Benefits of Piano Study, Qualified Piano Teacher, Teaching

Why Piano?

Over the course of my career teaching piano lessons in Lakewood and other cities, I have discovered the many benefits playing piano has in our lives.

  1. Studies provide strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure.
  2. Music and math are highly intertwined. By understanding beat, rhythm, and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions, and recognize patterns. It seems that music wires a child’s brain to help him better understand other areas of math.
  3. Instruments not only help develop ambidexterity, but they can also encourage children to become comfortable in naturally uncomfortable positions. Enhancing coordination and perfecting timing can prepare children for other hobbies, like dance and sports.
  4. Learning an instrument teaches children about delayed gratification. Playing an instrument teaches kids to persevere through hours, months, and sometimes years of practice before they reach specific goals. Private lessons and practicing at home require a very focused kind of attention for even 10 minutes at a time.
  5. Presenting yourself in public is an important skill whether you become a professional musician or not. This skill is easily transferrable to public speaking.
  6. A piano student learns to read two lines of music, use both ears, arms, legs, feet and all ten fingers, with the brain giving each body part a different assignment to perform simultaneously. No other activity allows a child to exercise all of these skills in such a constructive manner.  Piano lessons, therefore, develop coordination in both mind and muscles, which transfers to many daily activities. This includes improved hand-eye coordination, greater enjoyment and ability in sports, and the full use of both left and right sides of the brain.
  7. As a student begins to experience the benefits of concentration and coordination, he or she begins to experience a sense of confidence. Completing a difficult task is very rewarding and allows the student to feel good about what she has accomplished. Learning to play the piano is one of the best methods of instilling confidence in children and adults alike. Concentration, coordination, and confidence form a foundation unsurpassed for helping students grow.
  8. One recent MIT study determined that the cerebral cortex of a concert pianist is enlarged by 30% on average compared to people that are considered intellectuals, but who did not have instrumental music education. Another CA study found that 75% of Silicon Valley CEO’s had instrumental music education as a child. 
  9. Discipline, patience, determination and perseverance are some of the many other skills learned through piano training. Successful piano students have to work daily over extended periods of time in order to learn complex music. Piano helps students understand the concept of sustained effort, accomplishing excellence and to put to practice the meaning of hard work.
  10. The findings published in 2006 in the online edition of the journal Brain [1], show that not only do the brains of musically-trained children respond to music in a different way to those of the untrained children, but also that the training improves their memory as well. After one year the musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ. 
  11. If you started piano lessons in grade one thank your parents and teachers. Those lessons you dreaded — or loved — helped develop your brain. The younger you started music lessons, the stronger the connections in your brain.
  12. Studies provide strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. 
  13. Better Response to Criticism – To get the most from this benefit of playing piano, it’s important to work with a qualified piano teacher who is able to give you constructive criticism. When younger students see their teacher as an expert in the field, it’s much easier to take their advice and feedback. And this ability to respond to criticism – and learn from it – will typically carry over to other aspects of daily life, such as school and work.
  14. Improved Ability to Handle Stress – Participating in piano recitals, or even just performing in front of a group of friends, can help students deal with the symptoms of stage fright. Plus, all of the practicing leading up to the performance will help you learn about dedication, self-discipline, and the goal-setting process.
  15. Learn to React Well to Successes and Disappointments – This is another skill you will gain from performing, especially if you participate in piano competitions. Similar to learning how to respond to criticism, you may experience some disappointment along the way. A good piano teacher will help you learn how to maintain a positive outlook, even when things don’t go your way. And when they do, you can celebrate your wins together!
  16. Increased Social Participation – The ability to play in front of a group is an important social skill. It’s a great way to share your talents with others, and you may find yourself expanding your network as you put yourself out there in the musical community. Discussing your piano playing with other musicians is a wonderful way to improve your understanding of the instrument – plus, you never know how your connections can help you later in life!
  17. Stronger Hand Muscles – Piano playing is helpful for developing dexterity in children and for maintaining strength in adult hands. Keep in mind, though: in order for your hand muscles to develop properly, you’ll need to learn the correct form and hand position for playing the piano with a professional teacher.
