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Piano Lessons - Seattle,WA

What is a good age to start kids with piano lessons? My kids will be 3 in January and currently love to play the drums, harmonica, recorder and like most kids their age, they love to watch any musical show. I'm wondering if 3 is too young to start lessons.

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For Suzuki method, 3/4 is actually the preferred age to start, since music is taught using the same kind of learning that language is taught in (spoken language). Lessons are super short (10-20 minutes) and there's practice every day... but it's not the same kind of practice one would usually think of.

Here are the basics about suzuki from suzukiassociation.org
http://suzukiassociation.org/teachers/twinkler/

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I have always heard 5 BUT if I thought that my child was old enough to sit and listen and follow instructions and she/he had the ambition..... a music teacher would probably work with them at 3.

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For Suzuki method, 3/4 is actually the preferred age to start, since music is taught using the same kind of learning that language is taught in (spoken language). Lessons are super short (10-20 minutes) and there's practice every day... but it's not the same kind of practice one would usually think of.

Here are the basics about suzuki from suzukiassociation.org
http://suzukiassociation.org/teachers/twinkler/

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If you're in Seattle, consider Jay Hamilton at Sound & Silence ###-###-####). He has special group classes for preschoolers where he introduces them to the basics of music and rhythm/notation. They are fun and low-key. His approach is to introduce a variety of instruments to the pre-schoolers in hopes that they will select an instrument to pursue as they get older.
My 14-year-old started with him at age four, and quickly progressed to one-on-one piano lessons by age 6. She now plays both piano and guitar and is writing her own music.
NOTE: He does NOT do recitals, etc., preferring to keep it all about loving music and wanting to play, rather than have the pressure of performing and the monotony of practicing one piece over and over for perfection. He wants them to enjoy their lessons and practice sessions so they are not compelled to "quit" as they get older. It certainly worked well for us.

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We tried piano lessons with our 4 year old. Not ready to sit still and didnt appreciate it one bit. After a month we decided to wait. We had a great teacher refferal and he seemed wonderful - she just wasnt ready. I suggest trying it, but keep your expectations low and try to make it just for fun - then see if they are ready.

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Our choir teacher who teaches piano lessons on the side told me not to start until they are 8 or 9. I have a 4 1/2 yo and am planning on starting in the next year or so.

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Hi M.-
You've gotten a lot of good advice. I teach music lessons (piano and guitar), so I thought I'd chime in. I'd say that those who said that it depends on the child, teacher and method (Suzuki or otherwise), are totally correct. I've seen some students start at 5-6 and do great, and other who would have benefited from waiting until they were 8-10. And one of my best students didn't start until he was about 11-12, and was playing Chopin Nocturnes in 3 years. (fyi - I started learning piano at age 6.)

Age, reading ability (if not doing Suzuki), motivation, and concentration are all factors. So is the general musicality within the household. And parental participation/encouragement is critical at younger ages. The problem I've found with starting kids too early is that they don't have the discipline to practice well (and end up just going through their songs once a day or something, and not really progressing in a way that makes music study satisfying to them). Another problem is that the coordination and multitasking involved in learning piano (2 hands, 1 foot, notes, rhythm, dynamics, etc.) is often overwhelming for little ones.

Something that I suggest to friends with kids (and am doing myself with my 2 year old boy) is encouraging kids to just play with instruments, and to sing. Singing is wonderful because it can be done anywhere, requires no reading or purchase/rental of instruments, and is a great foundation for learning rhythm and melody.

Best of luck!

I have always heard 5 BUT if I thought that my child was old enough to sit and listen and follow instructions and she/he had the ambition..... a music teacher would probably work with them at 3.

I looked online a few months back for myself and saw some private teachers offering for as young as two. I'm sure they are short simple lessons but I would google piano/musical teachers in your area and you will get multiple online profiles of people who teach different instruments and their age ranges. If your children can hold their attention span for long enough I say go for it. You can always try to do a couple trial lessons and then decide from there. Their profiles are pretty detailed and you can learn a lot about the teacher their available days/times and see their picture. Hope this helps.

I personally started taking piano lessons when I was 4-1/2 years old. It was great, and I think I was the right age to start learning. The only issue that prevented me from starting a little earlier was that I was a little small for my age, so my hands weren't quite big enough. My sister on the other hand was able to start at age 4. I think 3 may be a little young, but it is great to expose your kids to music now. That will help when they do start. You should start asking around to see if you can find any piano teachers who will start around 4 or 5. Typically, if you look for teachers who teach with the Suzuki method, you'll have a lot of luck. The Suzuki method is best started a little earlier -- as early as 3. I'll say as an adult that I am so glad I learned how to play the piano so young. I was able to pick up the violin at age 7 and learn how to play it really well within a few weeks because of my early training. Now I find playing music to be such a great joy, especially when I am stressed out or a little down. You will be doing a wonderful thing for your children.

Our Kindergartner started piano at Portland Metro Arts in the fall at age 6 and she LOVES it.

My son is 5 and I called a piano teacher and she recommended when the kids are in 1st or 2nd grade. It may vary with the teacher so you may want to call a few teachers.

Have fun.
S.

