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Piano Lessons for a five year old


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#1 PianoBeginner

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 21:49

Hello I am looking for a little advice...

My son is five has been showing interest in our piano at home. So, four weeks ago he started lessons with a music student (she is about 20, studying piano at university level and taking a teaching qualification. We live in France and I do not know the equivalent level she would be at). When I first spoke to her she did say that she had not taught anyone so young before but was willing to give it a try (and I was willing to give it a go as everyone has to start to gain experience somewhere). The first week went well and he was keen but since then he has been more and more reluctant. He will practice between lessons with me and can play the little pieces that she has asked him to prepare, but apparently he refuses to participate in the lessons once he has played the practised pieces. He doesn't like to make mistakes and cries if he does. (He has the lessons at home but I do not stay in the room, by the way.)

At the end of his last lesson, the teacher told me that she is not sure if it is worth continuing and perhaps it would be better to wait a while until he is more mature.

It seems to me a bit sad just to stop. I am aware that my son can be a little stubborn, but he does have a good ear and enjoys music. I am wondering if I should give it a break for a few weeks and then find someone with a little more experience, who is perhaps more "fun". This young woman did seems quite serious from the beginning and I didn't hear much "fun" being had during the lessons. I do think it is important to click with a teacher right from the start and I don't think my son has, but perhaps she is right and I should leave it a year.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you.
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#2 jcassell

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 21:57

QUOTE(PianoBeginner @ Jan 30 2012, 09:49 PM) View Post

Hello I am looking for a little advice...

My son is five has been showing interest in our piano at home. So, four weeks ago he started lessons with a music student (she is about 20, studying piano at university level and taking a teaching qualification. We live in France and I do not know the equivalent level she would be at). When I first spoke to her she did say that she had not taught anyone so young before but was willing to give it a try (and I was willing to give it a go as everyone has to start to gain experience somewhere). The first week went well and he was keen but since then he has been more and more reluctant. He will practice between lessons with me and can play the little pieces that she has asked him to prepare, but apparently he refuses to participate in the lessons once he has played the practised pieces. He doesn't like to make mistakes and cries if he does. (He has the lessons at home but I do not stay in the room, by the way.)

At the end of his last lesson, the teacher told me that she is not sure if it is worth continuing and perhaps it would be better to wait a while until he is more mature.

It seems to me a bit sad just to stop. I am aware that my son can be a little stubborn, but he does have a good ear and enjoys music. I am wondering if I should give it a break for a few weeks and then find someone with a little more experience, who is perhaps more "fun". This young woman did seems quite serious from the beginning and I didn't hear much "fun" being had during the lessons. I do think it is important to click with a teacher right from the start and I don't think my son has, but perhaps she is right and I should leave it a year.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you.


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#3 jcassell

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 22:09

That's hard - it may be her inexperience, but I think what you need to do before deciding where next is to take on the role of active parent even if that is not encouraged, sit in the lessons, plan the practice and make it happen with lots of treats and incentives. I use sweets unashamedly. (it is v hard playing, and as my own children's lovely violin teacher said, internal motivation comes later).
I do think the Suzuki insight that the parent needs to take responsibility is really key - all mine started (strings, mixed Suzuki and traditional) at that age, moaned a lot, were rewarded with sweets but made to practice and despite the raw material being unpromising, all are doing really well and - more importantly - enjoying it at 10, 12 and 14. Hardly any children can practises competently without parental instruction before age 10.

French teaching can be quite strict, you might want to look at some of the fun beginner books and show them to the teacher?

Good luck

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#4 dolce@piano

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 22:10

Just because he shows an interest in the piano doesn't necessarily mean it's time to start lessons. Five is very young and many/most five year-olds are nor ready for one-on-one piano lessons.

However, it's also true that if the student has little experience teaching little children, and also if she has grown up herself under the French ecole de musique system, then it is very possible that she's finding it hard going and so consequently is your son.

THe French system does not really emphasise the 'fun' element (sweeping statement, I know, but after 17 years here I think it's true). You may be rather at cross purposes.

