Piano lessons for children is a subject on which much has been written. This
article comes from my perspective as both a child who was subject to traditional
piano lessons and a teacher who has successfully taught hundreds of children and
adults to play the piano.
I am a great supporter of piano lessons for children even though I neither did
well or enjoyed the traditional piano lessons my parents insisted
Ironically even though my initial experience was not all that positive I went on to a career performing on and teaching piano to both children and adults.
Although I prefer teaching adults to children I have taught hundred of children to not just play the piano but to enjoy the experience and also to unleash the music that is inside them and unlock any creative potential.
Why The Piano?
The piano may not be your child's first choice as a musical instrument. Mine was the guitar. Mainly because at the time I thought it was cool and my Dad played a bit.
My parents wanted me to play piano but allowed me to take guitar lessons mainly because my second choice at the time was the drums!
I am grateful now however that they did insist on piano lessons as well and that they kept a piano in the house all through my childhood.
I often sat for hours at end and picked out chords and melodies unattended.
I now feel that piano lessons for children IS the best choice for many reasons. Here are just a few.
1. Knowledge of Music Theory.
The piano covers the widest range of musical notes and has the ability to easily demonstrate through playing the concepts of bass, chords and harmony, and melody.
When I was at Berklee school of Music, all students were required to take functional piano for just this reason. Even the drummers!
2. Easy to understand.
3. Instant Gratification.
There is no extra technique required to get a good sound at the piano. If the instrument is well maintained and in tune you press the key and get beautiful tone quality.
4. Solo instrument.
You can play alone or in ensemble. Many instruments sound empty and need the support of other instruments. The piano is perhaps the finest Solo instrument. More music is written for piano than any other instrument.
The Benefits of piano lessons for children.
1. Children who learn piano do better in school.
There have been numerous studies that show that children that take ANY musical instrument in school score significantly higher on their SAT and similar standard academic tests.
There are also results that show children who play piano, in particular, scored higher in math, especially on problems dealing with ratios and fractions.
There was one study done by Dr. Frances Rauscher at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Gordon Shaw (a physicist at of the University of California at Irvine) which tested preschoolers who took piano lessons.
They found that the children who received piano lessons scored 34% higher than their non-musical counterparts in tests measuring spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the brain function used to understand math, science and engineering.
2. Better eye- hand coordination.
An increase in eye-hand coordination is another result for children that learn to play the piano, but there is more than that.
Kids who play the piano have improved fine motor skills. Unlike other instruments, playing the piano requires both hands to work independently of each other, one moving fast while the other may be moving at a slower rate.
All of these things help to increase a child's overall dexterity and complex thought processes.
3. Increased Self Esteem.
Piano lessons for children require quite a bit of hard work and dedication and with every song that is learned there is an increase in self esteem.
There is also the ability to perform for others at recitals and other functions that can be just as rewarding as doing well in sports competitions.
Piano lessons for children will also help them to stay positive when facing difficult tasks. The understanding that mastering a new skill is a process that requires patience helps children to approach tasks with confidence, and not become discouraged or frustrated.
Having had piano lessons as a child I have first hand knowledge of these and many more benefits, and having taught children to play over the years has only reinforced my belief that piano lessons for children are a real and tangible life enhancement.
When to start.
You would do well to expose you child to great music from day one on.
Lets face it, not every child is destined to be a musical prodigy but one of the best things you could do is to expose you child to great classical music, jazz and other good music.
The classical music of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven or Mozart or the great jazz improvisations of Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, Art Tatum and George Shearing would be a great starting point.
This will develop your childs interest in music in later years.There are also many great musical toys available on the market as well.
A durable toy piano will develop instincts that will come naturally when it child is old enough to begin lessons.
As to the question of when to start official lessons there is no "set in stone" age..
A child should be able to count from one to five and know the letters A through G of the alphabet to begin understanding the basics of how to read music.
Improvisation and creativity can be brought to the surface even earlier than that by sitting at the piano with a young child and experimenting with sounds and rhythms at the piano.
There are also lots of Music Gifts and Toys for kids that will instill a love and interest for music while they are involved with play.
Check out this free Adult Piano Lesson to see a free lesson and video that will help you guide short musical sessions with your child at the piano.
Choosing an Instrument?
When I started piano there was no choice. You had a piano in your home or found one somewhere that you could spend time at.
In my day a piano and a grandfather clock were considered essential home furnishings.
I will be forever grateful to both my parents for providing an instrument in the home even though neither one of them ever played a note!
Today the choices are much more varied and keyboard instruments are more financially accessible and affordable.
The Computer Age.
Children today are becoming more and more interested it the computer and its related extensions. Almost every electronic keyboard will be able to interface with the computer and many have powerful computers built into them.
The piano keyboard is by far the instrument that is readily able to give you access to hundreds of software programs that will keep your child interested in music and augment traditional lessons.
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