Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions from Parents

Piano lessons are a unique experience and are more than just a music lesson. It is a learning experience that coordinates one's mind, hands and fingers, and spirit. It can also serve as the basis for all education. 

Answers to these frequently asked questions are written by a pianist and piano pedagogue Ms. Yoon Huh. During many years of teaching piano to children of all ages and all levels, she was asked many questions by parents. And some of the most frequently asked questions by parents are listed below. This page will be continuously updated with more questions in the future.

When should my child begin his/her piano lessons?

The average age from my experience is about five years old. But the age can be younger depending on the interest of the child. At these age, a child normally has the attention span to sit for ten to fifteen minutes and simple rhythmic and melodic patterns can be taught. Depending on the teacher, various methods may be used to provide the child with a positive attitude experience during their initial piano lessons.

How long should my child practice?

There is no set time for practicing, however, it is important that a child spends quality time with his/her piano rather than quantity. It is also very important to have concentrated and focused practice session on a daily basis.

How do I know if my child has talent?

Talent or gift is something that a child is born with. You probably heard this phrase said many times, "oh, that child is so talented", this simply means that the child is very natural at what he/she is able to do. Playing the piano maybe very natural and easy to that child. He/she may learn a piece of music in few days rather than few weeks, memorizing a piece of music is easy and not a struggle. Performing in front of the public is fun and exciting. And most of all, the child wants to play the piano and simply enjoys making music.

My child performs better at home than in his/her lessons, why?

Children are most comfortable at home than anywhere else. When a child goes to his/her piano lessons, he/she will feel the tension and the anxiety to play their best to their teachers. It is important that the teacher allows child to feel at home. In my lessons, I spend first few minutes talking and listening to the child's weekly events so that the child can settle into lessons more easily.

When is my child ready for competition or contest?

A competition means that your child is being judged on how he/she is performing by other teachers and musicians. A competition may not necessarily be a positive experience for all children, however, it is necessary in order to award the best in the field and in that particular age category.

Usually, when a child is ready to enter competition, he/she will enjoy playing for people and feels very confident. This is the best sign that the child is ready to go out and be judged by other musicians and not just by the child's piano teacher.

My child practices too fast, what can I do to help?

Most frequent reason why a child practices fast is to get it over with the practicing. And most of the time, students like to play fast. It's very showy and exciting. One way to avoid this fast playing is to use a metronome. A child usually finds this interesting. Another way is to practice clapping the rhythm singing the melody and practicing each hand separately on a slower pace.

My child is not reading the notes, but rather plays by ear. How can I help him/her?

In the beginning, it is easier to play by ear than to actually read the notes on the page. Depending on the piano teacher and how early the child begins his/her lessons, a rote learning maybe used. A rote learning simply means that the child will imitate what the teacher is playing. Once the rote learning is enforced, a transition from rote to reading notes must be done in a very careful way. Many of the times, a child will memorize the notes quickly so that he/she doesn't have to look up at the book. If this happens too often, a child's ability to read notes will improve very slowly. In order to avoid this kind of situation, the child must practice reading notes before playing the new piece. Learn the patterns of moving notes and use flashcards to practice note reading. And writing notes of the pace they are playing will certainly help.

My child has stage fright and refuses to play in front of people other than his/her family, why?

It's very natural to be nervous in front of the public. Children's feeling become very sensitive and excited when they have to go up on the stage and perform. They feel as if the whole world is watching them. This is the reason why the teacher must prepare the child with confidence and build a self-respect for his/her musical ability. Throughout the year, the teacher builds self confidence into the child and allows him/her to express their feelings verbally as well as musically.

My child has difficult time memorizing his/her music, how can I help?

Memorization means retaining information in one's mind. How do you memorize music? by playing the music over and over again? This type of memorization is called finger memory and it will work for beginners. However, as the child progresses and plays more demanding pieces, finger memory is unreliable. The child must memorize by studying the piece's structure, form, harmonic and melodic aspects of music. If these theoretical works are studied very carefully, the child should be able to retain many pieces of music in his/her memory.