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Piano Book for 4 Year Old?


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I was wondering if anyone could recommend a beginning piano book for my 4 year old son. He keeps asking to learn to play piano but lessons seem like they might be a little much right now. I can play a little and was thinking I could teach him for a while. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might work for him and me? Thanks so much!

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My First Piano Adventures


When dd was 4, she started in group piano lessons, we were introduced to this book. We were given just the Writing book, which was a little silly. I think whoever made the decisions was not the same person who was teaching the 4yos.


I bought the Lessons book on our own, and within a few months, I had pulled dd4 out of group lessons to teach her myself. The more I work with this series of books, the more I like them. There is even a Christmas book of songs for each level A, B, C.


Dd is now 5, and we continue on our own. We just re-started Book B after a summer break from piano.



If you are going to teach piano at this age, whatever book system you choose, I recommend that you teach with GAMES. Here are a few of our favorites:


1) Learning the piano keys:


Look at the set of two black keys. This is a doghouse. The DOG lives there. He has two friends: a CAT and an ELEPHANT.


Over here is the big house. *Gesture to the set of three black keys.* One day, the dog, cat, and elephant decided to go into the big house. They go into the FRONT door. On the table is a bowl of GRAPES, and the dog, cat, and elephant eat up all the grapes! But they are still hungry, so they see some APPLES on the table, and they eat up all the apples! Then, they hear someone coming home--so they run out the BACK door!!!


Wouldn't it be silly to come home and see a dog, cat, and elephant in our kitchen eating all of our grapes and apples???





FRONT door



BACK door


all stand for keys on the piano.


2) Race to Middle C:

Label poker chips with the key notes 4X: ABCDEFG. Put them in a baggie.

Take turns choosing chips with your child. Each starts at opposite ends of the keyboard. Place your chip on the keys and move towards Middle C to win!


3) Secret Code cards:

Use the blank side of index cards. Put 3 good sized black dots (with a marker) on the card. Make the dots a little smaller than a centimeter in diameter. Dots can go up in a line as they go across the card (indicating notes going up), repeat (indicating repeating notes), or down across the card (notes going down). Cards may also go up and down, or repeat then rise or fall, just as notes do. Make about 10 of these.


Child will then play music on the notes.


For example, if the notes are 3 repeating notes, child can pick ANY KEY on the piano, and repeat it 3 times. If they are going up, child can play any notes of increasing pitch, whether they be next to each other on the scale, or all in different octaves.


Child can pick a card for you to do, too, and tell you if you are doing it right or not.


PM me if you need more ideas for games.

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When I was teaching piano I used the regular Piano Adventures Primer level with the 4yo I taught. We had shorter lessons for a while; closer to 15 -20 min, rather than the usual 30, but it worked fine. He did well with it. I wasn't really very impressed with the pre-primer which was new about that time. It was OK, but for a 4yo, it seemed a bit young to me. If the child is begging for it you've got one of the most important elements of success. I second the suggestion for games. We did a lot of memory & Go Fish. I made the decks with 3x5 cards.


I would caution against Alfred's and Bastian's. I know there's a lot of people happy with them, but every.single.student I ever had transfer to me from those books really struggled with actually being able to read the notes. There were some that I had to take nearly back to the beginning and re-teach note reading from the ground up. It's the positions that does it. The kids I taught that had used those systems had become dependent upon the positions to know where you put your hands, and simply could not operate with even a few notes outside those positions. The one girl had gotten clear to level 3 without mastering reading! Piano Adventures does also mention the positions (though I used to cross them out, particularly if the student was inclined to take the easy way out), but they introduce the notes individually, which makes a HUGE difference.


Whatever lesson series you choose, if you remember that your lesson books are equivalent to your limited vocabulary readers, and make sure to get music from time to time that is NOT published by that company, you will be doing your student a service. Also, the theory isn't so much fun, but don't skimp on it. It's impossible to tell how far a beginner is going to go, but to get very advanced at all they'll need theory.

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