The piano is the greatest learning toy of all. From it, one learns the most, and it takes the least effort to produce credible music.
If you use the piano correctly, turning it into a toy for your child, you will notice that the child treats the piano as they would any other playtime device.
The difference is that the piano can do more than almost any child’s learning toy. The piano can start as entertainment and quickly become educational and interesting to a child.
There are many toys out there for counting skills, but did you know that music is essentially the first rhythm teacher?
Music is divided into even groups of counts, and the child must count internally while performing other motions. This makes the piano into a great coordination tool.
You’ll find younger children have sometimes only a dim idea of what the symbols for the numbers look like. Piano by Number requires the child to be familiar and facile with the symbols, juggling them with many other factors.
Kids sometimes have trouble sorting out left from right. The piano requires a child to be constantly aware of the left/right axis.
Music tones are high or low, and the child must listen and look to distinguish the different sounds. Most children have never actively listened to music, but the piano requires constant attention to what you are hearing.
The piano requires a child to use their fingers, hands and arms in ways that other activities simply do not require. Playing the piano stimulates the growth of fine nerve control in ways that most other learning toys cannot.
My students are taught to adopt a spirit of playful gamesmanship that requires them to try an action again and again without frustration. Kids use the piano to learn how to apply themselves to a set of short tasks, a skill that serves them well in their schoolwork, which inevitably improves when a child starts and continues with the piano.
The first thing the piano teaches a child is that some kinds of perfection is achievable, but only with work. I use the piano as a low-pressure proving ground on which a children compete only with themselves for a tangible skill that will allow them to play a part or the whole of a song.
Children can use the piano to be creative in ways that other toys do not allow, except for perhaps the freedom of art and drawing. You haven’t seen a happy and engaged child until you see a six year-old sit down and try to compose a piece of music “just like Beethoven did.”
Kids quickly discover that success at the piano is simply a matter of trying again, and being patient until you learn the required motion. They see me being as patient as a rock, calmly observing their failures and my own, and they learn that you can be calm and figure out how to play a song better.
Piano requires more of your brain than perhaps any other childhood activity. Remember the “corpus callosum,” the neural highway that connects the two sides of your brain? Well, it is highly stimulated by musical thoughts and work at the piano. If you want your child to develop higher intelligence, stimulate their corpus callosum by getting them involved with the piano. The piano is perfectly laid out for work by a child: every note of the piano has a simple black or white button that children must familiarize themselves with.
Yes, most six year olds squirm and veer off into time wasting at the drop of a hat. But the piano is a low-pressure proving ground for TASK skills. Everything at the piano is a little task, mental or physical, and all these tasks must be drawn together into one whole, the song. It takes maturity or a sense of fun for a six year old to focus on ANYTHING for more than 22 seconds.
Music and the piano is an immense fabric of patterns, intertwined both physically and mentally. Playing even the simplest song requires the recognition of dozens of patterns of movement, notes, rhythms, all gathered together into one natural and pleasing event, a song. It is because there is a song at the bottom of the act of playing the piano that children want to try again and again to play the pleasing pattern of tones called music.
If you approach the piano in this low-pressure way, children will be drawn into a learning world that has fascinated people for over 800 years: the piano.
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