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What Is the Best Age to Begin Piano Lessons?

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It’s never too late to start learning piano, but there’s a golden opportunity to take advantage of a child’s amazing learning abilities if lessons are begun early!

Parents who give their children the gift of a musical education start them out on a path that will enrich their lives in so many ways. Studying music develops discipline, hand-eye coordination, intelligence, and creates a skill that can bring happiness to both the performer and to all who listen. According to a recent article in the LA Times, 6-year-olds who received keyboard instruction had more brain growth and better fine motor skills than their peers. Piano lessons are such a great thing, why not get started as soon as possible?

 

IS IT EVER TOO EARLY?

It is true that you can find videos on YouTube of three-year-olds playing Mozart, but that doesn’t mean that a three-year-old who likes plunking on the piano keys should be signed up for lessons. Children under the age of five who show an interest in the piano should be allowed to explore and learn on their own time table. They probably won’t respond well to an adult-imposed learning structure. Instead, parents of children under age five should be doing things to cultivate a general interest in music. Singing, dancing, listening to recorded music, and enrolling in a good preschool music program will allow a child to have fun exploring music and prepare for studying an instrument when the time is right.

 

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR READINESS

The best time to start piano lessons will be different for every child, but most will be ready between the ages of 5 1/2 to 8 years old. Here is a short checklist of things a child needs to get a good start as a piano student:

 

1. SIZE OF HAND

A child who is taking piano lessons should be comfortable placing five fingers on five adjacent white keys. For some five-year-olds, that’s a big stretch! Before beginning piano lessons, make sure your child’s hands have grown enough to be comfortable using a keyboard.

 

2. FINGER INDEPENDENCE

A child who is taking piano lessons needs to be able to move individual fingers. A good test of this is to try Hoffman Academy’s Lesson Number 1, “Hot Cross Buns.” (It’s free!) A child who can use three different fingers on three black keys to play “Hot Cross Buns” is ready for lessons.  A child who can only play by picking out the tune with one finger is probably not ready.

 

3. INTEREST IN MUSIC AND DESIRE TO LEARN

At any age, motivation is an important factor of readiness. If a child does not want to take piano lessons then the parent should instead spend time cultivating interest in music.

 

A WORD ABOUT READING

Piano students who use a book based method may do better if they begin at age seven or eight, after they are beginning to read words with more fluency. Students who begin with an ear-based method, such as the Suzuki Method or the Hoffman Method, can start earlier at age five or six.

 

IS IT EVER TOO LATE?

Piano students can start lessons after age eight and all the way up to adult, but it is true that there are some advantages to starting earlier. For one thing, children who are eight or younger have more supple hands. Older children who have never studied an instrument, and even adult learners, often have to deal with more finger awkwardness. This can be overcome with desire and practice, but it will take more effort. There are also studies showing that young children can learn complex brain skills like languages more easily than older children and adults because their brains are still developing. These years are really a window of opportunity to develop musical intelligence. Older students can learn too, it will just take more effort.

 
Another reason it is easier for younger children to start piano lessons is the amount of available time they have to practice. Older kids and teenagers usually fill up their lives with other interests. A child who starts in first grade and gets in six years of piano by middle school is more likely to be advanced enough to want to stick with it even as life gets busier.

 
So what is the best age to begin piano lessons? For a child who meets all the requirements of hand size, finger independence, and desire, the answer is, as soon as possible! Take advantage of the opportunity to immerse your young child’s mind in the language of music. If those prime years of opportunity have already passed, it is never too late for a child with a real desire to learn. Studying music at any age is good for body, mind, and spirit, and something to enjoy for a lifetime.

 
Happy playing,
Joseph Hoffman

51 Responses to What Is the Best Age to Begin Piano Lessons?

  1. I’m 14, I played piano from ages 6 to 8 but I had issues with my teacher and gave up. I still play some pieces by ear on my piano, I have no issues with my fingers (playing other instruments has helped this, as well as naturally having long and thin fingers). Is it too late for me to start up again? I’ve always adored the piano and I’d love to be even halfway good at it.

    • It is never too late to develop piano skills, and having already been exposed to finger independence, theory, and ear training will be a great benefit to you. It may be easier for smaller children to develop the muscles and skills necessary for piano, but equal amounts of success can still be achieved by an older student through diligent practice. Best of luck to you! – Mr. Hoffman

  2. Hi
    My daughter’s about to be 12 and never had a proper piano lesson but she has been learning violin since I can remember and can confidently read bass clef as well. She has been teaching herself piano on my mother’s piano and we got a keyboard from my brother at Xmas. Since then she taught herself all kinds of pieces like Für Elise, Moonlight sonata and even some Grade 2 pieces from a book her friend lent her! She’s is very musical and has a strong desire to learn in general, but music is clearly her passion.

