Piano Lessons for Kids: Making the Most of Piano Learning

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It is widely recognized today that early music education is of great benefit, manifesting in a variety of ways over one’s lifetime.

First off, learning the highly structured musical language (learning how to read notes) and its theoretical structure (being able to play two hands simultaneously while reading sheet music) develops logic and problem-solving skills on a neural level. Science proves that one of the most complex processes in the human brain occurs while playing the piano. Trillions of neurons are firing to coordinate fingers, eyes, perception, spatial awareness, and micro muscle movements to accomplish the simplest of piano playing tasks.

Consider: a melody is a linear entity, consisting of sequentially occurring notes that move horizontally in time. Harmony is a vertical entity, usually supporting more than one note of the melody before it changes, thus creating verticality. This vertical simultaneity occurs on every note and has to be perceived and understood by our brain to move to the next note. This is essentially a matrix where each note played by the two hands has linear and vertical functions. The brain has to determine how many notes of the melody are there per one note in the accompaniment.

Let’s add to it that to play piano the right hand operates in treble clef and the left hand in bass clef (western music’s canonized convenience to keep the notation within the five stave lines and avoid excessive ledger lines).

So, by glancing at the score of, say, Fur Elise (world’ most famous ‘beginner’ piece by Beethoven) your brain has to process the following: identify the key, read the right hand in the treble clef and left hand in bass clef, identify where it would be on the keyboard and place your hands accordingly, calculate the speed of music in time (tempo) and determine where melody and accompaniment (left hand) intersect, align them at the right time and notice the irregularities such as rests; determine the volume at which you will play the music (dynamics) and calculate the dynamic range as it relates to the velocity of depressing the keys with your fingers. All that happens in a nano-second before your hands simply begin to flutter over the ivories and everyone goes “ahhhhh, isn’t that beautiful! What talent!”

Now imagine going through those complicated neural processes daily from an early age – no wonder almost all MD Ph.D. medical doctors and half the Wall Street are ‘amateur’ pianists and have taken the piano ‘cause their parents made them’.

Why you Should Start With a Piano

The advantages of learning to play the piano at an early age are obvious. But why not the violin? You could ask… Any musical instrument is better than none. I’m just saying this in advance, for the record. Many people pick up a pair and see which one suits the child best. However, there are certain aspects of playing the piano that go beyond what other instruments can give.

To begin with, refer to the first paragraph. Coordination with two hands on the keyboard in a mirror image from the middle letter C (the right hand reads up and the left hand reads down) is an amazing tool for the development of micro-coordination. Only playing the piano can develop this.

As people grow older and older, it becomes more and more difficult to learn, for some it is even unattainable. Conversely, a small child learns it the better the earlier he gets to know it, and it becomes second nature for him. This skill alone is invaluable for future surgeons, jewelers, pilots, operators of unmanned aerial vehicles…

Almost all other instruments divide the two hands into two completely different tasks (for example, one holds the strings and the other moves the bow for all stringed instruments), which have their own problems, but are fundamentally different from the similar mirror coordination required for playing the piano.

All other instruments are capable of reproducing only one single line – horizontality, therefore, vertical simultaneity no longer exists for the brain. There is also only one key to read and only linearly. In fact, it is much easier for the brain to process information, and for the body to master any other tool. Therefore, it is a much smaller exercise for the brain and a possible cognitive benefit for the entire brain function.

And, lest we forget, you just need to sit and play the piano, you don’t need to carry clumsy cases and music stands (famous stories about violinists leaving their priceless instruments in a taxi). An often overlooked but very important element of playing any other musical instrument is the need to hire a pianist to accompany each lesson, performance and event (a connection that costs more than a lifetime, and you can buy a pair of first-class concert grand pianos to be sure). These costs are first borne by you, the parents, and then are the lifetime expenses of the player.

And finally, who doesn’t like having a pianist around? In social terms, it is an invaluable asset that will open many doors and will certainly bring all sorts of unexpected benefits.

