A child that is too young to grasp the concept of fractions is too young to learn to play an instrument properly. If your child likes the piano, let him plunk to his hearts content.
There's always someone willing to take your money who doesn't care about the outcome. Children who learn by the number system don't get a proper foundation on which to build technique. They get terribly confused later.
Encourage him to play single notes by ear, but PLEASE don't start lessons until he's reading, and can understand quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, eight notes etc...WAY too confusing for a 3 year old.
My piano teacher said that it's not good to start a child with piano lessons until they are at least 6. I don't remember why, but that's just what she said.
If he can learn his ABC's he can learn to play piano. Music is a language and for children this is easy. Put him in lessons and watch him go. But you cannot force this, in a very short amount of time you'll be able to tell if playing piano is not right for him. I used to teach piano and I have seen so many kids who hated playing and their parents didn't really know and the kids didn't want to dissapoint them and tell them.
I think Lelia Fletcher Piano Books are wonderful. The beginning ones have the numbers on the notes for simplicity. You should be able to find them in music shops in your area or they could order them for you. : )
I agree with the others who've advised against the number method. Suggest you don't start teaching him until he can learn the letter names of the keys. In fact, you might teach the alphabet and the keys at the same time.
Some children are apparently born gifted when it comes to musical ability. If he seems to take a great interest in the piano on his own, asking to spend time playing, then I think you should encourage him and even consider professional instruction at this early age. If on the other hand you have to urge him to play, then I'd suggest waiting till about the age of 6 or 7 to try any kind of serious, structured instruction. At any rate, I commend you for wanting him to learn music!
I had my three daughters take Suzuki piano lessons when they were small. It is a great program in which they learn by ear, they recommend that the child begin at age 3 (with piano or violin). If you really want your child to learn at a young age, I would try Suzuki lessons. You will need to go to lessons with them and practice with them every day. They listen to the music they are going to play ahead of time so it is easy for them to pick up.
My girls were 3, 5 and 8 when they started. I think it really helped their budding musical abilities, but I found it was too much for me to keep up with. I would not recommend helping more than one child at a time, and the younger they are, the more time consuming it is. It was my 8 year old that went the farthest with it, but then it was difficult to get her to read music after she learned by ear.
None of them went very far with it, but I do think it helped their musical abilities progress at a young age. Working with them really helped my piano skills, that is for sure. I know some children that begin at age 3 with Suzuki lessons really go far. I do not recommend trying to teach them in other ways until they are able to read.
Please wait until the child can read. You will actually be doing a diservice teaching numbers. I HATE to get transfer students who don't know letter names but sure knows those numbers. It's almost next to impossible to break them from that habit. Please wait! Or seek out a teacher who uses the Suzuki method (larger cities). If you're child has talent, it won't matter how late they start to study music, it will always be there.
I personally feel that a three year old should never be pressured to practice. Music should be enjoyable to him.
I would not use numbers. If you do, he will have to "relearn" them later to learn the correct note names (A B C D E F G).
Most piano teachers will not take a student who can not read yet.
If you have a piano at home you might start him out on your own, and see how he does. Teach him the notes on the staff on index cards made into flash cards. You can teach him to say the note name and then to find it on the keyboard. Once he masters this, then he should be ready to start formal lessons.
If you can afford the private lessons, why not at least try.
I wouldn't sign a contract with a piano teacher, just pay as you go. You don't know for sure if your 3 year old son will catch on to learning the piano.
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