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Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
#2751910 07/16/18 01:36 PM
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Piano teachers and interested parties: does anyone have some advice for encouraging a 6 year old (and supporting his parents) to learn the piano? My nephew just took his first lesson with a neighborhood high school student (I'll confess that I am leery of having his foray into piano with a high schooler, but the parents have said they would take him to a regular studio if he shows more interest after one month). Here's the kicker: They have not bought a piano or even a keyboard, but they plan to allow him to take these lessons for about a month for a trial run to assess his interest. What can I do to encourage him or what should I say to the parents to make sure he really gets the best shot at this? I began lessons when I was 8, but my parents took me to a regular teacher and we already had a piano in the house. I'm not sure the present setup they are providing is adequate for him to actually show a real interest. Please advise! Thanks.

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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2751934 07/16/18 03:05 PM
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I see 2 major fails here
1) high school student
2) no practice instrument

Even an educated, good, seasoned piano teacher is going to have a hard time keeping a little kid's interest when they don't have a practice instrument at home. The kids want to punch the keys not "homework".

How long would my boys who are swimmers love it if their pool had no water? Yes, they can do dryland but they want to SWIM.

These parents need a good long "preaching" session. They are actually turning the kid OFF of lessons imo.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2751937 07/16/18 03:10 PM
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Tell them music is a lifelong investment.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2751950 07/16/18 04:20 PM
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Tell the parents not to waste their money and time and the teacher's time by sending a 6 year old for weekly lessons, with no opportunity to practice at home on an instrument. I just don't get that mentality at all. IMO, a child or adult will have no motivation or inspiration to want to play the piano if they are only going for weekly lessons.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2751954 07/16/18 04:43 PM
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You don’t mention if your nephew lives close to you or not. If not, his parents have a losing formula as per previous posts. If he lives close, can you introduce him to piano for a month??? Play a variety of music. Introduce him to simple melodies, teach him to play them by rote; show him the different keys on the piano and how they can sound/where they are; play simple duets with him????? I think you can come up with piano related activities to see if there’s any spark

I remember as a small child teaching me ‘Heart and Soul’. I played the melody and the babysitter improvised. I was thrilled!


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
dogperson #2751977 07/16/18 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
You don’t mention if your nephew lives close to you or not. If not, his parents have a losing formula as per previous posts. If he lives close, can you introduce him to piano for a month??? Play a variety of music. Introduce him to simple melodies, teach him to play them by rote; show him the different keys on the piano and how they can sound/where they are; play simple duets with him????? I think you can come up with piano related activities to see if there’s any spark


Excellent advice.

Also you can do rhythm training with him...very important as one starts. As you play Old Macdonald or Mary had a little lamb, have him count out loud as you play, and have him clap; have him and you sing together while clapping along with a metronome. Youngsters will often dance and jump about as you do that. Such training is invaluable...I now do it with all new students of all ages, and if and when it comes time to count within a piece, students do it automatically and easily.

(BTW, this is often part of "pre-piano")



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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
dogperson #2751984 07/16/18 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
You don’t mention if your nephew lives close to you or not. If not, his parents have a losing formula as per previous posts. If he lives close, can you introduce him to piano for a month??? Play a variety of music. Introduce him to simple melodies, teach him to play them by rote; show him the different keys on the piano and how they can sound/where they are; play simple duets with him????? I think you can come up with piano related activities to see if there’s any spark

I remember as a small child teaching me ‘Heart and Soul’. I played the melody and the babysitter improvised. I was thrilled!



dogperson, great ideas. I also remember learning the "Heart and Soul" duet, and loved it, along with the "Chopsticks" duet.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2751988 07/16/18 07:02 PM
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The book ‘movement that fits’ by Joy Yelin is fun exercises to learn rhythm, incorporating Dalcroze methodology.

Movement That Fits

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752000 07/16/18 08:49 PM
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Hi All- thanks so much for the insightful replies. I agree they need a piano. Unfortunately, I cannot take a more active role, since I live far away from them. Piano is definitely an investment, and a risk due to the high upfront costs. But I think the risk is worth it. Music is so important for a child's development, especially in our frenetic, digital, and hyper-connected world. It yields great benefits for people of ALL ages! I'm going to encourage they take the leap and just buy a good used piano. Thanks again!

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752006 07/16/18 09:45 PM
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I think that today, the upfront investment can be not that much. I've bought my first piano (ok, a digital one) less than my parents bought my clarinet 20+ years ago (and dollars 20 years ago equal even more dollars today!).

For testing interest, a used digital or acoustic (granted you can check for the quality) could certainly do the trick.

I paid 300$ for my DP in february 2016, not sure I would really pick up the instrument and be interested that much. I had access to an acoustic in my lessons (that was an important factor for me and something that oriented my decision not to take lessons at home). After 3 months, I realised I had to ajust to the acoustic since my DP has too light keys (a Casio CDP-130). I was so much motivated. I decided I wanted an acoustic. Bought a house, than an acoustic piano (it took two years :P ). If I had to return in time with no more information that I had then (not knowing I would love the piano), I would make the exact same decision.

