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Are Reading Based Piano Lessons Good for Preschoolers?

I have spent years watching preschool piano materials emerge to the forefront of piano teaching.  Having taught from every single early beginner method,  I have one thing to say.  No matter how cute and colorful the pages are, preschool piano methods emphasize note reading. So are reading based piano lessons good for preschoolers?

I believe the answer lies in the teacher (or parent).  If a teacher understands preschool ability, they can craft the piano lesson for success.  But sadly, many people teaching preschool piano do not understand that preschool piano lessons should look radically different than 9 or 10 year old beginner lessons.  Many teachers only teach out of the book which is flat and 2 dimensional.  Preschool children are creative and need more 3-D experiences along with their lesson book.  Preschoolers learn best by moving. They also want to play songs they already know.

Are piano lessons worth it?

I am a big believer that children learn best through play.  And while you can follow the outline of a book, there should be lots and lots of other activities that reinforce what is being taught in the book, laying the foundation for future concepts being taught in the book. Reading based piano lessons ARE good if they include:

  • Movement Music: clapping, stepping, hopping, etc
  • Playing instruments
  • Learning to keep a steady beat
  • Games teaching right hand and left hand
  • Creative play at the piano (i.e. making bird sounds, elephant walking sounds, etc)
  • Learning basic rhythm patterns
  • Soft and loud sounds
  • Finger identification
  • Finger and hand strengthening
  • Activities that strengthen fine motor skills
  • Learning keyboard geography
  • Use of materials that de-emphasize success by completing a book
  • Singing and matching pitches
  • Counting
  • Pattern play
  • Learning the music alphabet
  • Learning songs using the alphabet letters
  • Learning songs by watching someone else play the piano
  • Playing games away from the piano bench

Should my child take piano lessons?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents and teachers actually acknowledged that learning and enjoying piano playing doesn’t have to fit in a one-size-fits-all mold and that preschoolers are learning without homework and formal lessons. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if preschoolers could play more and practice as their interest allows?

There is fear in the piano teaching world that parents will realize they can teach from the lesson book themselves.  This is true. 

I am a huge fan of parents teaching preschool piano to their own child for many reasons. Here are 10 ways parents can get your child ready for piano lessons.  But the top reason for this belief is that when a parent isn’t paying for piano lessons, there is less pressure on the preschooler.  The child can learn music concepts creatively, naturally explore the piano, play games, and just enjoy making music. 

When parents pay for lessons, they feel children must practice at home practice like older students do. This is where the piano experience begins to melt down for preschoolers. Really! Preschoolers can take soccer lessons, gymnastics, swimming, and other types of lessons without a requirement of daily practice. Is there value in the lesson itself? Children DO learn in the piano lesson. So why do teachers and parents expect a requirement of daily practice with preschool piano lessons?

Are reading-based piano methods good for preschoolers?

Are reading based piano lessons good for preschoolers?  It depends.  It depends on parents and teachers meeting the needs of the child and allowing children the freedom to enjoy making music at the piano with fun activities and lots of reinforcement of concepts that don’t demand mastery.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents and teachers actually acknowledged that learning piano doesn’t have to fit in a one-size-fits-all mold and that preschoolers can learn without formal lessons and practice requirements. Not all children are ready to read in preschool. Using reading based methods may not be the right fit for every preschool child.

Where can I find Preschool Piano Resources?

Reading Based Piano Lessons

Because I have taught from all the different preschool piano methods, I know where they fall short. As I read Facebook community pages discuss preschool piano, I was frustrated that so many teachers demand that preschoolers learn in the same way that a 10 year old would learn. So I finally decided to create the resources I wish I had when I first began teaching preschool piano.

This includes teaching children to play more songs (especially songs preschoolers know and love), activities, and games. Repetition, repetition, and more repetition is what children love and helps them master the basics.  The topics currently taught in most preschool piano methods are covered, so parents and teachers can overlap, find more supplementary materials, and create a more balanced approach to preschool piano lessons.

I hope this article helps you decide if preschool piano is right for your child, know what to look for in a piano teacher, or helps you feel encouraged to play piano games with your child at home.  Here are links for more information on why I created this blog, what I hope parents will get out of my blog, and top resources for teaching your child piano at home, and piano games you can play with your child.

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