Piano for the School-Age Child
Today we’re going to speak about piano lessons for the school-age child–anyone from first grade on up through middle school. For the school-age child, particularly for the young school-age child, depending on where they are developmentally they might start in a primer book or an early beginner book. A six or seven-year-old child is a great age to start piano because they already have a basic sense of reading, they know their alphabet, they know right from left, they know up-and-down and those basic concepts are things that we use in lessons. If they have that coming in the door, they’re going to be able to move ahead without having to learn those basic concepts.
School agers have more developed neuromuscular skills than the pre-school child, so they have more hand coordination and we’re able to work on eye-hand coordination as well as learning the language of music which is the written notation and how that’s interpreted.
The school-age child loves to accomplish things, so as they build piano skills, they are able to play songs, play duets and enjoy being at the piano. There is a sense of accomplishment that they have as they develop their musicianship. So it’s great fun, and you would expect with lessons for the school-aged child that there is steady progress as long as they are able to practice during the week and that brings up another point which is that there should be an instrument available to the student taking lessons.
Whether it’s a piano at home, or a keyboard, or an electric piano– any of those will work for the beginner. Ideally it would be a piano, but keyboards are also fine. A space for practice, an instrument to practice on, an regular time each day for practice are key ingredients that will result in steady progress. My recommendation is that the length of practice each day should match up with the length of the lesson. So for a school-age child beginning piano would typically have a weekly half-hour lesson and you would expect that they would try to practice about a 30 minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes in a row– they can do two 15 minute practice sessions, or three 10 minute sessions, but they should try to practice every day, so that from week to week they are able to see steady progress, and we are able to assess each week how that’s going and where there might be sticking points to work on.
They should also enjoying music, and as they progress they’re able to identify music they prefer, so the older school-age child will be selecting duets that they liked the sound of, or particular ideas in music that they want to [ursue. The younger beginner is going through the lesson material and there is less of a choice at that point, but since everything is new they tend to enjoy it all, and are able to move into things that they can select for themselves later on.
I hope this gives you a sense of what the school-age child might be doing in lessons and how we approach working with the school-aged child. See you next time.