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ready for piano lessons

10 Ways to Get Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons

Parents often struggle with how to get their child ready for piano lessons. How do they prepare? There are so many questions, such as what type of lesson should they take? What age is best? What if my child doesn’t like it? If you’re a parent who has been asking these questions too, then this blog post is for you!  In the following 10 ways to get your child ready for piano lessons, we will discuss all the aspects of getting started and offer tips on how parents can make sure that their child enjoys his/her first experience.

How to get ready for piano lessons

get your child ready for piano lessons

Realize that parental involvement is the key to success before you start piano lessons.

Even if your child is reading on their own, children need active and daily parental involvement with piano lessons.  Young children especially will need help reading the teacher’s practice instructions, locating the pages in the books, doing assigned homework, working with apps, instructional videos, music games, and flashcards.  Parents who didn’t play piano themselves may not feel qualified for such duties, but piano teachers expect parents to be involved. Learn some basic tips about how to practice at home so that you can help them get started with this.

I have been teaching piano for decades (yikes, that sounds like forever) and I always say the same thing to new students starting piano lessons… parents must carve out time in their day (every day!) to make sure their child is successful!

Parents need to monitor their child as they begin lessons to make sure things are going well.  Does their child need help developing fine motor skills?  Is their student practicing willingly?  Remember to give your child positive feedback everyday!  It’s okay to make mistakes (we all do). Be patient with mistakes, but don’t let it go on too long before correcting the problem.

Try to make practicing fun. If your child says what you are telling them is incorrect, then contact your teacher immediately to clear up any confusion. Stay positive and be a source of encouragement and support.  Don’t give up! Acknowledge it will take time, but the benefits are worth it in the end.

Select your first instrument before you begin piano lessons.

When should a child have a piano?

It’s wise to have an instrument in the home for children to explore before beginning their musical education.  In fact it’s a great idea to have a piano in your home long before you even think your child is ready to start learning.

Younger kids who are allowed to explore the piano will naturally realize many things about this musical instrument.  At a young age they can hear low sounds on the left side of the instrument and high sounds on the right side.  They will notice long sounds if they play a note and hold it, or a short sound if they play a note quickly.  Kids who have this kind of exposure to the instrument in early childhood learn piano very quickly because they already have so much time to explore their natural curiosity and learn foundational concepts.

I wrote an article “How to Create a Joyful Home Using Children’s Music” and putting a piano in the home is one way of incorporating more music into your home.

ready for piano lessons

What kind of piano should I get?

There are acoustic or electronic pianos.  There are many pros and cons to each and I will discuss those in another blog post.  Be aware that piano teachers may have a preference and may not begin piano lessons with your child if you do not select what they require.  So you may want to investigate who you may select for teaching piano and ask what their preference is.

Get the best instrument you can afford. Piano teachers want full size digital keyboards that have fully weighted keys and a pedal, or an acoustic piano that is in tune.

Where should the piano be placed?

Make sure the instrument is placed in a location free of distractions.  Also be sure your music bench is the correct height for your child.  This will change as you child grows, so an adjustable bench is wonderful.  Make adjustments to your bench if it is not the correct height.  If you have questions about this, your teacher will give you detailed instruction when you start lessons.

Explore the piano together before music lessons begin

Unstructured exploration

Find out what music interests your child – it might be classical, jazz, or rock!  Knowing your child’s interest before your child is ready to begin lessons will help you focus on finding music your child is excited about learning.  Do they love Itsy Bitsy Spider, or Jingle Bells, or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Ode to Joy?  These are all songs kids can learn without reading instructions or notes. I am linking some examples below.

Kids lives are busy.  And much of their days are scheduled.  So piano offers a time in their lives when they can unwind… a time when they can forget about the world and the stress around them and just create music.  This is why I think the kind of music kids play is important.  If they don’t love the music they are learning, then piano is just another thing to put on the “to-do” list and will not be enjoyable.  Giving kids time to explore the piano that is unstructured is so so beneficial to kids.

ready for piano lessons

Structured exploration

Parents can play simple piano games to help kids notice things about the piano.  Discovering together with your child will help them learn many musical concepts.  Playing simple games can help parents teach basics in a fun and non-threatening way (especially parents with no prior piano experience).

Beginning Piano Concepts

Here are some of the basic concepts beginning piano students will learn:

Piano Games

There are many resources for parents and teachers. An article I wrote about how to teach a song by rote (imitation… read more here!) will help parents explore the piano with their child as they get ready for piano lessons.

These piano games are fun to play. Parents can easily print out and play these games at home.

  1. Piano Race Game
  2. Music Alphabet Match Game
  3. Piano Match Game
  4. Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Activities & Games
  5. Animal Lovers Short & Long Rhythm Activity
  6. Hot Cross Buns Sweet Treat Cards
  7. Sneaky Mouse Cards
  8. Music Match & Memory Game
  9. Five Fingers Game
  10. Twinkle Twinkle and The Mixed Up Little Star
  11. Fidget Spinner Counting
  12. Hokey Pokey Play-Doh Activity
  13. Here is the Beehive Music Activity

Piano Keys Letters – Cards you can place over groups of 2 and 3 black keys, like piano keys letters help kids see the music alphabet and how it fits on the piano. Knowing some of the basics of the keyboard geography is very helpful! 

