Harness Your Kid's Musical "Power" for Good: Piano Lessons 101

I’ve been playing the piano for as long as I can remember. My mom tells me I started at the age of 5. I studied all the way through high school and started teaching lessons when I was a senior. Being a piano teacher, I often get questions like, “When is my child old enough to start taking piano lessons?” “Can my child take lessons if they can’t read yet?” “How long should my child practice between lessons?” Today I’ll answer all those questions and more.

1. The piano is a great first instrument.
Starting a musical career with the piano is ideal. Your child will learn many skills that, in the future, can easily translate to another instrument. In fact, many music teachers require their students to have a foundation of piano lessons.

2. Starting too young isn’t a good idea.
Many people want to put their four- and five-year-olds into piano lessons. While fostering the love of music from a young age is a good thing, putting a child into formal lessons at a young age is not. Most children at this age are not developmentally ready for the things that lessons require, such as sitting still and listening for an extended period of time. You can end up with a frustrated child, parent, and teacher, which isn’t good for anyone. Wait until your child is around 7 before starting formal lessons.

3. It’s a little easier if your child can read.
While it’s not necessarily a requirement, if your child can read before starting piano lessons, it makes things easier. A lot of theory work and exercises require reading.

4. You will need either a piano or a full-size keyboard in your home.
Your child cannot get by with that mini keyboard for more than the first week or two. The good news is, you can find used pianos on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. And most keyboards have a headphone jack, making them apartment friendly.

5. When it comes to practice: quality over quantity.
Every parent wants to know, “How long should my child practice?” There’s really not one right answer to this question. Some kids need longer practice times than others. More advanced students will need longer practice times. I always say the quality of the practice is more important than how long they are practicing. Regular practice (at least 5 days a week) is important though.

The piano is a wonderful instrument that works both sides of the brain, sets a child up with a great musical foundation, and teaches many skills that translate to other instruments well. Piano lessons are always worth the investment!