One of the most common questions piano teachers get is what age is best to start learning piano? The problem is that there is no right answer. If you are wondering if it’s right for you or your child, here are three factors to test readiness on when to start piano lessons.
There are several markers that show a person is ready to play the piano. The first test is to put the hands on the keyboard and see if the fingers can spread the width of five keys. If the hands are too small to put a finger on each key, it will be difficult to play the piano. If the fingers can space, but it isn’t comfortable, it might still be okay if the other physical requirements are met.
The second test is to see if fingers move independently. Children are still learning fine motor skills at age six. It’s important that a new student can think about moving each individual finger to play the right note. If it takes a little effort, that’s okay. The skill just needs to be done, not perfected.
Lastly, it’s important that the student can sit still for more than a few minutes. While you can find internet videos of three-year-old kids playing concertos on the piano, a typical child that age has a hard time sitting and listening for longer than a minute or two. This is especially true if you are doing piano lessons online.
Students do not have to be reading but should be comfortable with the alphabet. This one marker will help students learn the order of the notes better. Learning to decode notes is very similar to decoding letters for reading, even with some of the same letters. This connection helps many students master the order of the keys and the pattern it creates.
The exception to the reading level rule is if the learning is based on ear-training, rather than sight-reading. Learning to play by ear isn’t for every student, but it does give an option for students who do not read.
Desire to Learn
The most important part of determining success with learning to play the piano is the desire to learn. If a student is learning because someone else wants them to play, chances are they won’t really try. If they do attempt to play, they may not stick with it. Piano teachers always prefer to work with students who have a strong desire to learn because they want to always know more. They make better students who are willing to put in the time and practice to play the piano well.
The desire to learn makes learning the piano easier on parents too. Many students convince their parents to let them quit because they whine too much and refuse to practice. Don’t waste your time and money trying to force something on a person who doesn’t want it.
Starting at Any Age
With these three points in mind, you can give a personal assessment of readiness to your child, your teenager, or even yourself. There is no right age to start, and students from 6 to 100 are capable of learning to play. Starting later in life doesn’t mean you won’t be able to ever become great at the piano; it just means the student is ready and willing to learn.