Key elements in choosing piano lessons for kids

Many people are ovpiano for kidserjoyed to see kids perform and dream of seeing their own on that stage.Their first action is to find out who provides piano lessons for kids. Before they settle on such a decision, there are are few things that they should consider in order to prepare them for, not just present beginner’s knowledge, but also possibilities for advanced work, a career in music, or a lifelong hobby.

Some of these considerations listed below are well known, while others arise from my years of teaching all ages:.

The Key Elements

1)  Although the activity is called ‘play’, it actually is quite a bit of work. There are patterns to learn and techiniques in fingering that require careful study over a long period.

2) Kids function best when they work with habits. In addition to their piano lessons, a consistent program of practice has to be cultivated from the onset. When parent do not attend to this, it is almost impossible to get them to practice in later years. Practice brings success, and when they are happy with what they can do, they will stay motivated.

3) The teacher must offer a program of music theory and practical application. The theory helps the kids understand rhythm, the value of notes, and the relationships between notes on a stave, and keys on a piano.

4) Music is about melodies and kids need to be in a program that includes aural training. They need to relate what they hear to what they sing, and what they play. They also need to understand harmony and also be able to identify discord.

5) The teacher must be patient, loving and encouraging to your kids. Watch, also, his/her treatment of other kids There are many horror stories of adults who loved the music but were turned off by teachers who shouted at them and got angry at their mistakes.

6) Kids have their unique likes and abilities. Some read from a score very easily, some are good at playing by ear, some like to create, and some are able to combine all. Observe your child’s special flair.

7) Parents need to be supportive with whatever the kids can manage, and praise them for every improvement that they observe.They also need to allow them to talk about their learning program.

8) Kids need to appreciate music outside of class time. They need to see other kids in performance, go to concerts, and watch musicals and be able to offer their own critique.

9) Piano lessons prepare kids for other connected skills. After piano, other instruments are much easier to learn, because  they would have been exposed to reading music, rhythm styles, pitch, fingering, and the discipline of learning and performing. It also prepares them for composing, arranging, and vocal pursuits.

10) Students perform well, academically, when they are involved in music lessons. In addition to the patterns and rules, they learn patience, confidence and how to overcome errors.

It takes much effort to have kids going to lessons and practicing, but the benefits far outweigh the extra effort. As a performer, producer, and teacher for several years I am bombarded by the stories by adults who regret not having continued or even started to learn piano.

It is not only a short-term decision for present activity for kids. It is a long-term decision that will influence their happiness and quality of life.

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25 Comments

  1. Eliane Lima

    These are very well-thought key elements in choosing piano lessons for kids.

    Number 5 especially caught my attention. It seems terrible that an adult would treat a kid with shouts and harsh words. But I know this happens more frequently than we would expect.

    It’s my understanding that a music teacher can’t only be an expert in music but he/she also needs to be great a motivator.

    Thanks for a great article!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Eliane, thanks for your comments. It is true. The wrong teacher can be the greatest turnoff. 

      Best wishes !!!

      Reply
  2. Alban

    Great article! I run a piano blog as well, so this is very interesting for me!
    You’re absolutely right about that kids don’t only profit when they’re young, but that is also a long-term decision. What I also find interesting about children learning playing the piano, is that they can learn so fast!
    Great article!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Thanks for your comments Alban. Glad to link with someone who knows exactly what I mean. Yes children do learn fast…Best wishes !!!!

      Reply
  3. Chris Peterson

    Joy,
    For anyone considering piano lessons for their children this is a fantastic article. Thank you for this valuable information.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    Very helpful article as I am in the process of picking out a local piano teacher for my son (who has given up on the guitar and now wants to learn the piano!). 

    His music theory is pretty good, considering he learned the basics on the guitar. From here I am wondering what type of teacher I should go for – a traditional one, or one that will recognise that he already understands music theory and is willing to study through songs he actually likes (or wants to play himself). 

    What are you thoughts on this?

