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Piano Lessons for 4-Year-Old - Advice

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Our 4 yr old DD seems very interested in music and the piano. She has always seemed to have somewhat of an ear for music; she was "singing" recognizable tunes at around 18 months, before she could even sing the words. Lately, she has been picking out songs on our piano and can play several little tunes by ear. My husband and I both play the piano, and I've always planned for DD to take lessons, but have always thought I'd wait until closer to 8, as that is the age my piano teacher always started her students. Is there value in waiting, or would anyone recommend going ahead with lessons? I don't want to get her started and then she burn out because it is too much, too soon. Any advice or BTDT?

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You could start her with the free online lessons on Hoffman Academy for as long as she is interested.  (At the very least, she would probably enjoy the finger puppets.)  Then, if she is still enthusiastic in several months, you could consider further lessons...or stick with Mr. Hoffman, we have been very pleased.

 

Wendy

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My son got a lot out of the Young Child program through Kindermusik. It's done over 4 semesters. It was an excellent way of teaching rhythm and note reading and made starting piano right after incredibly easy and quick. I can play the piano myself and thought the process was so painless and easy because when we transitioned. He learned the golckenspiel, dulcimer and recorder through this program.

 

Another program that I heard wonderful things about is Let's Play Music which teaches piano to 4-5 year olds over a 3 year period. Both are national programs, you can see if there is someone in your area.
 

The value of doing it through group experience was really rewarding for my son. I remember my own experience starting one on one at 5...it wasn't really that enjoyable for me nor inspiring. At 8, he is playing music that took me until I was 10 or 11 to learn to play. I credit that to the love for music not being killed early on.

 

 

Edited by calbear

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A piano teacher told me they wait till the child is 6-7 or when they can read. She said it is easier for the child - if they can read a book then they can  read music. If your dd is reading basic words, talking well and already playing simple songs then I think a teacher would make an exception.

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My DD started at 5 a year and a half ago and has done really well. She still loves music just as much as she did before she started lessons, although she doesn't like to practice because she "doesn't like to get things wrong." 😊

 

I think waiting until age 8 is a little late for a child who demonstrates natural musical ability. Most teachers in our area accept students starting at 5 or 6 years. If she struggles with fine motor control I would probably wait a little while.

 

My advice would be to talk to a few teachers in your area and see what they recommend. If you start her in lessons and she really struggles you can always stop and restart when she's a little older. At that age even 6 months can make a big difference in terms of readiness for skills.

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I started dd at 4 on music lessons, after about a year and a half and endless arguments over practice we stopped.   She liked being able to play once she learned a song, she didn't like having to work on correct positions and just in general practice.  I have told her we will try lessons again when she is ready to play what ever an instructor would teach even stuff that she has already gone through.  She is about to turn 7 and I think we might be getting close.  Also I didn't have her in group lessons and think that was a mistake on my part.

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My dd started piano at 5. I teach her (and her older siblings). She asked to begin playing and was very eager to learn. I used the Faber Piano Adventures and we just move very slowly. I try to keep it fun and she only practices for about 10 min a day. Her older sister actually sits with her for each practice to help her so she doesn't get frustrated. It has worked well.

 

I think if she's eager to learn the. It's ok to start early. A couple of my kids began playing around that age. I try to keep it short and simple. I also sit with them (or an older sibling does) during practice times to help them.

 

My kids were not able to practice alone until closer to 7. But since their practice is short I don't mind sitting nearby. Are you able to help supervise practice times? For my kids that has made all the difference when starting early.

 

I agree that waiting until 8 is too long for a child who really wants to learn. I think you can follow her lead. It does depend on the child. With my son I waited a little bit longer. He was 6 or almost 7. But his younger sister started piano around the same time when she was 5. She was ready. He wasn't until he was older. I'm glad I waited for him but I'm equally glad his sister began at a younger age.

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Start at home and now before she teaches herself bad habits.

 

Or, explain to a willing teacher that you simply want her to learn proper hand placement, fingering...how to cross over and under at the right spots, etc..

 

You have to not care about going through a book and learning to read music until she is a bit older. But I would take her as a student. Jmho.

 

 

Suzuki is excellent. First choice if it's an option for you.

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For age 4 I would look for a Suzuki teacher, or a music school that does a group piano class for young children. There are a few programs out there that start at that age in the group setting and it is a nice intro and a lot of ear training.

