The Power of Piano Lessons

Let’s face it. Playing the piano is fun. Whether you start at an early age or  start later in life, piano lessons are going to bring you a lot of joy, happiness, and intelligence. The research has shown that music lessons vastly improves intelligence from an early age. Even more so, piano lessons can open doors to other areas of interest. For example, many people who study engineering in college and possess a high degree of mathematical intelligence also took piano lessons at a very young age.

The Suzuki Method is a perfect example of how music can help shape young people into complete human beings as they enter the adult world. Here is a great quote from the inventor of the Suzuki method:

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”

— Shinichi Suzuki

This is a beautiful quote because it shows that music lessons can help people develop not only deep intelligence, but also sensitivity and a sense of completion as a human being as they move into the adult world. Musicians are able to think deeply and passionately about problems. Moreover, they are able to develop emotional intelligence and work better with people when they enter the world.

Overall Intelligence–The “Mozart Effect”

This article in Forbes Magazine speaks to the power of piano lessons and music lessons overall and their value for young people. It’s also kind of obvious. According to the article, young people who studied piano and voice for nine months had an average IQ increase of 3 points over their peers. That’s powerful. The most significant component of the research cited in the study focused on spatial intelligence–solving puzzles that were three dimensional in nature without having to resort to an actual model. So what does this mean? If you stick a Rubik’s cube in front of a young person who has studied music for quite some time, they are probably going to be able to figure it out without having to see an explanation of how the Rubik’s cube works.

It may be just a theory, according to the article, but translating symbols of music notation into sound through performance and critical thinking might just translate well to other disciplines and interests.

Emotional Intelligence

This is another area of intelligence that can grow as a result of piano lessons from a young age. This is not an area that is necessarily supported by scientific research very easily, but musical people tend to listen to music very closely and it provokes an emotional responses. Musicians are always fine tuning their ability to make a piece more expressive. There is no doubt that the act of making something more beautiful also helps musicians become more emotionally intelligent people.

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”

Shinichi Suzuki

Consider the following quote from Mark Twain:

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
A musician might think of this quote a little bit differently than Mark Twain and come up with something that might not sound so, well, depressing. Here is an example:
“Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet that fades in summer’s final heat, promising its seed for the coming spring.”
What is resonating about this quote in comparison to Mark Twain’s original is that the second quote, made by the musician is hopeful and has a little bit of promise moving forward. Essentially, musicians are going to be a little bit more emphatic towards their fellow human being. Musicians are going to be better citizens, more compassionate people, and be more whole in a difficult world.

Other Benefits of Music Lessons

We found this really awesome infographic from Encore Music Lessons. Essentially, music lessons bring about a whole other realm of other benefits.

Here are some of the big things cited in the infographic in terms of emotional and social intelligence:

  • A McGill study cited in the infographic shows that children enrolled in piano lessons have  higher self esteem.
  • College-age musicians are generally more emotionally healthy than their non-musician counterparts.
  • Piano lessons and musicianship overall increase you social intelligence–you have to listen, collaborate, and do a whole lot more.
  • The piano teaches patience and perseverance. The best pianists will take a hard piece and practice it until they have mastered it.

Some other big facts about music lessons at a young age speak about success that musicians in their lifetime.

  • 75% of Silicon Valley CEOs took music lessons at an early age, including piano lessons.
  • Most medical students were music majors (whether it was as a double major or a single major with studies elsewhere, about 66%).
  • Adults who play the piano are less likely to experience depression or other emotion difficulties in their life.

There is also a significant roster of successful people for whom piano was a significant influence in their life. Several actors, including Anthony Hopkins, Richard Gere, and Sandra Bullock took piano lessons at a young age.

Additionally, some of the most important scientists took piano lessons including Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Harry Truman, one of America’s most influential presidents, also took piano lessons.

The Brain Engaged When Playing the Piano

Music engages all of the brain’s abilities at once. Not only do both hands get involved when playing music on two clefs, but the eyes and the ears are very heavily involved. Piano performers also have to keep a strict sense of time in regards to their playing, which drives kinesthetic intelligence. What is propriopreception? This is when the pianist is fully aware of their body parts and overall strength needed when coordinating their performance. Playing the piano engages the human body in a manner that no other activity does. Not only does the pianist move their body, they also have to be aurally and emotionally engaged in the performance of the piece that they are performing for their audience.

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