Many adults have memories of the weekly childhood chore known as piano lessons. While some jumped on the chance to quit as soon as they were able to do so, others went on to further their musical training in a band or orchestra, or they simply played the piano for personal enjoyment. Now, though, perhaps you have children of your own, and you’re revisiting the idea of piano lessons. Or perhaps you’re simply curious about whether there is any truth to your mother’s claim about how much piano lessons would help you in the future.
Are there any actual benefits to piano lessons for children other than simply learning how to play an instrument? Studies have shown that piano lessons at a young age — even if they are not continued into adulthood — can have a lasting and positive effect on a person’s well-being. Following are eight reasons why piano lessons are a worthwhile investment:
Scales are possibly one of the most challenging aspects of playing the piano. Practicing scales over and over again can be both tedious and frustrating. Staying inside to practice every day teaches discipline. Even the youngest piano student quickly learns that practice brings rewards. The applause of listeners after weeks of practice can be highly motivating. The life skills that one develops from practicing are priceless.
Learning the intricacies of “Für Elise,” mastering the movements of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” or tiptoeing through the crescendos of “Chariots of Fire” can make even the most enthusiastic pianist want to slam the cover down on the keys. Piano lessons help children learn that big, scary, complicated problems can often be solved by breaking them down into manageable sections.
For many children, performing in a piano recital is their first experience of being in front of an audience. Taking the steps up to the stage, scooting the bench so they’re just the right distance from the keys, and finding their place in the music book is typically done with shaking hands and a slightly sick feeling in the pit of their stomachs. With a deep breath, they play their first notes and move their fingers of their own accord, coaxing a song out of the piano. Only after the last note is played do they dare to peek into the audience and look for their family’s smiling faces. Surviving the first performance can be both terrifying and rewarding. Learning how to handle this stress cultivates courage and teaches children how to manage their anxiety.
4. Improved Self-Esteem
According to a study conducted by Northwestern University (NU), adults who received music lessons as children experienced an increase in neural responses to sounds, compared with adults who had no musical training. The findings support the idea that children who receive musical instruction — even if they do not continue the lessons — have greater auditory perception and communication skills as adults. The NU study looked at the brain’s reaction to sounds in the environment and how the brain processes, analyzes, and catalogs those sounds more quickly if the person had received music lessons early in life.
7. Health Benefits
Music can be powerful. It can evoke memories, add drama and intrigue, and soothe anger. Physically, creating music can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and even help your body fight viruses. Piano lessons can also strengthen hand-eye coordination and help with hand dexterity.
8. Future Music Skills
Piano lessons are often a gateway to playing other musical instruments. Learning how to read music, understand key signatures, and think musically makes it easier to learn other instruments. In addition, the ease of playing the piano — no complicated blowing skills, fingering techniques, or heavy instruments to hold — allows even younger children the opportunity to successfully master the fundamentals of the piano with success.
Who knew that wading through the “John Thompson’s Beginner Piano Course” would have so many benefits? Amazingly, many of these benefits are not just for children. Adults who take up the piano at a later age can benefit just as much. You should try to keep this list of benefits handy as a reminder while you’re sitting at yet another piano lesson or listening to the same song for the 43rd time today. When practice is over, send your mom a thank you note for doing the same for you.