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Chris, you need to find a teacher who will work with what he knows and  is willing to include what he likes. As a piano teacher I find that the students who stick with piano lessons are those who learn the techniques and, at the same time , learn to play those songs they love.  The world is filled with too many people who love music but the process of learning was so boring and tedious they they  gave up on their soul dream, and later regretted it. Thanks for your comments. Best wishes.

      Reply
  5. Chris

    Joy,

    For anyone who is interested in learning more about playing the piano this is a wonderful article. I think you do a good job of covering some very important information about piano playing andthat it takes practice. My father who has loved playing all his life and he is now 86 years old and still plays for nursing homes in the area 3 to 4 times a month. What amazes me is he does it all by memory, he does not use any sheet music! Great article on piano lessons and keep writing!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Chris, thank you for your comments. Yes, music stays with you and gives you joy as you give joy to others. Your father , not only inspires the people at the nursing home, but also you looking on and he feels a fulfillment that is missing from people at that age….the joy of serving. Best wishes !!!!!!

      Reply
  6. Melani Lukito

    Hi, Joy. I have given both of my elder daughter a keyboard private teacher. The course was running well for my first daughter. She could play the instrument good enough by watching the notation book. She could even play the songs she had known well. Different with my second daughter.
    She always talk with the private teacher and not doing the homework. I stop the course because of my second daughter. Now I regret why I stop the music course for my first daughter. Now she is too busy with her study in the university. I still have two other daughters. How can I know that my daughter have the talent in music?

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Melani, it is a pity that your first daughter stopped having lessons. Don’t worry, though,if she wants to do piano once again, at least she got the foundation and it will be easier.For your two other daughters, observe if they have an interest in learning to play. Enrol them in a program and observe if they are enjoying it and if they are willing to practice. If you think they are not learning or if they are wasting time and money, discuss it with them, or change the teacher if necessary. Kids who don’t get a foundation in music always regret it as adults. You can only do your best to expose them to the training. The rest is up to them. Thanks for your comments. Best wishes !!!!

      Reply
  7. Babsie Wagner

    I took piano lessons throughout my childhood, but my teacher did none of the things you mention, and my parents did not particularly like music unless it was classical, so anytime I actually tried to play music from my era that I actually enjoyed playing, they would scream upstairs to me, “Is THAT your lesson???”  I grew to hate playing the piano and the lessons, and as soon as I was allowed, I quit. My teacher was sweet but elderly, very strict, and there was no joy whatsoever.  So my recommendation to the readers is to make it FUN first and foremost so the child actually wants to play.  I’m now just starting to get back into the piano, and I’m happy I came upon your site.  I will take note of these items for my children if they express an interest in learning.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Babsie, this is the story of so many adults. They love music but their past experiences turned them off. I am so glad to hear that you are doing piano lessons again. Please make sure that you learn to play the songs you love and, for sure, you will be playing for ever. Thanks for your comments. Best wishes. Contact me anytime.

      Reply
  8. Ruya

    Very well explained! I used to play the piano for a couple of years when I was a kid. At first, I was really excited about it but later on I lost interest in it somehow. Maybe because my parents are musicians themselves and I grew up surrounded with music. Anyway, as you said, it’s really important to teach kids not just the technical stuff but also being able to motivate them. My dad is a trumpet player and told me some horror stories about trumpet teachers who discouraged them instead of encouraging their students. I want my future kids to play an instrument as well and I will definitely make sure that they won’t lose interest in it. Thanks for sharing this valuable article!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Ruya, it is a great idea to encourage kids to play an instrument. The most important thing is to encourage them in the area that grabs their interest. For instance, I first learned piano and sent my kids to piano lessons. They seemed to have lost interest, but later on, one asked to go to flute lessons and the other one did violin. So, they might love music but might have different preferences than yourself. Thanks for your comments. best wishes.

      Reply
  9. zuchii

    A well researched piece about learning to play the piano kudos!

    But i have a quick question;Does it require any form of special talent for kids to be able to learn and excel greatly in playing the piano? or is it just like every other skill where practice and consistency are the basic and all of the requirement necessary for success

    And also whats the best way to discover such talents in children ; if any.

