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Piano Lessons for Preschoolers

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Classes & Lessons > Piano Lessons for Preschoolers


Seeking Piano Lessons Related Pages

2010 - 2013 Recommendations


Looking for affordable piano teacher for 4-year-old

Feb 2011

I am looking for affordable piano teacher for my 4 yr old daughter around UV Albany area ?She is new to music lessons and prefer Saturday or Sunday thanks cheers


My son is almost five and has been taking lessons with Ernie Mansfield for a little over a year. His price is reasonable and he is located near North Berkeley BART on Sacramento. He's great with a young child - very relaxed, low stress, age-appropriate. My son has a wonderful time learning piano. Ernie also teaches guitar, sax, and clarinet (perhaps others) to all ages. http://mansfieldmusic.com/academy-of-music/ Annie

Violin or Piano lessons for 4 year old

Nov 2010

I am interested in starting my daughter on violin or piano lessons & would love recommendations on teachers for private lessons and/or schools for group lessons. We live in Kensington so someone in the Berkeley/Kensington/Albany area would be good. It could be at our house or somewhere else. Our preference is for private lessons. Also, any input on starting lessons at that age? Is it too early? Are your kids into it? Other thoughts? Thanks! Miki


I know other people have also recommended Jon's Music classes in Berkeley (http://www.jsom.com/), so I wanted to share our positive experience as well. Our now 4y-old daughter has taken 2 semesters with him already and loves his style of teaching, the playful class interaction, as well as the variety of instruments (good quality instruments from violin to keyboards, guitars and drums.) While she is naturally drawn more to some instruments, I also see her attention span is not that great at this age yet and she learns different things by playing a variety of instruments and singing into a microphone. Jon teaches them music theory and rythm in a fun way with his original music (you also get a cd that not only my daughter likes to listen to) and I think this will really benefit her when I do start her on individual music lessons. Plus, our Monday afternoon class size is small so she gets a lot of personal attention. Good luck. tanja

2007 - 2009 Recommendations


Anyone tried Preschool Piano Kids @ Dublin?

Dec 2009

Hi everyone, My son is 4.5 year old and I am looking for piano classes for him. I went to the open house of Preschool Piano Kids at Dublin and feel pretty good. But their teaching methods are different from traditional method and they are using electronic piano and digital recording to teach kids. I am wondering whether it will make kids' ears less sensitive later on. Anyone has experience with them and do you recommend them or not? Thank you very much! Alicia


My kids went there for 8 and 3 years. Digital pianos are great for ear training as they are never out of tune. The kids get to burn CDs of their music and play for each other in monthly group classes. They understand kids there and have a very well thought out program that trains the whole musician: theory, technique, performance, ear training. Feel free to contact me. susan

Suzuki Piano Teacher for 4-y-o

April 2009

Hi Everyone, I'm looking for a Suzuki piano teacher for my 4 year old. We live in Montclair, but would be willing to travel a little bit for the right person. Thanks! Piano mom


For a Suzuki piano teacher, call Holy Names Preparatory Music at 436-1224. Our teacher is Gail Marie - she is great with kids. She teaches on campus, near Redwood Road off Hwy 13. Piano mom of 3 kids

Music lessons for an almost 4 year old

March 2009

I am looking for a music class for my almost 4 year old. He can play a few tunes on the piano that I have taught him using the one finger method. I would like to get him into a class that is a little more than the usual mommy and me/kindermusik type class. Maybe a group piano class or music class that is a bit more advanced. He loves music and can carry a tune and keep a beat etc. Looking for something in the West Contra Costa area or maybe Berkeley area. jo


Holy Names College (near Mills) has a great Suzuki piano program. They have group classes for all ages. I'm a violin teacher that learned Suzuki and teaches it now and, for a family that wants to start young and parents that want to be involved, it's a great way to go. Sarah
Do check out Jon's School of Music if you haven't already. It could be just what you are looking for. He offers a free trial class, too. Our son started when he was 3 1/2 and has learned tons about music, beginning theory, basic piano instruction, and has had a blast the whole time. They get to try out all kinds of different instruments, too. A JSOM fan

Piano teacher for 4 years old

Oct 2008

I'm looking for a piano teacher for my 4 years old daughter. Would anyone have recommendations? Thank you for your help in advance. -Annukka


I would highly recommend the Musically Minded piano studio (www.musicallyminded.com) Our 3 kids have studied there and the teachers are fabulous and very good with little ones. I think for the littler ones they do shorter lesson times instead of the usual 1-hr lessons. piano fan

Piano lessons for 3.5 year old?

