Is My Musically Gifted Child Ready for Lessons?

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Answered by: Lindsay, An Expert in the Nurturing Talents Category
We've probably all seen them on YouTube at one time or another... those adorable mini maestros sitting confidently on the bench with their little fingers flying effortlessly across the black and white keys in front of them. Their performances invariably leave us with our jaws on the ground and our minds wondering, "Could my little Johnny (or Jessica) ever play like that?"

Is My Child Naturally Musically Gifted?

Children are naturally gifted in any number of unique ways. For example, they may have a bent towards mechanical workings, athletic achievements or artistic expressions. If you are seeking to determine the existence of a natural inclination that your child may have towards music, watch for indicators such as:

• A persistent interest in listening to music

• Moving in rhythm with songs and sounds

• Singing/Humming on pitch with melodies (and noticing when others aren't!)

• Requests for music lessons

If you believe your child to have these indicators of musical responsiveness, it may be time for you to find a teacher who can provide proper training to ensure the growth and development of those natural gifts.

Piano Lessons: The First Step Into the World of Music

A great entry point into the world of music is learning to play the piano. Not only is the piano an easy instrument for little hands to have the size and strength to be able to play, but it does not require strong breath support (like a wind instrument does), exact finger placement (like a stringed instrument would), or physical height (like a percussion instrument may). As such, the piano sounds good from the first press of a key, and this 'instant gratification' is often a motivating factor for a child.

In addition, the basic elements of note reading, rhythm, pitch recognition, and hand-eye coordination developed by playing the piano, can be directly transferred to any other instrument later on.

Is My Child Ready for Piano Lessons?

This is a very common question from parents who realize the importance of developing their naturally musically gifted child's love of music at a very early age. To gauge their 'readiness' for piano lessons, consider these three key factors:

1.     Are YOU willing to participate in the process?

Arguably the most important factor in a young child's readiness for piano lessons, is the parents' level of willingness to be engaged with the learning process. Parents will often need to coach their child in developing appropriate habits at home (i.e. listening, rehearsing, completing projects, etc.), in order for the in-class experience to be positive and productive. If this is not possible or will not be made a priority at this time, right now may not be a good time to put your child into lessons.

2.     Is your child's attention span adequate?

Can your child actively engage in learning for 30 minutes or more? Piano lessons are generally scheduled once a week for 30-60 minutes, and depending on the teaching style of the piano teacher, this may mean that little Johnny or Jessica will need to be seated for that amount of time. In order for the teacher to supply your child with the instruction necessary, it will be important that an adequate attention span has developed.

3.     Has your child mastered the necessary social behaviors?

Is your child likely to exercise their ability to willingly agree to comply with simple instructions? It is important that your child is capable of following directions, managing their emotions and behaving appropriately when around others, whether small groups of peers, or one-on-one with the teacher. A disruptive or emotionally volatile environment is not conducive to a positive learning experience.

How Long Will The Learning Process Take?

Just as a flower, if forced open too soon, will wilt and fail to blossom, so it often is with a naturally talented child who is too rushed or too pressured to perform too soon. Be patient with the process, and be sure to keep an honest and ongoing line of communication open with your child's piano teacher. If you sense that your child's progress is stalling or moving excessively slowly, be intentional about asking questions and making appropriate adjustments.

Although the musically gifted children on YouTube are a wonder, what these viral videos rarely reveal are the hours spent practicing, the financial and emotional investments of the child's parents, and the ongoing piano lessons that cultivated that gift in order to bring it to fruition.

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