How do young children learn to play the piano? Playing the piano and reading the notes simultaneously requires multiple skills that may be challenging for students under seven. Tip #10 is the best way to teach a young beginning piano student.
Learning to play the piano requires learning the key names, playing them, and reading music, all at the same time. Learning all these skills simultaneously may be unrealistic for a child under seven. It may cause the student frustration and quit even before they’ve begun.
There are many piano method books for young students that offer different approaches.
- There is a method called “rote learning,” a “copycat” type of learning. The teacher will play specific notes, and the student will play back what they’ve heard. There is some value in learning this way since a child at this age has learned everything by watching and copying. And it helps them to play songs right away, which keeps their interest. However, I don’t consider this a long-term teaching technique since they may not understand what they’re playing. It also doesn’t teach reading skills.
- Another method is learning the notes by pattern numbers. However, this is also not effective long-term since most songs are not written out in pattern numbers.
- Some method books use animal characters to teach fun activities that may not directly help teach the student to play. Even though it’s fun for the student, I feel this is a waste if too much time is spent on these activities.
- Some books start with playing the black keys only with finger numbers. Playing this way doesn’t teach the key name and is not realistic to playing the piano.
- Some books start with the middle C hand positions, where both thumbs awkwardly share middle C, then skip to other hand positions before the student has the chance to master each one.
- Another method book offers colors for each key to play songs instead of the key name. In my view, this is an example of another waste of time and learning, since this is not used in reading music.
At Melody Music Publishers, we have two books for ages 4-8 called “Color It Say It Play it and Create It,” a 60-page book, and Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too”, a 50-page book. They’re taught for children to learn piano with clear steps that start with one concept and incrementally add the next concept needed, which is perfect for the young beginning piano student.
Both books start with the proper technique with knees at the edge of the keys, sitting tall, and letting the fingers relax to form a rainbow shape.
Keyboard geography is taught with a coloring book using the seven colors of the rainbow for the seven notes. It starts with coloring the sets of 2 black keys, then the 3 black keys, followed by just C-D-E in the first three colors of the rainbow.
SAY IT PLAY IT!
- Songs to say and play, using letter names using the C-D-E.
- Copycat games on C-D-E so the student can learn to listen and playback.
- Familiar songs with letter names and words like fast and hold for the rhythm.