Nov 2007

I'd like to know if anyone has recommendations for piano lessons or classes for a 3.5 year old. I'd also love to hear comments people have on starting children with piano lessons this early. My daughter is talks about learning piano several times a day but I have some reservations on starting her this young. Anne


Hi. My daughter was also very interested in the piano at around that age (she is turning four next week). You didn't mention whether or not you know how to play. If you do, I would recommend getting the book Music Moves for Piano by Marilyn Lowe. www.musicmovesforpiano.com. It has duets that you can do with very young children that focus not on learning notes or reading music, but feeling the rhythm and making music together. Sitting at the piano with her has also been a great way to teach her right/left, loud/soft, high/low, etc.

Children at that age don't usually have the capability (coordination nor muscle strength) to do fingering, so this book promotes using only a single finger they feel most comfortable with (usually 2nd or 3rd). Many of the songs use clusters, which is using your fist to play two or three notes together. She plays in rhythm to accompany the melody that I play.

I have been doing these duets with my daughter and she loves it (so do I!). I am super low-key, and always wait for her to ask for a ''lesson'' with me, as I don't want to make a big deal of it and turn her off to making music. When we do sit together to have a lesson, they can last 2 minutes or 20 minutes, depending on her mood. She gets a great deal of pleasure out of performing the songs for her grandma and grandpa.

I think I will start real lessons (with a teacher other than myselft) with her when she turns 5. Amy


I studied classical piano for 15+ years (started when I was 5). My older daughter expressed interest when she was 4 and I thought it would be a good idea to give it a try. She had demonstrated ability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time so I thought it was worth a shot. I did not do a good job of screening her teacher though--I ended up hiring someone who was a good performance musician, but was not that great working with her. I observed all her lessons and it became clear that they weren't on the same page. I didn't want to continue down the path because I worried it would permanently affect her musical interests, so I stopped the lessons. She is now 5 1/2 and I am thinking about starting to look for another, more classically trained teacher who has proven experience working with young children. Personally, I am extremely thankful to my parents for the opportunity to study music. It is a wonderful skill to have--especially to share with my children.

I think 3.5 years may be too young to have formal lessons. Have you considered group lessons or another type of music class--Music Together, Kindergym? Still Tickling Ivories


If you can find a teacher then by all means start her if she wants to learn now. My younger sister started at 3.5 when she saw all her older siblings taking lessons. She just loved it.. (turns out she has perfect pitch and was a bit of a prodigy) she loved to practice too, my mom never had to force her.. and in no time she was playing super well. When she started she had to sit on a big phone book to reach the keys. She's now in her 30's, playing in a band and writing her own music. I suggest though to make sure it's fun for her. You don't want it to be a fight because then she'll just back off. If she has talent and passion for it that will carry her. Make the practice times short.. maybe 15 minutes a day.. and then increase the time as her attention span increases. You may find that she loves it so much that she won't want to stop. Good luck! music lover
Anne, I am a piano teacher and work with young children.For children under 5 year old you can start with group classes. In our piano school we have preparatory piano classes specially designed for 3 to 5-year -old children. It is a nine months program.Each lesson is 30 minutes long and classes are once a week. Students learn the name of the keys on the piano, musical alphabet(rhythm values, rests, grand staff, and notes)they will develop their musical memory and get plenty of ear training as well. Class activities are listeing and repeating a tune or a rhythm, singing along, learning a musical symbol using colors, stories and games. Students also listen to the teacher play a story(song)on the piano and they participate in making story for the music they hear. For more information you can see: www.goldenkeypianoschool.com Katrin

Pre-piano Lessons for 4 year old

April 2007

Hello, we are looking into pre-piano class for our 4 yrs old son. We hope the class is more fun and playful so that he will be inspired to love music than just learns how to play piano. We recently heard that Musical Sprouts offers this type of classes (www.musicalsprouts.net). Could you please share your experience with this class? Or if you know there's any fun piano classes. Thank you. May


I can highly recommend Musical Sprouts piano classes. My son has been taking classes since he was 4 years old. He's been enjoying the classes a lot. The classes are very informal, parents can stay or leave; the kids move, dance, sing, clap, jump - very much like in MucicTogether classes. The kids also learn to play the piano in a very playful, fun way. The only downside is that the classes are a bit more expensive than other group-classes.

