THE POWER OF PIANO
The evidence for piano as a uniquely powerful and important tool for cognitive, social and creative development is compelling. Allow us a few minutes to show you why piano should be a key component of your child's educational program. The following citations from peer-reviewed journals, show that piano and music making improve cognitive abilities, creativity, motor skills and character:
- 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. Source: Brenda Hanna-Pladdy and Byron Gajewski, Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, Recent and past musical activity predicts cognitive aging variability: direct comparison with general lifestyle activities , 2012
- Piano can make children smarter: A recent study at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, showed grade-school children who took piano lessons for three years scored much higher than average on academic tests. Students experienced improved spatial cognition as well as stronger performance in math and engineering. Similarly, a University of California, Irvine study clearly demonstrated that children who took piano lessons did better in math and computer puzzle-solving exercises.
- 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
- Playing the piano strengthens hand-eye coordination and fine tunes motor skills: Often relaxing, playing the piano can reduce stress thereby positively affecting mood and blood pressure.
- 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 majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school: Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66 percent of music majors who applied to med school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. For comparison, (44 percent) of biochemistry majors were admitted. Also, a study of 7,500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English, biology, chemistry and math. Sources: "The Comparative Academic Abilities of Students in Education and in Other Areas of a Multi-focus University," Peter H. Wood, ERIC Document No. ED327480?"The Case for Music in the Schools," Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1994.
- Music study can help kids understand advanced math concepts: A grasp of proportional math and fractions is a prerequisite to math at higher levels, and children who do not master these areas cannot understand more advanced math critical to high-tech fields. Music involves ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time. Second-grade students were given four months of piano keyboard training, as well as time using newly designed math software. The group scored over 27 percent higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who used only the math software. Source: Neurological Research March 1999.
- 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.
- Young children with developed rhythm skills perform better academically in early school years: Findings of a recent study showed that there was a significant difference in the academic achievement levels of students classified according to rhythmic competency. Students who were achieving at academic expectation scored high on all rhythmic tasks, while many of those who scored lower on the rhythmic test achieved below academic expectation. Source: "The Relationship between Rhythmic Competency and Academic Performance in First Grade Children," University of Central Florida, Debby Mitchell
- High school music students score higher on SATs in both verbal and math than their peers: In 2001, SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 41 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework/experience in the arts. Source: Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers, The College Board, compiled by Music Educators National Conference, 2001.
- 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
- Music making improves test scores: Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams. Source: Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997
- The world's top academic countries place a high value on music education: Hungary, Netherlands and Japan stand atop worldwide science achievement and have strong commitment to music education. All three countries have required music training at the elementary and middle school levels, both instrumental and vocal, for several decades. The centrality of music education to learning in the top-ranked countries seems to contradict the United States' focus on math, science, vocabulary and technology. Source: 1988 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAEEA) Test
- Empathy and Social Awareness: 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 benefits of music 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. Even if students resist practicing and don’t want to attend lessons, requiring them to master this instrument will make them smarter, more disciplined and will allow them to be musically expressed for a lifetime. How cool is that?
Discover how easy piano can be at a FREE introductory session
We love to help children express their creativity and their natural musicality. Call us at 785-856-4400 and we will set up a fun, dynamic, and hands-on introduction to Simply Music. We'll show you how Neil Moore developed Simply Music, how it compares with traditional methods, and we'll demonstrate how it works. Your kids will even learn how to play part of a song! If you like what you see, you'll also have an opportunity to enroll in lessons.
Bring your questions, bring your student, and begin your journey into music at Keys of Joy!