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#950926 - 07/27/07 12:42 PM Age to begin piano studies?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Teachers, As an understudy, private piano teacher, retired now, to my teacher with her Master's Degree in Music Education. I perform on the piano daily, in my assisted living home.... and... the residents ask me questions. This one I would so appreciate your answers. How old should a child be to begin piano lessons? I was taught by my teacher to say," Depends on the child..." Some are ready to study at 5 years old while others at 8 concept. My best performing student was 5 years old and just turned 5. Little Mac was Asian and I only had to tell him once. Input please? Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#950927 - 07/27/07 01:04 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
4 is fine, I know some kids who started private lessons at that age. I started when I was 3 myself.
_________________________
Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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#950928 - 07/27/07 01:36 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Frank III Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 310
Loc: Spring Lake, MI
It depends on the style of lessons being taught. Very young children can do Suzuki style lessons (4 years old?). If the lessons are the more traditional style out of books, the child should be able to read. Also, it depends on the child's ability to sit still and focus. Second grade (7 years old) is a good time to start for many kids. First grade (6 years old) is a good time to start for a child that really wants to take lessons and can focus. All parents are still left with the sometimes unpleasant task of getting the kids to practice when they don't always feel like it - so sometimes waiting a year is advisable. IMHO
**Disclaimer - I'm not a teacher but a parent"**
_________________________
Frank III

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#950929 - 07/27/07 01:40 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
it depends on the student as you said though in the end, whether the student will practise or not, whether the student wants lessons or not
_________________________
Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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#950930 - 07/27/07 02:25 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7394
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Sandra, in general, girls are ready to begin piano studies slightly earlier than boys. There are several reasons for this. One is that boys generally develop gross muscle motor skills and coordination first, fine muscle coordination later; girls tend to develope fine muscle motor skills quite early in life. Secondly is their mental preparation. Girls tend to be able to handle the focus required of piano study a year or two earlier than boys. Boys, in their teen years, catch up and often zoom past girls. There are dozens and dozens of books on this subject which you can study for indepth material.

While students out on the tail (3rd or 4th standard deviation) of the intelligence curve are able to start at age 3 or 4, the majority of students, boys and girls, are really not ready for piano until grades 2 to 4. This years prior to this would best be spent by parents having music in their home and making it a focus, so that when the student is ready, they also have desire.

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#950931 - 07/27/07 03:20 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Teachers...Thank you so much and I will give this to Dr. Connor who asked me this question yesterday. Dr. Connor wants to know when his grandchild should begin lessons? Dr. Connor is a very respected retired Doctor in our community of Manassas. I wanted the best possible answer for him. Thank you for you for your best possible answers. Sandy B...More input? Thank you again.
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#950932 - 07/27/07 03:33 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
I agree w/Frank. It depends on the style of lessons and method used. I do group piano using a method designed specifically for young children, ages 4 and 5 (w/boys needing to usually wait until they are fully 5 years old, for the reasons stated above). In the lessons that I teach the kids do many musical activities that will tie in with piano such as movement, singing, ear training, note reading, and piano activities, but the philosophy is experience FIRST, explanation later. Every few minutes we're doing a different activity. They may have 1 or 2 songs to practice at home.

With private lessons I would suggest waiting a little older, since the attention span of a child is not long enough to sit still at the piano for a 30 minute lesson. The Fabers have come out with a new method for 5-6 year olds called "My First Piano Adventure" that's worth checking out. They also recognize that young children need to do other activities that will reinforce what they learn at the piano. I attended a workshop by Randall Faber in June where he demonstrated different aspects of the program and it was quite impressive.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#950933 - 07/27/07 04:43 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
there are even books suitable for 3 year olds too, one example would be the Celebrate Piano Series by RCM
_________________________
Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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#950934 - 07/27/07 07:11 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I'm sorry I seem so "show me" about this subject, but I really have trouble understanding how you put a very small child up on the bench and teach applied piano to him or her and get musical results.