Piano or singing for 4-year-old

April 2007

Any recommendation for a good paino or singing lesson program in the East Bay, preferrably in Oakland, Berkeley, Lamorinda, for my pre-school aged daughter? I heard about Suzuki method, any recent advise/comments? Much appreciated! yvonne


I would highly recommend the teachers of the Berkeley Academy of Music in Berkeley on Carleton (at the Berkeley United Methodist Church). My 4 year old daughter and I have been taking piano lessons from Stephen Varney for the past 1.5 years and we love it. He is great with the really young kids - engaging them in playful fun exercises in the beginning. He can teach the Suzuki method very well but is also open to a more traditional method (for me especially). His duo partner, Naomi Sanchez is also a wonderful piano and voice teacher. They are exceptionally accomplished pianists in their own right with major conservatory training as well as an award winning duo piano group and give wonderful concerts as well. They have frequent play days where all the kids get together to do musical activities and play for each other as well as more traditional and formal recitals twice yearly. The musical training of the kids speaks for itself - it's incredible what the kids as young as 5 can play, and very well with excellent technique from memory. You can check them out at www.pasdeduo.com. Good luck! Happy BAM student /mother
Hi, Len Sherman has been an excellent all around music teacher for my five year old godson. He not only teaches both piano and voice in a gentle personalized way, he has found a way to inspire Josh so he has the tools to improvise and play like a musician. This has been a priceless gift. You can reach him at the following number: Len Sherman at 510-684-6382. Gail
Jan 2007

Charlotte, September '06, I started my son's 4 and 6 year olds on piano lessons taught by a Suzuki piano teacher who also teaches Suzuki Piano lessons at Dominican University. They are doing really great. She is the most gentle, kind, yet firm piano teacher. I don't know if you are aware of the Suzuki method of teaching piano. Since your child is so young I think it's the best way to go. The Suzuki method is a method that is geared to teaching toddlers piano. First he'll get ear training through listening to the music pieces and as he demonstrate readiness she teach according to his level of readiness. My kids love her. Her name is Diana Damitz. Her studio is on Marin Ave or Street in Albany. Her number is (510)525-3258 I really like her. Hope you find a teacher who would be a good fit for your child. Mey


2004 - 2006 Recommendations


Piano lessons for 4-year-old

March 2006

I am trying to find a piano teacher for our 4yrs old daughter who took lessons for about 6 months. Unfortunately her teacher had to return to China so we like to find her an another teacher somewhere between Emeryville and Benicia. Please let me know if you know of a good teacher. aware1967


I would like to started my 4 yr old twins on piano lessons. Could anyone recommend teachers/schools in teh Danville-San Ramon-Pleasanton area who are experienced and patient with young children? Thanks. P. Jean
Ernie Mansfield has a great reputation among my friends. He teaches in his studio near N. Berkeley BART. 510-524-2055, ernie AT mansfieldmusic.com. ann
I love my piano teacher. I have recently gotten back into playing piano as an adult and wish he'd been my teacher when I was a kid - he teaches both kids and adults. He genuinely loves teaching piano and makes it fun to learn. I can't recommend him highly enough. You can reach Eric Glickrieman at 510 225-5269. Betsy

2003 & Earlier


Piano teacher willing to take a 3-year-old?

Oct 2003

Are there any piano teachers out there who are willing to take a child at 3&1/2 years old? Obviously teaching piano to such a young child would require a very special approach. Please let me know if you know of someone who can do this! Thanks! Colene