Best Age to Start Learning to Play the Piano

The earlier the child starts to play the piano the more effective all the benefits will be. It does not mean that you are committing your child’s life to a career in music at all. Just think about all the reflexes they will learn before fully understanding the difficulty of it. The child’s mind is unaware of the concept of ‘un-accomplishable tasks’, which makes early learning so effective and easy.

Alas, as we grow up the world tells us of all the insurmountable difficulties that exist and our innate faith in our abilities diminishes. The early ‘second nature’ principle is widely observable in ballet, gymnastics, figure skating, math, and coding. Those who start at age 3-4 have a shot at Olympic Gold, Royal Ballet, or inventing the next big thing in the tech sector. Therefore the best age to start your young child at the piano is as early as 3 – it has all the pros and none of the cons.

Selecting your Piano Teacher

Unlike learning piano as an adult – young children require hands-on in-person instruction. For the physical basics of piano playing to be correct and rooted in young students’ unique hands and abilities (EVERY child is different as are we all) a skilled piano teacher, who specializes in work with young children is required.

Vetting that piano teacher is an important responsibility as it will essentially determine the success/failure of piano lessons, skills learned, and benefits of the whole musical journey altogether. Things to avoid: self-professed specialists and friend’s suggestions. Today it is very easy to research online and discover all you need to know whether the teacher is right for your child.

In-person Instruction

Online piano learning can only yield results with students who already know how to play piano moderately well, have the full ability to read music and committing it to memory correctly on their own, are motivated, and have the discipline to practice properly between piano lessons. That usually comes at age 12 and above provided the child started at 3-4.

The first piano lessons that occur during the first 5-6 years of piano learning require the presence of a teacher who observes, corrects, and teaches young pianists how to practice. It is all about learning to learn at this stage and your own pace. Younger kids require a lot of attention from the teacher to develop correct motor skills, track progress, adopt appropriate practice methods and make sure that each new skill is retained and built upon.

The physicality of playing piano is of paramount importance. Incorrect posture, for example, is something that many students develop in the early years of piano lessons and is frequently a result of failure to properly follow instructions of the teacher. This is where parent’s supervision comes into play. For children beginners, the integral part of making progress are adults making sure that when they practice on their own they follow instructions correctly.

Importance of Piano Bench Height

The height of the piano bench needs special attention as children of the young age of 3-6 have to be elevated to be at the right angle in relationship to the keyboard. If your piano bench has a raising mechanism it may be sufficient, but in many cases, it doesn’t go high enough. Then thick books or similar items can be used to elevate further. When a child begins to learn piano they should be also learning the proper way to sit at the instrument to make progress.

Repertory

It is true of children, older students as well as adults that lessons should be fun and engaging to be effective. Therefore repertory choice is a key factor in ensuring successful piano lessons. When a student begins to learn piano they, of course, want to play demanding music from the first piano lessons.

At this point, the right combination of encouragement of popular songs and required music for technical development is necessary so that the child shows progress. There is a lot of music available specifically designed for first piano lessons to be fun and effective. Such songs utilize nursery rhymes, cartoons, and popular imagery to engage kids with specific skills at the piano.

Practice Time

Good piano playing requires regular practice with the presence of mind. Kids, older students, and adults all have different attention spans so practice sessions should be approached with those differences in mind. Beginners have to absorb a lot of new information and learn skills that are challenging at first – so patience and strategy are the order of the day.

It is better to split practice sessions into smaller segments that address a specific new skill, such as playing scales, learning chords, connecting with fingers legato, or playing staccato. With the right approach, it can be fun and effective, giving student confidence in what they are learning, which is necessary for consistent improvement.

Practice that is attentive and clear-headed for 15-20 minutes every day is better than 2 hours once a week, as one’s mind wanders during long practice sessions. Progress tracking allows for a gradual increase in effective practice time while the reward of learning fun and desirable music is a great motivator. Adults and older students have the analytical ability to understand that necessary investment of time and effort into a new skill such as learning to play piano, while younger children have to be constantly excited by what they are doing and learning to stay focused.

