Dozens of studies have shown that music education does wonders for developing minds – but how young is too young? When should you sign up for lessons? Read on as Greenwood, MO piano teacher Benjamin B. tackles the question…
There are a number of philosophies out there in regards to teaching the art of music. Some say a student can be too young to teach and others say there is no age limit. Personally, I believe there is no age limit. When we ask, “how young is too young?”, we are evaluating emotional, physical and psychological characteristics of the student.
From the time of conception children respond to music. A child in the womb has the ability to sync the rhythm of its fetal heart to the mother’s. One of an infant’s first reflexes is a result of touch (rhythm) and sound recognition. On many levels, young students are keenly expressive. They just lack the mechanical ability to intricately design their explosiveness.
I currently teach a young beginner piano student. This student is a typical youngster who can’t sit still for more than five minutes, being easily distracted. She is considered to be at that age where she can begin to understand the concepts of traditional Western music practice. However, she has physical issues. Mechanically, her hands are too small for a large keyboard. Her feet can’t touch the floor and the bench is at such a height as to prevent proper sitting technique. So you run into the issue of mechanical limitations in younger students.
Here’s a question: “Does my student have the cognitive ability to understand the performance of music?” You see, psychological evaluation involves emotional and physical components. Is the child at a developmental level where emotions can be funneled, adjustments can be made for physical limitations, and cognitive reception is evident?
I don’t believe there is an age limit on piano students, but I do consider it prudent to evaluate the “readiness” of that student. Most mechanical limitations can be adjusted for, such as with a smaller keyboard for smaller hands. Psychological and emotional temperaments are harder to deal with because each child is unique. I’ve taught rowdy 8-year-olds and disciplined 4-year-olds. Though it is unusual, a 3-year-old “Mozart” prodigy can exist in our culture today; you need only be ready to teach one. But I would venture to guess that if one were to look closer at the world around them, one would find more Mozarts than thought possible.
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Benjamin B. teaches piano, violin, clarinet, music recording, music theory, songwriting, accordion, fiddle, organ and viola lessons to students in Greenwood, MO. His specialties include jazz, classical, pop and rock styles. Benjamin joined the TakeLessons team in December 2012. Learn more about Benjamin, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by Camera Eye Photography