Starting your four year old in piano lessons!
One of the most common questions that I receive from parents who are wanting to start their child in piano lessons is, "can my four year old learn how to play the piano? Or are they too young?". So of course that question is going to have many answers varying on the child and on how much the parents are willing to help during practice time during the week. Most four year olds will not usually practice the piano on their own on a continuous basis. One day they will be at the piano with no prompting, and the next day it could be the last thing they want to do.
The the BIGGEST mistakes made when teaching a four year old piano.
Of course you would love your little four year old to be amazing at the piano! The fact you're giving your child piano lessons prove that. But remembering they are only four years old is very important. As a piano teacher I always encourage my young pianists and try to make it a fun learning experience. I also let the parents know that practicing is not going to be a long ordeal during the week. Helping them sit down and practicing their assigned pieces will take maybe 10-15min to begin with. As students progress and get older of course that time will increase, but it is so important not to overwhelm a young beginner so that they will not lose the joy of playing the piano...... a little side note, a joy of playing the piano and wanting to practice are two different things.
Each student will progress at their own speed and ability.
I've had young students progress quickly, due to it just clicking with them, better fine motor skills, or just parents helping make sure they are practicing during the week. It really does give little learners a tremendous amount help when parents do make sure practicing is being done. Even if your little doesn't have amazing fine motor skills, learning proper technique on the piano will also help improve that. It might make things a little slower at first, but once they start to develop it will become so much easier!
The biggest thing I will stress is that as long as they are trying, no matter how fast they are progressing, they are doing a great job! Although I have had some young pianists playing Bach, Beethoven, Chopin etc. it is the exception instead of the norm. And I am very proud of all my little pianists.
Should lessons include scales and arpeggios?
Although, they are essential to learn to be a skilled pianist. Sometimes when a student starts learning to play the piano while they are very young, I prefer to delay learning technique skills. It can be too exhausted and hard on tiny hands. Eventually they will be brought into the lessons, just not introduced as early as older piano students. Even remembering to play them all can be exhausting, and arpeggios can be almost painful for tiny hands.
Benefits of starting children in piano lessons at an early age?
Besides the enjoyment of learning music, which alone is an amazing benefit. Learning to play the piano really does give young kids a head start with academics as well. They are also developing their fine motor skills, learning patience, helps with their attention span and listening to directions. Children who start learning to play the piano young also can start to develop a good ear for music. It also takes many years to become "good" at the piano, or any instrument, so the earlier you start, you'll be able to reach your potential more quickly.