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Ready or Not?

How do I know if I'm ready or if my child is ready for private lessons?

Is my child old enough to start music lessons?... What age do you recommend a child start taking lessons?... How do I know if my child is ready?...Can an adult-aged student learn how to play the piano?...


These are just a few examples of the questions that I am asked on a regular basis by potential students and parents of potential students. First let me say this: these are GREAT questions & should, without a doubt, be asked when one is considering private lessons. At the risk of answering these questions with more questions {don't you hate when people do that?}, consider the following from piano teacher, mom & blogger, Dyan Robson, at And nextcomesL in addition to my own personal thoughts & commentary in response to these common questions:


Does the Potential Student {PS} know the difference between left & right?

The ability to distinguish one hand from the other {pretty quickly} is an important tool when learning to play the piano.


Does the PS know the alphabet?

The musical alphabet is made up of 7 letters (A-B-C-D-E-F-G). It is important for the PS to be able to identify and name these letters in order to learn how to read music.


Can the PS Count to ten?

The note values & time signatures in beginner music focus on one count, two counts, three counts or four counts. However, it is ideal if a child can count to a higher number as music is heavily based in math. Distance between notes (intervals) rely on counting the number of notes that separate them. Even the basic scale patterns are mathematically based.


Can the PS focus and pay attention for 30 minutes?

This is a big one! Many young students are not able to sit still & focus for 30 minutes during a one-on-one lesson. In addition to an already challenged attention span, most students will attend their weekly lesson after a full day at school or work.


Has the PS expressed an interest in taking music lessons?

Students who have expressed an interest in taking lessons will be more motivated to practice... The more a student correctly practices, the more likely he/she will advance... The more a student progresses, the more confident they become and enjoy what they are learning... The more they enjoy learning, the more they will practice... and the cycle continues.


Can the PS follow basic instruction?

The student needs to be able to follow simple instructions for practicing the assigned material. Practicing the assigned material correctly is critical in the process of learning a new skill. It is extremely frustrating to spend x-number of minutes (or hours) a week practicing a song, just to attend your next lesson and find out that you practiced incorrectly. Sadly, this causes much of the discouragement that precedes a student's desire to quit.


How are the PS's fine motor skills?

Can the PS hold a pencil or cut with scissors? Playing the piano requires a lot of fine motor dexterity, so having well tuned fine motor skills makes a huge difference. The more these skills are refined before a student begins, the less frustration a student will experience while learning.


Can the PS read?

Teaching piano {& voice} to a child who can read makes a lot of things easier, including practicing more independently, {memorizing lyrics} & reading practice instructions on their own. Being able to read allows the student to read song lyrics while they play, which can increase their rhythmic accuracy and timing.


{Below are my own personal additions to Mrs. Robson's list}

Does the PS have TIME to take music lessons?

This question is often overlooked or, at least, not realistically considered. The time that is invested when one commits to taking music lessons is not, simply, the 30 minutes to an hour that the he/she is in the lesson. One should also consider that the student will need at least 20 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week, set aside for practice. Practice times can be scheduled whenever it is most convenient for the student & the family, but it should be a consistent time that is a priority for the student & for the guardian to whom the student is accountable {see info below "Parents are you ready?"}


What if I answered "NO" to one of the questions above?

If you answered "no" to one of those questions, never fear!! It does not mean that music lessons are out of the question for you or your child. It may just mean that now is not the right time.


An honest & accurate assessment of you or your child's readiness may be the one thing that saves you from a frustrating, disappointing and expensive experience-- an experience that could potentially define all music lessons for the student in the future or that could permanently discourage the student, thus preventing him/her from realizing the full scope of his/her musical abilities.


Often, the parents of my current students will say, "I took lessons when I was younger, but I wasn't very good" or "I hated it... lol" or "I never wanted to practice". These are intelligent, able-bodied individuals who do things, mentally & physically, in their daily lives, that I can only dream of!!

After years of teaching, I am beginning to doubt that these same adults were not capable... Instead, I am wondering if they, simply, were not ready?


Parents are you ready?

Parents also need to consider the following when assessing whether or not

they are ready for their child to begin music lessons:

Are you willing to help your child practice?

Young beginners will need help reading instructions, practice suggestions, counting and more. Older beginners may not need as much hands-on help, but they will certainly need parental support in helping them schedule a consistent practice time & finding a quiet & private space to practice.


Do you own the appropriate instrument and/or equipment?

-For piano lessons, a piano or keyboard (with weighted keys) is highly recommended.

-For voice lessons, the student should have a CD player/digital music player that can be used in a designated, private practice area. An Mp3 player is a great start, but speakers are required so that the music can be heard and the student can practice without the use of headphones.


Are you prepared for the cost and time commitment?

Carroll Music Studio offers payment plans, early registration discounts & discounts for paying in full, thus making its prices extremely competitive. Lessons are structured so that each student is committed for approx. 4.5 months (Fall is Aug.-Dec.; Spring is Jan.-May). If a student cannot keep that commitment, 30-days notice is expected with payment for those 30 days. 


Please consider all of these things as you make your decision... and don't hesitate to contact 

Sarah at with your questions and/or concerns

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