Overview and History of the Piano
The piano is still one of the most diverse instruments today. Technically a percussive instrument, the piano is incredibly melodic and beautiful in sound. An all encompassing instrument that has been a major part of every musical movement since its invention in 1780, new and veteran players alike benefit by being able to accompany themselves in the style of their choosing.
Age to Begin Piano Lessons
The Royal Academy offers private piano studies for both the beginner through highly advanced students beginning ages 4 through adults. There are a variety of methods offered including (the most popular) ” traditional ” method and ” suzuki” methods. The Royal Academy faculty uses a variety of methodologies and customizes each lesson plan depending upon their students practice habits, level of interest, potential and most of all their goals. The most commonly used methodologies we use are Faber, Thompson, Alfred’s, Bastien and Fletcher.
Developing The Necessary Skills
Piano Lessons for Children
A child is most prone to developing “bad habits” in music between the early ages of 4 through 12, that is why we take great care in how we introduce to our students to music. At the Royal Academy each child will explore music in its entirety, developing all the skills necessary in being a well rounded and creative musician. The Royal Academy ensures that all of its students are taught sight-reading skills, counting and rhythmic skills, technical skills, basic music theory and most of all, to be creativity. We do not teach our students to “play by ear” nor do we subscribe to ridiculous notions that a child can learn to play an instrument online or in a month from a “learn it yourself book or CD “. Music is accumulative and the only way to progress and become a good little musician is to instill healthy and productive practice habits. It is equally important the teacher presents the material in an enjoyable and encouraging way, carefully listening to your child and understanding how they register the material along with being attentive to your child’s problems in a particular area is key to their music development.
Piano Lessons for the Adult Student
The Royal Academy also offers private music studies for the adult student. Whether you are a beginner, an advanced player, or simply rekindling an old
passion for music, we offer a variety of programs and lesson schedules custom suited for the adult student who has to often juggle a very demanding work and home schedule. Lessons are offered at all three convenient locations and hours range from morning and lunchtime lessons until 9:00 PM in the evening.
The Adult student can expect to learn all genres of music ranging from classical, jazz, swing, pop, ragtime, blues and more. At the Royal Academy the adult student can expect to learn music all the skills necessary in being a well rounded and creative musician. The Royal Academy ensures that all of its students develop strong sight-reading skills, counting and rhythmic skills, technical skills, theory and again, to explore their creativity.
There is no question as to the many therapeutic and stress relieving benefits of music. Not only as a listener and player does the sound of beautiful music immediately relax and soothe a very active and tense mind, but music has the ability to stir the emotions and to act as a wonderful vehicle for creative expression.
Finding an Instrument
If you do not already have a piano there are several options that you have. The first and least expensive option is to purchase an electric piano or keyboard. We highly recommend that your electric keyboard have a minimum of 66 keys or states it has “full size” keys, this will ensure that your keyboards keys are the same size as a piano’s keys, this is very important because it will make a huge difference when playing intervals, as well as affect the whole technical learning process. Secondly, make sure the piano’s keys are either “weighted” or “touch sensitive”, this will ensure that the keyboard or digital piano feels more like the “action” on an acoustic piano. An alternate and ideal option, is to purchase an acoustic upright, baby-grand, or full grand piano. Upright pianos are a great option for both their value and compact size, and even renting a piano or digital piano is an option that is available to Royal Academy Students by calling the Royal Academy Waltham School at 781-788-0060.
The Benefit of Piano Lessons
Piano lessons will give you the sense of conducting your own “mini” orchestra. Remember, all of the major classical composers were also great pianists and before they became great musicians, they took piano lessons! Among all the instruments, The piano is the most universal and essentially has the most diverse repertoire.
There is no question that learning to play piano will improve upon a student’s coordination skills. What is most notable and nothing short of amazing are the long-term positive effects music has on the brain. To elaborate, music can improve a child’s ” spatial ability”, the ability to comprehend other related materials or subjects such as mathematics and science. It is no coincidence that most scientists, physicians and immortal genius’ such as “Einstein” were all musicians. Below is an article we thought our students might find interesting.
Interesting Article on “Music and the Brain”
Music enters the brain through the ears. Pitch, melody, and intensity of notes are processed in several areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the frontal lobes. Both the right-brain and left-brain auditory cortex interprets sound. Feza Sancar (1999) writes that the right-brain auditory cortex specializes in determining hierarchies of harmonic relations and rich overtones and the left-brain auditory cortex deciphers the sequencing of sound and perception of rhythm.
Many studies have been performed to examine the affect of musical instruction on the brain. For example, researchers at the University of Munster, Germany, (1998) reported that music lessons in childhood actually enlarge the brain. The auditory cortex is enlarged by 25% in musicians compared to those who have never played an instrument. According to the study by Frances Rauscher of the University of California, Irvine, (1997) links between neurons in the brain are strengthened with music lessons. Dr. Frank Wilson’s study (1989) involving instrumental music learning to play an instrument refines the development of the brain and the entire neurological system and the brain reveal that evidence, it is clear that music instruction is essential to children’s education because it improves their academic performance. Curriculum areas that music instruction affects most include language development, reading, mathematics, and science. Music itself is a kind of language full of patterns that can be used to form notes, chords, and rhythms. Exposure to music helps a child analyze the harmonic vowel sounds of language as well as sequence words and ideas. Another curriculum area enhanced by music participation is reading. A child who participates in music activities experiences sensory integration, a crucial factor in reading readiness. Wilson’s study (1989) reveals that music instruction enhances a student’s ability to perform skills necessary for reading including listening, anticipating, forecasting, memory training, recall skills, and concentration techniques. Mathematics is the academic subject most closely connected with music. Music helps students count, recognize geometric shapes, understand ratios and proportions, and the frameworks of time. Researcher Gordon Shaw (1993) found that piano instruction enhances the brain’s ability for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize and transform information.