Hoffman Academy Blog

10 Things to do Before Your Child Starts Piano Lessons

Starting music lessons can be a big undertaking. Here’s some things you can do to help your child get ready:

1. Listen to Music Together

Our children grow up surrounded by music. It’s in the movies and shows they watch, and in the video games they play. Enrich your child’s music listening experience by intentionally choosing the kind of music you play in your home. Listen to your favorite popular music, but also choose some classical pieces, and other music from different cultures and time periods. Your public library and the internet can be great resources for sampling new music at little or no cost.

2. Sing Together

The first instrument you learn is your own voice. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a great singer, sing to your children and encourage them to sing along. Singing develops so many music skills that your child will use later as a piano student.

3. Watch Piano Performances

These days it’s super easy to find piano performances on the internet. On Youtube you can find people of all ages playing the piano at all different skill levels. For some really impressive performances, we like the Piano Guys or Jarrod Radnich.

4. Rhythm and Clapping Games

Games like “Pat-a-Cake” and “Pease Porridge Hot” aren’t just to keep the baby busy for a while. They develop a sense of rhythm and pattern that form a foundation of music learning later in life. Visit http://funclapping.com/ for more clapping games.

5. Acquire a Piano or Keyboard

Your child will need to practice every day in order to really make progress on the piano, and so you’re going to need a piano or keyboard in your home. A well-tuned acoustic piano in good condition is ideal, but a quality electronic keyboard can also work for a beginning student. Read this article for more information on how to decide what keyboard instrument is best for your family.

6. Make Sure Your Child Is Ready

In order to be ready for piano lessons, children need to reach a certain level of both physical and mental development. Hand size, finger strength, attention span, and an interest in learning the piano are all important factors. Here’s a checklist to make sure your child is ready to begin.

7. Establish Clear Expectations

Before your child begins piano lessons, be sure you sit down and have a conversation about what you expect. I recommend agreeing on a time of day to practice, every day, even if that practice is only for five minutes. Start small, but start consistent, and then you’ll have something to build on as your child advances through their piano lessons.

8. Realize Your Important Role as a Parent

I can’t emphasize enough that a beginning piano student needs the help of an encouraging adult in order to succeed in their daily music practice. Be prepared to sit down with your child and help them practice every day. Read this article to find out how to be a positive practice partner.

9. Make Sure You Have the Time and Energy to Make It Work

Create a time and a place in your life for learning music. If you or your child are already over-scheduled, but you feel that piano is an important thing for your child to learn, find something else you can set aside. It can be hard to find fifteen to thirty minutes a day in a busy schedule, but learning to play the piano can be so much more valuable than other things that might be taking up time.

10. Explore Options for Lessons

We think that Hoffman Academy is a great option for beginning piano students, but maybe there’s a fantastic private piano teacher in your very own neighborhood. For recommendations on how to choose a piano teacher, read this.

Even if your child has already started piano lessons and you haven’t done some of these things, no worries! Music lessons are an ongoing process, and piano students will benefit as you apply these principles at any time during their studies.

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  1. Hand-drawn avatar

    I have a question about #2. I took Suzuki piano for many years as a child, and I play the flute at an intermediate level. As far back as I can remember, I have also been able to sing on key. (I do not have perfect pitch, however). My parents were in choir and could sing reasonably well. But when I married my husband, I learned what “tone deaf” meant! He has no musical background or training and when he sings, his notes and intervals are all over the place. (Singing acapella, he will end on a completely different note/ key than when he started). My 7 year old daughter tends to do the same thing and I am trying to train her to match her voice to the note on the piano that is being played. We’ve just started your program. Is this something you will address during the course? Is there anything else I can do to help her learn to sing on key? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hoffman Academy logo
      Hoffman Academy

      Thanks for your question! Don’t worry: what you are experiencing is very common. I myself was rather horrified to find that my own two children did not often sing in tune (not remotely) in their pre-K and early elementary years. Experience teaching many hundreds of kids over the years has shown me that learning to sing in tune really is not so much a matter of being “tone deaf” or not. It’s really all about learning to coordinate your ear with your voice. This takes time and experience. Adults who claim to be “tone deaf” are really just people who never had enough time and experience with singing to figure out the coordination of their voice. Yes, it comes more naturally to some than to others, but it is something that EVERYONE can learn.

      While I do not specifically address singing in tune in my lessons, I find that the best way to help kids with this is very simple. Just have fun singing with them! I would avoid drilling or making a big deal about singing in tune. Most kids just figure it out on their own – A lot like learning to skip or whistle. One day it just starts to click. Making singing a joyful, natural part of your family culture, and I think your daughter will pick it up just fine. If you can find a local children’s choir for her to join, that can do wonders for singing ability. It is such a safe, comfortable environment for a child to learn to use her voice. I hope this helps!

      PS We’re doing a blog post very soon on this very topic, so be watching for it!

  2. Hand-drawn avatar

    How would I start using Hoffman Academy with children who have had several years of piano and are a little older? I love what I see! My 9 and 7 year olds participated in Let’s Play Music, also written by a BYU Music Grad, and I have been struggling to find a method that is a good fit after all they learned there. Yours seems the best, but I don’t know where to begin with them. Any suggestions? The oldest can play both hands together, improvises using the I, V7, and 64 chords in C, F, and G (maybe a level two?).

    • Hoffman Academy logo
      Hoffman Academy

      I’m glad you’re interested in our lessons! It’s a tricky business to compare levels in different methods because skills and topics are often introduced in a different order. For beginners, I generally recommend working through 2-3 new lessons per week; if done on a consistent basis, that means our current set of 120 lessons would take about 18 months to work through. However, if your children are only confident playing in the major keys of C, F, and D, I would suggest trying Unit 3. As long as they are enjoying themselves and are still motivated, the review and new angle on familiar concepts would be good for them, plus they are likely to learn new skills as well. You can check out index pages for every unit, with a summary of “What You’ll Learn” in each lesson. Feel free to skip around, especially if too much review gets boring for them. I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing. – Mr. Hoffman

  3. Hand-drawn avatar

    Thank you for nice practical advice. My daughter is 3 years old and I am wondering how to start to teach her play on piano. This information helps me a lot. Thank you very much.

  4. Hand-drawn avatar
    Tricia Olma

    We are so happy to have stumbled across Hoffman Academy on the internet. Emmit (9) looks forward to his (almost) daily practice and has moved through 12 lessons in about 5 weeks. He is so proud, and I am so impressed, that he can compose his own songs already. This weeks tip on watching piano performances was also a hit. Your choice of the Batman theme song was a perfect fit and very inspiring for Emmit who said that he never knew the piano played such cool music. I would like to say “Thank You for a job well done.”