What age should children start learning to play the piano?

What age should children start learning to play the piano?

Many parents find themselves asking at one point or another what age should my child start learning the piano? Likewise, some find themselves asking the opposite question of ‘is it too late for myself or my child to learn the piano?’

In this article we aim to explore the question of age, how it affects piano playing and what you can do as a parent to help encourage your child to want to learn the piano.

When Do Most Children Start Learning Piano?

Whilst there is no definitive answer to this question and there are some incredible examples of piano players as young as 2 playing melodies, the most common age that many children begin learning the piano is around 6-9 years old.

It is generally considered that at this age, most children will have developed the cognitive functions and hand eye coordination to be able to begin developing the skills required for piano playing. Areas such as basic fine motor skills, the ability to focus for longer periods of time and the ability to follow instructions from a teacher are all factors to help you decide if your child is ready to begin taking piano lessons.

This being said however, there is absolutely nothing stopping those younger than this from learning and in most cases, particularly if a parent either also wants to learn or already plays the piano, then having a piano in the home is one of the most surefire ways of helping encourage the child to play as they will already be able to see the joys that it brings. We have seen children and babies' eyes light up when hitting a piano key creates a sound they have not heard before and that they caused it to happen. 

Famously, Mozart was already playing piano at just 3 years old! 

Because the piano utilises such a simple yet intricate mechanism of pressing the keys to make a sound, many children find this fascinating and intriguing almost from around the 6 month age. Whilst they will be highly unlikely to actually ‘play’ the piano or melody, what is incredibly beneficial to both the child’s cognitive development and their relationship with music is that it is clear that piano is something to be explored, enjoyed and an expressive tool where you can make as much noise as you like. 

One of the best ways to encourage your child to play piano is to simply have a piano in the house! Be it an acoustic or a digital instrument, we have heard many stories from clients saying that their child has really taken to the piano simply because they walk past it every day. 

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Signs Your Child Is Ready For Piano Lessons

If you are looking for your child to get ahead of the curve and start learning piano as soon as possible, or if they have actively expressed interest in learning the piano, there are a number of signs that your child may be ready to perhaps visit a piano teacher who specialises in child learning. Read our guide to finding the right teacher for your child here.

Basic motor skills - If your child has shown that they are able to hold a pencil, pour water from a jug into a glass or some other skill that allows them to understand the difference between doing something hard and something soft, or understanding control of their hands and actions, then they will likely be ready to press a piano key both softly and firmly and be able to understand the difference between the two.

Your child can count to 4 - Especially at younger ages, most music that children will encounter will be in a standard 4/4 time signature. Being able to count to 4 and understand these time signatures such as ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ will be incredibly beneficial to their understanding of music and tempo.

Your child can focus on a single task for around 30 minutes - This is the big one that many parents may struggle with. In order to have a successful piano lesson as opposed to a general music class, your child will need to be able to sit at an instrument for around 30 minutes without getting bored, distracted or disruptive. To test this using games or activities such as drawing and building blocks and seeing how long they are able to focus (with some adult assistance) are great examples of this. 

Your child can follow instructions - This is another crucial difference between ‘making noise’ and ‘learning piano’. It is not fair on either the child or the piano teacher to place a child in a room when they cannot follow instructions when asked, this leads to some potential risks in piano lessons such as trapping fingers in the fall board, falling off the piano stool, damaging the piano by hitting it too hard or at worse, them accidentally pulling the piano over.

If your child can follow simple instructions such as ‘be gentle’ or they are able to press specific buttons when instructed to do so, then this is a great sign they may be ready for piano lessons.

How To Encourage Your Child To Want To Play Piano

We have many parents guides to piano playing and some of which are covered here, however as a quick reference, here are some of the best ways to help make your child fall in love with piano playing from a young age: 

Expose them to piano playing - This can be as simple as nursery rhymes or pop songs, but by encouraging them to experience the sound of piano playing in their daily life, when they eventually hear the instrument in person for the first time, they will be able to make that connection of realising that the songs they know and love can be made on this instrument.

Place the piano or keyboard in a busy part of your home - If you either already play or would like to learn yourself, but placing a piano in busy area such as living rooms and hallways your child will likely walk past it every day and every so often, even just a simple press of they keys can be all it takes to encourage them to one day sit down and play.

Have An Adjustable Piano Stool - Adjustable piano stools are not only a great idea for family use anyway to allow everyone to play the piano suitably, but especially for children who are perhaps a little small to reach they keys without assistance, the adjustable stool makes it that little bit easier for them to be able to sit comfortably at the piano without needing to stretch.

Find the right teacher - We have a full guide on this and the best ways to find the perfect piano teacher for your child, but in short, if your child is not coming back from piano lessons excited or wanting to tell you all about what they learned, it may worth outreaching to other teachers within your local area.

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Options To Get Started With Piano Playing

One of the biggest concerns many parents have when considering purchasing their first piano for their child is what if they decide after a few months that piano is simply not for them. Pianos are a large investment and if your child decides they ultimately do not want to learn piano, then you are then stuck with an instrument that can be incredibly hard (and expensive) to get rid of.

At Millers, we not only understand this, but also have a number of solutions to help make piano playing more affordable.

Rental - We are able to rent both portable and full upright pianos from as little as £25 per month. After a fixed 3 months (or 12 for acoustic pianos), if your child decides that the instrument is not for them, you are able to return the piano no problems. If of course they decide they love it (we’re sure they will!) then you can then use a portion of the money accrued against the rental piano against a new one. 

Secondhand - The secondhand piano market is full of some fantastic, budget friendly options for high quality pianos. We have written a number of guides on the things to look out for when buying a secondhand piano and in particular, why you should almost never take a ‘free’ piano that is listed online. 

We hope you have enjoyed this quick introduction to piano playing and how you can put your child on the right path to becoming their own piano virtuoso. If you would like to learn more about the different types of pianos available and which ones are suited to your budget, requirements and home, contact our experts or visit our showroom to learn more.

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