I have a number of adult pupils and recently acquired another pupil who is an adult learner. She did learn for a while as a child and on and off has played and had occasional piano lessons throughout adulthood. Her children are now older and embarking on their own lives and now seems to be a good time to have regular piano lessons.
At our first lesson we discussed what sort of music she likes to play and listen to and what she is aiming to do with the piano. I also made suggestions as to how to develop her playing, etc etc, all usual things in a first lesson.
Then something I hadn’t expected happened. I suggested that if she wished she could come along and play in one of my adult pupils concerts. My group of adult pupils enjoy getting together to play to each other and having a chat afterwards about their piano playing over a glass or two of wine. When this was put to my new pupil, her immediate reaction was ‘why on earth would I do that?’
At first I was a little taken aback. However on reflection, it is a really good point. Why on earth would we put ourselves through all that stress as well as all that hard work in preparing for that event? Oh and there is no financial reward at the end either, just a glass of wine!
There are many reasons to learn to play an instrument such as the piano, there is a great deal of scientific research to show that it is good for a person’s health and overall wellbeing at any age.
- Playing the piano can increase cognitive development. Playing piano stimulates the brain in ways that almost every other activity cannot.
- Eye-hand coordination is developed while playing. Reading music trains the eyes and hands to work closely together.
- Fine motor skills are also developed. Nimble hands move efficiently only because of consistent practice. The practice is the training that produces the agility needed to play demanding piano pieces.
- Playing piano requires dedication. To become an accomplished pianist daily practice will be needed and this learned discipline can then be applied to many other areas of life.
- Music itself can reduce anxiety and stress. Sitting down to play a piano can help the mind refocus and relieve stress.
- It has been shown that playing piano can improve mental health of an individual. Pianists may see a reduction in depression and other mental health issues.
I cannot think of any bad side effects from playing the piano, there are only benefits which are good for the body and mind. Piano playing encourages discipline and creativity and all this in an activity that can be done by anyone with a desire to learn.
There is a deep down instinctive need to see music performed live and I really believe that is the same when it comes down to performing. There is something elusive and special about being in the presence of a group of people making music live. Music can express so much more than mere words and it is with this that I think lies an answer. It is simply about a very human need to communicate. There is a lot of evidence. Have a look at the streetpiano project. There are over 1000 pianos in 45 countries with a simple instruction on them saying ‘play me I’m yours.’ They are in all sorts of unlikely places, parks, bus and train stations etc available for anyone to play. It has been a great success. If you look at the website streetpiano.com you will see photographs of groups of people gathered round having fun both as performers and listeners.
Playing piano in front of others isn’t for everyone and each person needs to feel that it is right for them. The satisfaction of making music and transporting oneself to a magical place in the privacy of your own home is plenty. For those who are brave enough to have a go at playing piano in a public performance there awaits a great sense of achievement after the performance boosting self confidence.