What do you love about playing the piano? Here, New Paltz, NY teacher Cheryl E. shares her top 10 list… do you agree?
I have to stop myself sometimes, and call my parents to thank them for the piano lessons they made me endure when I was a kid. I hated them for a while, loved them for a while, and then, lo and behold, I turned into a composer, performer, and songwriter. Who knew? Looking back, I can see so much value in learning the piano. Here are the 10 best things about playing the piano, though I’m sure I could have written about 100!
1) Sitting behind a piano feels like the safest place in the world–especially if you’ve taken lessons from a young age. Whether you hated it or not, when you were practicing, no one would bug you to do anything else. It was just “you time.” Ironically, studies have shown that children and adults who learn the piano are actually more socially well-adapted.
2) Pianos are everywhere, and sitting down at one and playing unexpectedly can be an impressive and joyful experience. I remember being 10 years old walking through a hotel lobby and sitting down to play the Boogie Woogie my dad taught me. Not only was he surprised and overjoyed, the small crowd that gathered had a little treat that day as well! You can liven up any old party that has a piano lying around and easily entertain by playing a few of your favorite songs!
3) You can use scissors with both hands. Playing the piano works the part of the brain that allows your hands and fingers to work independently of each other. Even as a left-hander, I find that I have a few ambidextrous tendencies, which I am sure come from playing the piano.
4) Focus. Practice. Patience. Repeat. I’ve taken these skills to all other areas of my life, including within my own music creation business. To know that the process of building a business is like learning a Beethoven concerto–slow and painful at first, but with a beautiful result at the end of the tunnel–is extremely calming and reassuring for me.
5) Self-Expression. Even if you are performing someone else’s music, playing the piano is such a raw expression of your creativity, your emotional state, and yourself. You can pour your heart and soul into the music and even if you’re feeling down in the dumps, you can create something beautiful. It’s almost an out-of-body experience. I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve spilled on my piano keys, with the piano catching every one and turning it into something else. Something I created.
6) Collaboration. While the piano can tend to be a lonely instrument, especially while learning it, there is a great deal of collaboration that can come with being a pianist. Jazz bands, orchestras, musical theater, dance schools, and teaching music all can utilize a piano. Becoming part of an ensemble, group, band, or orchestra as a pianist is a great honor and challenge!
7) So many notes! You can play both melody and harmony, unlike many other instruments that allow only one note at at time. You can play nearly any song from any genre easily.
8) Pianos know no age. You can start as early as two and play all the way up into your 100s.
9) Because the pitches are set, you can make cohesive sounds from the beginning (versus, say, learning the clarinet, which squeaks for the first two months, especially if you were me in 4th grade). This makes learning new songs a more pleasurable experience.
10) The piano is like a mini-orchestra. Its range is huge, covering the range of all orchestral instruments, which means that composing for any group of instruments is literally at your fingertips.
Having played the piano since I was a small child, I know that I could probably list another 100 best things about being a piano player! But for now, I’ll start with these 10. If you are a piano player, you know what I mean. And if you’re not…. now’s as good a time as any to get started!
Cheryl is a film and TV commercial composer and singer/songwriter with multiple tours, records, and TV placements under her belt. If you turned on your television this year, you’ve definitely heard her music. She teaches piano and voice in addition to composition and arrangement in New Paltz, NY. Learn more about Cheryl here!
Photo by Simon Blackley