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Parent's Guide to children playing the Piano

AGE GROUP BOYS AND GIRLS 5 - ADULT

Piano is a learning experience that synchronizes the mind, hands and fingers, and it requires endurance and patience.  It is good foundation for all musical education.  Your child will learn, develop, and practice skills as well as enhance their eye/hand coordination.

What age should my child start lessons?

The recommended age to start a child in Piano lessons is 5 years old.  Some instructors will start as young as three depending on the interest and attention span of the child,  Your child must be able to sit for thirty minutes to be taught simple rhythmic and melodic patterns.

 


Registration for music can be done at anytime, as long as space is available, and your session will be prorated.  Registration can be done in person, by phone, by mail or fax.  In addition, some organizations will allow you to register on line.   Normally these programs are very popular and space can be limited so don't delay registration or you may miss out!  These programs are normally 16 -20 weeks long.

 

COMMITMENT REQUIREMENTS

How much practice is necessary?

As with anything, improving in music takes practice.  One of the major problems with children and music is the drudgery of practicing.  There is no set time, however your child must spend quality time each day reviewing what they were taught.  Piano practice must be concentrated and focused.  Set the same time every day to practice so that it becomes part of a routine or habit. For young children 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity and they spend more time watching the clock  then practicing.  Instead of setting a time frame, use repetition as your gauge.  For example have your child play each piece 3  - 5 times per day.  The child does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing but knows that they are on the third time and almost finished.   Ideally, your child should have a place to practice without distractions and it should not disrupt the household.  If the home is small then you should consider the instrument chosen.  A very large instrument or a noisy instrument could be very disruptive and you may not have the room for it.

How long are sessions?

Depending on the instrument and the skill level of the child lessons will run either 30, 45 or 60 minutes per week. Lessons are scheduled on an individual basis.  Your registration reserves you a time slot for the duration of your instruction period.  It is imperative that you arrive promptly for your lesson.  They will normally give you only one make-up lesson per session and any other that the child misses will be a forfeiture of that lesson.

Recitals...

Formal and informal recitals are an important part of the music program. They will offer your child the opportunity to perform, listen and learn proper recital etiquette.  These recitals are not mandatory but it is to your child's advantage for them to participate. 

COST REQUIREMENTS

Cost of lessons?

The cost of music lessons has four components:

  • music lessons
  • cost of the instrument
  • cost of materials
  • competition or recital fees. 

Music Lessons...

The cost for lessons would depend on whether your child is taking private or group lessons, the length of the class and the qualifications of the instructor.

Music sessions will run for 16 -20 weeks.   As a general indication most instruments will be $25 - $40 for a 30 minute lesson,  $35 -$50 for a 45 minute lesson and $50 - $60 for a 60 minute lesson.  Some organizations offer family discounts and group rates.  Many students enjoy taking lessons with their family or friends.

Instrument Cost...

The cost of the instrument would depend on whether you rent or purchase the instrument.  If you rent the instrument it will be a new piano, that will cost you a monthly fee plus delivery charges.   You can pay the cost all once at the beginning or they will automatically bill your credit card on a monthly basis.  This option is usually available for vertical pianos only.

If you choose to purchase the instrument you have the option of purchasing a new or used instrument.  A used instrument will be substantially cheaper and many times are like new. In addition you have the option to purchase a piano or a keyboard.  Pricing will vary drastically, depending on the type of instrument chosen.

Materials...

Initially, the materials required will be a method book that will cost approximately $ 8- 10. Some music stores will include the book with the rental of the instrument. In addition, some musical accessories could be recommended depending on the instructor.  For instance, music stands, portable CD players, microphones or instrument stands may be required. 

Recital cost....

Competitions and recitals are a wonderful way for your child to show their abilities to the world and it is extremely exciting for them.  However, many recitals and competitions often have entry fees.  You will need to discuss with child's instructor their philosophy on this subject.

 

EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS

Keyboard vs. Piano....

The rule of thumb that applies is that the larger the piano the better the sound.  However, if you have a choice between a so-so grand and a good vertical then choose the vertical. The grand piano is the best investment for the concert pianist.  The largest of verticals is the studio piano, which is about 44 inches tall.  Verticals 39 to 42 inches are called consoles, the smallest of the verticals is the spinet, which is 36 to 39 inches high.   Remember that a piano is a big investment but it is something that you will have for a very long time.

You can also learn to play using a keyboard and many students begin this way. Keyboards are less expensive, and don't require tuning ( which cost around $50 and should be done twice per year). You have the option of a beginner keyboard or a professional keyboard.  A professional keyboard are priced above $1000.   A beginner the price is considerably more affordable, at $200 - $250.  The more keys the more expensive the key board will be.  Key boards should have at least 61 full sized keys. You will not need the full 88 keys until the second or third year of instruction.    You must make sure the digital piano that you select has touch-sensitive keys, that is the harder you strike the key the louder the sound. Be sure your keyboard has the option to plug in a sustain pedal, this is something that will be needed towards the end of the first year of lessons.  You will want to be able to buy this item and plug it in when needed. Also, you will need to consider a keyboard stand so that you have someplace to put it when you get it home.  The cost of stands will range from $40 to $115.  A bench is also needed so that you have the proper hit and positioning for playing.  Keyboard benches will run about $30 to $60.

Long-term dedicated students should purchase an 88 key electric keyboard or an acoustic piano at some point in their development.   Although keyboards are sufficient they still do not duplicate the sound and feel of an acoustic piano.  If your child is playing primarily classical music then the acoustical piano is necessary.  If they require an instrument capable of performing a variety of different types of music then you should consider the 88 key electric keyboard.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Did you know...

Realize that the instrument that your child begins with may not necessarily be the one that they stay with forever.  They are however,  learning the basics of music theory and harmony that can be easily converted to another instrument.

You will know when your child is ready to enter competition when he/she feels extremely confident and is willing to play in front of people. This is the best sign that your child is ready to go out and be judged for their performance.

Rewards work very well for children. Be sure to grant an occasional simple reward to help encourage practice.  Stickers are a great way to show approval.  Praise also tends to be a great reward; there is no substitution for a pat on the back for a job well done.

Instruments are very delicate and should always be protected from heat, cold and quick changes in temperature.

It is important to properly maintain your instrument at all times.

 

Harmony Two or more different pitches sounding at the same time
EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE A rule to remember the lines of a staff by using the first letter     of each word (EGBDF).
Duet A composition for two players.
FACE A rule to remember, from bottom to top, the spaces on a musical staff.
Solo A composition written for one player, often with a piano accompaniment.
Practice Time set aside for your child to review what the teacher has  taught them during their normal lessons.
Piano A large musical instrument with a keyboard.
Pianist A person who performs music on the piano.
Staff The five lines and four spaces used for writing music
Musical Alphabet The letters A through G.  These are used to name the notes     on the staff in a LINE - SPACE - LINE - SPACE order
Touch  The feeling of the keys in operation
Dip The distance that the key can be depressed
Damper A felt-topped strip of wood which, when in place on a piano string, keeps the string from vibrating.
Acoustic Piano The name that describes a piano with a soundboard and strings: upright, grand and baby grand pianos.
Baby Grand The smallest type of grand piano.
Tuning
 
Turning pegs on an acoustic piano to produce the correct sound.
Hammer The part that hits the piano strings to produce the sound on an acoustic piano.
Grand Piano An acoustic piano that sits on the floor horizontally.