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#942941 - 05/08/06 03:10 PM Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
tenuki Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/06
Posts: 672
Loc: Seattle, Wa
I know my son is crazy about music and interested in piano, However he's definately not ready for lessons and may not be for a few years. He likes to play with me, and has learned notes like C, etc. His favorite is 'composing' a peice and having me write it down or at least copy it. All this leads me to think I need to do something, but that lessons are not it right now. Couple of questions:

1) would a mini keyboard mess things up for him down the road? i had thought of getting him a cheap casio or something to start experimenting with. we were at a friends house who had a small/toy piano, he grabbed it and went into the other room for 40 minutes (not exagerating) and composed a piece for his puppet show, which he then came in and performed. It wasn't music exactly, but it was what he had 'composed'. He seemed to like the smaller size keyboard.

2) are there any composition centric teaching methods for small children? He only showed interest in written music when it was what he had composed, I was able to teach him to recognize a couple of notes with that technique. He's teaching himself to read and I noticed that he likes to write down words, mostly nonsense, and sound them out and giggle 'that's not a word'.

3) He has expressed an interest in drums - are there minature drum sets available and same question as #1, ie are they a good idea?

Thanks for your time and advice.
Only the humble improve.

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#942942 - 05/08/06 03:18 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
tenuki Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/06
Posts: 672
Loc: Seattle, Wa
another question I forgot to add:

4) are there any games we can play to help him musically? We've been playing a memory/scat game since he was an infant where we take turns leading and the other person has to copy. he's at the point now where he can beat me sometimes, ie remember and repeat more than me. Kids are kinda scary. \:D
Only the humble improve.

#942943 - 05/08/06 09:59 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
toda Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/06
Posts: 58
Loc: Somewhere in Midwest

A 61-key electronic keyboard (including unweighted cheap ones) seems appropriate for your kid. He can experiment with it and I think it is a great investment. Also you can connect the keyboard to PC to record the sound he makes and play them later.

To relate, I bought a Yamaha keyboard (61 key, unweighted) when my daughter turned two and she started piano lessons at 5 and practiced with the keyboard for a year until we bought a digital piano. Switching from unweighted keyboard to a weighted one seemed not overly difficult for her.

If your child can sit through thirty minutes of music making, and if he can read simple picture books, I think it is not too early to start lessons.

Besides, don't forget to expose him to many hours of high quality music, classical music in particular. I think good ears and tastes in music can be developed early on, especially for a musically inclined kid such as yours.


#942944 - 05/08/06 10:32 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
Here's a book series you might try:

"Music by Me" - A Composition Workbook by Kevin Olson and Wynn-Anne Rossi; Publisher- FJH Music Co. Inc. It's got kid-friendly excercises for creating music. You'd have to read it to him and help fill out some of the excercises though.

For games, try making up rhythm games involving movement. Also, I've heard of teachers making a big staff on the floor and having kids be the note and stand on the line or space of the note called out. I've found that a lot of standard games used at kid's birthday parties can be altered to include a musical concept(s). A lot of times, I ask myself what concept I want to work on and then try to create a game that would teach it. Just use your imagination and I'm sure you'll find yourself coming up with a lot of ideas for games or ask your son to make up a game.

I found my own kids (4 and 6) like to use something around the house resembling drumsticks or just their hands and sit on the floor behind me while I play the piano and they drum out the beat on the floor for me - it's a "live" metronome and suprisingly they keep a good steady beat. I think that would help ingrain a sense of the musical beat also. Another is play some kids tunes on a cd or tape and try to guess together whether the song would be counted in 2's, 3's, 4's, even 6/8. Try counting to the song once you decide.

#942945 - 05/09/06 11:18 AM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
terminaldegree Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 4003
Loc: Georgia, USA
If he/she has the attention span, 5-6 years old is a great age to start lessons! Many of the things that seem intellectually insulting to adults [which are necessary in the beginning] can be made fun when you're 5...

Not that I advise being a pianist as a carreer, but the vast majority of "professional" pianists I know started out at that age.

Some of the "distracting" features of most cheap keyboards have tended to get in the way during my lessons with little kids. Just a word of caution. My first piano was borrowed from my Grandmother's basement, and was a large upright from the early 20th century. I used it for a couple of years, and then my parents bought a new 45" piano to replace it.
Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

#942946 - 05/09/06 03:17 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 559
Just my two cents as a parent...