    Thanks 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Zuchil, a good way to know is to watch their interest in things musical. A kid who will do well, and stick to a program will be excited and eager to play any piano he sees, even from age 2. Talent is good but learning to play requires patience and discipline, just like school work. A super musical kid will get no where if he doesn’t do the work. Most kids will do well if they have the interest. 

      Reply
  10. Diane

    Hi Joy – thanks for sharing this helpful post. My grandson has been trying to learn the piano for a while now, but being a child of the modern age has been using YouTube for lessons. I really think he would do much better with a personal teacher, and your article has convinced me of this. All the best, Diane 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Diane, you are right. A personal teacher will, not only teach him the skills in the right order, but also correct any faults in his technique. You tube cannot do that. Thank you for your comments. Best wishes to you and grandson.

      Reply
  11. majam97

    Hello! I can see that you are experienced on this topic and I agree with everything you listed here. Be it only  a hobby or a life-time career, I think its important for the child to learn playing some instrument. It is scientifically proven that is helps in developing their brains! And children indeed learn fast, maybe it is because of their better focus (while adults brain always has some ”more important” things to think about) 

    Anyway thank you for this interesting post! All the best!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      You are right majam97. In addition to the effects on the brain, it also develops discipline and the ability to overcome mistakes and performance skills. Some adults still need those. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  12. Stefan Chamberland

    Hey there,

    I’ve been searching for ways to motivate some of my younger students to practice. One of the most difficult parts of teaching children music is due to a lack of discipline (bad parenting is usually the culprit).

    The thing is, I don’t want my students to associate the discipline required to excel in their musical endeavours to pain/struggle. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the book “Effortless Mastery”, but it gave me a lot of insight into the issue.

    A few of your points speak about musical theory and sight-reading.

    Personally, I feel like these things completely suck the magic out of music for children (and adults). Rather, I took a much simpler approach… I simply teach my students how to learn songs and how to write their own!

    The process is much more appealing and the results are stunning! Their hearing is developed by learning and writing songs, they may even consult musical partitions and/or write them. Instead of ruining their creative minds with scales/exercises, I make them tackle the problem head-on and find solutions.

    I believe this activity actually provides many more benefits to their intellectual abilities as it encourages them to think for themselves rather than regurgitate what the adult is basically forcing them to do.

    Just my opinion though… I studied jazz/pop performance in college and am still a child at heart, so I understand both sides of the equation. Formal education made me better, but it ruined my creative abilities. Maybe there’s some sort of balance to maintain when it comes to these young minds?

    – Stefan

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Stefan, I was taught the ‘formal way’ as a child and later I studied jazz and pop etc. Learning the’ formal way’ does not kill your creative side. You learn the techniques: fingering, theory, arpeggios etc which are essential to developing your creative side. I learned the ‘formal way’ but I also learned to play by ear, to compose from an idea that came only from me and when I did studies in jazz/pop, I was able to move quickly into the new forms. Where I agree with you, is that there has to be a balance. A lot depends on the teacher. My students love music lessons because I teach them techniques, but  from their own suggestions I teach them also to play songs they know and love. What’s the point of doing all these lessons if you still cannot play what you love? Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  13. Mina Kim

    These are very good keypoints to remember. Here in Korea, learning to play musical instruments is pretty normal. Some parents have the purpose of they want their kids to learn to play the piano, for example. 

    The key points you’ve mentioned are very important, but it is also crucial to know kid if the kid is actually interested on learning on how to play piano. The reason I said this is that, we encourage my son to study piano as well, since it’s quite popular here. But, he’s not actually interested, so, he didn’t last for long.

    Then one day, in his music class, he was introduced to guitar, he fell in love to it, to the extent that he told us he wants to learn guitar more. He’s playing his guitar for 3 years now. And he’s really good.

    I hope your post reaches a lot of parents out there, because it is really helpful.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Mina, I agree with you that kids should learn the instrument they find most appealing. As a music teacher, I find that if they learn piano, learning any other instrument is a breeze for them. There have been cases where I begin teaching piano and I can see the kid loves music but he shows more interest in drums or flute or guitar. I usually bring it to the attention of the parent and suggest a change, because you don’t want them to be turned off music entirely. Thank you for your valuable comments.

      Reply

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