It is also important that children learn to listen to what they are playing. Often the kinetic pleasure of being able to play fast and loud is enough for the child to be happy so they rush through their songs and don’t listen to what their playing sounds like. Both teachers and parents should remind young beginners to listen carefully to the sounds they are making and make sure everything sounds beautiful, as it should. If left unsupervised most kids derive great pleasure from the physical activity of playing piano but don’t pay attention to what it actually sounds like.

Group Lessons

Group lessons can be wonderful motivators as students learn from each other while a healthy dose of competition motivates them to do better. However, for early beginners one-on-one piano lessons are necessary. The very first steps to learn piano are so specific to each child that group setting can be distracting and not concentrated on each student enough. Once beginners progress to being able to play a whole song from memory and give a performance with confidence the group setting can be useful as an add-on to the music education of children.

Group lessons also build social skills, which are of great importance. Kids tend to interact with each other and share their songs and new skills, so with a good instructor, such group lessons can be fun and helpful for faster progress. It is important to mention that group lessons should not replace one-on-one piano lessons. Learning to play piano is a complex task that requires the undivided attention of both the teacher and the student.

How Often Should a Child Take Piano Lessons?

Ideally, the most effective piano lessons frequency is twice a week. Since young children have short attention spans, shorter, 20-30 minute piano lessons are the best strategy. First piano lessons should be fun and informative and if the student is looking forward to the next one they will do better. Sometimes having 3 short piano lessons per week is most effective but other considerations such as cost and other activities make it a challenge. Generally, kids usually have piano lessons after school so it is important for them to be excited about it.

Once their keyboard skills reach a certain level they can benefit from the group lessons, that you may find at a music school. At that point, you can have either one or two one-on-one lessons and one group lesson per week. Look for the music school in your area and research what kind of group lessons are offered. Too large a group is not effective to learn to play from observing each other due to time-per-student constraints. Too small a group does not have group dynamics. The ideal group is 4-5 students per one-hour class.

Need a Piano? Choices

And finally, to learn to play an instrument you have to have one around. If you already do – perfect. But if you don’t, the selection of the right piano for you can be quite daunting, as there are so many options.

First, determine your piano budget and how much space you can dedicate to your piano. You also need to decide whether to go digital or opt for acoustic piano. Digital has the advantage of the silent option for anytime practicing (useful for kids who may practice and have their piano lessons after school) and obvious cost incentive, while the acoustic piano has all the beautiful properties of the natural piano sound with all the color and overtones created by the string vibrations and sound bouncing off the soundboard.

The choices are many but, generally, we recommend always going with an established legacy brand. After all, it is a sizable investment in your family’s quality of life – so it is important to acquire the best instrument you can afford. Going with the cheapest piano will cost you in maintenance and endless repairs. Cheap pianos tend to be constantly out of tune (poorly made pin block and budget strings contribute to that), cracked soundboards due to subpar wood and construction, etc. You don’t want to end up with a dud that you will have to replace in a couple of years. Moving a piano is expensive and it’s best to make such a purchase assuming you will keep it for at least 30-40 years.

First Piano Lessons Easiest Way to Learn the Notes

Animal Memory Game

There are many methods to help learn piano notes but this way is easy and children immediately engage with this animal memory game. They are so keen to memorise the order of the animals that they inadvertently learn the piano keys without realising it! The whole keyboard stretching out in front of them can be a bit overwhelming, so firstly it is important to break it down and help to them recognise that there are indeed only 7 notes, just repeated over and over.

Working It Out

Ask them how many they think there are? Surprise them with the answer of only 7! Kids love the idea that they can impress others with this “trick” question! Depending on the age and attention span of your child or the child you are teaching, to make it easier this lesson can be broken up into two sections which introduces C-D-E-F first, and then G-A-B the next time.

