From Pre-K through Retirement, there are tons of benefits to learning to play the piano!
For ages 3 & up:
1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.
2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.
3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.
High School Students:
1. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.
2. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if one is to fully develop his or her potential. Music contributes to mental health and can help prevent risky behavior such as teenage drug abuse.
For Older Adults:
1. Cognitive reserve is the neuropsychologist’s term for explaining how the brain works to overcome deterioration in its functions by utilizing other resources at its disposal. (The validity of cognitive reserve was confirmed by the discovery of advanced Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of recently-deceased individuals who had never actually experienced symptoms of Alzheimer’s.)
Previous studies have shown that engaging in regular leisure activities that stimulate the brain, such as reading, writing, or doing crossword puzzles result in enhanced cognitive well-being and a reduced risk of developing dementia. This study aimed to investigate the effects of piano training for the elderly vs. other types of leisure activities such as doing crossword puzzles.
The results were noteworthy. Significant improvements were found in multiple brain functions (specifically: executive function, inhibitory control, divided attention, visual scanning and motor ability) for the piano players versus the control group. Put simply, the piano players got smarter.
Improvements were also found in mood including decreases in depression and overall improvement in the psychological quality of life. The piano players got happier.
2. Tickle the ivories and prevent arthritis! One of the most proven benefits to learning to play the piano is the positive effects it has on your hands strength and the health of your joints and fingers. The dexterity involved in playing music on the piano keeps your hands muscles developed and avoids the weakening of small bones located in your hands.
3. Everyone loves a piano player! Having the ability to sit and entertain a crowd with a well orchestrated piano piece may seem stressful to some, but the truth is, being the one that plays, can cut down on social anxiety, low self-esteem and prevent the harmful results that are all-to-often associated with isolation and loneliness during senior years.