The physical size does not fit the instrument, it's like sitting in an old Edsel car from years ago to the child. Their hands and fingers are "minute" and not ready for the piano keys experience (on a toy piano or digital perhaps). If they are looking at music on the rack, even written in landscape form, instead of portrait form, they have to lift their chins up into the air to see the music (not good!) Their little legs dangle. However do you work with a child this young?

I remain convinced that this is an intellectual pursuit requiring a mind and body of some preparedness to be able to deal with the complexities of making music. Here I mean, a song having only melody, and limited to quarter notes through whole notes for counting, would be difficult for a 3-5 year old, in my opinion.

So, somebody please tell me what can be and has been accomplished at this age by an average pre-school child. I am quite the disbeliever here.

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#950935 - 07/27/07 10:10 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
Just food for thought: I've found that in general students around age 9 almost "magically" start catching onto concepts in private lessons at a much quicker rate than say for example ages 7. I've had several students start at ages 7 and although don't do poorly, progress is steady but slow and suddenly those same students at age 9 things just start clicking. Other students who don't start until 9 still catch on quickly and advance at a faster rate than those who start younger.

I talked to a long time piano teacher about this once whose taught for 30 years who said, she got to where she wouldn't take students under the age of 10. I mentioned how students don't start an instrument in school until around 4th grade and her reply implying what age students do better starting an instrument was, "the school's know what they are doing."

On the other hand, the younger bunch (preschool to age 7) is a joy to teach from the standpoint of their eagerness. Everything is exciting to them. My favorite thing about the younger age is they love every piece of music they are given. They generally haven't developed a "taste" for music and are willing to learn any music, whereas the older the student the more they will have developed a taste for what they like and dislike, being less likely to be as enthused about every piece of music.

Another thing to consider is the younger students tend to have more time on their hands to come to lessons and practice whereas the older a student gets, the more likely to get involved in other activities and have less time for lessons and practice - many even dropping lessons as other activities increase.

Another teacher I know whose taught 40 years says she feels the preschool age does better learning piano in a group setting.

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#950936 - 07/27/07 11:26 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10386
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
My son in only one data point. I wanted to start him at six. He was reading fluently, so that was one issue defused. I brought him to the teacher that had been recommended to me. She gave him a short 'lesson' to evaluate him and decided he wasn't ready. She thought he couldn't sit still and focus enough. He was one of those bouncy boys. I was a little disappointed, but i didn't search around for another teacher who would do my bidding.

I brought him back at age eight, which in some ways is a little late. It doesn't seem to have harmed him much to wait.
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Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#950937 - 07/28/07 10:50 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Teachers, Thank you again for your input. How old should children be before they begin piano lessons? My thinking is updated now and your each and every reply is so appreciated. If you want to add more I will print and give to Dr. Connor. He has all the information you gave me to date. My copy is in my Piano World folder. What a treasure you are... Thank you again, Sincerly, Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#950938 - 07/28/07 11:06 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
A2mom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
My kids started Suzuki piano at age 3.5, much younger than I started traditional piano. After four years, both my kids enjoy piano and despite periodic offers on my part to "let them" stop piano lessons, to my delight, they protest and wish to continue. This is not a "parent forced" experience and we are not particularly innately gifted musically. Piano lessons for a very young child necessarily differ in approach, pace and focus than for an older 7 year old. Much depends in my opinion on the teacher and parent in the suitability of their approach/style to the young piano student. Suzuki piano may be the most different of any classical approaches as so much of it is "parent as piano teacher" (I call it parent participation piano). I think the Suzuki method is a good approach for a 3-4 year old, IF the parent can undertake the lead as teacher in the home. The emphasis is on proper ear training at that age (hearing good playing of the simple songs and then reproducing the song with good tone) and not on reading any music. Note reading and sightreading are introduced at an age when these are appropriate for intellectual development and the child is ready (4 years after they began, my kids could sightread any easy arrangement of Disney tunes they want and learn the standard classical repertoire from the scores). Suzuki has an emphasis on proper technique and posture - so there are stackable footrests and adjustable height chairs to enable each child to assume correct posture, be at the right arm height and eliminate any foot dangle. The heights of footrests and chair adjust as the child grows. The songs are selected for the purpose of developing the musculature and technique as well as the ear of the child as suited to the young prekindergarten child. Indeed, the Suzuki piano method is most effective in my opinion if you start the child at age 3-4 because it is structured to capitalize on the young child's language acquisition abilities as a model and basis for capturing the brain-ear-hand musical language abilities of the child. I have literally seen and heard dozens of kids who have gone through Suzuki training starting at pre-school age and are now young teens playing Chopin Nocturnes beautifully with an ear for musical nuance and expression. I have heard and watched these kids (not musical prodigies, just your average kids that parents want to take piano) playing at age 7 and 8 after four to five years of Suzuki piano and I know that not only can piano be taught at age 3.5, but the kids can learn to play more musically than I think I was taught along a traditional timeline method. I do not know about other "early childhood" piano training techniques, but I do think Suzuki piano teaching works for starting kids at ages 3-4.
_________________________
A2mom
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#950939 - 07/28/07 03:52 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
the celebrate piano series is really different from any other piano book. It does not start of with the child at the piano right away. It actually has lessons that incoprates singing, clapping, marching etc. I've had a student that I used this book for and she found it really fun.
_________________________
Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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#950940 - 07/28/07 04:13 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Suzukimom,

