When I began studying the piano at age 11, I made the decision to learn how to play because I enjoyed it not because of its benefits. Now as an adult I am able to look back and see how studying an instrument really shaped who I am as a person. Here are just a few of the many benefits I’ve seen in my own life from studying an instrument:
First of all, I have benefited by learning self-discipline.
Learning to play an instrument takes a lot of time and hard work. Even as a kid I had to learn how to set aside time in my day to purposefully practice in order to improve. It was a cause-and-effect lesson for me: if I practiced, I got better. If I didn’t, I didn’t get better. Consequently, I had to set priorities and plan my time accordingly. I had to figure out how to learn my pieces in order to have them ready for deadlines. Sometimes, I would have to turn down other things in order to make time to practice. Learning this as a child set me up for having self-discipline which has helped me in many, many areas of my life! I cannot even begin to tell you how beneficial it has been to be able to intuitively realize my priorities in accomplishing goals. And I owe it to learning my instrument!
I have gained valuable critical-thinking skills.
As adults, we have to solve problems by ourselves more often than we would like to. Many times we have to figure out where problems are originating from before we can even solve them. This is critical thinking! I probably put in a lot of practice learning how to pin point and solve problems at the piano when I was a kid. Why can’t I get this passage to sound the way I want it to? Where are the places I can use as anchors in this piece I am having difficulty memorizing? What am I doing physically that is making this passage more difficult to play? These are just a few of the things that musicians have to problem solve on a constant basis. Because of this, I have learned how to critically think through problems in order to solve them.
Finally, I have learned how to communicate with others.
Musicians take all of these intangible sounds and silences and attempt to convey a message to their listeners. That’s not easy to do! What’s even more difficult is trying to actually discuss such a subjective, abstract thing as music. Learning to play an instrument has forced me to critically think about the aural, physical, mental and aesthetic aspects of playing and then figure out a way to verbalize them to others. This has really grown me as a person. It has shown me that my interpretation of a piece may be altogether different than someone else and that’s okay!
Certainly, there have been many more benefits that I have found in learning to play the piano. If you are considering having your child (or yourself!) take piano lessons, they have so much to gain from the experience that will really help them develop into a well-rounded adult someday. I have been so grateful in having had parents that saw value in learning an instrument as a child. It definitely made me who I am today – and sometimes I have to sit down at the piano and relearn these benefits! Musicians are life-long learners.
What benefits have you seen in learning an instrument? I want to hear about it! Leave a comment.