Piano class is for children who want to learn how to play piano… but that’s not all…
Taking piano lessons brings with it many other benefits for your little Mozart: the development of cognitive faculties, social skills, open-mindedness, and…
Read on to discover the many ways a piano lesson can lead to kids’ development!
For several decades now scientists have been trying to understand if learning an instrument (such as the piano) bears an influence on the development of children’s intellectual abilities. In fact, it’s an extremely popular research theme in the neurological community. Numerous studies have been undertaken on the subject and all tend to answer in the positive: yes, learning an instrument contributes to improving general developmental faculties in children, especially those which feed their scholastic training.
One of the most reputed studies was led in 1997 by two scientists, Dr. Frances Rauscher, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, and Dr. Gordon Shaw, a physician at the University of Californie. It proved that young children who play the piano or sing will perform the best in school.
The study looked at the behavior of about 78 children aged 3 and 4 for 8 months. They were divided into 3 groups: those who took singing or piano lessons, those who took IT classes, and those who didn’t take any class at all. At the end of the 8 months all children were asked to take tests in spatial recognition (essential skills for learning mathematics and certain sciences), and those in the first group scored 34% higher than the other two groups!
We can cite many other studies on the subject, and they all say more or less the same thing: children who learn the piano have a better chance of earning high grades in school.
Why teach the piano to a child?
The cognitive benefits of music are not just for children, they apply to all musicians in general. One 2003 study published by German scientists showed that, in general, musicians have a more developed brain than non-musicians, notably concerning the sense of hearing, but that’s not all. In fact, motor activities are generally more developed in musicians, as, during music playing, they must rapidly make the connection between finger movement and reading sheet music. Of course, the study points out that this doesn’t necessarily mean that all musicians are more intelligent than non-musicians, but they have a clear advantage! Still need reasons to get your keyboard out and learn a scale?
Piano playing stimulates cognitive and listening capacities in children.
To access the results of other studies led on the theme of music’s influence on children’s intelligence, click on this link. Among other things, you’ll learn that piano training, like for most instruments, helps children learn languages and reinforces memory skills. Now where did I put the keyboard again…?
Piano instruction serves to strengthen children’s sense of discipline in general. We know that discipline is vital to learning anything. We must have the strength to push ourselves to work on those sharps and black keys – easier said than done! While discipline is something music teachers should be enforcing, it must also come from the child him or herself (with parents’ help of course). If the piano should be – before all else – a source of pleasure and joy, it’s also synonymous with work and effort. In fact, playing music is a prime example of a leisure activity or hobby that isn’t pure enjoyment.
A child who wants to learn the piano at a very young age will have to adopt a disciplined attitude to handle rigorous training. This is one of the fundamental reasons why music students excel in the scholastic realm. These children must have a keen sense of how to use discipline and apply methods to play the piano. How else will you learn to play by ear, learn a new chord, and become more advanced?
A child who plays the piano doesn’t only develop cognitive faculties that make scholastic achievement and learning easier. He or she develops a capacity for discipline that aids the process of learning in general.
When one is an adult, it’s actually possible to learn how to play the piano without the aide of a music teacher. Multimedia resources, the Internet and YouTube allow one to learn to play the piano alone (even if it is far from the ideal method – and beware of free piano lessons in particular!). Videos teach you everything from where to put the left hand, how to find C major and who is the of-the-moment composer.
In contrast, for kids, the only solution for learning to play piano is to have a piano teacher. But there are many benefits to this outside of music practice. A relationship is forged between student and music instructor, one that teaches children about discipline and socializing. Piano classes allow kids to enter into a social relationship with an adult outside of the family circle and school group, and are an efficient means of develop their social skills!
Piano lessons reap many social benefits for children.
Music’s social role will be heightened if your child learns an instrument in a group. If your child is very young (under 3), it’s probably too early to start private piano lessons. However, you can enroll him or her into Music Awakening classes. These courses, which group between ten and twenty-something children, are spaces for both music awareness as well as socializing.
When a bit older, your child will be able to enroll in a music school allowing him or her to play music with other kids of the same age (the age to start playing the piano). Playing music in a group will really help kids develop important social skills.
If he or she is old enough, why not get your child past the unsavory aspects of learning the piano, such as memorizing scales and keys, having perfect piano posture, and reading sheet music by giving him or her the option to play with friends. Or show them a video of a jazz pianist doing a bit of improvisation to temp them to play piano! As we just wrote, music can be played by several people together. It’s not just a solitary activity, contrary to popular conception. Learning to play the piano will help your child integrate in music groups or orchestras later on.
Despite all this, one must realize that learning anything will take effort and patience. Although for kids, piano instruction must be based on pleasure, this doesn’t mean that they won’t demand work. Even Beethoven got to where he was by practicing!
Music soothes the soul as is commonly said. Learning isn’t only about work, effort and discipline, it should allow one to experience pleasure and relaxation. If we were only allowed to give one piece of advice to parents who want their children to learn the piano, it would be this: for a child to like and advance at any instrument, he or she must have fun with it. For kids (and this is also partly true for adults), pleasure is the main source of motivation. As such, the piano must be a way of relieving stress and promoting relaxation for them. With certain adults too, learning piano is a means of finding moments of rest and relaxation in an often hectic and stressful professional life!
There are many ways that you can help your child associate music and piano with pleasure. Help your child discover different music styles: classical music, jazz, world music, and children’s music, etc. You can also teach your child about the different musical instruments by reading a book on the subject, or by taking him to visit an instrument shop. Who doesn’t love an outing with Mom or Dad?!
You can also instill a sense of musical awareness in your children by playing music to them at home when they are very young: there are so many albums and musicals available on DVDs or online. Or take them to a children’s music concert!
There are also a lot of board games that teach music awakening, like musical Bingo. This is a popular one among many children, asking them to guess which instruments and tunes they are hearing in sound clips.
Music awareness can lead to greatness!
The notion of sensitivity is fundamental in music, and art in general. Learning a musical instrument, especially the piano, is an ideal way of developing your child’s sensitivity (in music, of course, and sensitivity in art and in general).
The trait of sensitivity helps us become interested in the wider world, and escape the pitfalls of our own natural interiority and egotism. This capacity of being interested in things outside of ourselves allows us to discover new horizons, and will help improve our piano playing in the long run! In taking piano lessons or music classes, a child doesn’t only learn piano or music (how to read music, piano scales, proper posture, etc.), they also develop the capacity for open-mindedness that will serve them throughout their lives, both personally and professionally.
To conclude, we want to stress a vital point: for your children to take maximum advantage of their piano classes to develop various skills (social, cognitive, open-mindedness, etc.), it’s very important that their piano teacher is perfectly adapted to their personality and age. Remember that not every piano teacher has the ability to teach children (pedagogical methods differ according to the age of the student). So take your time to research and choose the right piano teacher.
A music teacher should be teaching all aspects of piano playing, including:
Make sure you aim for a piano instructor with a warm manner, who is used to working with kids, and able to mix work with fun. Why not begin your search at Superprof? We have many music instructors who excel at adapting learning methods to different ages to learn how to play piano.
Your child will be sight reading, building a repertoire, and having a first solo recital in no time!