I had my initial reservations on whether he can follow the lessons or his interest might wan after a while. Fortunately, he looks forward to his lessons every week, although it is another story when he attends class itself!
At times, he would make up excuses like he’s tired or its too difficult when the teacher made him practice. When it comes to playing a tune for a song, he would sit up and try to learn. His music teacher (perhaps getting exasperated lately) as to what she called his “games”, suggested to take another approach by learning through songs instead.
We shall see if this works. He still enjoys playing “Mary had a little lamb” and “Twinkle twinkle little star” on piano and wasn’t adverse to playing it on our digital piano at home. I showed him a new score yesterday which allowed him to practice his bass clef notes (C, B & A) – something that he previously resisted practicing. Not a bad start to his music teacher’s proposal.
Then there were friends and others who commented that J is too young for formal music lessons. To me, J’s interest comes first. If he doesn’t want to go for classes, there isn’t a point to forcing him to since doing so loses my intention of getting him to enjoy a hobby he might continue in future.
His fascination with music, especially classical and instruments, made learning quite manageable. He even made me go through a book about the orchestra and composers. His favourite piece is one of Vivaldi’s violin composition, the Four Seasons, especially the Spring concerto.
Music and piano lets J release some energy as well when he “plays” the keyboard on his own accord. Till date, I’m glad that I made a decision to buy an entry level digital piano with weighted keys, as it does help a lot with his practice whenever he wants to. We have no fix home programme for practice; it is usually an impromptu affair depending on J’s mood.
As a music lover, I also bring J to the Esplanade for its monthly free orchestral concert series, and exposed him to various genres such as Chinese orchestra, jazz, swing, country etc. He doesn’t like techno, house, dance or English/Mandopop music though.
So for parents with kids who show great interest in music, I would say just go for it and don’t be hampered by external comments about the child being too young (some music schools only let a child above 5 to take formal lessons).
I am not musically trained so formal lessons are important for me. My own personal experience and tips (as a non piano player) are:
- Don’t force the kid, or add stressors, but stimulate and support his interests instead.
- Teach him easy tunes that he can sing along to.
- Let practice be child-driven, not parent-driven.
- Be realistic about the capability of a preschooler.
- The child should be able to sit still for a period of 10-15min since a typical private lesson lasts 30min.
- It helps that the child knows his ABCs and can do some tracing or coloring which helps in music theory.
- Set basic ground rules during practice that the child should watch first, then try on his own (this prevents a possible power struggle over who plays the piano).
- Show the child videos of musicians playing instruments,orchestras and famous/ popular compositions, or better still bring him to concerts.
- Last of all, believe in yourself and your instincts about the child!