The suzuki method of teaching starts kids at 3yrs. My sisters children both started at 3yrs and I am quite impressed by their ability to play. She lives in Inidiana so I don't have a local recommendation but the Suzuki website lists a couple of teachers in Berkeley and Alameda, hopefully there will be more specific recommendations! gael
Marcie Zinn in Pleasanton is absolutely amazing with preschoolers! My daughter started piano lessons with her in September, just after her 3rd birthday, and we couldn't be more pleased. Marcie is a talented piano teacher, and also has a Ph.D in psychology. She fully understands preschoolers and how they learn. She uses a combination of Suzuki and traditional methods and has been very successful with all of the children we have seen. The kids adore her and love learning with her. I recommend her HIGHLY - she is well worth the drive from anywhere in the bay area! You can read more about her method online at www.pianoweb.net or call her at 925-461-7442. Or feel free to email me if you would like to know more about our experience. Jaime
I would like to recommend Judith Meites as a wonderful piano teacher for young children. She is masterful at creating an environment geared toward the specific ages of her students. Once a month, she brings her students together in age-specific group classes--where the children get to interact and play together in what is usually a very ''solo'' environment. Judith creates community with her students. She also is very skilled at understanding the psychology involved in motivation, practice, performance, etc. I have learned much about my child's personality from Judith. Judith would be able to counsel you on the appropriate age to begin the piano, and when your child in particular would be able to most effectively--and happily--begin. You can reach Judith in Berkeley at: (510) 843-4541. You can also visit her website: Berkeleypiano.com Good luck! Linda
I would like to recommand Betty Wu as a piano teacher to you. She is experienced, patient, nice and fun to children. Children get along with her and love to play music with her. She teaches in Piedmont at her own studio. If you don't have a piano, she doesn't mind to start children on keyboard at all. Here is her phone number 510-386-4463 Good luck !! Lynn

Piano teacher for 4-year-old

Dec 2002

Can anyone recommend a piano instructor, preferably in Oakland/San Leandro, who teaches piano to 4 years olds (and possibly his mom!) Kim


Dear Mother of the 4 year-old looking for a piano teacher, I just posted a recommendation that came out today (Dec. 18) for Zoryia Persidsky, who teaches piano at her home in Berkeley near College and Ashby. I started with her myself when I was 5 years old , and she has the patience of a saint with young students, but how much a child that age can learn often depends on the temperament of the individual child. Lessons for little kids are only a half hour long. I know she also has adult students, both beginners and advanced ones. I highly recommend giving her a call. She gives weekend lessons too. Zoryia Persidsky 's Phone: 548-1870. Christine
There is a great studio for 4yr olds and up called DO RE MI. After the winter break she is moving from Hayward to Castro Valley. My daughter has been taking group lessons since September and is doing very well. The children seem to like the class and all of them are advancing very nicely. They just had their Winter concert and all of the children (believe it or not) got up and performed for a rather large audience. The new number will be 886-8449 or maybe you can try her at 888-458- 2208. The web site is at www.doremiforkids.com. Gordona (the teacher) might let you sit in on a class and see how it works, but better yet would be if you could attend one of the performances. Good luck! Julie
Kim, I recommend a play based group music program for 4 year old children. Music should be fun, playful and enjoyable. Piano lessons should be taken at an older age. Practicing the piano is work and there is plenty of time for that later in life. Research done at the Kodaly Institute in Hungary shows that children can learn music literacy through play which will transfer to musical instruments at a later age. You'll also enjoy the music classes too. Jeff
Our fabulous piano teacher, Michael Rubin, has openings for new students. He's extremely versatile: teaches beginners and more advanced, classical and jazz, kids and adults. At the moment my son has a broken leg, and he's teaching him guitar because he can't sit on the piano bench. This is a guy who loves teaching and totally gives himself over to each lesson. We pay him for 45 minutes but the lessons go much longer because Michael is so enthusiastic about the process of providing a musical education. He is technically very proficient and he definitely challenges kids to push their limits, but he manages not to discourage them by being too exacting. He's become a friend to our entire family (he comes to our house for lessons). You can reach him at 482-5179. Heidi
I recommend Linda Schneider of Albany highly. I have listened to a number of her piano lessons with pupils from age 5 on up. The children are serious about their work and practice and work hard for her. They are also unfailing polite in meeting me as an adult! I think alot of this is the way she works with them. She is a Montessori teacher. I think she has a couple openings as a pupil just moved away. I would move my son over to her, but I think he is still too much of a ''dabbler'' in piano. When he wants to get serious, Linda will be excellent for him. Her email is lndSchneid (at) aol.com or phone 510-527-6202. kathryn

4-year-old seems interested in piano

Feb 2000

Looking for a piano teacher that would come to my house. My son will be 4 in July. Did not know how young I could start, he seems interested. Dara


Nori
As a former music educator (Kindermusik), musician, and parent of a
musically-gifted child, I would like to share some ideas about developing your
son's interest in music.

