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#940550 - 02/25/05 09:07 AM Should I start my son on piano study now?
CuriousMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 20
Loc: Houston
I just found out this forum through a music teacher association and it's great to see some many good resources here (I already subscripted Pianist magazine after I saw one of the posts \:\) ). And I'm looking forward to learn more from all of you in the future. :p

Now, may I ask the teachers a question?

I remember reading some literatures regarding ALL children's natural talents in languages and music before they turn 7. The theory is that you can capture those natural talents if the child starts learning languages and music at an early age and its much easier for them to pick up the essences. After 7, they'll lose the intuitiveness forever and can only learn the skills. I kind of agree with this theory on languages and it seems work well with my two sons (see below). But I wonder if it's true for music.

My younger son is 4 1/2 year-old. Since he was 2, we found out he has a much longer attention span than other kids of his age. This enables him to excel in language art (he can concentrate on reading and logo building for a long time). He's now bilingual (speak and reading fluently) and his English reading/comprehension is almost at 2nd Grade level (my older son is a 2nd Grader and they read the same books). He can also spell out hundreds of words including some with 3 or 4 syllables. Well, my dilemma is: should I start his piano study right now or wait until he's 6 or 7? I know it requires lot of work from me if he starts now and I'm not worry about that (I'm also learning piano with my older son). My concern is what's best for him: will starting early give him an edge on musical intuition or it doesn't matter whenever he starts and he'll catch up fairly soon if he started later? Your advice will be highly appreciated.

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#940551 - 02/25/05 09:03 PM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
Mathilde Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 309
Loc: Decatur, Illinois, USA
Disclaimer: IANA piano teacher, just a mom of three.

Sure, I'd go ahead. Sit him down, see if he likes it. If he likes it, then just keep on with it.

It's important to realize that all that stuff about "the magical learning window" isn't necessarily 100% true for all kids everywhere. Kids learn at different rates, and it's silly to say that because you didn't expose your kid to such-and-such an influence by such-and-such an age, he'll lose out forever.

The only thing I can think of that really does have to be learned within a certain window is basic talking skills--if toddlers aren't talked to by another human by a certain age, they will never learn to speak a human language. So that's where that whole "play mozart and french to your baby" stuff came from--they're extrapolating from the language skills thing.

But the "play mozart and french to your kid by a certain age" thing is not carved in stone.

I know it requires lot of work from me if he starts now
No, it doesn't. You're assuming that it's YOUR job to flog those piano skills into him--but it's not. It's HIS job to pick them up as you present them to him. You're taking too much on yourself--relax.

Give him a 15-minute piano lesson once a day for a week, and see if he enjoys it. If not, then drop the subject.

#940552 - 02/26/05 12:18 AM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
2MP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 59
Loc: Hawaii
I agree. Also, not a teacher, but have two kids who started at a young age. Don't worry about starting your son now, or a year or two from now. Try a few lessons. If he enjoys it, then great - let him continue at his own pace. If not, then wait a bit and try again when he's older. A couple of years won't make much difference. What you don't want to do is push him too early. You (and he) have a lot of years to develop what hopefully will become a lifetime of music enjoyment.

#940553 - 02/26/05 01:05 PM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
CuriousMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 20
Loc: Houston
Thanks for the replies! I will let him start in the summer and see how it goes. I hope he'll have the same attention span while playing piano as he did on books. \:\)

#940554 - 02/26/05 01:33 PM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
nan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/04
Posts: 140
Loc: San Francisco
Curious Mom, I don't know about musical skills, but I heard from experts that picking up a language after 12 or 13, 14, becomes much more difficult. I remember people who use to talk about it and experienced this themselves -- the children who move to a new country around that age can learn a new language well but generally have more trouble than a younger child. (But that window for languages doesn't diminish until 12.) Although there are always the exceptions -- older teens who become fluent rather quickly. If they have already learned another language, this can facilitate learning another one even as an adult. I wonder if being bilingual from an early age helps an older student learn musical skills at a later age.

#940555 - 03/02/05 07:11 PM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
kimdoan2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/02
Posts: 41
Curious Mom, I'd say go for it. My son started at five. It's been 5 years and he's doing great. He loved it the first month of lessons, hated the next, loved it again... You get the picture. So, don't try out a few lessons. Give it months to see how it turns out. And don't by a cheap keyboard, rent a decent ascoutic piano for the first six months or so. You don't learn how to bike on a scouter. The kid ough to have the most decent piano you can afford. Good luck \:\)

#940556 - 03/06/05 10:31 AM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
ljohnson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/05
Posts: 17
Loc: USA
Curious Mom,

Since you already understand something of early learning, I would suggest that you acquire some books on the Suzuki Method, if only to better understand how language theory relates to the language of music. Good luck!

#940557 - 03/08/05 03:08 AM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
Frances Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/05
Posts: 5
Loc: The Netherlands
Hi Curious Mom,

My father started teaching me to play the piano when I was 5, but I remember that I wanted to learn it earlier, myself. 5 was a nice age to learn it, I think. And I had no special abilities concerning concentration or language etc.
There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
--Albert Schweitzer

#940558 - 03/08/05 05:56 AM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
pete Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/03
Posts: 797
Loc: port washington, ny, us
I started at five 45 years ago. My son started at five two years ago. We went through a bad spell with my son when he became very frustrated with note reading skills, so for him five was too young. Luckily he has pulled through and is making good progress and loves the piano.

#940559 - 03/08/05 06:43 AM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
YSL Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 78
Loc: Australia
I am a musician and I play the piano and also sing and compose. My son is 2 and half year-old and I have been practising with him on the piano since the start of this year and found it really surprising that he could learn even at such a young age. I usually teach students who are around 4 to 5 years old if they are keen starters but am quite amazed that with two to three lots of 15 minutes of piano practise with a 2 and half year-old, the kid can really learn and progress!
Life is short so learn as fast as you can!

#940560 - 03/22/05 01:33 PM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
IgnorantHusband Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/05
Posts: 310
Loc: Pacific Northwest
You have the right plan, start them this summer when they and you have time to take it slow and see how it goes.

We started my middle one at Yahama school when he was four, then moved him to a more strict private teacher when he was five. As an earlier poster said he has highs and lows from month to month as he moves thru each level. We know he likes it since everytime he sees a piano he can't resist sitting and playing. Our older one we started at 8. It is true that the older you are the hard it is to learn. I guess there is probably some nature law in this, but I don't think anything is not recoverable. Even I am starting now at the ripe old age of 40. I'm going to expect it to be more difficult but don't see any reason why I can't achieve what I might have if I had started when I was 4, except I'll be 74

Our older one clearly didn't enjoy getting this new thing inserted into his life and fought it for a while. After 2 years he has accepted it. He has already stated he will quite when he reaches middle school.

Our daughter just turned four, we have her in Suzuki doing Violin. She was ready and sees it as a normal thing. Mom, dad, brothers all playing, so must I. We are still deciding about whether to switch/or when to Piano. The biggest advantage I see starting them young is it just becomes part of the fun stuff you do as you grow up.

Have fun this summer!


#940561 - 03/29/05 01:25 PM Re: Should I start my son on piano study now?
CuriousMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 20
Loc: Houston
Thanks a lot, Charles, for your advice. I'm going to start the piano lessons for my 4-year-old this summer with my older son's teacher, and summer is also a good time to arrange a 1 1/2-hour lesson (for three of us \:\) ) with the teacher since a few students will take a break during summer.

I'm the same age as you and also a late beginner! But I just love it and wish I could have two hours to practice every day. \:\) Good luck to your kids' musical development and to your musical life as well!


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