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Friday, November 30, 2012
Why learn piano?
Why learn piano?
There are many and varied reasons to play the piano. It is a beautiful instrument with a beautiful look and a beautiful sound. It can be a soloist's instrument or a group instrument. It sharpens the mind and body. The gift of music is therapeutic. There are many careers that require piano skills. The list goes on and on.
One quality that the piano and not many other instruments share is that you can play more than one note at a time. It is polyphonic. Thus, unlike instruments like the flute or violin, one can play pieces with complex and rich harmonies when playing alone. That makes the piano a dynamic solo instrument. At the same time, the piano sounds beautiful accompanying other instruments. So, whether you are introverted or extroverted, the piano will suit your style.
Unlike wind instruments like the flute or tuba, the piano leaves the voice free to sing along. Unlike the violin, any notes that sound out of tune can not be blamed on the performer. As long as you engage a piano tuner at least once a year, each note will always sound in tune, regardless of your skill level.
Playing the piano also develops a high level of manual dexterity. While it may seem very simple to just push the keys, learning to perform complex pieces with precision AND emotion needs a little time and a very human touch. That is one reason why professional pianists have not been replaced by computers. It is more complicated than patting your head while rubbing your tummy! But it is ever so much more rewarding too!
The piano is also a staple of family sing-along - whether you are singing Christmas carols or playing some favourite movie tunes. The very design of the piano lends itself to groups of people gathered around, singing along. This is one of the most social of activities. This is where some of our warmest and most treasured memories are made.
Recently, research has shown that children who learn the piano do far better scholastically than their fellow students. Not only are their artistic and musical skills above the norm, but also their language and mathematics skills are also improved. While this benefit is sometimes difficult to measure, piano students also receive a very tangible benefit. Many schools are recognizing the achievements that children make in piano and reward them with high school credits when they pass certain grade levels. In Alberta, Canada, passing a recognized piano exam level/grade 6, 7, and 8 is worth 5 credits each for a total of 15. When you consider the fact that one needs only 100 credits to graduate high school, this is a huge recognition.
Pianists also learn some basics in posture which can reap huge rewards. For one thing, the basic hand position required for the piano is also the one required for the typewriter/keyboard. Considering how vital the computer is these days, learning this technique is invaluable. With the proper hand position, one can avoid carpal tunnel syndrome that is plaguing our modern-day offices now that computers are being used so extensively. At the very least, the basic concept of sitting tall in a chair will help with basic posture and back pains.
Anyone aspiring to be an orchestral or choral conductor is required to study the piano. Learning the piano trains the pianist to understand and hear the interplay of the various harmonic lines in each piece of music. This is a vital skill for a conductor who must hear and guide all the instruments of his/her orchestra and voices in his/her choir.
If you go to colleges which teach music, or if you are applying towards a degree in music or you want to learn to master an instrument at a university it is necessary to take a year or more of piano. Piano is a really good music classroom teaching tool and is the key and basis to learning music theory. With a bass or a guitar, you might make beautiful chords, but there are cases in which many people have no idea what these chords theoretically are or what is it that they are playing. Instead, piano aids in music by providing a structure that makes sound, but to make such sound beautiful you must know what you are doing. This is not to say that guitarists or other players never know what they do! Rather, piano aids in the composition and greater experimentation with music. Since the piano differs from the guitar or wind instruments in which the person usually memorizes digital and finger patterns, the piano uses both hemispheres of the brain, requiring your ten fingers to be controlled independently! This might sound hard but with practice and time you'll be able to even do more than one thing simultaneously. A piano player who decides to play drums, if skilled enough can pick them up more easily than someone who hasn't had the experience to play such instrument.
Moreover, There are many jobs and careers for pianists. One can be the piano player in a lounge, on a cruise ship, in a church (mass, weddings, funerals), or in a band. One can be an instructor with a college or university or teach out of a home studio. One can accompanying vocalists, choirs, violinists, and others as they perform for competition or for an audience. One can compose movie scores or commercial jingles or orchestral pieces. The possibilities are endless.
The ability to play a musical instrument and to express one's self with a musical instrument is very healthy and therapeutic. Stresses can melt away. The piano is always there, ready for you to pour out your soul. It is a most patient and agreeable companion. If you're upset, go ahead and thunder away on the keyboard, and when you're done and feeling better, go ahead and pick up a more languid or cheerful piece.
And, of course, a piano is a beautiful addition to any living room!