So, yeah, in summary, 300$ was a very little investment, and no doubt you can find such cheap DP on the used market.
I really hope this boy has a fair chance to try music. This was a blessing in my life and even though I didn't practice much (if at all) when I started the clarinet at 8 years old, I'm happy I had this chance! And I wish that to every child!

Good luck!


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752015 07/17/18 12:17 AM
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I have no problem if some parents don't want to invest $300 on a workable instrument, as long as they have no delusions about their kid's not learning anything.

I do have a problem when parents don't invest any money (or invest VERY little money) and expect the kid to become the next Mozart. A few of my clients past and present fit this category of morons.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
AZNpiano #2752037 07/17/18 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I have no problem if some parents don't want to invest $300 on a workable instrument, as long as they have no delusions about their kid's not learning anything.

I do if said parents want me to be the teacher.

I don't like being part of guaranteed failure.

Starting lessons without an instrument is just stupid.

And picking a high school student to teach a six year-old is just as stupid.

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752076 07/17/18 09:04 AM
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Jouishy- thanks for the kind words. You make great points. I think I've convinced them beginning with a good used piano is the way to go. Even if he doesn't take to it this year, it will be in the house, ready when or if he is so inclined to learn. 😀

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752160 07/17/18 01:41 PM
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I would first find out what these lessons really are before providing any advice. Are these piano lessons in a traditional sense, or are these lessons meant for first exposure or simply musical activities that involve piano? There are a lot of programs that use piano to expose kids to musical instruments, basic concepts and an idea about what it's like to play an instrument. Sometimes parents simply want their kids to get a sense of what it's like to play piano. For such purposes, lessons are more like play time with an instructor, and maybe a high school student is just fine for this.

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752165 07/17/18 01:57 PM
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I never cease to be amazed at how easily some parents differentiate between sports and music. They'll readily grasp that a kid cannot learn a sport without ready access to the the equipment and to real training, yet think a kid can "develop" an appreciation for an instrument without having that instrument for daily use and without making a commitment to provide real training and home support.

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752172 07/17/18 02:07 PM
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Yep, ChildofParadise, I suspect these introductory "lessons" are meant as a low-committment exposure to the piano. The idea is that if he shows any interest, they will go the traditional route with a regular teacher and a piano. What I proposed last night (and what I think they have accepted) is the idea that the piano itself needs to come first. I don't want a perceived lack of interest to be based on him meeting with a high schooler for a few days in a month. My worry is that this kind of beginning could set him up for failure. This may not be the right time, but just having a piano in the house could set the stage for the right time later. Anyway, I'm doing my part- I'm working with them to get the piano in the house! I can't force the kid to enjoy the piano, but I certainly want to encourage him as much as I possibly can. Like many of you here, I'm an evangelist for the piano and can't stop touting its wonders and benefits!

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752176 07/17/18 02:26 PM
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I remember my kids doing all kinds of "exposure" classes through their daycare centers. There are lots of these out there and some use piano/keyboard as the main medium. I remember one is called "Harmony Road". There is also the Yamaha program. I'm sure there are many others. Some music teachers (not necessarily piano teachers) also run their own "first exposure to music" type programs with piano as the instrument. So such programs could also be good before the kid is sent to traditional one-on-one piano lessons. For these programs, a fun teacher is very important. :-)

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
childofparadise2002 #2752186 07/17/18 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by childofparadise2002
So such programs could also be good before the kid is sent to traditional one-on-one piano lessons. For these programs, a fun teacher is very important. :-)

As a private teacher who has taken transfer students from these programs, I'd advise parents to stay away from them. Kids don't learn anything; in fact, they "learn" stuff that they can't "unlearn" later. It makes learning piano CORRECTLY that much more difficult later on.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
AZNpiano #2752188 07/17/18 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by childofparadise2002
So such programs could also be good before the kid is sent to traditional one-on-one piano lessons. For these programs, a fun teacher is very important. :-)

As a private teacher who has taken transfer students from these programs, I'd advise parents to stay away from them. Kids don't learn anything; in fact, they "learn" stuff that they can't "unlearn" later. It makes learning piano CORRECTLY that much more difficult later on.


Do you mind to elaborate?
What harms can it make to have the baby Morzarts moving around with the music? And perhaps learning a few world-famous tunes, like twinkle twinkle little star, by copying the figure movements?

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
AZNpiano #2752242 07/17/18 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
As a private teacher who has taken transfer students from these programs, I'd advise parents to stay away from them. Kids don't learn anything; in fact, they "learn" stuff that they can't "unlearn" later. It makes learning piano CORRECTLY that much more difficult later on.
And as a private teacher who has taught classes like this in the past, I’d say that a blanket condemnation of all such programs isn’t fair or helpful. Sure, there may be some useless ones around, where you are perhaps, but where the program is well thought out and designed to introduce and reinforce foundational music concepts they can only be beneficial.

The course I taught didn’t use keyboards of any sort at all, and as the wrong finger technique may be what you’re worried about you may have a point. I used Orff-style tuned percussion, which introduces the idea of a keyboard where up=right and down=left. An introduction to the territory but not instrument-specific. And lots of singing and rhythmic activities. Perhaps some of your unrhythmic students, if you have any ( smile ), may have benefitted from an early exposure to this. We sometimes forget that the simplest (to us) concepts need to be established and developed, not just assumed, and their absence lamented later on.



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