1. Unless your child is a prodigy, it is really wise to wait on a specific instrument until the child is older, like 7 (but before 9), when he has the muscle coordination to realize what he wants to create.

2. Help him develop his natural senses of rhythm and pitch (per Orff and Kodaly)and general musicality through basic music training such as those offered by Kindermusik (call 1-800-615-5415- in NC- for classes and schedules near you). This venue is not only a place to explore music with age-appropriate instruments and songs but it offers a social experience and a path for parents to continue this music education at home through play (tapes and songbooks accompany each semester).

3. If your son continues to show promise, either Marcelle Dronkers (Kensington) or Robin Goodfellow (Oakland) would be "next step" teachers. In a one-on-one lesson each week, the child progressively learns, through play-based activities, theory, notation, keyboard, rhythm patterns, chord progressions, and so on.

My son has taken from Marcelle for a year and, at age 5-1/2, has better developed his voice, memory, creativity, and musical self, not to mention ability to sit down longer and concentrate (!). You can contact me if you want to talk.


Music Lessons for 3 1/2 year old?

Feb 2002

My daughter is 3 and 1/2 years old and I am considering starting her with some kind of music lessons, but since I did not grow up in this country I have very little idea of the right age to start children in music, or which instrument is preferred by children (we cannot buy a piano). Someone suggested violin lessons, Suzuki method to me. Any thoughts, experiences or suggestions would be welcome. Thank you. Richa


I'm not sure there is a ''right'' age to start children in music lessons because each child is different. I do believe 3 1/2 is a bit early for music lessons that will be tightly structured, but not too young for experimentation with various intruments. Structured music lessons at such a young age can sometimes make a child lose interest in playing his/her instrument. I have known many 7-8 year olds who have been forced into lessons, are good at their instruments, but don't really enjoy playing. As a result, they give it up when they are old enough to have a say. Musical Mom
There are wonderful music programs around for this age that are not too structured and fun (Jingle Jamboree comes to mind). I started piano at age four and it was AWFUL! Children this age do not progress very quickly, so there was no reward for my work. It was years before there was any change in my playing ability, and by that time I had had it. I hated it. My husband started taking piano lessons at the age of 12 and by high school was a solo pianist with a major music conservatory (he went on to study music in college, and earned his degree in music). Starting early is not always better. Teachers usually say that the best age to start music is during the second semester of second grade. I think this relates somehow to reading ability and the brain's development. Rather than isolate your child with an instrument and a teacher, why not enroll in a group music program? Both of my children (ages two and five) are in them and love them. They wait all week for these classes! The older child is learning to read music, and the younger one is simply having a ball.
Here is my experience : I have 3 kids who started music lessons at a different age. The older one started at 7 1/2, the middle one at 6 and the youngest at 4. They all study the piano in a small group setting, the school is called ''do re mi''. We do not have a piano, just a keyboard, which was purchased for just a $100. Now the results : the older one took off very fast, jumped a class and is learning very easily, the middle one is doing good, and the little one is moving along with her class mates, who are all the same age, but it will take her twice as long to reach her older brother level. But I must admit that it is cute to see her play, and the teacher uses a method that makes it very easy for young children to understand the notes, their place and value. So my recommandation? I do not have any! a mother of 3
I started my daughter in Suzuki piano at 3 years and she is really enjoying it (she's 3.5 now). I was suprised at how quickly all the children learn to recognize whole notes, quarter notes, half notes and so on and how quickly they learn to find As,Bs,Cs and so on on the piano. Her teacher is wonderful and really understands children. She rewards them amply with stickers and small toys and her enthusiasm. Here is her web page on preschool piano study.

http://www.pianoweb.net/pianostudy/preschool.htm

As for not being able to afford a piano, you'd be surprised how often pianos are offered free on the UCB parents Marketplace. There was one offered February 20th. We opted for a digital piano. Which is also much less expensive than buying a real piano. These have improved dramatically, and have weighted keys and ``touch sensitivity'' (louder when you play hard, quieter when you play softly) like a real piano. They have other appealing features: always in tune (this is important for ear training), you can adjust the volume, change the voice (violin, choir), record yourself and play it back (kids love this) and listen to prerecorded pieces. Best thing in my opinion (since I like to play it, too) is that you can put on head phones and have your turn when the kids are in bed. We bought a Yamaha Clavinova CLP930. The four Yamaha dealers in the area are:

Pianos Plus
1558 A St
Castro Valley, CA 94546
510-581-1660

Music Exchange, Inc.
7704 Dublin Blvd
Dublin, CA 94568
510-828-3442

Piedmont Piano Company, Inc.
4382 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611
510-547-8188

Yamaha Peninsula Music Center
861 S. Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95128
408-241-9700

I was quoted $2700 for this piano originally, but got the price down to $1850 by calling from place to place and saying what I'd been quoted.