    So, is it too late to start proper piano lessons?

    Best wishes.

    • I am delighted to hear how much musical education your daughter has received, even without “proper piano lessons”! It is never too late to begin learning piano, and having already been exposed to theory and ear training will be a great benefit to her. While it may be easier for smaller children to develop the muscles and skills necessary for piano, equal amounts of success can still be achieved by an older student through diligent practice. It’s difficult to predict how a given child will progress in piano (especially so for me to give an opinion on a student I haven’t personally worked with), but based on her interest and exposure I would guess that she will make great progress. Good luck to you both! – Mr. Hoffman

  3. Hi Mr Hoffman,
    I have my daughter is soon to be 11, she just just did her rcm exam level 7,but not too well, barely passed her level 7 exam, but she has to work on the theory. She is so behind about to understand the theory, her piano teacher is more focus on the practical not pay much attention to the theory until she needs to do her theory exam.How ever her teacher demanded more time to work with her, which we agreed for that, we try everything we can to make it work. My question to you when she learned piano lessons she needed to learn theory as same time as a practical ? I am worry about she needs a lot of time to catch up. I don’t have any music background to judge the teacher or my daughter. Please me some options of your advices. Thanks

    • It’s true that both learning the theory behind the music and developing practical skills are essential to a complete piano education. The Hoffman Method incorporates a significant amount of theory from the very beginning, but if your daughter is around RCM level 7, I doubt that the lessons we currently have posted online will give her what she needs. Our Units 1-5 cover most Prepratory/Primer and Level 1 material. Sorry I can’t be more help, but I wish you and your daughter good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  4. Hi, I would like to start piano classes for my 5 and half year daughter. Which method is better to start with: Yamaha, Suzuki? Or others?
    Thank you

    • I’m afraid you’re asking someone who is biased: I would recommend the Hoffman Method. :) Honestly, when I became a piano teacher, I struggled with choosing between the available methods because each has its own pros and cons. That is what led me to develop a method that I feel delivers high quality musical education while developing the character and musicality of the student. 5 years old is usually a great time to begin and, regardless of your daughter’s reading level, you are likely to have success with any of the Hoffman, Suzuki, or Yamaha methods as all three begin with a great deal of aural training. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  5. Hello,

    I’m 15 about to be 16. I have had an interest in playing piano for majority of my life, however, I have never received formal instruction. The things that I do know I have taught myself via rote or playing by ear. It is very difficult for me to play two different things with my hands and I can’t do things like type online with all of my fingers. My form with playing is good but I am not coordinated between hands. I also cannot read the sheet notes either. I am a really big fan of Chopin, Claude Debussy, Beethoven, Saint-Saëns, and such and have always wanted to play them. Do you think that it is possible for me to be able to play at that level considering that I did not start at a young age? If so what would I need to do to begin playing?
    Thanks!


    Dorien Baker

    • I’m so glad you are aspiring to play the piano, and you are certainly not too old to begin! If you are willing to make daily practice a priority, I think you will have great success with our lessons. We will work on all the issues you brought up, and many more. That being said, it’s important to realize that there is no “quick and easy” way to teach yourself to play the classical music you admire. The 100 lessons that are currently available on our website will generally take a beginner about 8-12 months to work through. Even then, you will not necessarily be ready to play Chopin. Learning to play the piano is an amazing adventure, but the level of proficiency you aspire to comes from years of practice. I say this not to discourage you, but to help you have realistic expectations for yourself. The best way to begin is to make the commitment and then make your plan. It helps a lot if there is a fixed time of day reserved for your practice time so it isn’t easily forgotten or scheduled over. Most beginners complete 2-3 new lessons per week using 10-20 minute practice sessions, but you should find your own balance that challenges you without burning you out. Feel free to check in again or contact us at Support@HoffmanAcademy.com if you have other questions! – Mr. Hoffman

  6. Hi. I’m 19 and started getting enrolled in piano lessons when I was 5 up until the age of 9 and then I had to drop it. I did keep playing and learned some guitar and got piano lessons every now and then. But right now I really want to play the piano again. Is it possible for someone my age to ever be able to play, for example, Chopin’s Etudes? I’m looking for classes but I am currently a self-learner. I can figure out simple songs like Fur Elise and all but I really want to play Chopin. Is it still possible?

    • That is a wonderful goal! While I can’t speak for your specific situation without working with you in person, I am inclined to say it’s certainly possible. If you took lessons for years as a child, there is a lot that your body will remember as you begin to consistently practice again. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, though. While there are some neurological and muscular reasons that it is easier for children to learn piano than adults, you also should consider time and motivation: children have fewer responsibilities and commitments than adults, and a parent can establish a schedule and incentives to make piano a priority. An adult like you will need to make time and commit yourself to practice on your own. That takes an extra amount of mental energy along with the physical work of practicing. However, if you are willing to put in the hard work, the rewards will come. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  7. Hello,

    It’s never too late to begin piano lessons.

