A common question asked by parents is “How is my son/daughter doing” or “is my child progressing normally?”.
When their child attends school ,they have “meet the teacher” evenings where the teacher discusses the child’s progress in school. Twice a year, they issue report cards detailing how the child is doing in school, sometimes along with comments for improvement.
Tangible report cards are handy as they provide a gauge as to the student’s progress. However, most piano teachers do not issue a yearly progress report card. Unless the student participates in an exam, it can be difficult to gauge how their child is doing in relation to other children.
Here’s what I’ve observed to be the “norm”:
-girls progress faster than boys in terms of fine motor skills and language. These skills are required to learn how to read music and coordinate their bodies to play an instrument: http://www.singlesexschools.org/research-brain.htm
-Children who have not begun going to school tend to be EXTREMELY difficult to teach. They have very short attention spans because they do not have practice/experience sitting quietly in a class setting.
-In the first 6-7 months of study, a child aged 5-8 should be able to complete the “primer” level of Piano Adventures (by Faber and Faber).
-Typically, a child should pass one grade level in music in one school year (sometimes longer if they are preparing for a piano exam).
-In Primer books (such as those by Faber and Faber, or Bastien), students should “pass” a piece every 2 or 3 weeks. Max. 4 weeks to “perfect” a piece or for fluency.
-In the Royal Conservatory books (issued by the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada), pieces should be fluent in no more than 5 months, and memorized and performance-ready in about 7-8 months.
-Being “left-handed” or “right-handed” does not seem to make a difference in progress.
After all these observations, this does not mean that boys should not learn an instrument, or that young children can not be exposed to music! Contrary, boys grow up to become excellent musicians, and many of the world’s famous pianists are men.
Also, parents can begin to introduce music learning and enjoyment to their babies as soon as they are born! Parents who are interested in enrolling their young children (under 5 yrs old) in music lessons should consider GROUP LESSONS such as Music Together which specializes in exposing music to young children.
If the child is taking longer than a year to complete a primer book, the child may need more parental involvement/encouragement in their home practice, or may have a form of developmental impediment (Autism, Dyslexia, Learning disorder, etc.). Alternatively, the child may be simply involved in too many activities and can not spare the time or energy required to progress in music.
I hope this was helpful, and as always, I welcome your constructive comments