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A father wants his 1 year old child to start piano lessons


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#1 RuthP

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 20:42

I had a very interesting enquiry today. A young father sent me a message asking me if I could start his 1 year old child on lessons. At first I thought he was joking, but as the conversation went on it became evident he was serious. I explained that I don’t take on private piano pupils that young, and he responded that he was sure he would be able to find a teacher who would. I told him that I doubted he would find anyone, and that even if he did, I strongly recommend that he waits until his child is a more suitable age. I can see so many problems with trying to start a child that young on piano lessons and I really hope he doesn’t put either his child or himself through that.

Has anyone else experienced enquires like this? Any general thoughts? What is the youngest age you normally teach? I’m interested to hear any opinions.
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#2 porilo

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 20:53

In Japan they start that early. I've had several enquiries, including one person who wanted me to teach Suzuki method which I don't teach, but generally I don't teach piano anyone below primary school age. I don't mind giving them general musicianship lessons, listening, rhythm, clapping, etc. but I think it would be very hard to teach piano to a 1 year old.  


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#3 violinlove

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 21:19

I've been teaching violin to two cousins for a year or so. Their families live together in a large house with the grandparents. One day the mother of one of the children asked if I could also start teaching her daughter. I asked how old she was.  And she said "That's her" - pointing to a very small child  (who looked no more than two) sitting in a high chair and struggling with the coordination of getting a spoon of something or other in her mouth. There was also a bottle of milk complete with teat on her tray.

So I said, sorry she's too young. I don't have the experience or skills to take on such a small child. She pushed for a bit but I continued to refuse.


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#4 hammer action

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:56

Years ago at the piano shop I used to work in, a young mother came in pushing a pram.  She enquired about piano lessons for her son.  I asked her how old her son was (expecting the child she was referring to, to be at school) and she pointed into the pram at the baby.  Thinking she was joking, I laughed at her sense of humour but it turned out that she was being serious and quoted the name of someone who started when they were very young (can't remember who it was now) and appeared a bit insulted that I'd laughed.

 

There's some good music-making groups for really young kids in the city where I live and I recommend people take their young children to those before thinking of formal instrumental lessons.  The youngest I've started a child on piano is 5 years old.


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#5 jenny

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 16:33

I would say 4, at the very earliest. I've taught quite a few 4/5 year olds and some have done well. Children younger than that benefit much more from taking part in music groups/classes aimed at that age. My first ever experience as a piano teacher was when I was still a music student and my piano teacher at college had been asked to find a teacher for a 3 year old. She suggested me and offered to be my mentor. The child was the daughter of parents who worked in TV and was brought to lessons by a nanny. The thing I remember most was that she seemed to have perfect or absolute pitch, but wasn't anywhere near old enough to have the sort of structured lessons they wanted, so we usually ended up doing clapping, singing, movement games, which she loved.  


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#6 Latin pianist

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 16:40

I think 7 or 8 is the best age to start but I do teach younger children. I usually find an older child can cover in a term what a younger one would take at least a year to do.
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#7 RuthP

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 16:44

I think 7 or 8 is the best age to start but I do teach younger children. I usually find an older child can cover in a term what a younger one would take at least a year to do.


I agree and that has tended to be my experience too. I think parents can end up wasting a lot of money on trying to start their children way too young. My concern is that this father may find some unscrupulous teacher willing to do it just for the money who knows full well that the child would make more progress by starting at a later age.
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#8 Dorcas

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 07:55

On occasion I have been asked to teach tiny tots.  The answer has always been, wait until they are old enough.  The suggestions above about general musicianship classes are good ones, and there are plenty of commercial ones available.  Individual lessons are likely to be too intense and expensive.  The four year olds I have tried to teach, well, let's just say I only take on those who are at least five, and only after I have given an initial demonstration lesson, to assess their willingness and manual dexterity.  The ideal age to start lessons, has to be the age at which the prospective student is receptive to criticism, and that can range from five to eighty five plus.


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#9 Latin pianist

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 08:05

I really enjoy teaching beginners at secondary school. If they practise, their progress can be very rapid. Not that I'm recommending waiting till then, but some very good adult pianists I know did begin lessons as teenagers.
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#10 ma non troppo

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:26

4 is the youngest I will teach. I actually began lessons at 4 myself.
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#11 agricola

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:32

On occasion I have been asked to teach tiny tots.  The answer has always been, wait until they are old enough.  The suggestions above about general musicianship classes are good ones, and there are plenty of commercial ones available.  Individual lessons are likely to be too intense and expensive.  The four year olds I have tried to teach, well, let's just say I only take on those who are at least five, and only after I have given an initial demonstration lesson, to assess their willingness and manual dexterity.  The ideal age to start lessons, has to be the age at which the prospective student is receptive to criticism, and that can range from five to eighty five plus.

I agree -- nearly 5 is my lower limit for piano and only after a trial lesson.  The parent's comment about being able to find another teacher would ring alarm bells for me -- obviously he knows all there is to know about teaching piano so I would just let him get on with it.


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#12 RuthP

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:35

On occasion I have been asked to teach tiny tots.  The answer has always been, wait until they are old enough.  The suggestions above about general musicianship classes are good ones, and there are plenty of commercial ones available.  Individual lessons are likely to be too intense and expensive.  The four year olds I have tried to teach, well, let's just say I only take on those who are at least five, and only after I have given an initial demonstration lesson, to assess their willingness and manual dexterity.  The ideal age to start lessons, has to be the age at which the prospective student is receptive to criticism, and that can range from five to eighty five plus.

I agree -- nearly 5 is my lower limit for piano and only after a trial lesson.  The parent's comment about being able to find another teacher would ring alarm bells for me -- obviously he knows all there is to know about teaching piano so I would just let him get on with it.

Yes, that comment really did ring alarm bells for me!
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#13 RuthP

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:37

I really enjoy teaching beginners at secondary school. If they practise, their progress can be very rapid. Not that I'm recommending waiting till then, but some very good adult pianists I know did begin lessons as teenagers.


Me too. I do teach children as young as 5, but a lot of my most rewarding teaching has been secondary school beginners.
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#14 Aquarelle

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 13:24

My favourite age for beginners is six. I have taken five year olds - usually in groups  of two or three with general musical activities centered  round the piano rather than "lessons" in the  normally understood sense of the word. I once took on a four year old and it worked quite well but again I didn't do traditional  piano lesson stuff.

 

I don't find that starting  as young as six is a waste of time or money. Most of my long stay pupils are the ones who started at five plus  or six. What they gain in motivation and enjoyment of musical activities at that young age very often carries them through the more difficult adolescent years. It is true that older children can pick things up more quickly but I have often found that the really solid foundation if my younger starters stand them in good stead and that older beginners  have more difficulty  and are less spontaneous in their approach. I have a lovely 12 year old beginner but she at the moment lacks the  confidence and spontaneity I think she would have had had she come earlier.  but that, of course is not the case with all older beginners. It just depends.However  (excluding babies!)  I think it is great to begin, whatever the age. It just needs a teacher who can adapt and in the case of young children, parents who know what not to expect.


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#15 jenny

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 13:46

I always offer a consultation lesson and this is especially important with very young ones. I find that most 4/5 year olds are not ready for lessons and it becomes obvious very quickly. And because the parent(s) are in the room, they can see this. I started a 5 year old last year and I have been able to use the theory and piano books that my 7/8/9 year olds are using. She seems to understand everything, has a good sense of rhythm and practises every day. And best of all, she loves playing the piano and coming for lessons. It's going to be very interesting to follow her progress.    


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