For those wishing to start with an instrument other than piano, it is important to consider the issues in this section carefully before choosing the other instrument.
NOTE: KMI OFFERS ONLY PIANO AS PRIVATE STUDY FOR CHILDREN AGES 4, 5 and 6, and the study of other instruments may begin once the child reaches age 7. Special Music Together Classes are the only option available for students under age 4. (See PRE-SCHOOL and MUSIC TOGETHER).
WHY PIANO FIRST? The study of music is a long, difficult and complex process which includes several important cognitive skills: reading, spacial relationship, temporal relationships, numerical analysis, finger dexterity, left-right hand cooordination, eye-hand coordination, sensativity to sound, tactile sensativity and ability to communicate. Because so many skills are involved, when a student is not performing correctly, it is often not clear which cognitive area needs improvement. On the piano, these distinctions are far more easy to identify and address because the piano keys have a clear visual and tactile representation and there are no concerns regarding pitch and timbre. The visually and physically accessible nature of the keyboard makes learning musical concepts much easier (intervals and chords can be seen and understood easily). The direct response of the keys gives quicker gratification to the student, who can play songs within a few lessons. (No playing out of tune or making scratchy noises!) On many other instruments, the student must be concerned with pitch, timbre and a variety of complex motor and spacial skills that are more abstract and difficult to comprehend. The difficulty of initial sound production can require weeks to overcome, and the ability to produce a decent sounding "Mary Had a Little Lamb" can take months. By studying the basics of music on the piano first, many of the skills are established and as a result, when studying the new instrument the teacher is able to focus specifically on the new skills required for the instrument. Issues of rhythm and reading are no longer a factor. Likewise, students will have learned and performed music several times and as a result have a clear understanding of what music will often sound like. Although the new instrument may be very different, they will naturally know what sounds should be coming out of the instrument, and will intuitively make the adjustments needed to get those sounds (correct pitch, avoid unpleasant timbres, steady rhythms, sense of dynamics, etc.). Without the initial piano background, the student can practice things incorrectly for weeks before they finally understand what it should sound like. Two years of piano gives the student a solid grounding and makes the transition to another instrument so much easier.