I wish there was a simple answer to this question. No two children are exactly alike. A 4-year-old may be ready for lessons while a 6-year-old is not. Here are some of the questions I ask inquiring parents to help them determine if now is the time to begin lessons for their youngster.
- Does the child have a firm grasp on the alphabet, counting, and sequencing? These skills are fundamental to some of the basic elements of playing the instrument.
- Can the child remain focused on a single task for several minutes? While the lesson is broken up into various segments and activities are varied in order to keep young minds active, the student will still need to be able to remain on task for 5 minutes at a time.
- Has the student shown interest in playing the piano? You would not believe the number of times that parents answer "no" to this question. While I firmly believe in musical education, it is not something to be forced upon a child. Placing them in lessons before they are emotionally, physically, and intellectually ready can result in a negative experience.
If the parent is cool with a slower pace for the young child, I recommend having a few lessons together without making a long term commitment. This allows everyone involved -- teacher, parent, and student -- to see if the relationship will work and is worth the investment of time and finances at this time.
If pushed into a corner to give an age, I normally suggest that a child begin lessons no earlier than the spring semester of kindergarten. There's nothing scientific that I've found to support that....it's just been my experience. Let me hear from you. How young is too young to begin piano lessons in your studio?