THE POWER OF PIANO
Why study piano? There are many proven benefits…
Piano creates pleasure for everyone.
The musician, the audience, even parents who pay for the lessons – everyone benefits when someone learns to play. The piano is a very social instrument. It is one of the few instruments that multiple people can play at the same time. Duets with friends always add a bit of liveliness to a situation. It is also a very well-known instrument and most people harbor a secret desire to learn how to play.
Piano unlocks creativity and self-expression.
As one person wrote, “For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.” Piano music is a uniquely expressive way to speak with a voice beyond words. The simple pushing down of keys creates something beautiful, something unique, something made all by yourself.
Piano develops the student’s ability to arrange and compose their own music. We don’t just teach repertoire, we unlock our students’ natural curiosity and creativity!
The piano is a “gateway instrument”,
that is to say, it makes learning other instruments easier. The piano can play more than one note at a time, so it helps teach fundamental concepts such as harmony and counterpoint. This also gives students a leg up on things like theory and rhythm. And yet, playing the piano doesn’t require a reference pitch. You strike the note, and it plays. It doesn’t require you to “make your own tone” as well. This makes piano a very good beginning instrument because it gives students a good grasp of the basics without overcomplicating the music with technical issues.
The piano is a uniquely flexible solo instrument.
The piano opens the door to new musical experiences that only the piano can create. The piano is one of the only musical instruments that can play a melody, harmony, and bass line at the same time. Most instruments need a small group to do what a piano can do all by itself. Moreover, the piano is the instrument most commonly used for accompaniment.
This makes the piano not only fun (it’s very entertaining to accompany friends in a variety of situations) but profitable, as people are always willing to pay for a skilled accompanist. It is available in many forms and sizes, can be played almost anywhere and there is an enormous repertoire of great sounding piano solo music. Arranger workstations allow the musician to control an entire orchestra!
And there’s more:
Piano and music making improve cognitive abilities, motor skills and character. Here are the conclusions of recent studies on how mastering the piano improves important abilities and character traits:
Increases in the Capacity of Key Brain Regions: Important regions of the brain, such as the frontal lobes that perform higher-level cognitive functions, are larger in musically trained individuals than in those without this training.
In the illustration below, the colored areas are the regions of the brain that are significantly larger in musically trained people – the brighter the color, the bigger the difference. The brains of musically trained individuals are typically larger in the temporal cortex – an area on the side of the brain that controls hearing, among other things – and in the frontal cortex – an area in the front of the brain in charge of abstract thought, planning, and complex behaviors, as well as controlling our intended movements.
Areas of Greater Cortical Thickness in Musicians
Brenda Hanna-Pladdy and Byron Gajewski, Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, Recent and past musical
activity predictscognitive aging variability: direct comparison with general lifestyle activities , 2012
Piano students are better equipped to comprehend mathematical and scientific concepts: A group of preschoolers received private piano keyboard lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private computer lessons. Those children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34 percent higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the others - even those who received computer training. "Spatial-temporal" is basically proportional reasoning - ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time. This concept has long been considered a major obstacle in the teaching of elementary math and science. Source: Neurological Research February 28, 1997
Piano improves self-discipline and management of long-term relationships: Mastering the piano requires years of patient practice and feedback on results. It requires practicing when you don’t want to. It requires a willingness to go beyond what is known and comfortable and perseverance over the long term.
Music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving those grades. Source: National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 First Follow-Up (1990), U.S. Department of Education.
College-age musicians tend to be emotionally healthier than their non-musician counterparts: A study conducted at the University of Texas looked at 362 students who were in their first semester of college. They were given three tests, measuring performance anxiety, emotional concerns and alcohol related problems. In addition to having fewer battles with the bottle, researchers also noted that the college-aged music students seemed to have surer footing when facing tests. Source: Houston Chronicle, January 11, 1998
Empathy and social awareness are improved: Recent studies have shown that collaborative music making can increase empathy in toddlers. Empathy, in part, comes from being sensitive to subtle changes in the human voice that indicate mood and emotion. Children need to develop empathy if they are to thrive in family life, at school, and later, at work. This connection between music and empathy may be due to improved verbal intelligence. Playing music improves a child’s ability to listen and pick up nuances of speech – the way something is said and the emotions underneath the words, not just the words themselves, which in turn is a key element of empathy and emotional intelligence. Music is inherently emotional, and musical memories are among the most visceral and vivid. Consequently, musicians must learn how to connect with people on an emotional level. Whether harmonizing in a choir or performing in a string quartet or simply jamming with friends, music students of any age, even the very young, learn how to share attention, co-operate and collaborate. These are extremely valuable skills in both personal relationships and in the workplace. Studies have even shown that collaborative musical activities can increase toddlers’ pro-social behaviors, making them more likely to help someone in need.
The lessons are clear: Mastering any musical instrument and especially, the piano, produces profound and lasting benefits to the student no matter when lessons are started. Mastering this instrument can make the student smarter, more disciplined and enable the student to be musically expressed for a lifetime. How cool is that?
Keys of Joy! Studio 1540 Wakarusa Drive Suite SE Lawrence KS 66047 785-856-4400