Before you dismiss this as an alternative activity to sports,
read this article.
The fact that simply listening to Mozart at a young age can dramatically enhance a young child’s intellectual capabilities is still in debate, but there is no question that learning to play Mozart on the piano can be exceptionally beneficial to young children. Many parents today look to sports as positive influences on their children's motor and concentration skills, as well as their value of teamwork,but some children are not sports oriented, and good piano lessons
provide many of those same benefits, if not more.
Learning to play piano will improve upon a young child’s coordination skills. Unlike many other instruments, the piano requires both hands to independently maneuver the keys. While the right hand may be playing a lilting melody, the left hand may be required to keep a slow steady beat. Not only do the hands work independent of each other, but so do the fingers. The fingers on each hand must grab for the lower white keys, or the upper black keys to produce the proper harmony. At times, certain fingers will not press any keys at all. Good lessons will include many exercise books for the beginning student. Major and minor scales will teach the student to move each and every finger up and down the keyboard with precision.
Much like karate or tennis, playing the piano also requires concentration. If the child has never played a musical instrument, learning to properly read sheet music will be incorporated into the lesson. The black dots and lines representing notes and bars are like a foreign language. The child must learn to interpret the sheet music, and then vocalize that translation through the keyboard. Piano teachers that are excellent with young children approach the new music as a code the child must de-crypt using the piano keys. Most teachers will also set up a practice schedule with the student of perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes a day. With a new mission to de-code the piano music, many students might have no problem keeping to their fifteen minute a day regimen. Others might need reinforcement from their parents, but the benefits of requiring a child to stick to a piano study schedule are no different than requiring that a child attend basketball practice as promised.
Many tout the benefits of sports for developing a sense of teamwork and fair play, but piano offers up its own form of competition. Typically piano is a one-person event where the child’s hard work and dedication is showcased in local piano recitals. Many recitals even offer ribbons as rewards for the best performances. The joys of winning and the ache of losing are fully represented in piano recitals where children give their all. As the child progresses in his lessons, he might be encouraged to team up with a partner for ‘four-handed’ piano. This is where two individuals play the same piece on one (or sometimes two) pianos. The piece is specially written to accommodate the two different players, and four-handed pieces can be quite complex in their harmonies. It is difficult enough for one person to coordinate their own two hands with the proper beat and rhythm, but there is an added layer of complexity with four hands – particularly when they are not all operated by the same brain. Coordinating practice schedules, patience with a partner’s learning curves, and accepting mistakes are all aspects of teamwork piano can foster.
Even if a child decides to end his lessons after a few years, the long-term effects of playing are many. Children will be exposed at a young age to fine classical music that they might not otherwise hear. Children might even develop a strong affinity for Mozart or Bach knowing that they’ve played some of their pieces. A child might also decide to pick up another musical instrument, which – after playing piano – she might find infinitely easier to handle. Piano requires students to read both bass and treble clef music, making it just as easy to read violin music as that of the bass guitar.
In an age where prowess on the soccer field is more highly valued than musical expertise, many children might not be convinced to take up piano. Some children, however, are not interested in sweats and sneakers and will find a challenge in tickling the ivories. In the process, they will develop their coordination, dedication and sense of teamwork, and both children and their parents, will develop a strong sense of pride when they are able to perform a small piece for thoroughly impressed friends and family.