I took piano lessons from Kindergarten through my senior year of high school. The first few years were definitely a struggle—I hated practicing, I didn’t like my teacher, and I thought it was some kind of punishment that I had to learn to play the piano. In middle school, I realized I could sit down and play songs without having to practice and I was hooked. I have even given piano lessons as an adult!
Now that I have kids of my own, I want them to have some musical background as well. Here is a little bit about our experience with piano lessons.
Find the Right Teacher
I didn’t realize there were many different styles of learning to play the piano. I assumed everyone used the same books, but that is not true.
Find a teacher who uses books or a method that is exciting for your child. Our piano teacher even uses a different book series with each of our kids because the kids are so different! My youngest has a books series that comes with a CD that he loves to listen to.
The best way to find the right teacher? Ask your friends for recommendations, and then do a quick interview with them. You can ask about their methods, experience, and rates. Our teacher doesn’t start lessons until kids can do a little bit of reading and suggested first grade was a great age to start. There are also some local businesses that offer both private and group lessons.
Practicing at Home
My kids seem to think they will just magically learn to play the piano through osmosis. I would imagine them thinking something like this: “If I just sit at the piano and complain for ten minutes, I’m sure I will get better at this and that crazy mom lady will leave me alone.”
I try to encourage them to practice as soon as they get home from school, but if I’m completely honest, it’s sometimes a major practice session on the weekend that counts as a week’s worth of practice time. It helps when they have songs they enjoy and recognize.
I was always nervous for recitals growing up, and I can see that in my kids now. Some teachers don’t do recitals, but I think it’s a great way for kids to work really hard at something and occasionally step outside of their comfort zone.
Last year my oldest son got stuck in a “repeat cycle” where he kept playing the same part of the song over and over…and over again. He forgot how to end the song. HOWEVER—he learned he could think quickly on the spot, improvise, and no one knew any different! We still use that as an example of making it through something that was really hard and that life will be ok!
One of our family friends said her kids could quit piano lessons when they found an adult who was glad they quit playing the piano. I think that’s great advice! While we let our kids try different sports, we have enforced no quitting of piano lessons.
Participating in any type of music is good for their brains. Studies show that music and math are highly intertwined. Our kids enjoy lessons now, and we manage to get some practice time in each week, so I call this a success!