I appreciate your in depth response about you and your children's Suzuki experiences. Obviously it has been a pleasure for you your children and you highly recommend it.

Did you enjoy being a large part of their progress through your participation? I imagine your piano background was also helpful to you.

The stackable footrest and adjusted heights were part of my concern. I will have to learn more about Suzuki Piano. I know Suzuki is taught for violin with excellent results.

I saved your posting for future reference. Thank you again.

Betty

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#950941 - 07/28/07 05:32 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
The biggest benefit of having a child start piano at age 4 or 5 is the ear training that comes so easily to children that age. This is the age when foreign languages are also most easily taught (waiting until Junior High to take Spanish is TOO LATE!).

The concept of 'ear before eye' is the basic component of methods such as Suzuki, Yamaha, Harmony Road, and Music For Young Children. The older a child gets the more difficult ear training becomes. The goal for me as a teacher 'experience before explanation'. Before I ever introduce a quarter note or whole note we first 'feel' the beat by doing large muscle movement, tapping, clapping activities. Before I introduce note names on the staff I have students hear what those notes sound like from the piano. We sing many many patterns, using just the first three notes (do, re, and mi) in various combinations. Then we find them on the piano. With 3 1/2-young 4's we use 'pointer' finger only to 'bounce' on the notes, while doing other activities to begin to develop hand shape. Eventually we'll use traditional fingering and the kids learn melody-only songs.

Note reading initially takes place away from the piano; we use magnetic note boards and introduce do, re, mi on the staff, spending a few weeks on just those three notes. The key at age 4 and 5 is that the reading of notes is NOT done at the same time as when the child is playing their song. There's no way a child this age can keep their eyes glued to the page and remember that their thumb is on 'do', pointer on 're', etc... This is an abstract thinking process which children are not usually capable of until age 7 or so (which is, coincidentally the age most teachers would say a child is ready for traditional piano lessons). Now, just because a young child is not looking at the music but rather at his fingers when playing a song doesn't mean he can't read music. But again, the reading is done via other activities.

After a few weeks focusing on 'do, re, mi', students have internalized those pitches. I can play a 3-note-pattern in any combination and they can tell me what I played and then put it on the staff. We add 'fa' and 'sol' a little later on. Since parent participation is required in class, the parents are learning too. At first they can keep up with their little ones in class and they correctly guess the patterns I've played. But after a few months the kids are way ahead in the ear training game.

During the first year the kids will learn several RH melodies, adding LH chords at about the 5th month (open 5th 'shell' chord first, then inside 3rd chord, then solid I chord). We use I and V7 chords primarily that first year. About the 7th month the kids will transpose most if not all the songs they've learned to the Key of G, then the Key of F, and then we begin D minor. Again, the kids are 'experiencing' where the notes are on the piano BEFORE learning the notes on the staff.

