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Grace Notes


How To Help Your Child Start Playing the Piano

The Piano is a great instrument for your child to start learning! But, there a few things you need to know when your child begins learning an instrument. Check out our pro tips below.

How to help your child start playing the piano

I believe most parents would love to have their child play an instrument!

Living a musical life can be a joy, and childhood is the absolute best time to get started when learning an instrument. As parents, we want the best for our children, and when it comes to music, we want them to thrive. So, what is the best instrument to get your child started on? This depends on the child! Some will gravitate to certain instruments and stick with them, some will try out a few instruments before finding the one that they like most, and some will learn and play multiple instruments.

Girl playing the piano

But, we’re here to talk about the piano! I love the piano. Most music teachers, including us here at My Music Workshop, agree that the piano is the best instrument for children to learn. There are so many reasons for this including these:

-The piano is laid out in a way that is easy to understand

-The piano is a melodic and a rhythmic instrument

-A few simple songs can be learned quickly on the piano

-It doesn’t require the same amount of finger strength or dexterity to play the piano as some other instruments

-Learning the piano first can make learning other instruments much easier later

-The piano and keyboard stay in tune compared to other instruments

But learning any instrument can come with some challenges. First off, pianos and keyboards can be expensive. Second, lessons are time consuming and expensive. Third, kids are involved in so many activities already, there’s no time to add another. How do we get around these things and get our kids started playing the piano in the easiest way possible? Let’s dive in!

Pianos and Keyboards are expensive!

Grand Piano

Yes, they can be. But like many things there are a range of prices for these instruments. As a music instructor and musician, I always recommend that instruments be of a certain quality level, but they do not need to be top of the line. You can get your child a very nice instrument without breaking the bank!

What’s the difference between a piano and keyboard?

Pianos are acoustic instruments. This means that they contain no electronic parts and don’t need to be plugged in. The sound of a piano comes from a key being pressed, which causes something called a hammer to strike a string inside the piano. Yes, a piano is a kind of string instrument!

Piano’s come in many shapes and sizes including the Grand Piano, Mini Grand, and Upright Piano. All are wonderful but they are usually more expensive, require more maintenance, are louder, take up more space and are heavier than their electric counterparts, keyboards and digital pianos.

Awesome digital piano

Keyboards and digital pianos on the other hand are electronic instruments. They are, in a sense, computers that emulate the sound of pianos (and many other things) with internal electronic components. But this is NOT a bad thing, I believe it’s a good one.

There is a tremendously wide range of keyboards on the market today. Starting from very cheap, poorly made toys, with small keys, that are not meant to be used as real instruments, all the way up to multi-thousand-dollar digital pianos that sound and feel like the real thing. Most people will want an instrument somewhere in the middle.

Keyboard or Digital Piano, which one do I get?

Now that we know the difference between an acoustic piano and digital pianos/keyboards, let’s break down the difference between keyboards and digital pianos.

Like the name suggests digital pianos are meant to replicate acoustic pianos in their sound and feel (*hint: I recommend digital pianos over keyboards for piano students). Most digital pianos have what are called “weighted keys.” If you have ever played a piano you have felt weighted keys. The weight of the key, on an acoustic piano, comes from the fact that pressing a piano key causes a “hammer” inside the piano to move and strike a string. This weighted key feel is very natural to piano players, and I recommend getting your child an instrument with weighted keys.

Boy learning piano

Digital Pianos also produce sounds that are similar to an acoustic piano. When a student learns to play piano it’s important that they have a natural, and good sounding instrument. Most good digital pianos accomplish this.

Keyboards are also digital instruments, but they aren’t necessarily intended to replicate pianos. Keyboards are meant to make a lot of different types of sounds. They can replicate the sound of a piano but also organs, string instruments, brass instruments, drums, even helicopter and animal sounds. While the range of sounds is a cool feature of keyboards it is not important to have access to all of these sounds for the beginning piano player. In fact, for most kids it is a bit of a distraction.

Most keyboards do not feature weighted keys. They feature light keys that offer very little resistance when played. This makes it harder for advanced players to achieve the same feel and dynamics (range of volumes), as with weighted keys, and it makes it harder for the beginning student to acquire the feel necessary to play the piano properly.

I recommend going with a digital piano for your beginning piano student. In fact, many experienced piano players use digital pianos as their main instrument. They are more portable, the volume can be adjusted, headphones can be worn when they are played, and some digital pianos are very high quality, professional level instruments.

What digital piano should I get for my child?

There are so many quality digital pianos you can choose from but don’t be intimidated, we are here to help. You can start by checking out the instrument recommendations page at My Music Workshop to see a few of our choices for digital pianos. Click here.

