Tuesday, August 20, 2013

5 Benefits of Private Piano Lessons

With twenty years of personal piano studies along with twenty years of full-time professional piano teaching experience, I thought I would share my personal perspective on the benefits of private piano lessons. I’m not thinking about the short term perks for those children who enroll for a few years, this is about the long-term benefits to those students who start at a young age and commit themselves well into high school.


5 Long-term Benefits of Private Piano Lessons from Pianoanne


1. Private piano lessons center around a very special one to one teacher/student relationship that can last for many years. It is not uncommon for piano teachers to work with their students from the age of 7 to 17. During that time we celebrate lost teeth, braces coming on and off, transitions to new schools, proms and graduations. Piano teachers are important role models for their students and I take that job to heart. I believe that it makes a difference for students to have someone in their lives who models a joy for learning, a strong work ethic, someone who is dependable and organized, creatively playful and above all shows a love for teaching music.

2. Learning to play piano and read music involves all parts of the brain. On the one hand, learning music is very similar to the process of learning a new language, while on the other it can be quite mathematical, like deciphering a code. In any case, recent studies have clearly shown that studying music has long-lasting positive benefits for brain development. And let’s not forget the impressive fine motor coordination that is required of pianists. Young children quickly develop a hand-eye coordination that most adults struggle to achieve.

3. During the journey of learning music, students develop the ability to assess their own work. As students advance, it no longer works to play a little song three times. They need to break down new repertoire into manageable tasks, listening for problems and developing a set of practice tools that will help them solve various technical and musical issues. With good instruction students become adept at identifying problems and coming up with creative and effective solutions. Along this journey a good teacher will help students understand their own learning style. Some students need more repetition than others, some require more strategies and preparation for memory work. We all have to understand our own brains and bodies to help us work effectively, efficiently and with healthy expectations of ourselves.

4. Studying music gives us the opportunity to pull back layer after layer as we discover the wonderful things that music has to offer. The first stage of learning music is fun and full of playful discovery. After a few years students transition to a stage that involves more problem solving and commitment to practicing. This is often that tricky year when many students decide to quit. But for those who make it through that transition, there are valuable lessons to learn. There will be ups and downs in the journey of studying music, so we enjoy the thrill of the ups and learn what to do during the downs. The secret to a smooth ride is good consistent practicing, but we all know that life can get in the way sometimes and motivation can drop. We don’t panic, we get back in the saddle and practice...and before long you are back on that up-swing of motivation and moving toward yet another interesting layer of learning.

5. Students who keep music studies in their lives throughout high school develop a personal identity as a musician. We celebrate that long-term commitment and I encourage students to think about how music might be in their lives as adults. It is important that students have the skills and confidence to become adults musicians who are able to teach themselves without needing a teacher to tell them what to do and how to do it. In the end, it is the job of a piano teacher to help students develop the values, skills and desire to go out in the world able to enjoy, learn and support music throughout their lives.

Piano study not only changes what you know and what your fingers can do, truly it plays an important role in developing who you are.

Of course we all have our own points of view in terms of the unique benefits of piano and music studies. Here are some other lists that you might find interesting and inspiring:

2 comments:

  1. Hi Anne, thanks so much for your list. I love the fact that its directed towards those who "commit themselves to long-term study well into high school". It is that immersion over a decade or so that produces the seasoning that realizes these goals.
    Thanks Anne and Happy New Year to you & your hubby & your cats!

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    Replies
    1. How kind of you to think of my hubby and cats :) Thanks for dropping a line. Happy teaching to you!

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