Having taught piano for almost 30 years now, I prefer starting children when they are young, just barely out of the toddler stage. I find that with an appropriate method they internalize rhythm and pitch and IMO, play more musically than other children who learn in a more traditional way at a later age.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#950942 - 07/28/07 06:02 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Dumdumdiddle,

That's a great website on your profile. I visited and was very impressed with this particular "Harmony Road" method.

I am learning about the alternative to get very young children started in music lessons before we get to the reading of the music staff and hands together in music literature. It is good that they be participating and learning about music making. So many happy faces on your website.

Congratulations! I'm learning something new thanks to your posting.

Betty

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#950943 - 07/28/07 08:37 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I'm sorry I seem so "show me" about this subject, but I really have trouble understanding how you put a very small child up on the bench and teach applied piano to him or her and get musical results.

The physical size does not fit the instrument, it's like sitting in an old Edsel car from years ago to the child. Their hands and fingers are "minute" and not ready for the piano keys experience (on a toy piano or digital perhaps). If they are looking at music on the rack, even written in landscape form, instead of portrait form, they have to lift their chins up into the air to see the music (not good!) Their little legs dangle. However do you work with a child this young?

I remain convinced that this is an intellectual pursuit requiring a mind and body of some preparedness to be able to deal with the complexities of making music. Here I mean, a song having only melody, and limited to quarter notes through whole notes for counting, would be difficult for a 3-5 year old, in my opinion.

So, somebody please tell me what can be and has been accomplished at this age by an average pre-school child. I am quite the disbeliever here. [/b]
Hi Betty,

Have not read the complete thread. I stopped at yours and had to comment.

The way to compensate for the large instrument is to have an adjustable bench, to sit at the correct height, and adjustable footrest so the feet don't dangle.

Also, as Frank pointed out, when teaching a method such as Suzuki piano, there is no reading of music, the child learns by demonstration and ear with the teacher at one piano and the student at the other.

This works quite well for the very young student. It is also a fun and natural way for a child to learn to play.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#950944 - 07/28/07 08:46 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Just read the entire thread.

It is nice to hear from a Suzuki parent!

I teach Suzuki piano and your post describes the method very well.

Thank you and Welcome, Suzukimom!

I enjoyed reading your post too ddd!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#950945 - 07/28/07 09:12 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Aha! I'm learning about the additional apparatus for kids sitting comfortably at the piano, and that music is presented with the the music staff until later, while there are lots of musical preparations and activities going on to suit the age. And, that there is something being taught and being built upon.

I bet parents and child would like doing these things together. And, that relationship and support would "naturally" last into the years when the lessons get into bigger piano literature.

Thank you Pianobuff, Dumdumdiddle, and Suzukimom for the enlightenment from your personal experience.

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#950946 - 07/29/07 02:50 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
A2mom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
Betty, Yes I enjoy participating in my children's musical adventure and I do think knowing some piano myself helps. However, my husband, who does not know any piano, is actually responsible for my kids day to day practices since my work schedule limits my participation. He queries me to check on them when he is not sure how he and they are doing so I'm sort of a "consulting coach". I believe he is a bigger contribution to their progress than I am since he handles the day to day commentary and practices. My husband cannot in fact play the pieces for which he serves as the "coach", but through attendance at the lessons, he understands what the kids should be doing, how they should be playing and most importantly, what the tone should be and how the piece should sound. The interesting thing is that the most rapidly advancing Suzuki piano student that I know (not my kids) comes from a family where neither parent played the piano; the Mom was simply very committed themselves to learning as much as they could along with their child. If one doesn't know any piano, Suzuki piano is a family learning experience.
_________________________
A2mom
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#950947 - 07/29/07 10:19 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Suzukimom,

I like the idea of a family learning experience very much. And, you are saying parents with no piano background are able to get in there and participate, too, that the advantage of previous lessons for a parent in not necessary to be effective. Good for your husband to facilitate the practices and be so available. Your kids are surrounded with support.

It's great that you don't feel helpless as a parent of a young musician. So many parents put their hands in their pockets, so to speak, not wanting more responsibility in their child's music lessons than making the arrangements, writing the check, and driving to lessons. I have never again made the mistake of planning a recital on SuperBowl Sunday, for instance.