    I’m 45 years old and I start piano this year. I didn’t know anything about piano or music and I learned with different websites like this one !

    You can find a lot of very useful information online and you can start playing very quickly. It’s not difficult if you stay motivated.

    Enjoy playing piano.

    • Learning piano after a different instrument is just fine, and in many ways even easier than learning it first. You probably already have a grasp of music theory and rhythm, key signatures and time signatures, etc. All of that will be helpful as you start to develop the strength and muscle memory in your fingers to play piano. For recommendations on keyboards, check out our blog post on Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for the Beginning Student. Good luck, and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

  8. Dear Sir, my son is 8 years old. Would you please tell me what is the difference between keyboard class and piano class. Which one is better?

    • Absolutely not! While there are certainly added benefits to starting early, it is never too late to start learning to play the piano. – Mr. Hoffman

  9. Hi hoffman,
    I am 25 years old and i am very keen to learn piano. But i have never learnt any instrument nor music before.
    1) So is this a good age to learn piano? Or is it not possible to develop the skill at this age?
    2) As a beginner is it right to start with a digital piano or keyboard ?
    3) My job is pretty hectic, so as a beginner how many hours should i spend to develop piano skills?
    4) also please suggest wich piano or keyboard i should start with !!
    Please reply, thanx in advance

    • It is never too late to start learning piano! There are certainly benefits to starting early, but we have hundreds of older students who have had great success with our lessons. As a beginner, I recommend making time for 15-20 minutes of practice time 6 days a week. As your skills improve or if you want to progress faster, you can increase that amount over time. For your questions about digital pianos, let me refer you to an article in our blog that will give you both information and recommendations: Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for the Beginning Student. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  10. I am 21. and i know i should have taken advantage back wheni was younger and had the extra time. but is it still possible for me to learn how to play the piano at my age? Are there other people as late as i am to still learn? i want to make this my career. just dont know where to start. any information will be gladly appreciated and will be forever thankful .thank you

    • It is never too late to begin piano lessons! We have had hundreds of adult students report great success learning to play later in life. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  11. I am 23 and I have hugh interest to pick up piano classes now. Listening to the sound it produces gives me warmth and really makes me feel the passion. I dont really type with all my fingers but i can type fairly fast, I do realise playing a piano and typing are different things. I barely have any musical knowlegde but have much love for music, is my late start to piano classes and minimal knowledge about the instrument be a reason to not to take up learning piano?

    • Starting to learn the piano later in life can still be a wonderful, rewarding experience – it is never too late to start! While our lessons are geared to kids, we have had hundreds of adult students report great success. I hope you’ll try it. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  12. Hello! I’m very glad I found this page. I’ve set as a goal to learn an instrument for the longest time but I keep postponing it. Now I’m 27 and I was afraid that it was too late to learn how to play piano. I’ve never studied music so I can’t read it either, and my partner who studied music as a child says I’m tone deaf because I can’t clearly compare the notes like other people do and apparently I do a horrible job when I try to reproduce them. Do you think that is something I can ever learn? Thanks a lot!

    • Learning to play the piano later in life is more of a challenge than starting young, but it is really never too late to start! I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy learning. – Mr. Hoffman

    • I would learn piano much the same at 14 years old as I would at 7. It takes patience and consistent daily practice at any age. I encourage you to try out the lessons on Hoffman Academy and see if it’s a good fit for you! Best, Joseph Hoffman

  13. Hello, My name is Maria and I am 61 years old , I started learning the violin by myself with the book then , when I finished in June I decided to find a teacher for all the technical, I just finished the second book with her, now I want to learn to play the piano and this method it looks easy so, I will give it a try, Thank you, Mr.
    Hoffman. I think is never to late to learn something

  14. Hi ,

    i am interested in putting my daughter in piano lessons & she also have interest in learning piano. Her age is 4 1/2 yrs & we are staying in belgium & in her school they are providing to teach piano to the kids.
    Just wanted to know is it the right age for my daughter to start learning piano.

    Best Regard

    • Hello! Great question. I have found that at 4 1/2 years old some kids may be ready, but some are not. I would suggest that you try Lesson 1 on our website with your daughter. If she handles it well, can stay focused on it, and is successful at learning the song, then she is probably ready! Best,

  15. Hello,
    I just signed my almost 6 year old daughter to piano lessons. It was her wish and I had to comply. Do you think that the fact that no one in our family has ever played any sort of instrument or showed any interest for a music lesson is a problem? She’ll only have her teacher as a guide.

