Piano Lessons FAQ
Q: What is the best age to begin piano lessons?
A: Starting Suzuki piano lessons for preschoolers is best!
Why? Because the first 7 years of a child’s life are the main language development years, when a child’s ear is especially sensitive and ready to be trained. Since music and language both use the same part of a child’s brain, then it makes sense to maximise this age for developing their musical language.
We start piano lessons at around 3 or 4 years old, as this is when children are developing awareness and greater control of their fine motor skills, which are needed to play the piano. Suzuki piano lessons can commence at a much younger age than “traditional” piano lessons, because “traditional” piano lessons often focus on reading the music right from the very first lessons. Obviously a child needs to be older if they are to read music, since there are a whole range of other skills associated with this, that younger children simply do not possess.
Q: Why do Suzuki piano students learn by ear and not learn to read music at the start like other piano lessons?
A: The Suzuki Method is based on the “Mother Tongue” approach.
The philosophy is that children can best learn music like language – this begins through the development of the ear – listening and then modelling. Focussing on the listening and learning to fluently move around the piano keys is a natural first step.
Once these manual and aural skills are developed, the child can then add the next layer of complexity to their musical learning – decoding music! Just like learning to read words, a child MUST be able to speak fluently before they can learn to decode the symbols that represent words!
Q: Why is listening to the Suzuki Piano recordings so important?
A: Children learn by listening and copying the sounds they hear – both with language and with music.
It comes back to the foundation of Dr Suzuki’s Method – the Mother Tongue Method. When children learn to talk, they do so by listening to people around them talking for many months before they utter a word themselves. As their language develops, it does so through listening and modelling what they hear. That is how people learn to speak so well so young.
This is the same principle for learning music through the Suzuki method – they listen daily for weeks and months (…and years!) as they are learning to play the music. They model the sound of the recordings, and develop a keen ear for the intricacies of the music, just as they do for language. The more they listen, the better their ear and musicality develop. Combine this with daily practice (just the same as one needs to do with any skill – like walking and talking!), and you have a powerful formula for growing amazing ability.
Q: Do Suzuki piano lessons include learning music theory?
A: Yes! Music theory is taught to all students once they are ready to learn to read music.
For younger students, I am trained in Music Mind Games, a system of learning music theory that brings fun and engagement to music theory for beginners. You can learn more about how Gabrielle teaches music theory lessons for kids here.
For older students, learning theory and musicianship form an integral part of the piano lessons.
Q: Do Suzuki students learn to read music?
A: Yes! Reading music is vital to every student’s advancement.
This is in keeping with the true Suzuki philosophy which I teach – Three goals for my students are:
- good listening skills,
- fluency in reading music and
- excellent playing technique and tone.
In the same way children are already speaking vey well by the time they go to school and begin reading words, so it is in the Suzuki method – children learn to play fluently and musically, and then learn the meaning of the symbols on the page and how they relate to the music they already know and understand how to play.
Q: What is the best piano for beginners?
A: For beginners, the best piano is an acoustic piano – the best quality you can afford!
This could be a grand piano or a high quality upright piano. When children are just starting piano lessons, they need to have the highest quality instrument possible, because this is the time when they form their listening and technique. Learning on a high quality instrument right from the very first piano lessons will be enjoyable. In addition, it will ensure that the student is developing an ear for fine detail and and a strong technique which will form the foundation of their skills for the rest of their life!
Book Suzuki Piano Lessons For Your Child Today
Contact Gabrielle to learn more about inspiring piano lessons for kids in Meadowbank or Thornleigh