Joy to you!

Betty

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#950948 - 07/29/07 01:14 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
A2mom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
Betty, I finally realized in your last post that you are a piano teacher. I understand the scepticism of many piano teachers about starting kids at age 3-4. I think that the results of the Suzuki piano methods can be demonstrated in the national and international piano "recital" of Suzuki students given every other year (Suzuki 10-piano Concert). Over 200 kids ages 5-20 gather for the 10-piano concert where 10 kids play 10 grand pianos simultaneously for songs ranging from Twinkle variations (Twinkle twinkle little star), Cuckoo, Lightly Row, Ecossaise, Happy Farmer, Bach's Minuets 1, 2 and 3, Arietta, Clementi's Sonatinas, Bach's Partita No. 1 in Bb, Fur Elise, Mozart's Sonata K545 in C Major,Chopin's Eb Major Nocturne Op. 9, #2 to Falla's Ritual Fire Dance. I don't think the number of 7 year old kids playing Bach Minuets is actually the proof of the value of starting kids at age 3-4. The proof that Suzuki was on to something about music education is in listening to the beautiful tone and musicality of the little kids even when playing the most simple ditties (Twinkles, Cuckoo, Lully's Clair de Lune). It is enjoyable to hear even the young children play these simple pieces at this concert (the focus is on the music itself and well beyond "will Johnny be able to remember all the notes, not panic, and not embarrass himself at the recital"). Most importantly, the children enjoy playing in their giant recital (again, not the fear and dread factor of recitals so often encountered). Do you think you could get 10 students age 6-12 to play The Happy Farmer with good tone, good sound, in unison? As a parent, I didn't think this possibility existed - until I was invited to see this concert. 10-piano concert happens to be occurring this year on August 18, 2007 in Sacramento. However, you might just be interested in the CD or video from the last concert in 2005. You would be able to hear the results and know what is achievable with children like mine - and your students. You may note that there is Suzuki and there is Suzuki. If you look at the Suzuki books, they are just collections of songs/pieces. There is an approach to the teaching which cannot be discerned from the books. There are variations on the Suzuki approach. The 10 piano concert is the result of the main Suzuki tree trunk which follows the teaching tenets of Master Teacher Haruko Kataoka, who has passed away, but whose teaching methods are carried on by the Suzuki Piano Basics group of teachers. You might find something of interest on their website: http://core.ecu.edu/hist/wilburnk/SuzukiPianoBasics/#Announcements. I believe Dr. Hagberg has also written about the pedagogical aspects of Suzuki piano for an American audience. Suzuki's and Kataoka's writings have been translated also to English. Some of Kataoka's thoughts are on the Suzuki Piano Basics website.
_________________________
A2mom
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#950949 - 07/29/07 02:21 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Hurray!! A Suzuki Piano Basics MOM!!

Very important to know, IMO, there is Suzuki Piano and there is Suzuki Piano Basics. Piano Basics is the pedagogical philosophies taught by the late Dr. Haruko Kataoka.

There is much more emphasis on producing a good tone with natural technique, and generally speaking, mastering one small goal before going on to the next, when teaching Basics.

I am a Piano Basics teacher and studied with Dr. Kataoka and YES in Sacramento!

I wonder if we have met Suzukimom? It has been a few years since I have attended these workshops. The 10-piano rehearsals are such a great learning experience for teachers, family and students.

Are your children/child participating in the concert?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#950950 - 07/29/07 02:24 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
umm...Bach Partita No.1 is in c minor, i'm learning that one.
_________________________
Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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#950951 - 07/30/07 01:21 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
A2mom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
Yes, my kids are busy practicing everyday for the concert. After the concert in 2005, as all the exhausted teachers and parents were relieved that the mission was completed (and they didn't have to drive everyday to rehearsals), my kids were excitedly asking us in the car on the way home: "Please, when can we do this again!" They regret that the concert is only every other year. I compare this to my own recital experience which I recall as events of fear and loathing not only for me, but for the other students and I'm glad I stumbled into the Suzuki approach (my kids were rejected by a couple of traditional piano teachers because they were only age 3.5).
_________________________
A2mom
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#950952 - 07/30/07 02:10 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
What a wonderfully interesting topic.

