The question of when to commence piano lessons is one that many parents wonder about. Everyone has heard the word “prodigy,” and often there is a worry that precious learning years are lost if one delays lessons until the age of six or seven. I once had a mother call me to inquire about piano lessons for her child of 26 months!
Teachers diverge in their views, but my professional opinion is that it is better to start piano later rather than earlier. Ages seven/eight/nine are a fine time. Younger children should instead pursue some sort of group music instruction, such as music and movement, or singing. This will foster musicality, a spirit of community, and hopefully a sense of fun. The isolation of learning the piano can come later.
If one starts piano even later in childhood — say, around the age of twelve or thirteen — this is equally fine. The high school years can be a time of quick progress.
To me a nice goal would be for a young person to have studied the piano for at least four or five years by the age of eighteen. This would be sufficient grounding to keep at it on one’s own during early adulthood, or to return to it readily decades later.
To me a nice goal would be for a young person to have studied the piano for at least four or five years by the age of eighteen.
Peter Kristian Mose
Adult Lessons: How Do I Do This?
Before an adult learner contacts me, a lengthy back story has unfolded. The desire to learn the piano, or to resume lessons after a long hiatus, is usually accompanied by uneasy thoughts. Can I do this? Who am I fooling here? At my age?
Perhaps a piano has recently made its appearance in the home, as an inheritance, a purchase, or a loan.
I may receive a nervous phone call or e-mail, full of apologies and embarrassment. But I am always encouraging in reply, since I truly believe that everyone can play the piano. And since I understand how much courage it takes to contact a potential teacher.
I also explain that one cannot choose a piano teacher by phone or e-mail, but only in person. It is a relationship unfolding between two people, and the fit has to be a good one in order for learning to ensue.
And so after some conversation, we arrange to meet in my studio. There we’ll have some more conversation, and a short session at the piano. No money is involved: this is something I do for free. I want a prospective student to get a sense of who I am, of what my studio is like, and of what sort of music we might explore together. I’ll learn about their piano expectations and hopes.
I then encourage them to go home and think over our get-acquainted session, and to contact me again if and when they want to get started. Often we are both so fired up that lessons commence right away, but I want them to feel no pressure, and to feel right about choosing me. Because the chances are that this relationship rooted in music will last a long time!