“The piano is an excellent instrument to play,” asserts Tomoko. “It’s widely available, flexible, and offers so many opportunities to play great music. It’s like an orchestra in one instrument.”
Parents may want their child to learn how to play the piano. But the interest should come from the child – or whoever is considering starting to learn. Here are some ways to expose you and your child to piano playing:
- Listen to piano music on the radio or online.
- Watch piano performances on TV or online (such as YouTube).
- Go to a music store that sells pianos, and have the staff talk about, and demonstrate, the piano – and the pieces of music to choose from.
- Find a relative, friend, teacher, or classmate who enjoys playing the piano, and share that experience.
When is a good time to start taking piano lessons? Tomoko recommends age 5 because children develop their small motor skills between ages 5 and 7. Tomoko also says, “At this age, children have no fear.” On the other hand, one can start at any age. "Interest, willingness, and perseverance are the main considerations."
As for talent, Tomoko says, “All students have talent. They just grow at different rates.”
What should you expect? Tomoko knows that the beginning time is crucial: “The first experience needs to be fun. The teacher needs to be welcoming.” Of her own approach, Tomoko says, “I open the door. I am their passport to visit the country of pianos.” At the same time, first year piano is a learning process. Tomoko cautions: “The piano is not easy to play; you need a long time and patience. It’s a long-term investment.”
Tomoko also states that learning how to play is a physical process; “The brain and the body need to be coordinated.” Tomoko uses this analogy: “Young children don’t know how to use pencil. Some teachers say you can’t be sloppy; try to be neat and clear. Where finger should be positioned? Posture is important. All those details need to be considered when starting out.”
Right from the start, students need preparation and discipline. They should practice at least ten hours a week. “Every lesson should have a challenge; you need to improve and grow,” claims Tomoko. “It is better to stretch than relax.” At the same time, Tomoko cautions, “Too much challenge is not good. I encourage students to try; I want them to keep their confidence.”
With a strong start and a trusting relationship with a knowledgeable and caring piano teacher, beginning piano students can look forward to a lifelong skill and love of music that enrichens them.