Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Beauty & Benefits of Learning to Play the Piano: Both Music to my Ears

My little man, who just turned six, has been taking weekly-piano lessons since the 1st of September.

I've always loved music.  So of course, I've been eager to share this passion with my child since before there were two lines on that pregnancy test!   And the fact that it's beneficial to him to learn to play?  Icing on the cake!

Madd just had his first piano recital, where he played two pieces in front of about 100 people.  

This is his "I'm excited but nervous" face.  
He kinda puffs out his cheeks and tucks in his bottom lip.  
Such a sweetie.

This is more of an actual "smile."

Once we got seated, I realized that no one had ever told me how absolutely NERVOUS I would be for him.  I turned to my mother and asked her, "Were you nervous when I would perform on stage?  I have butterflies in my stomach that I was not prepared for!"  She told me that she always felt the same, which made me feel better (read:  normal). But serious--WHY didn't anyone tell me this?!

Thankfully he performed everything just as practiced.  I've never been more proud of him!  Watching your child have his moment in the spotlight to reap the benefits of his hard work is by far one of the best feelings in the world.

His first piece:  Up On The Housetop

His second piece:  O Christmas Tree
{Be sure to watch his bow at the end.}

So, now that you've seen my little man play at his Christmas recital, I'd like to share with you the five most prevalent benefits a child receives from learning to play the piano.*

1.     It helps them in school.
  • Children who play an instrument score higher on both standard and spatial cognitive development tests in school. 
  • Children who play the piano score higher in the area of math than children who do not.

2.     It raises self-esteem.
  • Children who play the piano receive increased self-esteem with each song they master due to the dedication and time it takes to learn each new piece.
  • Likewise, recitals give children an opportunity to receive praise for their accomplishments, which also increases the child's self-esteem.
  • Most importantly, to me at least, is that learning to play also teaches children to keep a positive outlook when facing difficult tasks.  It teaches the child that learning is a process which takes patience and practice.  This knowledge helps children approach other tasks with confidence, decreasing the likelihood of frustration and discouragement.  

3.     It increases coordination.
  • Sure it increases hand-eye coordination.  But, it also increases fine motor skills.
  • Unlike any other instrument, playing the piano requires each hand to work independently of the other.  For example, one hand may be playing soft while the other is playing loudly.  Or, one may be playing quickly, while the other is playing slowly.
  • Playing the piano increases dexterity and complex thought process.

4.     It helps improve concentration.
  • Think about all of the focus that is required to play one piece:  the child must interpret each note and rhythm, translate those notes into actual movement on the instrument, and then immediately move forward to the next note and do the same.
  • The child must read and think critically and creatively, which will assist them in many other areas in the future.

5.     It helps the child be more well-rounded.
  • Children are exposed to genres of music they otherwise may never have heard, whether classical or otherwise.  
  • Children may develop an appreciation for composers, such as Mozart or Bach.  
  • The skills and knowledge acquired will aid them in any other musical or instrumental endeavor taken up by the child in the future.

As for my son, over the past three months I have personally noticed that he is notably better at understanding that conquering anything new takes practice and that it's okay not to immediately know how to do something.  He has always been very hard on himself and piano has definitely taught him to have patience with himself.  I've also noticed that he's able to pick out change of tempos in songs on the radio now as well as recognize when a piano is playing in the background, whereas before he didn't seem to pay attention to things.  

Overall, I am VERY glad that he is taking piano lessons.  It has been nothing but beneficial to him.  His next recital is in May and I can't wait to show him these videos six months from now so that he can see all the new progress he'll have made.  

Does your child play an instrument?  If so, let me know how you feel it is personally benefiting your child.  

*The benefits stated above were taken from this site, although the same information is available throughout numerous studies and webpages.  

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