by Maggie Molloy
The benefits of playing the piano are vast: increased literacy, intellectual and creative growth, improved social skills and confidence—the list goes on and on! Here are just a few of the top reasons to study piano:
- Piano-playing improves cognitive development.
Piano students learn to read two lines of music while also using both ears, arms, legs, feet, and all 10 fingers simultaneously. This promotes full use of both left and right sides of the brain, creating new neurological pathways which can be utilized in other disciplines such as mathematics, science, and engineering. These neural connections can also have a profound impact on speech, language, memory, attention, and more.
- Playing music improves academic skills.
By understanding beat, rhythm, measures, scales, and other unique musical concepts, piano students learn to to count beats, add and subtract, divide and multiply, create fractions, and recognize repeating patterns both aurally and visually. Studying music also teaches students more abstract concepts such as phrasing, structure, form, and artistic analysis, making lessons a valuable supplement to traditional schooling. Developing these musical skills early on can help lead to higher academic achievement in math, science, and language arts, and can even help increase students’ test scores.
- Playing piano heightens coordination and motor skills.
Consistent piano practice trains a student’s fingers to be quick, agile, and precise—plus piano-playing requires both hands to work independently of each other, helping to increase the student’s dexterity. Reading sheet music also improves hand-eye coordination and reaction-time.
- Learning to play piano enhances language skills and literacy.
Playing an instrument engages students’ visual, tactile, and aural skills. This multi-sensory process of learning music enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading, and can be especially valuable for students with developmental dyslexia or learning disabilities.
- Playing an instrument can help breed future success.
Learning an instrument teaches students critical thinking skills, time-management, and attention to detail, plus it lends structure to their time spent outside of traditional schooling. Studying music also allows students to develop patience, discipline, diligence, and dedication—character traits which will serve them both within and beyond their musical studies, regardless of what career path they pursue.
- Playing music builds self-esteem.
Music lessons encourage students to accept and learn from constructive criticism. Turning negative feedback into positive change helps build confidence and strong self-esteem. Furthermore, performing for family, friends, and peers at piano recitals can help them build grace and poise both onstage and off.
- Piano-playing fosters creativity and an appreciation for art.
Playing an instrument gives students an emotional and creative outlet where they can express themselves freely. It also fosters an appreciation for other artistic media, forms, and styles by teaching students how to think both critically and creatively in their artistic analysis.
- Playing the piano helps reduce stress.
Playing an instrument has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress levels and improve mood. Over time, consistent musical study can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Studying music helps introduce children to other cultures.
True, the piano is a Western instrument—however, learning to play piano can still help expose children to other cultures from an early age. A well-rounded piano education will expose students to unfamiliar scales, folk melodies, musical philosophies, religious customs, and unique harmonic languages from around the world. Learning and playing music from other countries gives students intimate insight into the traditions, customs, and creative spirits of other cultures.
- Playing piano helps students engage with history.
Studying piano gives students a unique opportunity to physically engage with the ideas and emotions of composers, musicians, and artists from across history. It teaches them to recognize different movements in art and music and, by extension, allows them to better understand the depth, complexity, and lasting influence of historical events. And as a versatile keyboard instrument backed by over 300 years of history, the piano has a whole lot to teach us.