When Maria brought her son Ryan to HPAC for his very first piano lesson, she could already see him filling their house with music. Ryan bounded into the piano room and popped straight up onto the piano bench; you could tell by the smile on his face that he couldn’t wait to get started. His little 3-year-old leg wiggled with excitement as I began to help him uncurl his tiny fingers from his clenched fists. It soon became apparent that Ryan did not yet have the finger independence or strength to begin learning the piano as older children do. We spent the lesson playing finger games that focused on strengthening his fingers and exploring the piano with improvised duets.
I could tell by the end of the lesson that mum was disappointed. She had hoped that after his first lesson, her little boy would be able to play at least one song, even if it was just Mary had a Little Lamb. However, this would not be the reality for little Ryan, at least not yet, and it is also not the reality for most little people under the age of 5.
Should we wait until children are older, or are there steps parents can take to help them prepare their children and at the same time develop a love for music and the piano? I let my youngest child start lessons at four instead of waiting like his older siblings. However, I knew that he was well prepared and ready to tackle the demands of learning an instrument.
Parents wanting to get their child started early must prepare their child and have the time to support and nurture their child’s love of music in between lessons once they begin. You can start preparing your child for piano lessons in the following ways
Create a music-making environment at home
Regular shared family music experiences and free musical play are crucial to developing an environment at home that will encourage a love of music. Singing together as part of our children’s bedtime routine was one way we enjoyed music-making as a family. We also allowed our children to be noisy and explore ways to create music through play-based and structured activities. Our house also had many real instruments for our children to explore, which led them to find the instrument they wanted to learn.
See Live Performances Regularly
Seeing live child-friendly concerts helps to expose children to the different sounds and ways instruments can be played. It is often during these concerts that young children fall in love with a particular instrument. The Metropolitan Orchestra’s Cushion Concerts and The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Family shows are great environments for young children to explore instruments for the first time.
Attend pre-instrumental classes
Parents often overlook pre-instrumental classes who want their child to learn an instrument at a young age. These classes, however, are an important step in the journey toward starting piano lessons. Many parents believe these classes are just a fun preschool activity for which their child is too big. However, these classes are precisely what young developing musicians need. The activities in these classes are created to develop musical and physical skills necessary for instrumental readiness.
If your child is not already in music classes check out Hope Performing Arts Centres Mini Musicians classes