My son just turned 6 and he started formal lessons 2 months ago. He is very musical, but the turning point was when he learned so fast in a group lesson focused on general musicianship (which has plenty of composition and accompanyment), that the teacher suggested that we start him on private lessons. I asked around (including on this forum) before I looked for a private lesson teacher, thinking that he might be too young. But now I am sure it was the right decision. He loves the lessons and is learning very well. I try to keep the practice time at 15-20 minutes each day, so he doesn't become too tired.

So my suggestion is to look for a preparatory class (keyboard, theory, general musicianship). Such lessons are available through many schools such as Kindermusik or Harmony Road (HR is what my son had and again, lots of composition). This is a great way to prepare your son for formal lessons, to establish a practice routine (at first maybe 5 minutes a day will suffice) and see how interested he really is. And if he is ready, start him on private lessons.

#942947 - 05/09/06 03:49 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
The class idea sounds like a good idea. I think some students especially at the younger ages would do better in a class at first to learn the basics as there would be more movement and more change in activities whereas private piano lessons generally involve more sitting and having to pay attention longer, of course, depending on the teacher. Some private teachers may have activities for the younger children that allow more mobility and changes in activity to hold their attention. I think a class would be more likely to allow for that and I don't know but would kids work harder and pay attention better with a group of peers rather than a one on one lesson?

#942948 - 05/09/06 04:22 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
Gill the Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 298
Loc: Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Engla...
If you get a keyboard, it would be a good thing to get one with full-sized keys, so that the transition from plastic to proper won't be a shock!
Piano tuner 23 years.
Musica lux in tenebris...

#942949 - 05/10/06 03:41 AM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
Don't be put off lessons Tenuki, as long as you get a good teacher it will work out fine. I started at age 5 and it worked for me, and my daughter also started at 5 (with Suzuki method) and that worked out fine.

There are plenty of games - some already mentioned above. Clapping and repeating rhythms of increasing length, hearing then singing (or playing) note patterns of increasing length, etc. Moving around a room in different ways in response to different styles of music. You can also buy flash cards of notes to help with recognising them: you can also assemble the flashcards into little note patterns. There are some fun exercises in books which are physical - like having to touch a certain place in the book after playing each note. Suzuki method can also be fun and physical for the children, if you can stomach it (I'm not really a big fan but it is helpful for very yougn children I think).

Getting a small keyboard is a great idea as it will allow your son to experiment by himself, in his own time, which is probably important. Something else which works for my son is that he picks a song he likes (was kid's songs, now pop songs as he grows up) and I note it down with a very simple accompaniment. He gets to play a pop song like that alongside the 'normal' music he's practising for lessons.

Good luck to you and your son!

#942950 - 05/15/06 04:17 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
pianopenny Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/06
Posts: 25
Loc: detroit
When I was very young, my dad put tape on the keys of a toy piano, and wrote the letters on them, with octaves in different colors. He would then write out songs on a piece of paper, ("Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" like "C C G G A A G...") I would then match the letters and colors to what was written on my keyboard to learn the songs. It helped me learn my letters and got me interested in music all at once.

#942951 - 05/16/06 01:50 AM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1584
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I teach Suzuki Piano and I start my students at 4 1/2 years of age. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't delay! This is the perfect age to start, especially in a method that develops the ear and the basic skill of playing the piano without being distracted with reading music.
As for an electronic device. Read my other thread on "best quality pianos for beginning students" and you will know my feelings.
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

#942952 - 05/19/06 05:57 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4683
Loc: San Francisco

To paraphrase another poster's insight in that other thread, pianobuff is associating quality of learning with quality of instrument. There is no necessary relationsip between the two.

At first, the *only* thing that anyone should be concerned about is helping children to discover whether they really want to play the piano. If a child wants to play the piano, there will be a pleasure in making music.

There are obstacles to overcome in every endeavor. When people want to pursue the endeavor, they recognize the obstacles and work thru them. At this exploratory stage, anything that the child can play is just fine.

There's no need to be concerned about making a transition to a more sophisticated instrument. As you've already seen, children are lightning-fast learners. Having gone thru the transition from digital piano to acoustic upright action, I can tell you that even seniors can easily make the transition---it took me c.10 minutes---if they want to play the piano.

And of course, pedals---which this child probably cannot even reach---are currently irrelevant.

Just help your son to discover if he really wants to play piano.


#942953 - 05/19/06 06:23 PM Re: Interested but self-learner 5 yr old.
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
If you get a keyboard. Make sure of 2 things:

1. Connects to computer with eiter USB and MIDI

2. Light up keys learn a song by.

Good Luck,


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