the bottom of each page of the Lesson Book, corresponding pages in the Writing book are listed.  At the bottom of each page of the Writing Book, corresponding pages in the Lesson Book are listed.  At the beginning of the Lesson Book is a table of contents that lists the the songs in the Lesson Book with its Writing Book counterpart.

 

There are also Christmas Books for each of the beginning levels (A, B, C).  There is an advent calendar in the back of each book that I photocopy each year.  

 

Disclaimer: The first year (A), dd played all the songs in the Christmas A book.

The second year (B ), dd was too overwhelmed with the Christmas B songs, so we relearned all the A songs, then moved on to a few B songs, as time allowed.  This year ©, we have played through all the A songs, dd is learning the B songs, and I expect we will learn a couple of C songs.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

Two summers ago, I listened to a workshop about teaching piano to young children at the local homeschooling convention.  Her answer: GAMES.  And she shared that there are many game ideas on the internet for teaching music.  I have a couple of files of games I'd be happy to send to anyone as a resource for teaching music.  Just pm me with an email address.  The files are too big to copy and paste in the Hive pm system.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Enchanted Learning website has a musical calendar one can print off.  I wouldn't join Enchanted Learning JUST for the music calendar, but if you already have a membership, print it off.

 

Dd6 colors in each day that she practices.  If she misses a day, I color in the missed day black.

 

This is also a good way to keep track of how many days in a row your child has practiced.  We are challenged to practice 100 days.  After 10 days, I pay dd $1.  After 20 days, I pay her $2.  After 30 days, I pay her $3.  She is on day 37, and the amount she has learned in the past 37 days is tremendous.

 

Each month is a different musical topic, so that is our "enrichment" and a challenge to learn something new.

Disclaimer: It's the same calendar each year, so next year, I may make my own music calendar.

 

Currently we practice 30 minutes a day.  This is a lot for a  6yo.  We did not start at this level.  Also, with 30 minutes, if dd6 goofs around for 5 minutes (telling me unrelated things, plinking out her own songs, etc), I don't worry about it.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Internet:

We are so lucky to live in a time with the internet.  Whenever there is something I don't understand musically, I research it online, ask my music-savvy friend, or seek out Amazon and our public library for music theory books.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Dozen a Day  -These are warm-up exercises.  We use them to explore playing things in different keys.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Music history and theory--  Because dd6 has been playing daily for 37 days in a row, I feel good about taking a day here and there to expand on music history. 

 

The first of every month: we read about a composer or musical story.  The Piano Adventures series has taught us about Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms,and Tchaikovsky so far.  I have the corresponding books from the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers series.  It's not hard to buy them one at a time.

 

I also have:

Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times, (And What the Neighbors Thought).

 

Last time we read about "The Nutcracker" in Tales from the Ballet (since we are learning about Tchaikovsky).  We will also read the tragic "Swan Lake" story soon, since it is in Book C of Piano Adventures. 

Disclaimer: OOP, but there are many other good books to tell the ballet stories.

 

Of course, there are video clips on youtube for the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, parts of Swan Lake, and professionally played versions of the better known songs by these composers.  If the clip is long (15minutes), we just watch/listen to some of it.  After all, dd is only 6.

 

These Classical Kids CDs.  We've listened to the Tchaikovsky one and the Mozart one in the car.  We get them from the library.

 

----------------------------------------------------

Because dd6 has been playing for 37 days in a row, I also don't have a problem with taking a day away from the piano to just play music theory games.  We are going to start doing this on the 16th of every month. 



#11 Rach

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 12:38 PM

Wow duckens, that is really helpful.  Thank you!



#12 Samiam

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 01:08 PM

One thing, in terms of keyboards, I've been told it is fine to use a keyboard, in the beginning, until you know this is something you will continue with.....but it needs to have weighted keys...this means they are heavier, similar to a real piano. Cheaper digital keyboards usually do not offer this and make the transition from keyboard to piano difficult.

#13 ailysh

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 01:53 PM

Thought I'd chime in. I don't think it is necessary to join an academy. Teachers at music academies usually have to pay rent for the facilities they use or they are paid a salary and the academy takes a percentage of the tuition. Therefore they often must charge more for lessons than an independent teacher can. Look for qualifications such as a degree in the instrument. Oftentimes you will find somebody teaching piano who has a degree focus in trumpet, for example. In the USA to get a degree in music education regardless of your instrument you are required to pass a certain level in piano. So those four years of piano may be all they have ever taken even though they have a music degree. Just make sure they have experience in the desired instrument.
People often disagree on whether an electric keyboard is okay. I am of the opinion that it is preferable as long as the keys are weighted and the keyboard is full sized. the old free uprights that people get from relatives often have difficulty staying in tune and have a tinny unattractive sound that can't compete with the sound of electric keyboards which are recorded from nine foot concert grands. Plus the added benefit of being able to record yourself and practice with headphones... Just some thoughts from a piano teacher with a degree in piano performance.

#14 Catherine

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 04:23 PM

Seconding several above comments, including praise of Suzuki piano and the wisdom of asking around about a teacher. My son had a rocky start with at least 3 teachers that we left, or left us, for various reasons. I finally got smart and asked on our regional homeschoolers email loop, got 2 recs for the same teacher, and we've been with her now for 3 years. My son adores her! She has over 30 years teaching experience, taught all 3 of her own children to play, and has to be the nicest person in the world. Many of here students stay with her from the time they begin until they graduate from HS. She teaches theory with games which we love! Now that ds is 12, he's made it through a lot of Book 4 and can confidently play many pieces from memory, we are so glad we found our "forever teacher".

