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Is Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons?

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Music
Music lessons build confidence, help with concentration, and can even improve math ability. Piano lessons are a great way to begin, but it can be a frustrating experience if your child is not ready. Here are 5 questions to ask before you begin piano lessons.

1. How Old is Your Child?

Although age is not a perfect indicator of piano lesson readiness, most children are ready for piano lessens when they are five to seven years old. Some are ready as young as three; others should wait until they are eight.

If your child meets all the other criteria, you should begin piano lessons, even if your child is very young.

2. How Long Is Your Child's Attention Span?

Your child will need to be able to sit still and listen attentively for about a half an hour for the lesson. They will also need to be able to practice for at least 15 minutes a day.

If your child can sit and read a book or color for about 20 minutes, they are probably ready. If, however, they never sit still, wait a little longer. Once your child is in first grade, they will have a long enough attention span for piano lessons.

3. Does Your Child Play One Note at a Time On the Piano?

When children first "play" the piano, they usually just pound the keys. Or, they will play many notes at once. As they get older and develop better small muscle control, they are able to play one note at a time.

This skill is related to writing. When your child begins to write, they will be able to play one note at a time. If, however, your child starts playing one note at a time before they begin writing, you can begin piano lessons.

4. Does Your Child Recognize Letters and Numbers?

There are some basic skills your very young child needs to know before beginning piano lessons. They need to know the difference between their left and right hand, and need to recognize the numbers 1-5. They also need to recognize the letters A-G.

Once your child is in kindergarten, they will learn these skills very quickly. If your child is younger and recognizes those letters and numbers, you may begin piano lessons.

5. Does Your Child Have an Interest in Music?

If your child is constantly "playing" the piano, or banging on pots, or dancing to music, they are probably ready for more formal music instruction. They need to be interested enough in music to practice the piano and complete weekly lessons.

If your child shows readiness in all other areas, but does not show an interest in music, wait until they are older to begin piano lessons.

If, however, your child shows an interest in music but does not have these other skills, you should start another music program and wait for piano lessons.

In summary, your child is ready for piano lessons regardless of age, if they recognize letters and numbers, are interested in music, can sit for the half hour lesson, and are playing individual notes on the piano.

If there is an area that your child is not ready for piano lessons, wait until they are older. Most children are ready during first grade.