One note: Suzuki demands a lot of the piano or violin parent, since you have to learn everything they need to learn during lessons and teach them during practice at home. You sit with them for the whole time they practice, and reward and encourage and correct and assist them. I have found it to be a wonderful time for my daughter and me, but it is a big commitment, too, to practice almost every day. susan


The right age to start music lessons is when the child is showing a more than passing interest in it. Everyone is right. If you start too young, they don't enjoy it. My son is 17 now, but he picked up his dad's old guitar two years ago and taught himself to play. He's been playing fro two years now, no classes, yet he's better than his friends who have beenin guitar classes for four or more years. he has an ear for it. Same with the bagpipes. It took him less than six months to progress from chanter to full pipes which usuaally takes most people around three years or more. So what I'm trying to say is, it all depends on the child. See if they continue to play with the samne instruments and seem to enjoy it before trying to get structured lessons. I'm still trying to convince my son that he could go so much farther if he had an instructor, but he won't go for it since he's doing so well on his own (with the guitar - he does have a bagpipe teacher). Marianne
For ear training (probably the most important ability of a musician), the younger they start, the better. You can put your child in music sing-a-long groups for very young children -- I think there are groups for children as young as 18 months. Usually in those groups, the kids sing while playing with toys and puppets. You don't want to start anything more structured until they are about 4, and definitely not any formal, individual lesson until they are at least 6 or 7. My children started going to the Yahama general musicianship classes when they were 4. Those were group lessons, and parents had to stay with the students in the class and practise with them at home. I know my children are not musicians, but what they learned in those classes will stay with them for the rest of their lives: they will always want to play and appreciate music. A mom with a degree in music
There's a big difference between types of music lessons - learning an instrument vs general music education. The best rule of thumb I've had on instrument lessons is to wait for the child to persist in asking to learn a particular instrument for at least six months before you agree. Learning an instrument takes a certain level of commitment - but the age they want to learn can vary enormously. On the other hand, general music education for young children (which includes rhythm, pitch discrimination, singing) is really age-dependent. Children need to learn these things the younger the better - unlike with instruments, if they don't have much exposure before the age of eight, they'll have much more trouble. And they'll have more difficulty with learning an instrument. Many preschools have such programs, which may be all you need, some kids get it from family, or you can go to a group. Some groups, such as Yamaha, include an instrument with the general music education. The main thing is that learning in a group is often more satisfactory for younger children, because learning by themselves is too boring and lonely. My son did two years of early childhood music, then a Yamaha-style piano/general music for another two years, but his group changed and he felt he didn't like it as much. Now, after a gap, at 9 he's playing trumpet in the school program and is streaking ahead, with great enjoyment because this is the instrument he's chosen. He also sings well in tune and has an excellent sense of rhythm. I think this was all well worth while. fiona
I gave taught classical piano for almost 30 years, and now run a music program for newborns through 7 year olds. I think it's important to distinguish between music 'lessons' and musical exposure. In my piano teaching experience, age 6 was just right (on AVERAGE) for many children. I like to wait until their reading of English has begun to get a foothold. For me, teaching music reading right from the beginning of lessons avoids later struggles when children who have some competence on an instrument are asked to go back to baby pieces, and learn to read all those little dots. The pitfall with this approach is that the very young years are wonderful for tonal and rhythmic development (learning to keep a beat and sing in tune). Over the years I have experienced a huge range in children's abilities in this area when they begin formal piano lessons. Some kids are left in a position similar to being asked to read, write and understand the word 'dog' without ever having seen a real dog. The answer? EARLY EXPOSURE in a DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE setting. This means being given the opportunity to experiment and play with music. Very young children do not need to be taught ABOUT music. They must speak the language first. This is achieved by experience in a playful, rich musical environment. Children who come to formal lesson with 'basic music competence' are in a position to experience much more gratification from their efforts, as well as an easier learning curve. IS IT EVER TOO EARLY? Certainly, it's NEVER too early to fall in love with music, and to learn to enjoy sharing music with family and friends. The wonderful thing is that this happens in the same way that we prepare very young children for musical achievement. If children experience music in a developmentally appropriate setting, it's never too early to begin this part of the process, also. As they hear the music and feel the beat from their moms and participate according to their developmental stage, their little brains are firing away, setting down the pathways that will allow further musical achievement. Music Together. did the pioneering research in the field of early music development. You can visit the national web site at www.musictogether.com. They have a lot of info about this subject, and an extensive bibliography. You are also welcome to contact me for further info. Happy reading! Julie

