BENEFITS OF PIANO STUDY

Piano lessons are a fundamental way to gain a broad appreciation of music. However, many benefits that arise from playing the piano are also non-musical!

A piano student learns to read two lines of music, use both ears, arms, legs, feet and all ten fingers, with the brain giving each body part a different assignment to perform simultaneously. No other activity, with the exception of pedal harp or organ, allows a child to exercise all of these skills in such a collaborative manner.  Piano lessons, therefore, develop coordination in both mind and muscles, which transfers to many daily activities. This includes improved hand-eye coordination, greater enjoyment and ability in sports, and the full use of both left and right sides of the brain.

As a student begins to experience the benefits of concentration and coordination, he or she begins to experience a sense of confidence. Completing a difficult task is very rewarding and allows the student to feel good about what she has accomplished. As a matter of fact, learning to play the piano is one of the best methods of instilling confidence in children and adults alike. Concentration, coordination, and confidence form a foundation unsurpassed for helping students grow. Body awareness develops while working with the body to produce a fine-tuned, nuanced sound and discovering how to use the muscles and positioning of the body to do this. The entire body, not just the hands, arms, and shoulders, are involved in piano playing!

Poise in delivering oral presentations, which assists with school assignments and later, work assignments, develops early-on as piano students begin early to present their musical pieces to others through our recitals, through playing for their friends and family members. When a person learns to share their most intimate emotions through music with others, then more cerebral stuff that is less emotionally "exposing" becomes a cinch!

1994 A study by Frances Rauscher, a leading Psychologist, found that after eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers demonstrated a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ. This gain does not occur in those without music training.

1996 Students in two Rhode Island elementary schools given a sequential, skill-building music program showed a marked improvement in math skills. (Gardiner, Fox, Jeffry, and Knowles, as reported in Nature, May 23, 1996).

Preschoolers who took singing and keyboard lessons scored 80 per cent higher on object-assembly tests than students at the same preschool who did not have the music lessons (Rauscher & Shaw, as reported in Symphony Sep.-Oct. 1996).

1997 Students who studied piano performed 34 per cent better in spatial and temporal reasoning ability than students who spent the same amount of time learning to use computers (Rauscher, Shaw, as reported in Neurological Research, February 1997).

1998 Second graders who took piano lessons and played a math computer game performed significantly better on tests of fractions and proportional math than children who took English language instruction on the computer and played with the math software, and better than those who did not participate in either activity (Study published in the March issue of the Journal of Neurological Research).

2004 A California study found that 75% of Silicon Valley CEOs had instrumental music education as a child.

2008 Hong Kong university of China discovered that not only does the regimen of learning to read and play music increase the rate of learning new vocabulary, but it results in a permanent increase in the learning rate. If the music learning process stops, the increased capacity is retained. If the challenging music program starts again, the rate of learning increases further.

2009 An MIT study determined that the cerebral cortex of a concert pianist is enlarged by 30% on average compared to people that are considered intellectuals, but who did not have instrumental music education. 

Musical training is linked to enhanced verbal skills. Musical training affects brain development in young children, but not only for young children - look at the 2nd YouTube video, below, which demonstrates that "you're never too old" to enhance your brain through musical study, and never too old to learn a new skill (including piano)! This is something that can help the "boomer generation" as it ages and starts to think about retaining brain power, memory, and cognition.


There are several less-tangible, but important advantages to learning to read music and play an instrument. In one Chicago High School the dropout rate improved dramatically, two short years after a challenging music program was introduced to all students.


Musicians acknowledge an important spiritual and motivational side to music. Our spirit is a vital part of us which should not be neglected.


The combination of these benefits is very interesting when considering music learning as a treatment for various conditions that affect both learning and behaviour. Consider AutismADHD, or even brain trauma, stroke or aneurism. For these individuals, learning to read music and play the piano can be a very important source of successes, increasing rates of learning and improving behaviour.


It is not as important for a student to play a piece of music with perfection as it is for him or her to develop to the best of his or her abilities!

Discipline, patience, determination and perseverance are some of the many other wonderful character traits learned through piano training. Successful piano students have to work daily over extended periods of time in order to learn complex music. Piano helps students understand the concept of sustained effort, accomplish excellence and learn and to put to practice the meaning of hard work. This helps to work against the tendency to look for "instant gratification" that our fast-paced society often reinforces.

This is what some slightly more distinguished people than myself had to say about music and its effects:

“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” - Plato

“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” - Jimi Hendrix

“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.” - Gottfried Leibnitz

“Music can name the un-nameable and communicate the unknowable.” - Leonard Bernstein


"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." -Victor Hugo


"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness."Maya Angelou


"It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony."Benjamin Britten

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” - Plato

And finally: “Hey, Ho, let’s go!” - The Ramones


 

http://mic.com/articles/108022/science-just-discovered-something-amazing-about-what-childhood-piano-lessons-did-to-you
http://www.effectivemusicteaching.com/articles/directors/18-benefits-of-playing-a-musical-instrument/
 
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