Across the Internet, you’ll find many explanations of why learning and playing a musical instrument is a good thing to do. The reasons range from educational and developmental to psychological and physical. But to me they can be summarised as:
It’s so cool – as a means of relieving stress, making friends, enjoying yourself or simply passing time … there’s nothing better.
We are made to make music – as humans, we are designed to interact with each other. We deliver more as a team. Making music in a group is such a satisfying and primal activity. Everyone should feel the power.
Why support your child playing piano?
The layout of the piano allows for an easy brain mapping between the layout of musical sounds and the keys in front of you. This makes a piano keyboard an ideal starting point to learn the basics of music quickly. Many musicians who started by learning piano find that it serves them well in the future when they decide they want to learn other musical instruments. The skills you need to build are easily interpreted on the keyboard.
Where To Begin
There are numerous examples of self-taught musicians who made it big and famous – especially in the pop world. But they have all had a guide and inspiration at some point in their musical journey. Someone to teach them the basics, to show them where to improve their technique, to demonstrate how to do it. Every musician has at least one person who inspired, encouraged and taught them.
It’s a good idea to start with a good teacher to supplement the self-learning your child is going to go through. You can pick things up off YouTube, download apps for that and scour the internet for tips and tricks, but ultimately you need a real life teacher involved. Look for someone in your local area. There are always more musicians than you think there are and they are just round the corner. Good teachers are always available and always willing to share their knowledge.
If music surrounds you, it will permeate your being. Encourage your child to listen to music for the enjoyment and pleasure. Fill your world with as much music as you can. Make your world musical. It will rub off.
Practice, practice, practice
There is really only one way to improve your skills in any area. Playing piano or keyboard is no different. You have to practice. There is nothing to replace it. Even top professional musicians will spend more time practicing than performing. Practice to learn, practice to improve, practice to experiment … practice for pleasure.
Sometimes you need to make mistakes on your own when nobody can hear them but you. Sometimes your child will need to simply bang away on the keys just to hear what happens – unprogrammed learning is a big part of developing your skillset, no matter what the age. Although structured rehearsing is important there is enjoyment in free-form vamping from time to time. Who knows, your child may turn to jazz!
This can be the biggest challenge: keeping up the level of motivation. For everyone, their levels of commitment will change over time. Children drift in an out of enthusiasm quickly. Help and encourage in small doses. 10 mins every day is better than 60 minutes once per week. Keep it light and frequent…but don’t stop them if they want to play on!
You only really understand a piece of music when you look to perform it! Something about the process of learning and the adrenaline that comes from facing an audience helps coalesce your skills. Encourage your child to show off their musicianship as often as they can. This is where real deep-seated confidence comes from.
Try to be a part of your child’s musical journey. Make music together, learn as they learn, complement their skills by improving your own.
Music does something unique in the way it stimulates the brain. Our emotional connection with music when we play provides a rich and complex experience that involves integrating information from the senses of vision, hearing and touch. Combine all this with learning the muscle and motor control necessary for fine movements and you have the scientific explanation for why making music is so good for us.
But above all, seeing your child playing piano is so cool.
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