The abstract skills learned in piano lessons are not unique to piano lessons.
So unless your child is already a watchmaker at the age of six, playing the piano is the first time a child really has to come to terms with their hands as tools.
Before this time, what exactly do we expect of children in terms of dexterity? It’s well known that kids are like fawns, barely able to stand in some respects, and remarkably agile in others.
We expect children to hold basic utensils reasonably well, but we are also aware that disaster and poor grasp may occur at any time, so we invent safety items such as the sippy cup.
In no other aspect of childhood except perhaps the piano do we expect a child to learn complex finger patterns and regimens, unless perhaps they are playing cat’s cradle or some other childhood game.
The piano is unique in its demands upon a child’s brain and muscles, and is often the first place they are asked to try again at a task that will end in almost certain failure.
Yet the piano keyboard was designed with the human hand in mind, large or small, and it fits the human anatomy like few other machines, certainly few other 800 year-old machines, especially those sitting in your living room.
Here are the unique mental skills that children are exposed to in a creative course of piano study:
Balance of work and play
Left and Right
Up and Down
Black and White
Focus and Confusion
Awareness of Time
Poise in the face of mistakes
Cooperation and Engagement
Use of two brain hemispheres simultaneously
Formation of mental imagery
Adaptation to circumstances
Actions occur in sequence
Here are the unique physical skills children learn from the piano:
Separation and awareness of fingers
Coordination of hand and eye
Increased hand and finger strength
Balance of hand and body
Finger pressure required to play both soft and loud
Separation of hand and wrist
Counting while performing another physical action simultaneously
Perhaps the greatest skill a child can learn from the piano is that repeated effort pays off.
The trick is to make the piano interesting enough to make the child want to repeat their efforts by themselves.
Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press