Happy Pre-Schoolers and Piano Lessons
I get a lot of questions from parents regarding private piano lessons for pre-schoolers. They always wonder if it’s too early to get started with the lessons, and ask if a pre-schooler can really learn anything valuable or actually play a song at that age.
When I was fresh out of college, I knew that I would like to teach pre-schoolers how to play piano, but also had the same questions. I asked my primary piano teacher from high school about it. He confirmed what I already thought to be true: most pre-schoolers can benefit from taking private piano lessons at this young age. He told me about a particular piano book just for pre-schoolers.
This book, along with Michiko Yurko’s brilliant series “Music Mind Games”, has enabled me to teach loads of pre-schoolers how to play piano! After having used this method for over a decade, I have found that the children who began their lessons as pre-schoolers are invariably more creative, expressive and are able to improvise easily on the piano.
I think the key to teaching the pre-schooler is to make sure that they have a LOT of fun both during the piano lesson and when they practice. Of course there has to be structure to the fun (i.e. the child actually has to sit on the bench in front of the piano, and also has to be willing to try to play each piece) but the underlying tone of the lessons and practice sessions should be one of enjoyment.
Can it be frustrating to teach a pre-schooler piano? Absolutely. Does it take parental involvement during the practice sessions? Yes. Over the years I have learned way more than I ever wanted to know about current Disney movies, activities of the family dog, best friends from school, etc. The attention span of a pre-schooler is very short and keeping them on track is a moment-by-moment process!
Now. About the pair of three:
One of the first things I show a pre-schooler on the piano is how there are groups of TWO black notes together and also groups of THREE black notes together. It’s important for these little ones to be able to distinguish the difference between these two groups so they are able to identify which notes are C, D, E, etc. (Hey, Diddle, diddle, D’s in the middle!)
A few weeks ago a four-year-old girl came to her second piano lesson and was able to remember which black notes were the “twins” (groups of two black notes) and which were the “triplets” (groups of three black notes). At one point, though, she almost said that the triplets were the twins. She caught herself at the last second, looked up at me and said “They (meaning the notes) almost tricked me! This is a pair of three!”
Herein lies some of the joy that I receive in return.
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