Do you want to learn to play the piano? Benefits of learning Piano
There are unquestionable benefits to playing musical instruments, especially piano. Furthermore, studies show it is truly never too late to start learning piano – the mental and physical benefits apply to all ages.
1. Prevents Brain Processing, Hearing and Memory Loss
The ability to process auditory signals usually slows down as we age. However, participants of a recent study who continued to play music throughout their lives had helped reverse the decline of brain processing, memory and inner ear hearing loss.
Source: ABC News
2. Improved Counting & Math Skills
A study conducted by Martin F. Gardiner and his colleagues at the Center for the Study of Human Development at Brown University found that specialized musical training in specific increments toward greater difficulty boosted second graders’ math skills significantly above their peers.
Source: Brain Connection Education Week
3. Exercising New Language Skills
A study in the early 1990s discovered the “Mozart effect” in children, which showed early language development and spatial-temporal intelligence could be boosted by keyboard lessons for preschoolers.2 Additionally, a study by Dr. Charles Limb showed that pianists who solo use their brains linguistically as if they were responding conversationally and grammatically.
4. Improves Reading Comprehension
A 1993 study summarized in the Educational Psychology journal showed that the ability to discriminate between pitch, which is a fundamental ability you learn when playing piano, was linked to good reading performance. Additionally, learning to memorize music before performance exercises reading comprehension skills and the portion of your brain responsible for recall.
5. Encourages Creativity
Dr. Ana Pinho conducted a recent study on jazz pianists. Monitoring their brain activity while playing, she found that the part of their brain responsible for default or stereotypical responses was actually turned off. Instead, when jazz pianists are playing, their brains improvisation ability is firing to create unique, original sound and style.
6. Practice with Time Management & Organization
As with any responsibility or hobby, learning to add it to your daily routine and make time to do it requires good time management. Playing piano and other instruments that demand a routine practice schedule are particularly effective in challenging one’s ability to manage and organize their time. For children, learning to play piano, juggling lessons, practice and fun play, is a great way to teach these lifelong skills.
Source: Ezine Articles
7. Requires Concentration, Discipline & Patience
Multiple areas of the brain light up when playing music. Scientists studying the brains of musicians as they play music have found that the discipline of playing music is the equivalent of a full-body brain workout. Strengthening multiple areas of the brain, including our ability to concentrate, focus and apply knowledge, playing music allows us to exercise our brain similarly in other areas. So, it should not be surprising that starting to play piano will trigger increased patience, concentration and discipline in other areas of your life.
8. Strengthens Hand Muscles & Hand-Eye Coordination
It is no surprise that learning to play piano requires hand-eye coordination, but a recent study on hand motor control in musicians suggests that piano performers have actually changed the cortical mapping to increase finger speeds. For children and adults with reduced motor skills, learning to play the piano can challenge these brain connections to motor movement and even strengthen coordination.
Source: Music and Health
9. Improves Rhythm & Coordination
Learning rhythm is essential to mastering piano, but it also has been shown to have a positive effect on reading skills in children. According to the academic journal, Psychology of Music, “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.”
Source: Science Daily
10. Boosts Self-Esteem
In a 2014 study of fourth-grade students in public school in Canada, children who received individual piano lessons for three years tested higher on self-esteem measures and school music achievement tests. Learning to play piano and experiencing the excitement of mastery after learning a piece of music is an incredibly powerful way to boost one’s confidence.
Source: Sage Pub Journals
11. Expands Cultural Knowledge
In a 2016 study of Amazonian women and men, musical preference was found to be strictly cultural and not hardwired into our brains. Counter to past assumptions about our brains’ preferences of dissonant versus consonant chords, the study’s findings support learning to play piano as one way to expand our cultural knowledge of different sounds, styles and types of music. Especially for children, this exposure is critical to encouraging early open mindedness and cultural diversity.
Source: Science Daily
12. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
A 2013 article published by the National Library of Medicine found that piano practice can actually help treat depression and alleviate stress in elderly adults. Despite the studied demographic being older adults, these findings are encouraging of all ages that piano practice can serve as a holistic and natural treatment for depression and mood disorders.
13. Provides an “Unplugged” Outlet and Entertainment
Limiting electronics is something many parents and even adults need to be doing more and more. The effect of excessive time spent on electronics is linked to increased brain atrophy, impaired cognitive functioning and even increased cravings due to impaired dopamine functioning. Learning to play piano is an activity for kids and adults alike to move away from “screen time” and have an unplugged outlet for entertainment.
Source: Psychology Today
14. Allows for Kinesthetic and Tactile Learning
In 2013, an institute in Barcelona, Spain, studied the effects of different kinesthetic learning environments and leisure activities. The study found that participants who were assigned piano practice as opposed to others who did sports, painting, etc., showed greater neuro and psychological improvement on the scale they were using.
Source: Science Nutshell
15. Changes Brain Structure and Mental Ability
Many people define themselves as good or not good at music. You’ve heard people say before, “I’m not musical at all!” Gottfried Schlaug, director of the music and neuroimaging lab at Beth Israel Deaconess and Harvard Medical School in Boston, has confirmed through multiple studies that some people’s brains are indeed better suited for learning music. However, all humans can benefit and even change the way their brain processes information and learns new skills by learning to play piano.
