Many parents want their children to learn musical instruments, especially piano, as it is the most common musical instrument that people have an easy access to. Why do we want children to learn music? It is simply fun, but there are other aspects that involve playing the piano that we, adults, value and think children can acquire skills that can help them thrive through learning how to play musical instruments. What benefits can we find in learning how to play the piano?
1. Learn to commit to something
First of all, it takes practice to get better. Nobody can learn how to play the piano overnight. You need to learn the positions of the keys, what note each key makes, how to read notes, rhythms, and so on. Typically, a lesson in music last for 30 minutes once a week, however, you can't expect to get better by just showing up to the class every week. Practice is what is required between the lessons! It takes a lot of commitment to start learning how to play a musical instrument because you need to practice every day. Well, you don't have to, but you can't get better unless you practice. Even if it's 10 minutes a day, if you practice every day, you can make a steady progress.
Suppose a little girl, Megan, said she wants to play the piano, and the parents found a teacher and now lessons started. There are other things she wants to do every day or just doesn't feel like practicing and say, "I don't want to practice!" As a parent, you can tell her that it was she who wanted to learn how to play the piano and that she needs to practice because she committed. It doesn't mean she has to take lessons for 10 years, but at least for a year or two or whatever the time period the parents set, she needs to continue for that period.
Now, she has to learn how to manage her time and set aside some time for her to practice piano in her daily routine. She can learn to take ownership in how she uses her time.
These days, children as young as one or even before celebrating their first birthday know how to use electronics. They see how people around them have their devices and watching something while talking to someone or doing something else. Today's society is multi-tasking society. You would notice that you rarely focus on one thing in your daily life as other things are going around in your mind all the time.
Growing up in such environment, children these days hardly have opportunities to focus on just one thing. Learning to play a musical instrument offers such rare opportunity.
Playing the piano takes a lot of focus. Imagine that your left and right hands play different notes while reading the sheet music, listening to the sound you make. It takes focus to be able to play a song on the piano.
Where else can you learn to focus in this way in the life of young people in today's world?
3. Learn to persevere
As mentioned above, it takes a lot of time and practice to master one song no matter what level a pianist is. You practice over and over again and finally reach to the point where your fingers play naturally without thinking too much. Once you reach to that point where you can play smoothly without making any mistakes, you feel a profound sense of accomplishment. In the course of practice, you learn how to persevere until you succeed. This is something children can apply in other areas of their life as they grow up to be adults.
4. Stress relief
As easily applicable to adults as well, playing the piano is a significant stress reliever. As stated above, it takes concentration to play the piano, therefore, when you are playing the piano, you cannot think of other things like how a friend said something hurtful or your upcoming test, or how you got in trouble with your parents, etc. Your creative right brain is at work and there is no room for you to worry about other problems you have and thus, you are temporarily free from all the worries. Of course, you have to like to play the piano, but as you learn how to play the piano, you will feel the relaxing effect of piano playing and of course from the sound it makes.
5. Foster creativity
Jazz pianists improvise music while playing. Such creativity is not easily achievable as a beginner and even as an advanced player, improvisation is a hard task, however, creativity doesn't mean just improvisation. Making your own piece of music, even if it's not a master piece, can enhance creativity that is hidden inside of you. People, throughout the history of mankind, express inner feelings through music and young people are no exception. Playing the piano can further encourage creativity for richer life.
6. Accept constructive criticism
When you are taking lessons, your teacher will teach you how to move your fingers, how to count the beats, rhythms, expressions, dynamics, and so on. You will learn how to listen to your teacher as someone who has mastered the skills. At school, children take tests and are graded, however, there are not many opportunities to be criticized for what you do and try to improve. Playing musical instruments provides a good opportunity to respect your teacher and listen to what your master says just like in sports where coaches teach you new skills or strategies in games and you implement what you learned for success. This type of learning where you try and are corrected for improvement is something that is not frequently offered during everyday school life and accepting such constructive criticism and further improve yourself is very important in adult life.
7. Improved cognitive development and academic ability
Musical instructions are introduced more to the field of education as researches have found their positive impact to children. A study found that "children who undergo musical training have better verbal memory, second language pronunciation accuracy, reading ability and executive functions." 1
An interesting finding is reported that "students who participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above average in math, and 31 points above average in writing" in SAT. 2
Some critics claim there is no relationship between the SAT score and music participation, stating that those people who scored high happened to have chosen music over other studies and that they were going to outperform their peers anyway regardless of music participation. Even so, it can be argued that those students who are involved in music have developed character traits such as hard-working, concentration, perseverance through their music learning that they performed better in academics.
Learning how to play the piano can develop responsibility to commit to something that a child decided to do, persevere and concentrate while learning how to relax and relieve stress, accepting constructive criticism for his/her own improvement, with a possible enhancement in academics from language learning to math, all of which can be an asset for successful life.
Now that we know that there are possible benefits in learning how to play the piano, what do we do? Do we want to buy an acoustic piano? It would be nice if you can afford to do that, but what if you are not sure if your child will continue years to come, even though you wish he/she does, or if you live in a small apartment or house with neighbors close to your house? Then, a digital piano is a very good option! Here are some of the best digital piano options that you can consider.
1. How musical training affects cognitive development: rhythm, reward and other modulating variables (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957486/)