Ep. 113: What is the best age to begin piano lessons?

What is the best age

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

The question I’ve been asked the most in 30 years of teaching piano lessons is, “When is the best age to begin lessons?” In answering this question today, we’ll discuss the five Signs of Readiness to gauge in young children, as well as some guidelines for older beginners.


I discuss:

  • What I’ll be considering “piano lessons:” traditional, private piano lessons. This is the most common form of piano lessons, it’s what I’ve taught most, and it’s most commonly what people are referring to when they ask this question. Traditional piano lessons are one-on-one with the instructor and student, in person, with the student learning to read and play music. What we’re NOT talking about are group lessons or specialized methods like Suzuki. We ARE talking specifically about PIANO lessons because that is my area of expertise; however, for the most part, this information will translate to other instruments as well.
  • There are five signs of readiness that I look for in determining if a young child is ready for lessons:
    1. The first one: Is the student interested in learning to play the piano?
    2. Does the child have a long-enough attention span to sit and focus and pay attention for a 30-minute lesson every week, plus practice at home each day for around 15 minutes?
    3. Is the student familiar with numbers (esp. 1-5) and letters (esp. A-G/the musical alphabet)?
    4. How developed is the child’s small-muscle coordination (are they able to write letters, numbers, write their name, use a scissors, etc?)?
    5. Is a parent willing to be involved in the process? A young child will need a parent (or grandparent or other adult) to sit with them for most or all of their at-home practice time (at least 15 min/day, 5 days/week) until they are old enough to read and follow written instructions. The adult will need monitor practice time in terms of making sure it happens, is a positive experience, and that assignments are completed.  Is a parent available and willing to do this?
  • The short answer to this question: I find the sweet spot for most kids to be 1st -2nd At this age, they are young enough that learning the “language” of music can be very intuitive for them (and they get to reap the benefits of music training from a young age!), yet old enough to have the attention span and small-muscle control to enjoy the process without too much frustration.
  • Research shows that making music in childhood benefits the brain for decades, even if you do not continue to play music.
  • Ideas for kiddos who aren’t quite ready for private lessons.
  • What about the middle school and high years?
  • What if you are older, or really and truly “old”(!), and you have never taken part in any music making?

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Closing Words

I hope this answers some questions about the best time to start music lessons. If you know of someone who may benefit from this episode, please share it with them! Just hit the Share option in your podcast app. If you don’t see it right away, tap the 3-dots icon, and that will probably make it appear.

Shoutout to the listener with the username HistoryDetective who left the 5-star Podchaser rating and review recently. Thank you so much for taking the time to do that – I really appreciate it! That is a huge support and really makes a difference in helping others find the show.

As always, all links from today’s show – and a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes at mpetersonmusic.com/podcast; this is Ep. 113. While you’re there, I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. All links are on that webpage, as well as in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

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3 responses to “Ep. 113: What is the best age to begin piano lessons?”

  1. Mindy, I just finished listening to Ep.113. What a truly concise gem you have shared. I read your podcasts as soon as they come in unless the world is coming to an end! If no time, they go in a folder on my computer for a later read. Keep this coming. Your ideas are wonderful, your guests are stellar and I look forward to having a chance to share some time with you next March when MTNA is in Minneapolis. Maybe we can set up a definite time before the madness of our first live conference in two years actually starts…

    • Thanks so much for listening and for the message, Martha! I really appreciate it. And yes, would love to meet in person in March during the convention! Let’s definitely get something on the calendar – feel free to let me know what time is good for you; I’ll reach out as it gets closer if I haven’t heard back. Thanks for all you do to enhance lives with music!