Discovering high sounds, low sounds, and the sounds in the middle. Learning where the famous Middle C is located is wonderful.  I love to have students learn to sing the sound of middle C everytime they pass by or sit at the piano.  This helps develop the inner ear (and perfect pitch).

Pay attention to your child’s learning style and personality.

Parents can get their toddlers ready for piano lessons
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Paying attention to your child’s learning style and personality will help you select the right teacher for your child.  Is your child a visual learner?  A teacher who emphasizes note reading may be a good fit.  But that teacher may not be a good fit if they only teach classical music and your child wants to learn more popular music.  So knowing what you and your child want out of piano will help you get ready for piano lessons.

Find the right teacher

You will want to find a teacher who can recognize the needs and desires of your child and who will provide feedback in ways that are understandable.  They should also be someone who is caring, encouraging and supportive.

The right teacher will be asking questions about your child and aligning their teaching strategies and music to help you achieve your goals.  Some teachers have their own agendas and goals.  If their goals line up with your own, that’s great!  But often parents don’t realize that not all teachers teach piano with the student’s goals in mind.  Knowing this as you talk to teachers will help you select the right fit for your child.

Realize not all learning happens at the piano

These days there are amazing apps that are beneficial to piano students.  Take advantage of technology in order to make learning fun.

There are also hands-on piano games that can be printed and played.  For instance, I have a free piano race game that teaches the musical alphabet in a fun way.  This game is at the piano but students are not sitting!  They are moving all the way from the lowest note to the highest note.

Also, kids can learn by using youtube videos and other online resources for learning.

Encourage your child to learn some songs without reading music

Encourage creativity!  They can compose their own creations. Then ask engaging open ended questions about their song.  Why did they begin the song like they did?  Did the song tell a story?

Kids will also love to learn a song they know (like Baby Shark, Itsy Bitsy Spider, or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) by ear. I remember learning Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, Chopsticks, and Heart and Soul long before I began taking piano lessons.

Learning fun songs kids already know really do help them get ready for piano lessons. Plus, they will have some songs to play at their very first piano lesson!

Play games that help develop fine motor skills

fine motor skills games help kids prepare for piano lessons

Kids need to be physically ready for piano playing.  Piano requires  so many new skills and they will have greater success if they do not struggle with finger independence and finger strength. 

Your child’s readiness will be apparent if they can wiggle (one at a time) each of their five fingers, know their right hand and left hand, and their hand size isn’t too small.  Can they play each finger on the piano?  Can they play a simple melody like Mary Had a Little Lamb?

If you focus on playing with toys that prepare kids for piano lessons (like these) then kids’ fine motor skills will be more developed and they will be ready to start lessons when their interest develops.

Children who are 4, 5, and 6 years old struggle the most with moving their fingers independently.  But I have found even 7, 8, 9,  and 10 year olds struggle.  I believe this is because as a culture kids spend more time watching television and videos and do not play outdoors as much (the kind of activity that strengthens hands).  They also spend less time writing which is an epitome of fine motor skills.

Listen to Music

Listening to music is beneficial to kids.  There are many reasons listening to music is beneficial to kids and in this article I list 15 of those reasons.  One way to listen to more music each day is to create several playlists that you can utilize at a moment’s notice.  Playlists for soothing, relaxing and calming down, energizing and getting ready for the day, rainy day movement music, uplifting and positive energy music, night time go to sleep, etc.

Recently I have had students who cannot feel a steady beat.  This is a very very important skill in all music education and it really starts with listening to music. So I firmly believe the more babies, toddlers, and preschoolers listen to music, the more prepared they will be when they are ready for piano lessons.

Sing, Dance, and Play musical instruments together

Kids can start playing musical instruments from the time they are babies!  You will see a child hold a rattle and shake it!  Sing to them!  Sing with them! Create music! Move with music!  Kids learn best when they are moving! And play various rhythm instruments to help develop a steady beat or play along with a fun rhythm.

Some parents need a little help when it comes to knowing what and how to do something. So if this is you, I will give you a confidence booster. When the pandemic began and I closed my early childhood music classes, I decided to record a 6 week online class. You can watch episode 1 on my Music Time Kid YouTube Channel below:

You will be able to see HOW I work with kids. Using these ideas you can use your own favorite songs to help establish a strong musical foundation for your child. If you aren’t sure what kinds of music you should use I have a couple of links in the LISTEN TO MUSIC section above that will give you a lot of great songs.

CONCLUSION:

I am thrilled when parents of my beginning piano students are thoughtful and provided these kind of activities for their children before beginning piano lessons. Kids make quick and efficient progress. So I hope you find these ideas helpful as you help your child get ready for piano lessons!

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