I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday. She wanted her daughter to learn to play the piano, but she thought it was … well, passé.
Sigh. I know it’s true, but it makes me sad. Learning to play the piano taught me so much, and not just a music skill. When I began to think my conversation with my friend, one thing led to another, and I ended up with a personal list of the reasons why kids should play the piano.
1. It taught me discipline. Anything worth doing requires hard work, and it’s beyond satisfying to finally play a difficult piece of music flawlessly.
2. It taught me a skill. It taught me how to learn something.
3. It taught me visual aptitude. Learning to read music is much like learning a foreign language, except this one is made up of signs and symbols.
4. It helped me read better and faster. There is a connection between learning the symbols of music and learning letters and numbers.
5. It taught me focus and concentration. Practice requires mentally focused repetition. It also helped me to memorize.
6. It taught me to face fear. When I was 9, and played the piano for hundreds of people for the first time, it taught me courage and self-confidence. In a way, it taught me to excel.
7. It taught me to be productive when I was by myself. It taught me self-sufficiency. At the same time, I’ve never bored a day in my life.
8. It made me a better typist.
9. It gave me tremendous strength in my hands and arms. My doctor told me it likely will delay the on-set of arthritis as I get older. It’s also increased my back strength, to sit upright for hours without support.
10. It’s a good workout. Some days, practicing the piano for an hour or more leaves me as sweaty as if I’d gone to the gym.
11. It gives me stress relief at the end of the day. It’s my glass of wine when I come from home work. Or course, a glass of wine and playing the piano works a treat too.
12. It taught me to be creative. I remember often hating practicing the piano when I was a kid. But to keep me focused and give me a challenge, my wonderful piano teacher Deva Long often encouraged me to write my own songs in addition to the regular stuff in the my lesson books. Most my songs are pretty weak – but that’s not the point. Playing the piano taught me to express myself.
13. It’s given me a life-long love and appreciation of music, in every form. Unlike sport, you don’t have to know the rules to enjoy or participate in it. With music, you can simply lean back and enjoy.
By the way, the song I’ve posted here was one of my Grandma Eklund’s favourite songs. It’s Nola, written in 1915 by Felix Arndt as a engagement present for his fiancee. It’s also one of the first examples of the novelty piano. If you’re interested, here’s my channel on YouTube.