It has been recently reported that our children are under more pressure than they ever have been before. We all worry about the social pressures our children face, with social media and online bullying, and now mounting academic pressures, from an even younger age, something, somewhere must give! A survey conducted by The Guardian, stated that eight out of 10 primary school leaders (82%), reported an increase in mental health issues among primary school children around the time of the exams. Children sitting national tests are showing increased signs of stress and anxiety around exam time, with some suffering sleeplessness and panic attacks, according to a survey of school leaders. Having an outlet like playing the piano but without all the pressure to pass exams could be advantageous to our children’s mental wellbeing. I know that a lot of music teachers may suggest taking exams to measure success but right now, with all our children face, is this the right path to take?
Firstly, we have all read and seen that the younger our children start to learn the better. If from a young age they have already been exposed to a structed way of learning, then perhaps it would be less of a stress to them when they get to school. On the other side of the coin our children do need some form or outlet to express themselves without the pressure of being judged. Music and learning an instrument, especially the piano should be something our children see as fun. Adding exams into the mix from a young age could potentially take that fun away. What is the best age to start teaching the piano? There is a growing body of research that indicates a “window of opportunity” from birth to age nine for developing a musical sensibility within children. With this in mind, do we intend to start testing our children this early on? These piano ‘lessons’ do not need to be formal. The important question then is, what is the goal of music lessons, namely the piano for young children?
Surely the goal is to have fun? If all we do is take exams and be tested and have no real outlet to express ourselves, we will burn out. If a child sees a piano as a no pressure, fun thing we do after all our home work is done, surely, they will gravitate towards that piano more freely? If we have already seen research that shows some children are suffering anxiety and stress from an exam situation in school, why would we apply that same pressure when they get home too. A piano can be a sanctuary, a stress free, hobby, that in years to come when your child is older, will already have a strong foundation to take up a more formal approach if that’s what they wanted to do.
The last thing we want our children to say is that they were forced to play the piano, when they were young. They hated it then and still hate it now! To avoid this negative attitude, parents sometimes opt to delay piano lessons until their child is older and can choose their own schedule or make the decision that they even want to play an instrument. This no pressure, exposure to a piano is probably the best approach if you want your child to learn to play properly. No set piano lessons, no set time, no real goal apart from enjoyment. Then when your child reaches an age they can make their own decision, do you want piano lessons? They are more likely to say yes.
I think the upshot of it all is, yes, we want the very best for our children. We want them to not only succeed academically, we want them to shine creatively too. We just need to realise that, they are children! This is the time they should be having fun. School is school, and we work hard, but home is home, and this is a safe environment that is stress free. A piano is something we play for fun, there’s no exams no pressure to perform. This easy does it attitude will encourage, not dissuade and eventually when your child is ready, they are much more likely to actively seek out a piano teacher. Forcing your child into piano lessons from the start, is going to cause negativity. Why would they want to work hard at school, come home and do the same? Let them have fun. With all the pressures on our kids, they deserve it after all!
If you are looking for a piano for your child, we have helpful tips on which instrument would be best. We are a well-established, family run business. We know how important your family is to you, as ours is to us and we are here to help, anytime you need us!