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Author Topic: why don't they have scaled down pianos for toddlers? (suzuki)  (Read 8070 times)
bakpak
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« on: May 18, 2012, 04:33:38 PM »

Hi everyone,
My 2.8 year-old has recently started Suzuki violin lessons.  She very bright, motivated (usually) child who loves music of all kinds, and she's already starting to read.  I put my nice keyboard down on a coffee table so she could access it and she does all the time.  I've shown her a few things, but really she's limited by the size of her hands and gets frustrated that she can't reach and mimic what I'm doing.  I've read that hand-size (and maturity) is why kids are expected to wait until they're 4.5-5 years-old to start piano lessons.

My question for all you teachers/parents out there: if scaling down an instrument like the violin works so well, why don't we do this for the piano?  I haven't seen anyone advertized online who's willing to teach piano lessons to toddlers or offer solutions to this size problem.  I'd be willing to buy a decent electronic keyboard with smaller keys for her, but the few piano teachers I've spoken to pooh-pooh this suggestion and tell me just to wait. Obviously I don't want to wait!  Smiley

Anyone else thought about this issue or have solutions? 

Thanks!
Becky

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keyboardclass
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 04:42:38 PM »

There's nothing wrong with a keyboard if it's a necessity.  Finding smaller keys and touch sensitive may be difficult.
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elza
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2012, 07:10:21 PM »

Hi Bakpak,
You have really no reason to wait, to start piano with your 2.8 year old, and you certainly don’t need a keyboard with smaller keys. However 3 octaves is enough initially. Now most of my students start at three years old (I am a specialist for this young age group and have developed material to teach them successfully). A few have been under three when they started. You can see the approach I use at www.dogsandbirds.co.uk.
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bakpak
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 08:48:35 PM »

Thanks for the link Elza.  I like the nice program you've created for little ones.  I had been pretty wary of programs that don't use 'real' notes, but combining something fun with regular notation seems like a great combination.  And maybe I'm wrong about my little one reaching the notes.  Perhaps she's just not used to stretching and that will come slowly over time.  Cheers!
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elza
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 10:04:50 PM »

Thanks Bakpak,
You are right, at this young age there in no point in forcing children to play legato.
It is much more important to get the children to use their whole arm. I find it is generally best for them to use their thumbs or second fingers and lots of arm weight at the start. At this age the hand structure is not usually strong enough to use other fingers.  When the child is ready other fingers can be introduced. Because of this, my approach doesn’t use finger numbers. The children associate positions of the notes with animals, whose names they sing constantly as they play. This really gives them an excellent knowledge of pitch. An additional advantage of this approach is that by using animals the children learn the positions of notes both on the keyboard and the staves directly, and they never have any of the problems that can occur when children are asked to move out of the five finger position.
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fleetfingers
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2012, 05:24:14 AM »

I've done a few things with my son who is also about two and a half, and so far he only uses his index finger to play melodies.

You will notice, if you look through the first Suzuki book, that the pieces do not require much stretching of the hands. The left hand - a little, but you can start off with young children by teaching the right hand only for most, or even all, of book one. Then, go back and introduce the left hand. I would try the LH right away, if it were me, though. If a child is interested enough and can understand what to do, they will make it work.

As Elza was saying, they don't have to play legato, so size of keys isn't a problem. But, maybe it would be better with smaller keys, I don't know. You can buy toy keyboards with tiny keys . . . maybe start there. It's not a bad idea. From what I understand about violin, a small child literally cannot hold a full-size instrument at all, let alone play it. They have to have long enough arms to reach to the end of the fretboard (whilst reaching around the neck to press down strings).
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49410enrique
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2012, 01:05:09 AM »

i've always heard these were good little instruments for the little ones to start out on. heck the big ones play them too, there are 'professional toy pianists' if you can believe such a thing exists and has a following!
http://www.toypiano.com/product_information.asp?html_model_number=379B

this one says age 5 and up, it's an actual stringed mini piano
http://www.toypiano.com/product_information.asp?html_model_number=SBG4907B
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keypeg
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2012, 08:20:48 AM »

In regards to young children using the whole arm and larger motions:

This is mostly off topic but maybe not completely.  My teacher has been talking about what young children do - I'm an adult student who was self-taught years ago.  My motions were too restricted, too "fine muscle control" (which older students have, and young children don't).  I'm learning large, broad, exaggerated motions that over time will get tuned down again.  A couple of times I've duplicated the larger more free movements that little kids do.  The same for shifting your weight on your seat as you go to the left or right on the keyboard rather than sitting ramrod straight - the little kid has to because he's short.  As he gets older it becomes a subtle small movement, but this balancing is still in his whole body.

If there is something to what we're doing, then working backward you would think that what little kids have to do because of where they are at physically might actually be a preparation.  Maybe it isn't good for them to be able to duplicate what we do because this stage is necessary?

About sized violins vs. sized pianos.  You can't compare.  The violin has to fit to the body because of its nature.  You have to be able to hold a span of 3 or 4 notes (pinky isn't used right away lots of times).  Your left arm has to be comfortable or you hurt the whole mechanism so it can't be reaching way out to the scroll (end up arching your back).  The bow has to travel an arm length so it can't be longer than what an arm length would give.  The instrument fits to the body and is part of the body.  At the piano you fit yourself to the instrument.  You lean to the left, lean to the right, move a bit in and out.
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fleetfingers
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2012, 05:35:17 AM »

i've always heard these were good little instruments for the little ones to start out on. heck the big ones play them too, there are 'professional toy pianists' if you can believe such a thing exists and has a following!
http://www.toypiano.com/product_information.asp?html_model_number=379B

this one says age 5 and up, it's an actual stringed mini piano
http://www.toypiano.com/product_information.asp?html_model_number=SBG4907B

Well, there you go. Smiley I didn't see a price, but I would consider buying one if it was reasonable.
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49410enrique
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2012, 12:42:13 PM »

Well, there you go. Smiley I didn't see a price, but I would consider buying one if it was reasonable.
the stringed ones can be pricey, i would try to find a super nice used one, that'd be the best bargain, i think we're talking about the price of an ok std upright for the mini stringed gp, they sell them on amazon.com

the first one i think is much much more 'affordable' i think in part becuase we're not talking about actual mechanical, those are electronic i believe.  you can stick them into google and out should pop a bunch of hits on either one.

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keyofc
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2013, 07:11:32 AM »

Smaller pianos/keyboards for little fingers is not a bad idea.  They will grow into the regular size one - and why not make it as easy as possible so she does not hurt her hand or get frustrated because she can't play right?

Even for adults - when they try movements that are not conducive for their hands - they can injure them.  In my opinion, it's much better for her to play without any stress in her hands or wrists. And besides that - enjoy the music.
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1piano4joe
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 04:27:48 PM »

They do have them. These are not just for toddlers but for anyone with small hands.

There are two sizes that I know of:

1. 15/16 keyboard which is slightly smaller.
2. 7/8 keyboard which is smaller still.

Steinbuhler makes the 7/8. I believe Charles Walter also makes smaller keyboard pianos.

If you can reach an octave on regular sized keyboards than you should be able to reach a tenth on a smaller keyboard piano. Also, big jumps can be much smaller. And you can play even faster and thumb crossings are easier too.

Supposedly, Steinbuhler will custom build a keyboard for any hand size.

Hope that helps, Joe.
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