Piano Lessons for 4 year old?

March 2001

My 3 year old son seems very musically inclined, has even taught himself some songs on the piano. I'm wondering if anyone has experience or advice about starting piano lessons so young. He'll be 4 soon, and I've heard that the Suzuki method can begin then. My concerns are: I don't want to start structuring his musical time too soon, or making something he enjoys into something he "has to" do. Then again, lessons might help to encourage any musical interest he has. Any thoughts?? S. M.


Four is very young to start lessons. If you find a teacher who is playful and very gifted with working with young children, then lessons might make sense. My observation of children who take Suzuki lessons when they are young is that they play wonderfully as children; then, for some reason, they give up playing music before they are grown. Another thing to consider for now is taking classes in music activities or even dance, to help develop a feel for rhythm. Beginning formal lessons at age five or six gives your child a chance to mature before s/he tackles the discipline of learning an instrument. Good luck! Louise
My six year old daughter has a wonderful piano teacher whom I certain would be more than willing to talk with you regarding the appropriate age to begin lessons. Her teacher's name is Judith Meites; her phone number in Berkeley is 843-4541. Not only is Judith an inspired teacher of young children (and older children and advanced adults!), she is gifted in her understanding of the whole child. I have learned a great deal from Judith about my daughter! Judith knows her students deeply; they in turn love her. Judith would give you a very honest and insightful assessment of your son's readiness for piano lessons. Linda
When children are ready to start music lessons is a very individual thing. What you need to remember is it's not just the instrument they're learning - it's a whole culture of musical styles, rhythm, pitch recognition, understanding of harmony and so forth. Two pieces of advice I had that were useful were 1. to wait to learn ANY particular instrument until the child had been consistently asking to do it for at least six months (they need to have a sense of persistence to keep it up, also if they drop it it's more discouraging than if they'd never begun) 2. piano can be a lonely instrument - played alone, with a private teacher, and many very small children are not ready for that. I had the recommendation to send my kids to group "early music" lessons, at age three, that included all sorts of music skills, such as rhythm, pitch, listening, playing percussion against one another and so forth that have stood them in very good stead in the lo! ng! run. When my daughter was seven she wanted to do piano, but I wasn't sure about the loneliness thing, so I enrolled her in a Yamaha style group piano lesson, that continued to include a lot of extra learning about harmony, theory, rhythm. The advantage of a group was that it was much more fun, the children wanted to practice because they didn't want to be embarassed in front of their friends, and they learned so much more than just the one instrument. Groups don't suit all kids, but you should consider it seriously for such a young child. I have a niece who has been doing Suzuki since she was about three, and she's doing well at it, with a LOT of family support, but I still don't think she has as good a general grounding as my kids in the Yamaha system. Fiona
Crowden School has "Music together" for kids under 4, and "pre-instrument training" for age 3-6 and the approach is Orff / Kodaly approach. Crowden also gives referrals for teachers. Their number is 559-6910. I was a piano teacher for 15 years, and also have a musically talented 4 year old. I do believe the piano is not made for young fingers. Have fun with songs, movements, improvisation, rhythm, group music making, and learn to read music before their muscles are stronger. Suzuki method is to teach young kids to learn instruments by ears. You must find the well-trained Suzuki teachers, otherwise a lot of Suzuki students will have difficulties to excel in sight-reading when they are older, because they are trained to play music by ears. There are so many people around us had piano lessons in their life, they love music but they can't sight read well and play the instrument they love. There is no excuses for this for anyone had a few years of good lessons. The problem is too many piano teachers are not qualified. Take your child to concerts and student recitals, and get a good referral.
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