.
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#5 ansatz496

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 23:19

QUOTE(jcassell @ Jan 30 2012, 05:09 PM) View Post

That's hard - it may be her inexperience, but I think what you need to do before deciding where next is to take on the role of active parent even if that is not encouraged, sit in the lessons, plan the practice and make it happen with lots of treats and incentives. I use sweets unashamedly. (it is v hard playing, and as my own children's lovely violin teacher said, internal motivation comes later).
I do think the Suzuki insight that the parent needs to take responsibility is really key - all mine started (strings, mixed Suzuki and traditional) at that age, moaned a lot, were rewarded with sweets but made to practice and despite the raw material being unpromising, all are doing really well and - more importantly - enjoying it at 10, 12 and 14. Hardly any children can practises competently without parental instruction before age 10.

French teaching can be quite strict, you might want to look at some of the fun beginner books and show them to the teacher?

Good luck


agree.gif I know loads and loads of people who started lessons at or before age 5 (a violinist acquaintance of mine even told me she regrets her "late start" at age 5 blink.gif), so I think it's more doable than many people think. Most teachers of young children in my area use Suzuki, and it seems to work quite well in many cases.
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#6 klavierkat

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 13:42

I think you should straight away stop lessons with this young girl and look for a new teacher who has lots of experience of teaching young children. They will have huge experience behind them in how best to help a young child. Then your son will be encouraged to explore the piano and not get upset but rather be proud of his achievements.
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#7 PianoBeginner

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 14:16

QUOTE(klavierkat @ Feb 1 2012, 02:42 PM) View Post

I think you should straight away stop lessons with this young girl and look for a new teacher who has lots of experience of teaching young children. They will have huge experience behind them in how best to help a young child. Then your son will be encouraged to explore the piano and not get upset but rather be proud of his achievements.



Thank you for all your replies, they are very helpful. Klavierkat, in particular, you have told me exactly what I wanted to hear and have helped me to make a decision!
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#8 all ears

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 14:28

When my sons were small, I remember a very experienced music teacher saying that she thought 5 was a hard age to start...At 4 or even 3, praise was enough to convince them they'd done a good job and motivate them to keep playing, whatever they sounded like. And at 6 or 7, they could understand that they would sound better in a week than they did the day they first did something. But 5, apparently, is old enough to be self-aware, but not old enough to wait for the day when you'll sound better!

If you can't find an experienced piano teacher, what about more general music appreciation work that involves movement and singing?
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#9 PianoBeginner

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 19:48

QUOTE(all ears @ Feb 1 2012, 03:28 PM) View Post

When my sons were small, I remember a very experienced music teacher saying that she thought 5 was a hard age to start...At 4 or even 3, praise was enough to convince them they'd done a good job and motivate them to keep playing, whatever they sounded like. And at 6 or 7, they could understand that they would sound better in a week than they did the day they first did something. But 5, apparently, is old enough to be self-aware, but not old enough to wait for the day when you'll sound better!

If you can't find an experienced piano teacher, what about more general music appreciation work that involves movement and singing?


Thank you. He is already in an intro to Music and Dance class (Eveil in France) where they do singing, rhythm and movement and he really enjoys that.
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#10 klavierkat

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 20:00

I'm so glad it helped to be so unequivocal! I said it really bearing in mind my own teacher who has a lot of young pupils (she's the school piano teacher) and I can see how fantastic she is with young children and how she really takes them to heart. She has a million different techniques for getting over various problems - eg marching around the room, wording to help with timings, images to get mood of the music across etc etc. If you find someone with similar experience and knowledge it should make a huge difference. Good luck!
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#11 flugelbeth

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 11:42

I don't know about with piano, but I volunteer teaching brass to ages 5-8 and this always seem to work better in small groups (2-3 students) as at this age they seem to feel more confident around others their own age, especially when starting something new and difficult. I have one parent who chooses to sit in on lessons as her son is one of the youngest- he often struggles to concentrate and this seems to help, he's a lot more settled when his mum is there.
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#12 PianoBeginner

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 18:20

QUOTE(flugelbeth @ Feb 22 2012, 12:42 PM) View Post

I don't know about with piano, but I volunteer teaching brass to ages 5-8 and this always seem to work better in small groups (2-3 students) as at this age they seem to feel more confident around others their own age, especially when starting something new and difficult. I have one parent who chooses to sit in on lessons as her son is one of the youngest- he often struggles to concentrate and this seems to help, he's a lot more settled when his mum is there.

Good idea. In fact, we decided to give it one more go and he doubled up with his little girl friend and now he loves it.
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