Source: The Guardian
If you want to read more about the benefits of learning piano, you can read the post “How playing piano makes you more successful in life.“
Before ever starting to learn to play the piano, most people operate under false assumptions:
- They believe they’re too old to learn how to play a musical instrument;
- They believe they lack musical talent and that they’re not all around musical people;
- They think they have to learn to read music to have any chance of playing an instrument;
- They believe it will take far too much effort and time to overcome these obstacles.
Guess what, after starting to learn a few things, most beginners say they couldn’t have been more wrong regarding their initial concerns.
If your main concern is the lack of musical talent, then you should be relieved because it’s not something you necessarily need.
All you actually need is time and dedication to the cause. Truth is, it’s not as easy as a walk in the park, but if you set aside a few hours and insist on the new skill, you will be able to play some easy songs a lot sooner than you think. After making some progress, chances are high that you’ll share our opinion, that learning to play the piano is one of the most important decisions that you ever made.
Teaching Yourself Piano
Step 1: Owning a piano
Before actually starting some practical exercises you will need something to practice on. It’s not enough to go to a teacher’s place for lessons.
Learning to play a musical instrument takes a lot of practice. It’s just like learning to ride a bike. It takes some time until you get to the point where you develop a connection. You will need to practice further, but up until that point you will have to find a way to work this into your daily routine.
As you may already know, pianos come in 2 versions: acoustic and digital. Acoustic pianos are extraordinary but they have some disadvantages like size, weight, price and maintenance costs. The initial enthusiasm could blind anyone towards some of these disadvantages, but after that initial phase passes, you’ll probably notice yourself that an acoustic piano is not the most convenient option. A great option for acoustic pianos are digital pianos.
Digital pianos don’t have the need to be tuned regularly, are more compact and offer many features that make them one of the most versatile musical instruments. With the development of technology, digital pianos have come to a stage where they can emulate the sound and feel of acoustic grand pianos. And best of all they come at a fraction of the price of an acoustic model.
Digital pianos are hands down the best option you have if you want to learn how to play the piano. You now have 2 further options: used digital pianos or new ones. We generally recommend choosing a new digital piano because used models may have a number of disadvantages that you can easily avoid. Above all, with new digital pianos you get higher value for money, as they could cost less than an older model, and be technologically more advanced.
If you think that a digital piano might be the something that could aid your learning experience, you can read our guide on choosing the best digital piano, or you can browse through our in-depth digital piano reviews.
Step 2: Gaining initial knowledge
- Notes – Pianos have seven notes, which are as follows on a keyboard: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
- Keys – Most piano keyboards have 88 keys. There are models that have less keys, but the 88-key models are generally better for anyone learning to play the piano. There are 2 types of keys: white keys and black keys. White keys are called naturals, because they make natural sound. Black keys are called accidentals, because, you guessed it, when pressed they make flat or sharp sounds. On one octave you have 7 naturals and 5 accidentals.
- Chords – A chord is composed of 3 or more musical notes that are harmonic (sound well together) and are heard as sounding simultaneously. The most common chords consist of 3 notes played in tandem, and are called triads. Four of the more basic chord are major, minor, augmented and diminished.
Step 3: Learning to play the piano
- Get the help of a professional. As said before, and we cannot say this enough, teaching yourself piano is one of the most interesting, but also challenging activities that you can start. A piano tutor can make a big difference in your progress. Not everybody is able to learn piano by themselves. And if you feel that you have a hard time getting ahead, maybe a teacher could help a lot. When you get the help of a professional you make sure that you learn properly from the start and that you avoid bad patterns that aren’t easy to unlearn.
- Start a piano course. There’s an abundance of instructional material that you can choose from. You can find many books that teach how to play the piano. A book will take you through the fundamentals: learning to read music, play basic scales, chord progression and simple songs. They’re really affordable, but lack a complete learning experience. What you want to look for is a piano learning program that teaches you everything from A to Z and also contains audio and video material. This way you’re not only going to learn theoretically, but also by seeing how certain passages, key combinations and exercises sound and look like when played in a correct manner.
- You can try to play by ear. You will be able to learn by ear some songs, especially if you have a certain native talent for music. By trial and error and through repetition, you’ll be able to play some songs without ever seeing a sheet or knowing how to read one.
A few useful tips before going ahead
- Give yourself the necessary time to learn and don’t forget to have fun. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
- Using both your hands and feet simultaneously seems to be pretty hard in the beginning, but don’t get too hung up on that thought. Start practicing the lines for each hand separately and when you master both put everything together.
- Avoid using the sustain pedal too much when you’re just beginning to learn. As fun as it might seem, you’re actually going to hear a lot clearer what you’re playing and you’re going to easily spot mistakes right from the start.
- Avoid playing a melody with both hands. Usually, your hands will be playing different lines, so getting used to play with both is not necessarily the most useful of habits.
- The most convenient and efficient way to teach yourself piano is going for an online course. There are many great ones, that contain everything you need to know and are designed so you easily understand every step of the way.
You can find many books and methods in our Sheet Music Library, and also piano technique books, including play-along books with audio tracks to play with a background accompaniment music.
- Libertango (Piano Solo) – Astor Piazzola
- Out of Africa – music by John Barry (piano solo)
- Oblivion (Astor Piazzolla) by Nadja Kossinskaja, guitar (with sheet music)
- Milonga del Angel by Astor Piazzolla (arr. piano solo)
- Oblivion (A. Piazzolla) Two pianos – pianists Argerich and Hubert
- Bill Evans, american jazz pianist and composer (1929-1980)