M.,
A lot depends upon the child and the type of lessons. My daughter started playing Suzuki piano at 4.5, she was ready and enjoyed it. One of my sons started when he was 6 and the 3rd when he was 8. It is harder for boys to begin at a young age because they don't have the fine motor control. My son progressed much faster than his sister did simply becauses he was older. So while my daughter started sooner, she progressed much more slowly.
My 4th son is 8 and he doesn't have the maturity or desire to play at his age. Practice is hard work. If you want to get better, you need to practice 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Suzuki method does a lot of ear training and very little music reading. We had a teacher who combined reading music with Suzuki, which I really liked.
Our teachers both said that for most kids, 5 is a good age to begin. Some younger kids can do it, but most don't have the hand eye coordination it takes until they are 5.
I wouldn't start a boy on lessons until he is 8 unless he is really interested.
B.

M., From what I understand, until a child is about 8 or so they're just playing games on the keyboard to get familiar with cause and effect, rhythm, and sitting there listening to the teacher. So why pay for it?!? If your kids are already having fun with music, I wouldn't chance making them dislike lessons and equating that with disliking musical instruments. I also wouldn't want to pay someone to listen to my child play.

Begin. Your children are ready. When I was 7 the little boy downstairs who was two years younger was already playing Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart every day.
He read music. His parents were professional musicians and sometimes they played together.

I echo Zoe's Suzuki recommendation. All 3 of my kids have taken Suzuki violin, from my 12 year old to my 5 year old. If the teacher is well-trained, the lessons are well-suited for 3-4 year olds. It is training by ear rather than by reading music, though as they progress the teacher will introduce reading. As a language teacher, I was fascinated by the idea that Suzuki is based on the theory that music is like another language: before we learn to speak, we listen. Then we learn to speak, and eventually we learn how to read. Suzuki works in the same order of progression: lots of listening to the music being learned; learn to play (as in "speaking"); and finally learn how to read the music. Watching my 5 year old and the speed at which he is picking it up is amazing. part of it is his exposure to his siblings doing the same thing, so he has been listening to the music and watching them learn for 3 years. My middle child has learned faster than my oldest for the same reason. Music is a wonderful thing to introduce at any age! Good luck!

i looked into violin lessons for my son when he was 3 and was told that he was too young be many people in the "field" - they said that even if he had the ability to play, it could be damaging to his physical development/posture...not sure if this is the same with piano, but I would think that you could hold off on actual lessons for another year or so - maybe a music class though?

Piano lessons are best started around ages 4 - 6 depending on age, and interest of the child. Usually this young requires that parents practice along with the child, in order to help them because a) this age doesn't have the self-discipline to do it themselves, and b) Mom and Dad's involvement really make it more fun and interesting for the child. You could put your 3-year old in MYC, or Kindermusik, or Musikgarten. This is an introduction to music with various instruments.

I know some teachers in the Seattle area, if you are interested in talking to them. I may be a little far from you, since I'm in South Everett (I'm a piano teacher).

The best thing to do is to take them and give different lessons and teachers a try.

Kindermusic and similar programs can be a good fit for younger kids.

I have a natural musician who loves music but wants to teach himself. He did not like lessons so I gave him the tools to do it his way. For a while it looked bleak as far as his music getting expressed but now he is writing songs and doing it his way.

My point is that music is very personal and what your child is going to respond too is a bit of an unknown until you give it a try.

I suggest you give them different experiences and see what happens. Also, if something does not work at age 3 it may work at age 5. So be flexible. Sometimes we get tense about doing it right, but your job is to enjoy and support the kiddos, not to be perfect.

Also, having different instruments around for them to experiment with is a good idea. You know they are always coming up with great things at surprise us.

Cheers.

My son's piano teacher doesn't start kids unless they are at least 6. Her reasoning is they need to be able to reach the keys correctly and be able to follow directions and sit through the lesson. She said that's not really achievable until they have started school. I'm sure there are other teachers and methods out there. Just be sure to find one that suits your family. Good luck.

Our music teacher recommends starting piano lessons no earlier than the age of 6. The reason being that rarely are children far enough in their physical (body size and size of hands) and motor skills (ability to move fingers independently) development to really benefit from piano lessons. One of the problems is that kids who are not ready yet, learn certain tricks to "cover up" their developmental shortcomings. These habits are really hard to break later on, when they try to learn how to play correctly.

Now that does not mean you can't start music lessons. Find a good music school/lesson for young children (we do Kindermusik, but there are others out there) and get started. Usually these classes will focus on learning rhythm and beat, there is motor skills development (finger plays, dancing and moving to the music), concentrating and listening (little stories and songs) and exploring instruments.
It's lots of fun and totally worth it!

I have to echo the Kindermusik recommendation. All 3 of my children went through the entire program. They are now 13, 10 and 7-- The seven year old just started piano this year. They all took to piano immediately following: having already learned the notes, vocab, and music basics. They now compose, jam, and generally enjoy music in many forms.

It's a firm musical foundation and lots of fun!

Most teachers donot like to teach that young, but you can find a teacher mainly in the private area that will train at that age if the child shows a strong interest and some natural abilities. Since my expertise was in another area of music and not instrumental, I had to make sure my love for music was their passion and not mine. I have grown children and a 7 yr old that continues to show strong musical interest. So with my 7 yr old I will not look
back and wish I had done something while he was younger.
My older ones, still ask me today why I didnot get them lessons earlier.

Much Blessings

I asked my pastor's wife, who is a piano teacher, this same question because my little girl loves to bang on our piano. She said that she takes students who are able to read and count, usually school aged but possibly earlier if the aptitude is there.

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