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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

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

#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

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

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 107
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.
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

#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: 7639
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Laurence, I like your philosophy very much. Are you in Chicago for the conference this week?

"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

#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

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!


#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: 7639
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

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

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
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:


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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