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Thank you all so much for your helpful responses. I will be looking into the various suggestions. I could teach DD, but although I've heard of the Suzuki method, I've never actually seen it. Is it easy for a parent to implement or do you have to have special training to make it work? DD also has two older sisters that would be joining her for lessons, so I guess that could make up our group lessons. 😊

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When I inquired about piano or guitar for my first daughter most wouldn't consider her until 8 because 

1.  Maturity -many teachers do not know how or don't want to teach young children

2.  Hand size and/or finger strength -young kids are sometimes not strong enough or don't have a wide enough finger span to reach notes for chords

 

My LO started piano lessons this past February about a week after she turned 4.  She's been going to piano lessons with her older sister for over 3 years, so obviously she's been exposed for quite a while.  She has great finger strength, good attention span and an interest so I felt she was ready.  The teacher did a test lesson and recommended a shorter lesson of 15 minutes.  I do not make her practice as it's exploratory and fun for her but even with just the weekly lesson, she is still progressing.    

 

The program is called Simply Music.  We attend teacher led lessons, but they do offer a home learning program.  It does not initially teach kids to read music, but has a set of numbers/symbols that represent the hand placement.  The thought behind it is to treat it how we learn language, so they learn to play first and read later.  It has a sort of spiral approach as you go back to some of the songs (like Für Elise or Star Spangled Banner) a couple of times, learning additional parts and increasing in complexity, eventually moving to actually reading the music.  I love the system and my older daughter (10) has steadily advanced in her skill sets.

 

 

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Thank you all so much for your helpful responses. I will be looking into the various suggestions. I could teach DD, but although I've heard of the Suzuki method, I've never actually seen it. Is it easy for a parent to implement or do you have to have special training to make it work? DD also has two older sisters that would be joining her for lessons, so I guess that could make up our group lessons. 😊

the book I linked to above walks you step by step through teaching the suzuki way. :)

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Agreeing with all advice above to gently start her. I don't really understand the whole wait until they're 8 thing, and have never heard it except here. It sounds like an out for piano teachers who don't know how to deal with young kids. Our studio starts them as young as 4. My kids are 4&5. My 5 year old takes, and then I let my 4 year old follow him with me after I sit with him for practice. I especially echo the "prevent bad habits" a PP above mentioned. That's so important because it's so hard to break.

 

But anyway, just chiming in to say I have a multigenerational piano playing family from my kids through my grandmother and all started lessons at 4-5 years old. None of us are scarred by starting early. All of us can play pretty well! :) Hoping my kids keep up the tradition!

Edited by texasmom33

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Both of my kids started at age 4.5.  I would do it again.

 

I had no trouble getting them to practice.  They never complained about the lessons or the practice until years later.  (And then it was because we were so crunched for time.)

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My girls did the Music for Young Children program starting when they were 5.  They do have a program for 4 year olds as well.  It's an excellent program, it starts note reading at a level meant for new readers, they sing, play some piano, amd do rythym ensemble.  I was really happy with the approach and results, which I thought were a loittle better than Kindermusik.

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Thank you all so much for your helpful responses. I will be looking into the various suggestions. I could teach DD, but although I've heard of the Suzuki method, I've never actually seen it. Is it easy for a parent to implement or do you have to have special training to make it work? DD also has two older sisters that would be joining her for lessons, so I guess that could make up our group lessons. 😊

 

Suzuki is a specialized philosophy of music ed. It begins with ear training and placement and love for the music. It is the perfect mix of delightful, gentle, and precise practice for little beginners.

 

 

A good teacher will walk you through how to help at home the Suzuki way. That would be my first choice.

 

Pianimals is an excellent series for young beginners at home. I used this. That said, i have a music degree and know how to teach the early basics, things not in any book...like hand shape and finger placement.

 

If you have had good piano lessons, Pianimals might be an excellent option.

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After looking into the suggestions y'all have given, I think I might give the Faber Piano Adventures a try. It seemed to have pretty high reviews on Amazon. I had about 7 years of piano lessons and would be comfortable with teaching her. Instead of signing her up for lessons, I can just spend a little time with her and see if it's something she's ready for. Thank you all so much for the suggestions and ideas!

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I wouldn't homeschool piano- it is very easy to stagnate. Especially since the books don't tend to require nearly as much scale work as an instructor would.

I am self taught with Faber and honestly, am pretty lousy. 

After a lot of floundering with DD,  we are get lessons locally, $20 per lesson.

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Another plug for Kindermusik or a similar relaxed, group-based program for a four-year-old.  My daughter started asking for violin lessons around that time, but I was not sure if she would have the attention span for private lessons, so I signed her up for a Kindermusik program.  Kindermusik Young Child, in addition to being lots of fun, motivated her to practice daily and independently, which she did happily and for a lot longer than the recommended 5 minutes a day.  After a year of Young Child both of us were convinced that she had the stamina  for daily, focused practice and the intellectual maturity for a more rigorous approach to music.  At 6.5y we joined a Suzuki program, where my daughter progressed in leaps and bounds with pure joy.  After watching hundreds of preschoolers over the last three years in the Suzuki world, I am still not convinced that an earlier start is better.

Edited by 26.2mom

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