Many of our past blogs have mentioned the amazing benefits of piano lessons for children. To sum it up again: kids get a life-long skill and get better grades at school, they become more creative, and they become smarter. It’s no wonder parents often want to enroll their child in music lessons at a very young age. But should you enroll your child in music lessons if they don’t appear interested?
Let’s talk about why children want to try new activities in general. Children become interested in an activity when they have some initial knowledge or previous experience with it. For example, when 3 year old kicking a soccer ball with their parents in the park experiences the happiness of scoring some goals, they may be interested in joining a soccer class. When a young child who is riding a bike with training wheels sees an older kid riding a bicycle without the training wheels, they will want to try harder to learn to ride without training wheels until they can do it themselves.
The same kind of motivation exists for kids’ music lessons. We can divide it in two categories: experiencing making music firsthand and seeing or hearing others play.
The most common and easiest way to introduce your child to the idea of taking music lessons is to give them a musical instrument and let them experience it! You may first pique their interest with a toy piano, then a small keyboard, and maybe even an acoustic piano after that. Allowing your child to experiment with making different sounds on the keyboard, create their own “songs,” and maybe play along with some music in the house creates excitement! This should be all just pure fun without any real attempt to teach a child anything yet, so please, don’t try to teach your 18 month old how to play Für Elise!
The second type of musical motivation for young children is listening and seeing somebody else playing the instrument. This influence could come from a music teacher in their preschool, their favorite artist on TV, or-behold-the strongest influence for kids known to man – ANOTHER kid playing an instrument! If your child’s best friend is taking piano lessons, we can say with nearly 100% certainty that your child will want to take lessons, too!
So, yes, it is a huge positive factor for a child to be interested in music lessons in order to begin learning an instrument on their own. Looking at the array of experiences above, we know that you can play a part in this from the very beginning. Motivate your child by buying them a toy musical instrument, bringing them to a concert of children’s music, bringing them to your friend’s kid’s music recital, or even just play YouTube videos of well known artists at the piano. All of these things are very easy to do and we highly recommend these before beginning music lessons.
What if, however, despite all the efforts, a child still shows no interest in trying a piano lesson? Is it still possible for them to start learning to play without the parents having to push like crazy, and eventually feeling guilty about it?
First off, don’t feel completely give up if your child is not stoked to attend their first music lesson. They were probably not always stoked to go to math tutoring either. Many enriching things in a child’s life have to be done despite the child not wanting them at first. Your child at some point probably didn’t want to go into a swimming pool afraid of cold water but then in the end didn’t want to leave.
So can you start piano lessons with a seemingly uninterested child? Yes, you can, but only if you choose the right piano teacher! A person whom you entrust with the musical education of your child has to be able to spark their interest in playing the piano. An experienced piano teacher will have a skill set and the knowledge to engage your child and make them proud of their achievements, eventually getting them to love playing music. At Riverside Music Studios, we have such teachers! Our program for piano lessons in NYC for young children is called “Piano Games.” It is a set of fun musical activities designed to make nearly every young child interested in learning piano.
In conclusion: to increase the chance of your child successfully beginning music lessons and feeling happy about it – introduce the music in their lives as early and as much as you can. Be super diligent about choosing a piano teacher who is very experienced with your child’s age group. If you put some effort into it, you will get it right!