One matter I always wonder about is the child's hand size at very young ages. But on that matter perhaps early training of fingering will benefit finger growth? I always envy pianists with long slender fingers.

Alan

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#950953 - 07/30/07 07:26 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 860
Loc: Scotland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Amelialw:
umm...Bach Partita No.1 is in c minor, i'm learning that one. [/b]
You know you're wrong, but I'll point it out anyway. Bach Partita No.1 is in Bb major. Bach Partita No.2 is in c minor.


John
_________________________
Vasa inania multum strepunt.

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#950954 - 07/30/07 12:17 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Teachers,. Thank your continued postings as to when should a child begin piano studies. I never taught the Suzuki
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#950955 - 07/30/07 12:29 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Sandy B again... picking up where I left off... Would you recommend the Suzuki lessons for the Dr.s , I found out he is 8 years old, grandson? His first music lessons of any type. I only taught tradional piano as an understudy to my piano teacher, she had her Master's in Music Ed,this was in the 1960's...Chuckles. I taught about 70 children in the 1990's but the tradional classical piano studies, Bastien... and the Suzuki is new to me. Thank so much for your input in advance. Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#950956 - 07/31/07 03:33 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
yes, in some ways, piano training might be unsuitable for a child of 3. But it does have a lot of advantages like training of hand coordination, rhythmn, and hearing. I know those were the benefits I had.
_________________________
Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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#950957 - 07/31/07 10:59 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
laurencefurr Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/16/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
I have enjoyed this topic very much. I have been so tempted to switch to the Suzuki method because I teach Kindermusik at Trinity Lutheran Church Children's Center. The children who are with me from age 3 to 5 leave with a good sense of rhythm and they LOVE music. These children are more than ready to have private lessons IF the teacher knows how to approach this age child. Although, as I mentioned, I haven't taught Suzuki, I've studied with a Suzuki Piano Basics teacher near Dallas to begin to learn this method. (Pianobuff, do you know Cathy Hargrave?) I would think that for this age child, Suzuki is probably the best method. However, I agree with others who have written in this thread, that there are ways other than Suzuki to begin a child at piano as young as 4 of 5.

I will paste in some thoughts I wrote in other topic thread:

I would say, along with Suzuki himself, that all children have the ability to be musical unless they are mentally handicapped in some way -- and even some of those children can be musical! In other words, all children can be musical in my opinion so I wouldn't say that one child is more musical than another.

I firmly believe in the philosophy of Richard Chronister and Frances Clark (and others) that if a child is playing in a stilted or dull way, it is probably more the teacher's fault than the child's. I am not talking about intermediate level or advanced -- that is different. But if the teacher knows how to teach and is constantly learning and judging their own ability as a teacher, the child should be playing musically even if it is a very easy piece.

As teachers, we should not ask, "Why did Susie or Johnny not learn the rhythm I assigned them this week. We went over it so many MANY times." Rather, teachers should be asking themselves, "Where have I failed in the way I teach that is keeping this child from progressing? Where can I improve and what new ways or different ways can I employ to help this child learn? Am I secure enough to question my old ways and try to find out how THIS particular child learns? There has to be a way to help this child bring out the music that is soaring inside!"

If this were the questions we teachers asked more frequently, there would be far fewer children who quit studying music.

Children have so much music inside them. It is a pity that so many teachers do an excellent job of sucking the joy and music right out of them!

Laurence Furr
_________________________
www.laurencefurrpianostudio.com

"When we have new perception, we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded treasures as old rubbish." Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#950958 - 08/02/07 12:41 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
I prefer to start kids on piano lessons at around 8 years old (3rd grade)--but then, I use a traditional "middle C" approach and emphasize note reading skills from the beginning. I've found that starting piano lessons at the beginning of third grade gives a child two years to learn the basics of rhythm and notes, along with developing some coordination and ear training. Then in fifth grade he or she is usually ready & eager to learn a band or orchestra instrument, and by seventh grade has acquired enough skill to be able to play for church, jazz band, or entertain family & friends. Some of my students who started piano in third grade join the chorus in middle school & high school, and find that their earlier piano training enables them to learn vocal and pop music quicker than their classmates who don't play the piano.

