Learning piano at two years old is not easy. There are many factors that can determine if a two-year-old is ready to start learning piano concepts. It’s not something I generally recommend, but it can (and has) been done before.
Mozart started learning the piano at three years old and composed his first piece of music at five. It’s certainly attainable for two-year olds to learn the piano and understand the basic concepts. While it might be difficult to develop proper form, learning the locations of notes and how rhythm works is possible. It requires extensive patience and dedication by both the parent and teacher (if you choose to get one).
Before you call the piano teacher and sign up your child for lessons, it’s important to know if your child has the desire and comprehension skills to learn.
Generally your child should know how to do the following before starting formal lessons:
- The ability to count all of their fingers on one hand. When first learning the piano, teachers often assign each finger a number and use that to teach which notes to play
- Knowledge of the alphabet. Piano keys range from A to G.
- Ability to concentrate on a single task without being distracted for 5-10 minutes
If you’re child doesn’t have these skills down quite yet, practice with them. Playing the piano is a lot like learning to walk. Learn to crawl first by mastering these basic skills, then they can start learning the piano.
You might find it difficult to get a teacher willing to teach your child. I personally do not take students that young at this point in my career. As a teacher, it can be extremely difficult and frustrating to try and teach someone who either does not want to be taught (when the parent’s force them to take lessons) or when the child is incapable of learning the concepts.
At any rate, finding a good teacher is imperative. Not only do you want a a great piano teacher, you want a teacher who works well with young children. Working well with children should be a priority of piano teaching experience. A good way to do this is to find preschools in your area that focus on music. It doesn’t have to be piano related, but if they’re learning music theory, it should suffice.
We all know how difficult it for children to focus for longer periods of time. A two-year old shouldn’t be expected to sit at the piano for 30 minutes and be expected to learn.
If you plan on teaching a two-year old piano, you will need to adapt the lesson for each child. A great lesson involves plenty of games and activities.
Don’t spend more than 5 minutes on an activity. If the student is done with the activities, don’t force them to continue. This is an important time for a child while learning piano. Forcing them to go through lessons will only make them hate it as time goes on. The whole goal is to show them how to love music and piano so they continue learning throughout their life.
Your lesson for a two-year old likely won’t involve a piano for much of the time. The first lessons should focus on music theory as a whole. Here are some great ways to get young children involved and learning music quickly.
Sing Songs Together
If your kids are like mine, they love to sing along to nursery rhymes. It may not seem like much, but kids can learn so much from singing songs. It teaches them pitch and rhythm.
As you’re singing songs, ask the child to identify the high and low parts of the song. Show them that the piano also has high and low notes. You can also play songs on the piano as they sing and have them watch as you play. They will learn proper form as they watch you.
My oldest sister plays the piano and before I started learning, I would watch her play and watching her motivated me so much. I would always tell myself I wanted to play like her. Luckily it was just enough motivation to never stop playing. I’m not sure if I would be playing today if it weren’t for seeing her play often.
You will need to gauge your students comfort level, but dancing can be a fun way to learn how rhythm in music works.
If you or your students have experience with dancing, turn up some music and program the metronome to help distinguish the rhythm of the song.
Additionally, this will make it easier learn how counting music works. There are many benefits to having fun while learning music, and dancing is a great way to accomplish that.
Use Rhythm Instruments
You’ll want to get lots of fun rhythm instruments for the kids to use. Tambourines, Maracas, Shakers, etc are all great!
Find some simple music on YouTube (nursery rhymes work great!) and as it plays, grab an instrument and play it to the beat. The great thing about YouTube is you can actually speed up or slow down videos. Play the song again but speed it up and see if the child can keep the rhythm. This is an excellent and fun way for a child to learn.
Get familiar with the keyboard
We want to introduce the child to the keyboard so they are familiar with how it works.
- Teach them to identify the natural (white keys) and accidental (black keys) notes.
- Demonstrate where the low and high notes are and have them show you where they are.
- Show them middle C and how they can identify it. You can go further if they are enjoying it and teach them D and E, but I wouldn’t push it at this point.
- Show them how their fingers are numbered 1-5 and have them stick out their hands and wiggle the finger that you call out by number.
- Play fast and slow, loud and quiet and have them identify how you are playing.
Remember, lessons at two years of age should be one thing and one thing only: FUN!
We want to teach the most basic concepts of music and we want it to be fun so the child is more willing to learn as they get older.
If you have the patience to teach piano to a two-year old, more power to you! It won’t be easy, but can be extremely rewarding!