Information for parents of very young children (ages 2 – 5)
Advantages of Early Instruction
Elementary instruction of all kinds is of inestimable value. Television programs such as “Sesame Street” and various Head Start programs have shown us the advantages of early learning. Introductory structured learning may help the preschool child understand basic concepts and simple reasoning processes. In addition to introducing the youngster to music through piano study, the knowledge learned will transcend purely musical facts and will carry over into other learning experiences. Developmental sensory-motor skills assimilated through piano study will generally aid the child in coordination of his or her small and large muscles.
The very young beginner is between four and six years of age. I have, on rare occasion, started working with students as young as two. Before accepting any students in this age bracket, an assessment lesson is required. Starting young children has many benefits and can be incredibly successful. One of the prime advantages of early music instruction is that it will give the child a definite interest and activity aside from play and nursery school of kindergarten. If home conditions are conducive to learning, and if the child is ready to begin piano lessons, a great deal will be gained from early instruction. Things to consider before looking into lessons are:
- Does the child show an interest in learning to play the piano by trying to pick out melodies on the piano, or by singing, or by just listening to music?
- Is the attention span long enough to practice ten minutes at a time?
- Is there fairly good coordination of the small muscles?
- Can the child handle a pencil fairly well?
Pre-Reading for the young beginner
Practice assistance for the very young beginner
If the child cannot read, the directions will have to be read by someone else. Even simple tasks will have to be organized, for this may be the child’s first experience in a structured learning situation and guidance will be needed, especially in the beginning. Efficient practice can be achieved with the following guidelines.
- The child will need a supervised practice period every day for about ten or fifteen minutes. For a child whose attention span is shorter than average, two brief practice sessions are advised.
- The person helping should sit near the youngster to assist in reading directions and to point out any mistakes that might occur, as well as to give praise.
- It is ideal to set aside a specific time each day for practice when there will be no outside interference from family members, television, etc. This will help to establish the habit of practicing which is vital to the learning of any skill.
- It is a good idea to keep a record of the practice time (in a music notebook) and explain that regular practice will help the child become proficient at playing the piano.
Piano lessons can, and definitely should, be an enjoyable experience for a young child. However, parents should be cautioned to begin formal instruction only when a child is able to absorb instruction and practice on a regular basis. Lessons will be enjoyable only with a certain amount of work on the part of both the child and parent/s.
Information for parents of Elementary through High School Students
The Elementary age student is seven or eight years old. This is an age when most children begin taking lessons, however, parental supervision may be necessary and should be taken into consideration. My goal during lessons is to make everything clear to the student to the extent that this should not be needed during the practice sessions, but more so if the student is not capable of reading the instructions in the books used. Parents are especially needed to help schedule practice periods, check on work in progress, create an enthusiastic atmosphere for practice, and assisting when problems arise.
Skills Learned Through Piano Lessons
- Self-Confidence. Being able to go from learning notes and rhythms to producing meaningful music instills in your child a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.
- Coordination. Hand, eye, body posture and thought all working together are the ingredients of playing an instrument. These coordination skills transfer to many other aspects of life.
- Teamwork. Every child wants to be part of a group. Theory and musicianship classes, in addition to group performances and recitals provide just such unique opportunities.
- Comprehension. Learning to perceive and derive meaning from musical sounds sharpens your child’s ability to comprehend abstractions.
- Problem-Solving. Learning the basics of musical language and interpreting a work through performance teaches your child the ability to understand a problem and reach an appropriate solution.
- Discipline. Learning all of the basics of music and applying them correctly takes perception and discipline.
- Art Appreciation. The words beauty, serenity and excitement come to life with each musical experience. These feelings help every child appreciate all forms of the arts.
- Logical Reasoning. When your child learns to analyze a musical work from all perspectives or to improvise within a certain musical style, both inductive and deductive reasoning grows stronger.
- Communication. Music offers the ability to cultivate our feelings and thoughts through nonverbal means and to respond to these nonverbal thoughts in others.
- Conceptualization. Your child learns to classify by learning to identify different types and styles of music and to recognize how cultures use music for personal expression.
- Making Value Judgments. Learning to comprehend, consider and evaluate in music can help your child make informed decisions and uphold value judgments in other aspects of life.
- Using Symbols. Learning to read, write and interpret musical notation strengthens the use of other symbol systems such as mathematics and language