Piano is taught to students young and old for numerous health benefits.
Taking on this instrument can help facilitate either the introduction or the continuation of particular skills like motor function, mental health, self esteem, and other cognitive processes.
In addition, many people decide to pursue piano as a means to embrace creativity and lifelong learning.
In many ways, the piano is an instrument of both musical and scientific importance.
To truly understand what makes the piano such a dynamic learning tool, it’s useful to look into a few of the key ways in which learning the piano provides health benefits to the human brain and body.
It can be helpful to explain these piano health benefits to prospective students and their parents, so let’s get stuck in!
Consider the numerous exercises and hobbies known to promote healthy brain usage.
For starters, some of these activities are age dependent; in other words, not every human can participate for various age-related constraints. There are also some that come down to access, whether it be geographical or economic.
Piano is something that many learn as a means of convenience. You’ll often find family members, friends, neighbors, or community peers that piano, and they can assist in the teaching of the instrument to others. Whether it be formal lessons or casual exploration, the piano is one of the most prevalent instruments in society.
For a long time, scientists understood instruments to be a benefit to cognitive functions. Between practicing, focus on the task at hand, and memorization of notes, scales, and proper technique, learning an instrument is understood to be of great importance to one’s brain development and maintenance.
Thanks to the complexity of learning an instrument, and the ability of people at any age to pick up the instrument to some degree, researchers believe the piano to be a vital tool in maintaining the brain’s function, as well as elongating its proper filtration of hormones and physiological stimuli.
Considering the sponge-like state of a child’s mind, learning the piano at a young age can prove beneficial in the cognitive development of youth.
Likewise, the simplicity of notes and scales help to provide elderly students a manner in which to utilize their minds when things like work and regular social interaction might be diminishing.
A creative approach to teaching piano can also bring about numerous other piano health benefits – here are some ideas on how to get a bit more creative in your teaching.
On top of the numerous cognitive benefits to learning piano, motor skills at any age of life can be improved, as well as strengthened for the long run.
It’s interesting to research the history of piano instruction and playing.
Even as early as the 18th and 19th centuries, scientists were noting the increased motor skills of piano players.
It was clear, even then, that playing the piano requires a certain dexterity that provided the musician with an increased reaction time, as well as hand-eye coordination. It’s noted in the linked study that a few major improvements in motor skills can be found in piano players.
Yes, the normal suspects like reaction time and hand-eye coordination are here, but things such as independent control over tendons in the fingers at a level in which is not natural to human evolution catch one’s eye.
It’s explored as well that the brain’s control over actions given to limbs and fingers are extraordinarily responsive in piano players. For young and middle aged learners, these attributes can assist in delaying joint-related injuries and pains, as well as deteriorating muscle density and responsiveness.
Furthermore, the piano inspires the brain to control its relative body parts with a precision unseen in most hobbies or activities.
The only other activity mentioned in the study that nears the piano’s virtuosity for training superior motor skills in humans is professional sports, which are limited to a percentage of the world’s population.
Piano, on the other hand, even at the intermediate level, can boost these essential motor functions in unbelievable ways. For developing minds and decelerating older brains, piano proves a vital tool in ensuring proper motor skills. At it’s best, this instrument provides a superior way for the brain and body to work together.
Both children and elderly individuals require guidance when it comes to maintaining self esteem. There’s a good reason why many piano lessons begin with basic notes and scales or by teaching them one of these easy beginner songs.
For starters, learning an instrument takes time, and research shows that learning an instrument can lead to an increase in positive self image and confidence.
For a lot of new piano students, the keys seem endless, but with scales and notes as the introduction to the instrument, small exercises lead to a larger understanding of the techniques needed to play.
How does mental health and self esteem play into this?
Many understand the piano to be an instrument that garnishes positive improvements in motor skills and cognitive processes, as explored above. What often gets overlooked, however, is the process in which an individual feels self worth as they learn a new skill.
Thanks to the intrinsic artfulness of an instrument, especially something as time-honored as a piano, students learn not only to play, but to trust their abilities and intuition.
Whether a piano is introduced to a child, picked up by a young adult, explored in middle age, or used to promote brain wellness in someone’s later years, the instrument’s benefits to health are insurmountable.
Something as simple as basic music theory can help provide amateur musicians with the cognitive challenges needed to promote healthy brain use, as well as self esteem maintenance.
As noted in the discussion above, there are a number of reasons to learn piano, no matter how old or familiar with the instrument you are.
Considering the health benefits associated with learning piano, no time is better than the present for those without any experience. For those who know the piano casually, or possibly play it quite well, continuing to develop piano technique might just elongate some of life’s most vital functions at the same time.
Don’t forget, if you are looking for a music conference that covers piano teaching pedagogy, but also tips on how to run your business, buy your ticket to Piano Pivot Live 2020.
Ian R. is a life-long musician, educator, and the owner/editor of the popular piano blog ThrivePiano.