#15 Smiles

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 01:25 PM

Please note that I did not START with all of these things.  We started with the Piano Adventure stuff, and added things one at a time as we needed them.
 
Influences:
For books, we use:
My First Piano Adventures  (listed here on Amazon, but please support your local music store. They most likely have them on the shelf or would be happy to help you order them.  Also, you may find a music system you prefer to Piano Adventures there).
 
There is a Lesson Book and a Writing Book.  At first I didn't think that I liked this series, but the two books dovetail VERY nicely.  At the bottom of each page of the Lesson Book, corresponding pages in the Writing book are listed.  At the bottom of each page of the Writing Book, corresponding pages in the Lesson Book are listed.  At the beginning of the Lesson Book is a table of contents that lists the the songs in the Lesson Book with its Writing Book counterpart.
 
There are also Christmas Books for each of the beginning levels (A, B, C).  There is an advent calendar in the back of each book that I photocopy each year.  
 
Disclaimer: The first year (A), dd played all the songs in the Christmas A book.
The second year (B ), dd was too overwhelmed with the Christmas B songs, so we relearned all the A songs, then moved on to a few B songs, as time allowed.  This year ©, we have played through all the A songs, dd is learning the B songs, and I expect we will learn a couple of C songs.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------
Two summers ago, I listened to a workshop about teaching piano to young children at the local homeschooling convention.  Her answer: GAMES.  And she shared that there are many game ideas on the internet for teaching music.  I have a couple of files of games I'd be happy to send to anyone as a resource for teaching music.  Just pm me with an email address.  The files are too big to copy and paste in the Hive pm system.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Enchanted Learning website has a musical calendar one can print off.  I wouldn't join Enchanted Learning JUST for the music calendar, but if you already have a membership, print it off.
 
Dd6 colors in each day that she practices.  If she misses a day, I color in the missed day black.
 
This is also a good way to keep track of how many days in a row your child has practiced.  We are challenged to practice 100 days.  After 10 days, I pay dd $1.  After 20 days, I pay her $2.  After 30 days, I pay her $3.  She is on day 37, and the amount she has learned in the past 37 days is tremendous.
 
Each month is a different musical topic, so that is our "enrichment" and a challenge to learn something new.
Disclaimer: It's the same calendar each year, so next year, I may make my own music calendar.
 
Currently we practice 30 minutes a day.  This is a lot for a  6yo.  We did not start at this level.  Also, with 30 minutes, if dd6 goofs around for 5 minutes (telling me unrelated things, plinking out her own songs, etc), I don't worry about it.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Internet:
We are so lucky to live in a time with the internet.  Whenever there is something I don't understand musically, I research it online, ask my music-savvy friend, or seek out Amazon and our public library for music theory books.
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Dozen a Day  -These are warm-up exercises.  We use them to explore playing things in different keys.
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Music history and theory--  Because dd6 has been playing daily for 37 days in a row, I feel good about taking a day here and there to expand on music history. 
 
The first of every month: we read about a composer or musical story.  The Piano Adventures series has taught us about Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms,and Tchaikovsky so far.  I have the corresponding books from the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers series.  It's not hard to buy them one at a time.
 
I also have:
Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times, (And What the Neighbors Thought).
 
Last time we read about "The Nutcracker" in Tales from the Ballet (since we are learning about Tchaikovsky).  We will also read the tragic "Swan Lake" story soon, since it is in Book C of Piano Adventures. 
Disclaimer: OOP, but there are many other good books to tell the ballet stories.
 
Of course, there are video clips on youtube for the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, parts of Swan Lake, and professionally played versions of the better known songs by these composers.  If the clip is long (15minutes), we just watch/listen to some of it.  After all, dd is only 6.
 
These Classical Kids CDs.  We've listened to the Tchaikovsky one and the Mozart one in the car.  We get them from the library.
 
----------------------------------------------------
Because dd6 has been playing for 37 days in a row, I also don't have a problem with taking a day away from the piano to just play music theory games.  We are going to start doing this on the 16th of every month.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out for me! Very helpful.

#16 Rach

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 03:01 PM

People often disagree on whether an electric keyboard is okay. I am of the opinion that it is preferable as long as the keys are weighted and the keyboard is full sized. the old free uprights that people get from relatives often have difficulty staying in tune and have a tinny unattractive sound that can't compete with the sound of electric keyboards which are recorded from nine foot concert grands. Plus the added benefit of being able to record yourself and practice with headphones... Just some thoughts from a piano teacher with a degree in piano performance.

Good point on the upright piano.  My MIL's was a nice piano and it looks nice, but it's been moved several times and I know it has been moved 3 times in 10 years and not tuned in at least 6.  It's at least 50 years old too, I know we'd need to tune it right after we got it and again sometime a few months later, but I can't afford to have to tune it every few months for the rest of time.

 

We would love to buy a baby grand eventually, but that will only happen if our kids really enjoy playing the piano.  They are so young right now it will be a few years before that happens.



#17 rzberrymom

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 06:11 PM

My daughter is 8 and has been playing for a year. I felt the most important things were 1) to find a teacher she could really connect with, rather than the one with the most fantastic credentials, and 2) for me to spend a good deal of time helping her learn how to practice. I actually did the songs/lessons too for the first several months to help her see what diligence looked like.

We started on a keyboard, but no one could stand it after a month or two and we found a somewhat decent piano we could afford. You could always rent a high-quality keyboard with weighted keys when starting out.


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