Digital piano

Some of the name brands for digital pianos are Roland, Yamaha, Alesis and Casio. Donner is another brand that makes some cost-effective quality digital pianos.

Whether you’re buying new or used my recommendation is to make sure your digital piano has weighted keys, a sustain pedal, and has good ratings and reviews (if you buy new). You don’t need a ton of fancy features like Bluetooth compatibility (though it can be nice to practice along with lessons or music, including the piano lessons at My Music Workshop), midi controls, digital screens, etc. If you stick to a few basics your child will be on the right track.

Keep in mind, if you purchase a digital piano you will also need a stand and a bench. The stand can be a generic metal stand that folds up, or a stand that your specific digital piano attaches to (you can usually purchase these as an upgrade with certain new digital pianos).

These are more expensive but if your budget allows I would recommend going this route. They are much more sturdy and make it less likely the digital piano will wobble or even fall.

Now that we’ve learned a bit about the right instrument to get your child let’s keep moving!

Lessons are time consuming and expensive!

Piano lessons don’t have to be time consuming or expensive. While children do need to spent an appropriate amount of time practicing the piano, lessons don’t have to take up too much precious time in your family’s week.

My Music Workshop piano lesson 7

There are many ways to go about starting lessons for you child. I think our piano program at My Music Workshop is top notch! It starts children by learning the very basics of piano then teaches them more that they need to succeed at playing the piano. We also include something unique in our lessons called Jam Alongs. Jam Alongs are specially made music, just for us, that go perfectly with each lesson. The rhythm and melody of the Jam Alongs make it so the new and simple concept we’ve just learned on the piano are the perfect piece to make the music sound great. Your child becomes a member of the band! This makes practice much more motivating and fun. If you want to give My Music Workshop a try you can visit the site here.

photo showing piano lesson with My Music Workshop

We’ve done everything to make our memberships cost effective for parents and fun for kids. Since our lessons are always available, your child can do one or multiple lessons per week, at times that work for your family. The lessons can also be repeated to deepen the understanding of the concepts.

It can also be a good option to find a private piano teacher in your area. If you do decide to go this route, I recommend that you make sure the teacher has experience working with children. Make a few calls to former or current students to make sure they can keep kids motivated. Or, at the very least meet the teacher first to get a sense of whether they would be an engaging teacher for you child.

Piano teacher and student

One of the biggest keys for children, when they learn an instrument is to stay excited and interested in playing that instrument. The teacher plays a big part in that. Private lessons can be great but are also costly. Most lessons range from 30-60 minutes and you can expect to pay $30-$60 per lesson. At My Music Workshop we prioritize making our lessons fun, easy for families and homeshoolers, cost-effective, paced correctly for kids and set up so kids feel successful and want to learn more.

Boy learning piano

I recommend that your child learn at least one new concept on the piano each week. Then, your child should practice at least 15 minutes a day, at least three days per week. More than that is better but try to stick to at least that much practice. They can also jam (just play anything and have fun on the piano), but make sure this is separate from the learning and practice that they do.

My kids are involved in so many activities already, there’s no time to add another.

As a parent, I know all too well the scheduling headaches that come with all the activities that my kids are involved in. But, as a family we try to prioritize, as I’m sure you do. Cost is a factor, so is my child’s interest in a particular subject. But, as parents we also consider our child’s future and what we believe will be important and impactful for them to learn now that will potentially last a lifetime. Thus, music is at the highest level for us. In other words, we make time for music. Each family is different but there are so many benefits to learning music during childhood that it’s a no brainer for us to keep our kids involved in learning music. There are benefits that we know exist first hand, as musical parents, but there is also so much research that shows the benefits of music education during childhood. Let’s highlight just a few:

· Improved concentration

· Improved grades and test scores

· Increased confidence

· Improved social skills

· Improved reading comprehension

· Improved coordination

· Improved self-expression

· Increased IQ

· Increased language development

· Strengthens the brain

· Better memory

· Improves math skills

Girls having fun playing piano

There are few other subjects that can tout a list of benefits like this. Music is fundamental in many cultures throughout the world. I believe it’s inherent to the human spirit and learning at childhood is the best time. So, as a busy family you must consider what’s most important to your child and your family.

You should now be all set and ready to help you child become the next Beethoven, Billy Joel, Thelonious Monk, Diana Krall or Cory Henry. Don’t worry, if you don’t know any of those musicians. Your child may never become a world class, professional pianist but just building a relationship with music through an instrument is an incredible journey that you should embrace and be proud to help your child with. Enjoy every second 😊.

Have fun and best of luck on your child’s musical journey!

For more tips on how to help your child succeed when learning an instrument check out our short article for parents “10 Simple Ways to Support Your Child as They Lean an Instrument.”

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