A question I often get asked is “when should my son/daughter start piano lessons?” Here’s my take:
Of course every student is different, so there is no true perfect age to start lessons. I rarely take students younger than 6 because of attention span, inability to read and other physical limitations. I also rarely take a student before they know how to read, but starting them as they are learning to read can lessen frustration in reading music. Really any time between ages 6-8 works well to start, but depends on each student. I know other teachers may take younger students, and I give them credit for that, but I am willing to admit I’m not the best teacher for the very young.
Perhaps even more so than age as a determining factor is the intrinsic desire to take piano lessons from the student. If the student shows obvious signs of musical interest and ability, or asks for lessons, that may signify it’s time to start lessons. It depends on what value is placed on taking music lessons, and whether the student is skilled at appreciating delayed gratification. Music takes time to craft. In a world of instant gratification, I try my best to help students understand the satisfying payoff of delayed gratification.
Now, if the student simply doesn’t want to take piano lessons, that may be a good indicator to wait. If the student is unable to find enjoyment, time and/or self-motivation to practice, then lessons may not be the right fit either.
Of course, parents and students must manage expectations. Will every student I teach end up becoming a concert pianist, probably not. But studying piano lessons can provide so many valuable lessons that are applicable to any aspect of life that I would say it’s worth it for that reason alone. I can’t tell you the number of people that have told me they wish they would have either taken piano lessons or never quit. To me, that’s a testimonial of the power of music.
And finally, if you yourself have always wanted to take lessons but feel you can’t or you missed your window, I would challenge you. What’s stopping you? Sure there are challenges to learning as an adult, but there are also advantages, namely that you are doing something that you want to do, not something you are forced to do. I have several adult students who would absolutely beg to differ that it’s not too late in life to learn piano. Will you become a concert pianist, again, probably not. But you might find that being able to sit down at the piano and play something simple or some piece you’ve dreamt of playing enriches your life and your loved ones in ways that you may never have imagined.