Unlike any other conventional musical instrument, all one must do to play a piano, theoretically, is to push the right buttons, or keys.
The piano caused a revolution in music because for the first time, anyone could manage the physical task of pressing the buttons.
This is not true of other musical instruments, all of which require strange and essentially uncomfortable postures. The violin, for example, is physically difficult to hold in the proper position, under the chin, and one of the first complaints of violinists is that their neck hurts. The cello is a little easier to hold, but all stringed instruments are very difficult to make a pleasing sound come forth.
This is not true of the piano. No matter who plays Middle C on a piano, an idiot or a genius, the sound is identical. Not true of a trumpet, a flute or any other instrument.
To play a violin and make it sound pleasing, one must press the left hand fingers onto tiny strings at precisely the correct spot on the fingerboard. How precise? A violinist cannot vary the position by a millimeter, or the sound wavers and appears untrue.
But a piano key is ¾ inch wide. That’s hard to miss even by the finger of a five year old.
So the piano is the instrument of choice for a child because physically the musical process is very easy.
Next, the piano is the only musical instrument upon which one can view chords as tangible objects. Chords, at the simplest level, are groups of three keys, and are the DNA of all musical construction, regardless of style or era or ethnicity.
Thus the ability to be able to visualize and also play chords of considerable complexity puts the piano in a class of its own as a music teaching machine. Even a five year-old can understand and play a simple two-note chord, consisting of any white key, skipping the next white key, and playing the next white key. Such molecule-like constructions are the basis of all music, and on the piano they are at a child’s fingertips.
With minimal effort a child can plunk out a tune that they recognize, giving them at least a preview of what playing music is actually like. For example, TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR is a matter of a few moments for any child to learn in Piano by Number:
1 1 5 5 6 6 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1
The same song on the violin or trumpet would take very complicated coordination between the hands and fingers, plus all the mental acuity and dexterity required to pull off the series of motions and thoughts required.
Thus the piano becomes a sort of musical shorthand machine, allowing rather complex musical thoughts to be simply stated, directly on the keyboard in front of you.
The scope of all the notes is right in front of you, from the low notes at the left to the high notes at the right. On any other instrument, one must go through complicated movements and adjustments to get from the bottom to the top of the instrument’s sonic range.
Because it is so child friendly, the piano is an excellent choice for a child’s first musical instrument.
By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved
See also: PRESCHOOL PIANO PACKAGE: A selection of books for the youngest kids
See also: CHILDREN'S MULTI BOOK PACKAGE: Includes books for older AND younger children
See also: ADULT PIANO PACKAGE: A selection of books for adult beginners