You've just enrolled your preschooler into private piano lessons! You and your child's teacher were able to find a time that worked for both of you. The invoice is paid, and soon, you'll be attending the very first lesson. What should you expect? How can you best prepare for that important first lesson?
If you've enrolled your child in private piano lessons, you are probably already aware of the many benefits of studying music. Piano lessons and music study can, at the very least,
- Increase your child's attention span
- Improve your child's language abilities and introduce them other languages, such as Italian, French, and German
- Boost his/her self-confidence
- Develop the capacity for musical expression
- Lay the foundation for learning and music appreciation
BEFORE THE LESSON
How can you prepare your child for the lesson?
- Explore your piano/keyboard at home; point out that some keys are black and some are white. Help your child find the groups of 2 and 3 black keys
- Sing and listen to a variety of songs and music at home, in the car, etc.
- Visualize the upcoming piano lesson with your child and talk about what to expect.
- Make sure that your child is well-rested, fed, and healthy for the first lesson.
- Trim your child's fingernails and have them wash their hands before the lesson.
- If your child's teacher allows it, sit in on the lesson and take notes/videos so that you can help your child at home between lessons.
- Practice identifying and naming the letters of the music alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
- Don't rush to the lesson! Rushing may make your child feel anxious.
THE FIRST LESSON
Preschoolers learn best through play. Because of this, excellent preschool piano lessons are centered around multi-sensory and educational activities.
On average, a child's attention span matches their age in minutes, so an average 3 year old should be able to stay focused on one activity for 3 full minutes, a four year old for 4 minutes, and so on. When your 3 year old is enrolled into a 30 minute piano class, especially at the first lessons, there will be multiple activities to take part in that appeal to the child's individual learning style.
When I teach a private preschool piano lesson, I follow a structured lesson routine (with some flexibility to fit each individual child's needs and learning style) to help children feel secure. I believe it is important to create an engaging, encouraging, and playful environment for this age group. Keeping children engaged is essential to maintaining their attention and creating an educational environment, so I plan a lot of activities.
Here is an example of a private preschool piano lesson in my studio:
- Gross Motor Skill Activities, such as these preschooler-approved Yoga Pretzels!
- Fine motor exercises (such as exercises from Irina Gorin's Tales of a Musical Journey, Irina Mints' Hello Piano, Wunderkeys and KiddyKeys fingerplays)
- Learning about and practicing good hand position with a ladybug as we find the groups of two black keys and three black keys.
I love to teach motivating and fun music as much as possible! Here are books/collections that I frequently order for preschoolers:
- Hello Piano
- My First Piano Trip to London
- Little Gems for Piano by Paula Dreyer
- Susan Paradis
- Tales of a Musical Journey
- Piano Safari
- Music Alphabet Song from My First Piano Adventures
- KiddyKeys Stories, Coloring Pages,Cloth Keyboard Games, selected to match lesson objective
- Keyboard topography with these adorable animals
- Apps such as Music for Little Mozarts, Easy Music, Rhythm Cat Pro, and Note Rush
- Board Games, such as Snakes and Ladders from Ellamentary Piano
- Rhythm instrument free play
- John Feierabend Songs and Activities
- Music Themed Books (Check out my post about this here!)
- Composing with a bell carousel
- Improvising with Play a Story from Innermusician
WHAT ARE THEY ACTUALLY LEARNING?
Even though the lessons may look like play time, your child is actually learning a lot! They are:
- Developing a sense of rhythm, and once they are comfortable hearing and recognizing long and short sounds, learning to notate and read musical notation.
- Expanding their language and communication skills
- Learning how to improvise and create music
- Developing the ability to recognize patterns
- Reinforcing fine and gross motor skills
- Ear training and echo singing
- Learning to play the piano!
AFTER THE LESSON
Review the lesson at home and dedicate some time to practice with your child every day. Try to keep your time spent at the piano together happy, playful, and as low-stress as possible to encourage your child to continue to love music.
If you teach preschool piano and are looking for more ideas and inspiration, be sure to check out Upbeat Piano Teachers Playing with Preschoolers Webinar!