Preschool Piano Lesson Plans
Preschool piano lesson plans should leave room for entertaining games. The basics of the piano can be explored in a fun, child-friendly way. A preschooler banging on a piano is expressing enthusiasm, not making noise. To a child that age, things are or they aren’t. There’s no use being subtle about it. Here’s how to interest a child in preschool piano.
First Explain Up And Down
1. The first thing to do is to acquaint the child with up and down, which on the piano are the same as left and right. Most kids have a dim hold on this crucial distinction, and the piano is a perfect proving ground to learn the difference.
2. Next, concentrate on individual keys. Play the white keys one at a time going up. Make a game out of missed notes, laughing gently and inspire the child to be careful in a playful way. Accept what they do no matter what. Then try “down” where you play the white keys going down one at a time.
After Steps Try Skips
3. Then try skipping keys, like in the game leapfrog. Restrict yourself to the white keys at first. If they do venture onto the black keys, follow them. But almost all kids like the familiarity of the staircase-like white keys.
4. You will note the child being silly and being delighted even when they are unable to perform what you gently ask.
Ignore their silliness and come back later. It never helps to be impatient or to seem unhappy with the “lesson.” Just keep going and circle back later.
Number The Keys
5. The easiest path I have found is to number the keys at this point, with Middle C being number 1, and ascending to the right. Try a song on our online piano below:
This imposes a simple order upon the keyboard that helps the child get used to the physical sense of the keyboard. It also does not inundate the child with the rather intellectual task of reading music.
6. Find the songs that delight the child and find the numbers that correspond to the keys.
A system like Piano By Number makes this very easy. An unfamiliar song does not exist for a child. If they have heard it, see if they like it enough to try playing it.
Explore Songs Before Fingering
7. Let the child play familiar songs for a while, weeks or months, before you introduce the idea of fingering. This may seem like a waste of time, but it allows the child to develop an interest at their own pace.
8. When the child is ready, introduce the idea of fingering into a song they already know well. If they resist, withdraw. Eventually, they will start using finger combinations other than the relentless index finger, usually all by themselves. Let fingering be a suggestion that they are allowed to make use of or not. You’ll be glad you did.
Playing With Both Hands Is Optional
9. Playing with both hands has to be approached very carefully, as the connection between the brain hemispheres is just starting to form. This leads to the hands mimicking each other, unable to play separate ideas. It is much like scratching a dog’s belly: their legs will wiggle because it is entirely involuntary. Be very careful with asking the child to play separate ideas with two hands, or risk quick exhaustion.
10. Continue your exploration of specific songs at the piano using numbers or some non-reading system. You may try to introduce the rudiments of reading music, very sparingly at first.
Sow The Seeds Of Reading Music
11. Start with getting the child to recognize the five lines of the musical staff. Find which line is the “lowest.” Which is the “highest?” Which is the middle line? Where are the spaces in between the lines?
Above is a five-lined musical staff with the note “Middle C.”
12. Once you have a familiarity with the five-lined staff, try to build confidence with finding Middle C. This means not only the key on the piano, but also the symbol for it. Make games up for finding Middle C’s in a piece of sheet music. I get the child to ring a little library bell when my finger passes over a Middle C on the page.
Above is Middle C, the first note that children learn at the piano.
Here's a page with lots of Middle Cs for you to find:
Present Information In A Fun Manner
The above dozen points, presented in a patient manner, are enough to get any preschool child interested in the piano. The most important point is the manner in which the information is presented. I would suggest a bubbly, fun manner in the style of the game-show host. Gaining confidence at the above points can easily take a year, perhaps longer for the average child.
You could easily go much faster, like most piano teachers, and risk disinterest and then apathy. Adopt an almost Biblical patience. I’ve never seen that fail with any child.