Easiest Way To Learn The Notes On The Piano

  1. Sitting in front of the keyboard, explain that the right hand plays high notes, and the left hand plays low notes simply because it is more comfortable to do so. Encourage them to explore some high and low notes, and make sure they can tell the difference.
  2. Start by asking them to play the groups of 2 black notes and 3 black notes, all the way up and down the keyboard, making sure to use the left hand for low notes and the right for high.
  3. Then find middle C by looking for the 2 black notes in the middle – C comes just before these 2 black notes. Introduce the CAT! Find all the ‘cats’ up and down the piano, using the right hand for high ones and left hand for low ones with middle C in the middle. Navigate by looking for the 2 black keys, and notice that they are always the same distance of 8 notes apart each time, call this an Octave. Eight notes like an octopus with 8 legs!
  4. The next note is D for DOG! It comes after C and is in between the 2 black notes, which look like the dog’s black ears! Find all the Ds.
  5. E for ELEPHANT comes next, find all the elephants by hopping up and down the keyboard, noticing that it comes on the other side of the 2 black keys.
  6. The next note is F for FROG! Repeat the hopping game in the same way, noticing that it comes before the group of 3 black notes.
  7. The next note is G for GIRAFFE, find all the Gs up and down the keyboard, always making sure that the right hand is used for higher than middle C, and the left hand is used for lower than middle C.
  8. A for ANTS comes next, notice that the first and lowest note on the full piano keyboard is an A .
  9. The last one is B for BEAR – repeat the process, and all the notes have been named, as we have reached C again!

Memorising

Now try to see if they can remember all the animals from beginning to end of an octave. Although this seems a lot of information for the first piano lesson, children really seem to enjoy the challenge of remembering the correct order of the animals. After a little bit of practice they love to demonstrate that they can recognise which one is which. Play this game at the start of every lesson. Once they are more confident, jumble the animals up, and pick different ones at random. See if they can name them backwards – though this is difficult at first!

Pianos keyboards vary according to size and budget. A full size piano keyboard has 88 notes from the bottom to the top including all the black notes in between starting on the bottom A up to a top C. A mini-piano or smaller keyboard may have a few less notes at the top or bottom, but this doesn’t make a lot of difference for beginners, as they rarely need these notes anyway. Whatever the size of your keyboard, you will find they all share this repeated pattern of keys as described above and this is the easiest way to learn the notes on the piano.

Conclusion

Start your first piano lessons as early as possible. The best age is between 3 and 4, though this is a huge generalization. All children are different, develop differently and therefore parameters of best age don’t apply to everyone the same. As is the case with children learning languages early, music education benefits brain development and makes the physicality of piano playing a second nature.

Regular practice is the key to getting good at playing piano. It is best to practice shorter periods but frequently and consistently. First lessons have to be engaging, fun activity so kids are excited to have their piano lessons. This will motivate them to practice and follow instructions better. Choosing your teacher wisely and with due diligence is a key factor. Twice a week is the ideal frequency of piano lessons. One-on-one in-person instruction is the way to go for all beginners, especially children.

As students progress and learn how to learn properly, hybrid teaching becomes a viable option. For children, it is important to sit at the right height in relationship to the instrument so piano bench modifications may be needed. Every child has different physicality so a unique approach is necessary to build a solid piano technique. Kids have to be taught to listen to what they play, not just to move their fingers all over the keyboard fast. Progress tracking from lesson to lesson is a measure of regular practice in between lessons.

FAQ for Piano Lessons for Kids

What are the benefits of piano lessons for kids?

Playing the piano can be a great way for kids to learn about music and develop their fine motor skills. It’s also a great way for them to explore their creativity and express themselves artistically.

Piano lessons are not just for kids who want to become professional pianists. They can also be beneficial for children who have an interest in music, as well as those who want to explore it as a hobby or pastime.

