Culture & Art

Change Your Life: Play The Piano

Music can be considered as one of the fundamental abilities of the mind. It is an integral part of all cultures and has surprising benefits when learning foreign languages. Music improves memory, focuses attention, and fosters coordination and physical development. In many cases it has advantageous effects on shaping the base personality of individuals and how that person fundamentally lives their life.

Most people can perceive and experience music without formal training. When listening to a piece of music, our brains instinctually distinguish rhythm without prior knowledge of musical tone and the differing forms of expression. A growing body of research is showing that learning how to play an instrument can have a profound impact on the brain and its development. As we age, we often start to lose some of our brain functionality but studies show that musical training helps our brains stay healthy in later life.

Music clearly offers children, adults and people of all ages many benefits, regardless of nationality, language, religion or social class. Piano is the world's best-known and most popular musical instrument, widely used all over the world. Regardless of whether the music student learns to play the piano, guitar, violin or bass, piano is usually somewhere within reach. It is an integral part of most music curriculum. Acoustically 88 lower keys of the piano contains the widest range of musical sound compared with all the other musical instruments in the world.

The importance of learning to play the piano has also been documented to promote physical rehabilitation in people of all ages. Perhaps the most important effects of music can be seen in the older generation, a group who often find it challenging to remain active physically. Even listening to the music can protect against certain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease.

There are equally important benefits for children. Studies show that children with at least three years learning how to play any musical instrument perform better in school. Continual learning of a musical instrument can enhance of auditory abilities and improve phonetic and motor skills of musicians. Such children, as I mentioned, are verbally evolved and they also have a better understanding and analysis of visual information. The improved visual awareness can be helpful in a range of life skills, including identifying human social cues to special skills such as pattern recognition.

It is fascinating to see how learning to play a musical instrument can help your child develop a wide range of important skills. Many people who know how to play although at least one musical instrument are well aware of the benefits about which I am writing now. The often misquoted George Bernard Shaw once said that,

“Youth,” he replied, “is the most beautiful thing in this world—and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!”

This quote raises the question: is it a waste of time to spend young ages for piano lessons? Playing music as a child is not wasted time. Research suggests that children at the age of four can enjoy lifelong benefits of playing an instrument and singing. Pediatricians found evidence that when a child starts learning to play piano, areas of the brain that control memory and speech development are stimulated.

Research findings emphasize that the young students who are actively involved in music lessons have higher self-esteem, implementation and are more likely to handle physical challenges

Children and many adults who are learning to play the piano can find that it is a great way to alleviate stress, improve physical coordination and generally improve their own being. It is never too late to learn to play a musical instrument. After a long hard work day, music can be a wonderful idea for recovery and rest. Playing the piano just for 20 minutes a day can develop muscle tone and can partially substitute cardiovascular exercise.

Self-discipline and determination is needed for the process of learning to play the piano. It usually requires multiple steps, with students having to interpret a piece of music, reading musical notation properly and reproducing those notes on the piano keyboard.

So, considering all the benefits, why do so many people start learning to play piano but often resign quickly? The answer is complex and would undoubtedly different for each person who has struggled with piano lessons. Similarly, I can only speak for myself in relation to my own experiences with music education. But I can guess it has much to do with traditional teaching methods.

Let's face it, most people, from small children to busy adults and older seniors, do not have the patience to sit in front of piano for long lectures on the technical examination of music. This learning is called music theory but how important is it? It is important but not all at once! Too much music theory can scare anyone who are just starting to learn. When you try to read the name of notes, their time value in exact piece of play, as well as their location on the instrument. This sight reading is called a prima vista (Italian meaning "at first sight"). This is a complex series of skills for new musicians.

What about learning to play the piano with both hands? This requires some additional concentration in developing not only the proper coordination hand- eye-hand with a paper piano keyboard, but also the physical dexterity to play two different parts of music content using both hands simultaneously.

When I was a child, music was not my favorite subject. Similar to many young people around the world, I was taught to play the piano as my introduction to music. I was a little overwhelmed by the double-planted sheet music notation. Now I know it takes a few years to finally warm up to achieve at level where you will be totally confident with reading the notes and playing with two-hands. Sooner after you will reach the point where you can play without even looking to the keyboard. Music education helped me to concentrate and focus on my ability to self-discipline. This education must be done at a pace that does not scare away notices.

The key to learning to play the piano is to find teaching methods that will suit your individual needs right from the beginning. Your results from playing the piano will be directly related to the amount of time spent practicing. The more you practice, the better you play. This is an individual challenge for everyone. There is a saying that anyone who is learning to play a music instrument must disregard age. This has been true for me. Forget how old you are and just begin learning something new.

Find a suitable teacher; a person who will help you reach your goal, which you continually determining for yourself. This person will be your guide in understanding music, offering feedback, correcting errors, listening for discerning ear and providing you with encouragement along the way.

The best thing you can do to prepare for learning to play the piano is to realize that your study is actually travel. This journey requires a strong commitment from the part of the user. Many people, adults and children never say that the lessons of playing the instrument requires systematic practice, just like learning to read and write. Imagine if school was only once a week and you were expected to learn how to read or to write within that time frame. It is the same for music lessons. You have to spend the time practicing, at least 30 to 60 minutes daily. Practicing 3.5 hours, once a week, this is not the same as 30 minutes a day.

This necessary regularity causes problems for many people. They have to create a balance between education, training, work, school, family and other social obligations. It is important to find time for your goals, hobbies and activities you like. If you want it enough, no matter how busy you are, you can find the time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the journey will be part satisfaction and part frustration. Life should be spent learning continuously; the need to understand the people and places around us should not disappear. Concerning the piano player, I know it from my own experience, one day you will not even notice but you can play a whole song. The complexity and beauty of the instrument, however, requires not only systematic practice, but stubbornness and love.

This discipline has therapeutic benefit based on sound, physics and psychology. It is not without reason this music can heal the body and soul.

About The Author

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Sani Manchak

Sani Manchak is a journalist from Ukraine, currently working as a freelancer in Germany. She started her career 7 years ago and had worked as TV and radio broadcast presenter. Her Polish roots from the father side brought her to a socio-cultural partnership between the countries of the European Union. Her main areas of interests are all interlinked topics with secret societies, such as religion, high finance, politics and entertainment industry.

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