I admit I'm a bit skeptical about Suzuki piano, although I've met quite a few enthusiastic Suzuki string students. I understand that violins & cellos are downsized to better fit little hands, but piano keys can't be similarly adjusted. Also,Suzuki strings usually perform in larger ensembles. Pianists are more often soloists, which doesn't seem to provide as much cameraderie & peer support (very important to middle-and high-school students).
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#950959 - 08/02/07 06:59 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
A2mom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
There are plenty of little songs which can be played by young children ages 3.5 - 5. Pieces requiring larger hands are easily avoided at a young age. Even for 10 year olds (adults with small hands?), fingering and chords may need to be altered to enable 10 year old hands to handle pieces so why not 5 year old kids?

I think that group support from peers would be very important not only for middle school and high school students, but for elementary school students as well. While I have not seen it written explicitly, I believe at least Suzuki Piano Basics teachers recognize this social aspect as an important motivator for kids of all ages. Suzuki Piano is the closest thing I know to "group piano or social piano". First, our kids have been paired with another child (our piano "buddy") whose lessons we listen to and who attends our lessons to listen. Second, the 10-piano concert in essence converts a solo instrument to a group participation event (as close to a piano "orchestra" as we can get for any level of pianist, even for 5 year old kids). Third, because this is "parent participation" piano, it is more of a family experience which lessens the sense of isolation for the beginner. Fourth, recitals and group gatherings to play amongst the children occur several times a year which encourages development of camaraderie amongst the teacher's students. Since all the older students have played the earlier pieces, there is a sense of shared experience to further bind the group. Recognizing that the piano is a solo instrument, by my own observations, Suzuki Piano (at least as practiced by a subset of Suzuki Piano Basics teachers), comes closest to enlarging the solitary piano experience into a shared, group, or social experience. The kids have piano friends (?piano club) and their friends serve as examples, role models, competitors and encouragement to their own endeavors. I'm sure that there are several other good approaches to teaching a young child piano, but these aspects of Suzuki piano may contribute to its success with young kids.
_________________________
A2mom
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#950960 - 08/02/07 11:59 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7394
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Laurence, I like your philosophy very much. Are you in Chicago for the conference this week?

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#950961 - 08/02/07 04:18 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Suzukimom,

All of your postings about Suzuki method have been very interesting and helpful. It has been a very good topic to participate in and read.

I can see much better how it functions for the child and the family and provides socialization with peers too.

My original posting here was rather disbelieving of the ability to teach a very young child at the piano, but I can now begin to understand the process and the slower development time granted to basic development. The pace and content of what is being learned would need to be carefully chosen, and I guess that is a large part of the success of the method.

This is the most attention I have ever given to learning about Suzuki, and I think you have done a great job representing your experiences. Thank you!

Betty

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#950962 - 08/02/07 11:04 PM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7394
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Hi all - I had a chance to sit through Randal Faber's presentation this afternoon on his lesson books for 5 & 6 year olds. I'm sufficiently pumped that I think I will try it with a few new students this fall. I understand he and Nancy are working on something for teaching 4 year olds as well. Anyway, it's called "My First Piano Adventure" and is copyrighted in 2006, so it's fairly new. It comes with CDs so that parents can work assignments at home, even if they have no music or piano skills.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#950963 - 08/03/07 02:03 AM Re: Age to begin piano studies?
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
I attended Randall's presentation at the state convention just last month. It was very informative, the books looked great, and the songs and activities looked like a lot of fun.

You can watch Nancy Faber's teaching techniques for the Primer Level Piano Adventures at this link:

http://www.pianoteaching.com/guide/index.html

It's not My First Piano Adventures (like in Randall's presentation), but there are so many teaching ideas just from watching these short videos.

And yes, there's a Preschool Piano Adventures in the works from the Fabers.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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