There are many benefits of piano lessons for kids, including improved coordination, increased listening skills, and a deeper understanding of music.

What age should my child start piano lessons?

The answer to this question is a difficult one. It really depends on what your child wants to do with their life and what they’re good at. If they have a natural talent for music, then it might be worth investing in piano lessons so that they can get the best education possible. If not, then it’s probably better not to invest in lessons because it could lead to frustration or even worse, a dislike of music altogether.

The best time to start piano lessons is when a child is about five years old. This is because that age range provides the most opportunity for a child to learn and develop their skills.

Children who start piano lessons when they are around five years old have an advantage over those who start later on in life. They will be able to learn and practice more efficiently, which will lead to faster progress in their skill level.

How much does it cost to get piano lessons for kids?

Piano lessons for kids can be expensive. It all depends on the type of lessons you choose, the length of the lesson, and where you live. Prices can range from $5 to $90 per hour.

The most common type of piano lesson is a 30-minute lesson that costs $30 to $50 per month or about $25 to $40 per week.

If you have your own piano and want private lessons instead, it would cost around the same amount as in-studio lessons because they are usually offered by independent contractors

How long does it take to learn how to play the piano with piano lessons?

Learning how to play the piano takes a lot of time and effort. It’s not something that you can do in a day or even a week.

It usually takes about 80 hours of lessons to learn how to read music and play the piano. That’s just the beginning, though. You’ll need many more hours of practice at home to get good enough that people want to listen to you play.

What are the best places to find a piano teacher for kids in my area?

There are many piano teachers in your area, but the question is how to find the best one for your child.

Best places to find a piano teacher:

  • Ask your friends and family members if they know of a good piano teacher who teaches kids in your area.
  • Ask your local music store if they have any recommendations for you.
  • Search on Google for “piano teachers near me.”

What are the best piano lessons for kids?

Piano lessons are a great way to introduce your child to the beautiful world of music. But with so many options out there, how do you decide which piano lessons are best for your child?

The first step is to figure out what type of music your child enjoys. If they like pop music, then a classical piano composer may not be the best choice for them. If they enjoy more modern styles such as jazz or blues, then those types of piano lessons might be perfect for them!

Next, you should think about the style of teaching that will work best for your child. Some people prefer a more structured approach where they are given specific exercises and techniques to work on each week. Others find that this type of learning goes against their natural learning style.

Which instruments are similar to the piano?

There are many instruments that are similar to the piano. One of them is the harpsichord. It is a stringed instrument that has a keyboard and it is played with a quill or plectrum. The other instrument that is similar to the piano is the clavichord. This instrument was invented in 1710 and it has strings which are plucked by fingers or quills.

What are some challenges faced by children who want to learn piano?

The piano is a challenging instrument to learn. It is not the easiest instrument to master because it has many more keys than the guitar, for example. The piano also has a long history and tradition associated with it.

A lot of kids who want to learn piano are faced with challenges in both the physical and mental aspects of playing the instrument. They may not be able to reach all of the keys on the keyboard or they may struggle with memorizing all of the notes on a given piece. In order to overcome these challenges, they need help from their parents or teachers in order to make sure that they are staying motivated and progressing in their learning process.

How do I teach my child to play the piano?

First of all, you should encourage them and make them feel confident in their abilities. You should also make sure that they have a good teacher who can teach them well and make sure that they are practicing enough. You should also help them by giving them music theory lessons so that they know what they are doing when they are playing the piano. Make sure that you give them proper practice sessions so that they can improve their skills over time.

Do students need to practice every day to play the piano well?

No, students should not practice every day to play the piano well. As long as they are practicing the correct way and are playing music that is at their level, they will be able to improve their skills.

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Taking his name from the “Cyberpunk 2020″ off-shoot card game “Netrunner”, the once elusive Access To Arasaka has seemly come out of nowhere to take the electronic music community by storm with his debut full-length CD album ‘Oppidan‘ in 2009.

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