"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature can not do without." ~Confucius

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thoughts About Piano Lessons....


Since I'm a piano teacher, I am often asked, "when..." or "why should my child start piano lessons?"

So, here are a few thoughts for the parents of little or big kiddos (or anyone, really) who are thinking about undertaking the joys and challenges of learning the piano.


1. Piano is probably the most important instrument for a child in western civilization to learn.

2. No other instrument trains children in so many areas of musical activity - (reading in more than one clef, counting rhythm while playing, using hands and feet to play, learning alphabetical note names and finger numbers, being able to sing while playing, etc, etc.), yet is so playable at a young age.

3.  Piano is worthy of study because it in itself is a masterful instrument. But, if, after enthusiasm has faded a bit for some, another instrument is desired, having learned piano first is an incredible foundation  and allows the child to progress quickly in another instrument.

4. Other instruments that are popular like guitar and drums have merit, but are best introduced after the child has actually learned how to read music and keep time in piano study.

5.  There will be difficult days ahead (but don't fear!!). The enthusiasm  (which usually appears around ages 5-8), will fade and you will find yourself coaxing an uninterested child into doing their practicing. But, I can't tell you how many people I've heard say to me, "I wish my parents had made me keep going with piano when I wanted to quit."  We will have to coax our children in many worthwhile endeavors, and this should be one of them.

6. It is worth the monetary investment. Don't shy away from private teacher costs. If it presents a true hardship, some teachers will help work something out.

7. Don't be deterred if your child responds with, "Piano lessons?? I don't want to take piano lessons!" This happened just a few months ago as a mom was signing up her young son for lessons. I looked at him and said. "WHAT? Don't you know that the piano is the greatest, and mightiest of ALL the instruments? It's the LION of the instruments!" To which his eyes got huge and sparkly and he gave me a shy smile. :-)  Be firm and enthusiastic (and pray for a like-minded teacher!).


So, there are some thoughts as you ponder whether it's worth it. I'll give you 2 seconds to figure out what my opinion is.  :-)

Part two of this post will be about signs of readiness for starting lessons.


What were your experiences with piano?
What do you think about the importance of children learning to play?












10 comments:

  1. Ah, the memories of Piano playing... The dreaded practicing while my mother yelled from the other room that I had the wrong chord... and then graciously came and help me find it... the boasting moments as a young child "why yes, I can read music, thank you very much", the facilitation into singing and flute playing. And now as an adult with little to no current contact with piano I am SO grateful that my mother forced me to learn and practice. Thanks to her and a wonderful piano teacher I am a better more well-rounded person in so many areas! Following the example of my mother, my children will be taking piano lessons... and I shall impress them with my still remembered, memorized version of "The Spinning Song" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ....which might be played at THEIR wedding too...?

      Delete
  2. Marji, I'm so glad you asked this question! I'm always dying to tell this story!! :) And I try and tell it as often as I can!! :) Our oldest's first piano teacher was an amazingly gifted pianist but also loves sports, as well. Our son loved his piano teacher and he looked up to him as a rock star of sorts--let's face it--we all did. :) After a first year of nearly pulling my hair out to get our oldest to practice (he hated it), I tearfully confided in his piano teacher about all of my woes and fits. He calmly assured me that he was the exact same way and as much as I wanted to believe him, I couldn't ever imagine this wonderfully gifted piano teacher could ever have been as stubborn (using the nice word) and self-willed as my oldest son. One day after piano lessons, I came to pick up my son as I always did and his piano teacher came out after him. He discussed a few piano techniques and then looked at my son and said something like this: [Name] sports are one of my favorite things to watch, think about and play. I love sports. Grew up with sports and it will always be a wonderful part of my life. You may not realize this now, but one day you will that while it's nice that your parents allow you to play sports, learning and playing piano skillfully is helping you in an even better way. Sports are fine, but learning to play an instrument to build up the church is far greater than ever playing sports. [Name] your parents are giving you the skills and resources to become a better Christian. [end paraphrase] I'm not sure if this skilled musician even remembers such a story, but I sure do. And it has not only challenged me/us to keep our son playing after 6 years from that incident (and now our daughter), but moreso, it has resonated in my heart a thousand different ways. Thanks be to God for your gifted husband! We will always remember both of you using your wonderful gifts to build up Grace Church and us individually, as well! Love you guys! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kim! He's a great guy, that Benjamin! :-)

      Delete
  3. I ditto everything that Melissa wrote above. I'm so grateful for the huge monetary sacrifice my parents made to give me piano lessons from 2nd grade through high school and then I took 2 more years of independent study with a professor in college. I play almost every day still and am thankful for the great ministry opportunities that have come about through my playing. It is a joy to hear my oldest son (5th grade) practice before school each morning. He may not think it's totally great when I call from the kitchen that he was playing the wrong chord! But a joy to hear him play the same pieces. My 2nd son (2nd grade) just started lessons a few weeks ago and it is so fun sitting with him each afternoon as he practices. He is full of excitement and amazement. My little 3 1/2 year old thinks he can play as well and someday he will too. It never gets old and even at almost 40 years old, I was like a gitty girl this past February when a new piano was delivered to my house. Years of saving up in order to replace the very old, practice room piano I bought with my own $200 when I was in college payed off. Thank you Lord for the ability to share music with my children, my husband, and to many others around!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing Nancy! So glad the new piano is getting so much love!

      Delete
  4. We had my grandma's piano in my house growing up and I learned the notes, but that was about it until I started playing clarinet in band in 6th grade. I still can read notes and love to sing. My husband on the other hand, took piano lessons when he was young and eventually taught himself guitar in high school and college. He plays both a lot now, but piano mostly by ear and the understanding of chords and a lot of music theory. We both agree we want to give/have our children take piano lessons before any other instrument so they learn the "background" stuff before taking on another instrument!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great, Carrie! Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  5. I always wanted to take lessons growing up, but my parents couldn't afford it until I was in high school. I only took lessons for a couple years, but enjoyed it and still wish I could have started years earlier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cost is a factor for a lot of people. But, trading works too! I've traded a few students lessons in exchange for babysitting. :-)

      Delete