The Piano is Fundamental
As a primary school music teacher, I am often asked the question by parents, ‘What instrument should my child learn?’ and my answer is always, learn piano. I am not a piano player, but my years of training have taught me that this instrument is the one that really offers a comprehensive introduction to music.
Learning piano gives you all of the basic aural and practical skills of reading, singing, playing and performing music in a way that I feel no other instrument offers. It also doesn’t have to be expensive - my daughters started learning on a basic keyboard at home and we later purchased a lovely reconditioned piano. Like any instrument there is a bit of financial outlay and a requirement to commit to the practice, but once you’ve mastered some piano skills it is easier to transfer to another instrument down the track as you’re building on a good foundation.
Playing piano requires your brain to do several things at once, a bit like driving a car. Your eyes are interpreting the notes on the page, in treble and bass clef.
Your fingers press the correct keys to match what you are reading, with the force and duration of the note that is written (soft and short, loud and long etc.) Your feet are doing something else down underneath the piano, using the pedals to prolong or change the sound you are making up above. Both hands are working, but doing quite separate things - requiring a great deal of physical coordination but also compartmentalising the thinking going on in your brain to make it all happen at once.
And then you add singing! There is a lot of positive research out there about how that cross-patterning activity develops neural pathways in the brain.
All I know is that it feels good to play piano, and it’s good for you!
No matter where your musical interests lay, if you want a good start I believe piano is the way!
Written Lisa Williamson
SA Music Teacher