    • Hello and thanks for your question! I believe that with a good teacher, it should be no problem that you, the parent, have no prior musical training. Just try and learn along with your child, so you can be as helpful as possible. Even without musical training, you should still plan to sit with your daughter as she goes through her assignment, to make sure she is doing everything her teacher asked. It would also be very helpful if you could sit in on the lesson. If you have any questions about your daughter’s learning or how you can help as a parent, please ask your teacher for specific guidance. I wish you good luck with your daughter’s new musical journey!

  16. And do you think if I want to learn piano I should go to the music classes or I can learn it with reading the books ?

  17. My son and I really liked your piano lessons. We just bought a digital piano and my son enjoys learning music. You have inspired him, Thank you very much.

  18. Hi Joseph,

    I’m 24 and really keen on learning how to play piano. I don’t know how to play any instrument and I can’t read music.

    Few questions:

    1. I can type really fast on a PC keyboard (120wpm) with perfect accuracy. Will that help me in learning piano faster? I understand that learning to play accurately is more important than speed.

    2. I’ve deep interest in learning the instrument. Is my age and lack of musical knowledge any sort of barrier? I’m intending to fix a schedule to practice everyday. What’s the recommended duration for me to practice everyday?

    3. I’ve Casio CTK-810IN keyboard. Is that enough to learn to play?
    http://www.furtadosonline.com/media/instrument/1102/200003_1_casio_electronic_keyboard_ctk810in_with_free_adaptor_mp3_player_amp59_dust_cover.jpg

    • Hi, To answers your questions: 1) If you can type that fast, you must have good finger dexterity and coordination, and I would see that as a plus. Obviously, there are many significant differences between typing and playing piano, but with practice, you should be able to apply your natural coordination to learning this new musical skill.
      2) Age should be no barrier. If you are willing to practice with focus and patience, 20-25 minutes every day, I think you can make fine progress. As you become more advanced in your skills, you could benefit from gradually increasing your daily practice time.
      3) To develop finger strength for playing on any piano, I recommend practicing on a keyboard with weighted keys, like the Casio Privia. You can read more about my keyboard recommendations here: https://www.hoffmanacademy.com/blog/choosing-a-piano-or-keyboard-for-the-beginning-student/
      I hope this helps! I wish you the best with your goal to learn piano. -Joseph

      • Thank you very much Joseph for patiently answering my questions. Really appreciate that. Would get back to you if I have any more doubts.

        I really like your efforts and intention on uploading videos for free.

  19. My 6 year old daughter has almost finished Unit 1. I think she’s at a good age for these lessons, esp since Mr. Hoffman has a very nice style that my kids find very appealing.

    We’ve also been doing a program called Little Musician, which we discovered a few months ago. It’s not piano; just solfege and chords, and designed for young children. The kids (my son is 3.5) love it, esp since it provides several nursery rhymes in solfege.

    My younger child seems to be enjoying the synergy between his little music program and watching his sister practice Mr. Hoffman’s songs. They both like to sing the songs from these lessons, and we’ve also enjoyed the downloaded activities. (For $19, they are a great deal.)

  20. Thank you for the lessons. My son is 5 1/2, and he started to play last year. But we stopped for a while and now we want to start again. He is left handed. Does he need to know or do something more than a right handed child? Thank you.

    • Hi Daniela, Thank you for your question! I have taught many left handed children, and I always use the same approach regardless of which hand is dominant. Pianists need to develop coordination in both hands, and using my method, he should be fine. You will notice that I often learn a song first in the right hand, but then I encourage students to try playing melody in the left hand, too, then both hands. Ideally, during practice time, you should be spending roughly equal time between right handed and left handed playing, so both hands develop equally. I hope this helps! Enjoy the lessons! -Joseph Hoffman

  21. I definitely like the way you teach, it interests my kid. We are in lesson 8. And my kid is showing interest to learn more. This is my first time trying online course with my 5 year old kid.
    I am greatly excited.

    Thanks,
    Madhuri

  22. You are so good at teaching this, specially for kids my son is 6 and loves your lessons. He is just started so he is in lesson #4
    God bless you

  23. Thank-you for the lessons,I have a granddaughter 9 and a grandson who love music and are enjoying the lessons thank u for the parent tips for I am the one teaching,Love to see them grow!

  24. Hello,
    Surely I agree you the benefits of learning music and playing piano and this the reason that motivate me to start music learning for my children ( ages 3 and 4.5 years) although they are very young but they like music and singing, So I think through studying your lessons I can transfer the information to them in simple way and reinforce the similarity information between your lessons and them study in school ( ABC ,numbers, left and right the songs… its.) I think and wish that will increase them`s love of music.
    Really I appreciate you to allow us enable learning this useful data.
    And sure I`m soon will try buy the golden material.

    Really great material, great new version of lessons and great Mr.Hoffmanaca.

    Best regard

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