5 Things to Consider Before Choosing to Learn the Piano

Most of the adult population can play enough of a musical instrument to rattle out a tune of some sort, even if it is just a TV theme or a few bars of an old classic. Furthermore, playing an instrument well is something most of us long for, but for whatever reason, we choose not to fulfill our desire. There is a range of excuses: you’re too old, you’ve no time, you can’t learn at your age. They are all just excuses, and by overcoming these unnecessary barriers, you too can take up an instrument and improve your skills beyond the very basics.

Music is a very important part of our lives. It does a lot more than just please our ears it is an integral part of human development.
Several years ago, there was an experiment done by scientists at the University of California at Irvine in 1993. (published in the journal Nature) They had college students listen to Mozart Sonata for two pianos in D Major, a relaxation tape or silence. Immediately after these sessions, the students took a spatial reasoning test (the ability to put together puzzles) and the student’s scores improved drastically after listening to the music. The reason is that music and spatial abilities share the same pathways in the brain.

Another experiment was done later by researchers at Appalachian State University and the researchers were successful as well in connecting music to boosting brainpower. They gave preschool children (aged 3-4 years old) training for 8 months. Children were divided into 4 groups: keyboard lessons, singing lessons, computer lessons, and no lessons. After 8 months of this treatment, the children were tested on their ability to put together puzzles (spatial-temporal reasoning) and to recognize shapes (spatial-recognition reasoning) and the results were astounding! They found that only those children who had taken the keyboard lessons had improvement in the spatial-temporal test. The children did not, however, show any change with spatial recognition.

Another interesting observation I’ve made is the connection between the medical profession and the music profession. A large majority of M.D.s are classically trained musicians! I’ve encountered many and have asked them all the same question: How do you make the connection between the medical and the musical? And the response I’ve had is that they are both very intricate, and require a rare focus and mathematical mindset in many different directions at once. It’s achieved by many years of training in either and/or both fields, which by the same token – enhance each other. So, to them, the similarity in brain function and focus is evident and invaluable to both the medical and the musical. It will be interesting to see the results of further study in that matter.
Whatever your age, and musical experience, you can learn to play an instrument with effective music tuition. By dedicating the necessary time and effort and by adopting a good attitude towards practice and theory, you can see a marked improvement in no time and can learn to impress your friends and yourself with the highly-satisfying ability to play the piano.

Five things that you should consider before choosing to learn to play the piano are:

1) Interest

Assess the interest of your student. Is this something they really like or is it your dream? The student should show genuine interest in music and a keyboard for their learning experience to be a pleasant and successful one. If they are not interested, ask yourself why you even pursued it? Is it because you have an inner desire for it? It’s NEVER too late to begin! Sign yourself up for piano lessons if that’s the case. I’ve had students of every age, some played when they were kids then quit. As they got older, regretted quitting and vowed to one day pick it up again. Then there are others who always had the desire but not the opportunity and now find themselves retired with plenty of time on their hands. They’ve become piano virtuosos! I give you these lovely examples to give you hope and a gentle nudge. It’s never too late!

2) Instrument

It’s fine to begin piano lessons on an electronic keyboard. As time goes on, the student will know in which direction they’d like to take the piano lessons. If it’s just for personal enjoyment, it’s fine to stay with a keyboard. If it’s for classical piano training, then the student should be switched over to an acoustic piano. In my experience as a Piano teacher, I’ve realized that a Spinet Piano (the ones that have a low back) unless it is given as a gift, should not be purchased. It would be preferable to purchase an Upright which is a Baby Grand Piano, but instead of the strings being vertical they’re horizontal. The reason being, that the action on the keys is much better technically for the student’s hand, and it sounds substantially better to the ear.

3) Teacher

Ask around and get feedback from others about their teachers. Find out the teacher’s background. Where did they get the education from? How long have they been teaching? Where do they teach from? What are the surroundings like? Ask current students how patient the teacher is, and how do they feel during the lesson? You should get a pretty good idea about the teacher by how current students are progressing. Does the teacher’s personality blend with your child’s? Remember, this is a choice! In school, the students adapt to the teacher that has been assigned to them, and that’s a good thing. They learn to get along with different types of personalities. But the piano is an extra-curricular activity and should be a pleasant one that they look forward to.

4) Schedule

Children can be easily overwhelmed by too much in their schedule. As adults, we’ve experienced overload for ourselves and it’s SO counterproductive! It’s highly advisable to limit activities for the kids not to be pulled in too many directions. Once activities have been chosen, I’ve found with my own kids and students that by writing down a daily schedule, everything gets done and there are no excuses for forgetting to practice.

5) Dedication

Once a schedule is in place, practicing piano will become part of a daily routine. After a while, the student won’t be so worried about time but will want to achieve goals set by the teacher. The student will need dedication for the craft to go from mechanical to musical. Encourage them to listen to a wide range of styles and genres, for them to develop their own taste for music. At an early stage, dedication can be ingrained in a student by participating in recitals, talent shows, and worship services. It takes diligence and dedication also sacrifices to make playing the piano a beautiful craft.
The piano is known as the mother of all instruments and is one of the most versatile and celebrated instruments in the world. Most of the worlds’ favorite classical pieces have been written or adapted for the piano, and it is a necessary skill for many degree level music courses. Indeed, when it comes to teaching music theory, there is no better instrument than the piano. It really is easy to see why it’s a popular choice for those taking up a new instrument. As adults, we tend to shy away from situations out with our comfort zone, and this is certainly the situation with taking piano lessons. From having total control over every aspect of our lives, it can feel frustrating and patronizing to take direction from another adult. However, by dedicating the time to practice, and taking heed of the instructions given, anyone of any age can learn to play the piano.

Whatever your age, and musical experience, you can learn to play the piano. By dedicating the necessary time and effort and by adopting a good attitude towards practice and theory, you can see a marked improvement in no time and can learn to impress your friends and yourself with the highly-satisfying ability to play the piano.

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