  18. Improved School Performance – Studies have found that children who begin learning piano during grade school have better general and spatial cognitive development than their peers, which can help with mathematic skills. In addition, playing piano can help with concentration and therefore improve students’ overall school performance. (Learn more about how music lessons make you smarter here!)
  19. Aural Awareness – Whether you naturally have a good sense of pitch or you struggle with this skill, piano playing can definitely help you improve. Some of these benefits of playing piano include developing a sense of relative pitch, and training your mind to recognize tones, intervals, and chords, which can help with learning music theory later on in your studies.
  20. Split Concentration  – When you’re first starting to learn how to play the piano, it can be incredibly frustrating to coordinate your two hands each playing something different. But the more you play and practice, the easier it will get – trust us! Even simpler pieces can teach you the skills and focus you’ll need to improve your skills.
  21. Split concentration is not just a physical ability; you can also use the skill for listening. If you’re taking lessons with a piano teacher, you’ll likely learn how to listen to the sound of your playing as if you were both in the front of the concert hall and to the back of the room. You can use the mental part of this training in everyday life to improve your multitasking skills
  22. Improvement in the classroom – Those who participate in piano lessons tend to be highly intelligent in the classroom. Research done at McGill University in Montreal, Canada found that grade school students that studied piano for 3 years scored higher on test of general and spatial cognitive areas than their peers. These skills aid well in the mathematics area, therefore helping these students with their schoolwork.
  23. Improves neural connections – Neurons transmit and process information in the brain. According to a study performed at Northwestern University, playing piano adds to neural connections. Neural firings happen when music is being played, suggesting that playing instruments like the piano may hold the key to higher brain function.
  24. Broadens vocabulary – In a 2009 study published in the journal Psychology in Music, an in-depth experiment found that students that had music in their academic curriculum had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing than those who did not.
  25. Reduces stress – Playing piano allows you to get away from the stresses of daily life and focus your mind on your technique and the music. One study revealed that those that chose to play the keyboard to relax had a significantly higher reversal of stress genes at the end of the study than those that chose other techniques. It was concluded that playing music such as the piano could become a rational stress reducing therapy recognized by health and fitness professionals.
  26. Foster hand/eye coordination – When playing the piano you often have to read as you play. This trains your eyes and hands to work closely together. You hands also develop independent coordination. Each hand performs entirely different movements and has to learn to work together stimulating multiple parts of the brain. Hand/eye coordination is a very beneficial skill to acquire for it can improve your reaction time and productivity. Through this activity you can also strengthen neural pathways between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
  27. Aids in language development – According to research done by San Raffaele University in Milan, Spain, children that learn music before the age of 7 have much larger vocabularies which aids not online in language development but in learning foreign languages as well. It has been found that adults with musical background such as piano training in their youth learned foreign language quicker and more efficiently than those that didn’t. The brain activity that is acquired at youth through music continues to benefit through adulthood.
  28. Increases human growth hormone – Playing piano can increase the production of HGH in an individual; particularly for older adults. Human growth hormones are linked to reduction of the aches and pains where feel that come with age. A study done at the University of Miami found that the test group of people who took keyboard lessons had significantly higher levels of HGH than the control group that did not. Increased HGH production leads to slowed progression of osteoporosis, increased energy levels, sexual function and muscle mass.
  29. Split concentration – Learning how to get your hands to work together may be difficult at first but as you practice it will become second nature. Playing piano allows you develop the ability to focus on multiple things simultaneously. To play the piano you must coordinate your hand movements as well as read the music in front of you which requires a lot of focus. The split concentration you develop from piano can be applied to life situations as well such as multi-tasking.
  30. Aural awareness – Many people that aren’t involved in any type of musical hobby may have difficulty recognizing different pitches and chords. Once you grasp the basic concept of playing scales and other technical routines you will be able to explore the different variations of sound, rhythm, and the complementary of melodies and harmonies. Aural awareness is not only good for your ears but is great exercise for your brain as well.
  31. Inspires creativity  – Playing the piano requires you to be creative every time you play. Research done by Vanderbilt University psychologist found that musicians use a creative technique known as divergent thinking which requires you to use both sides of your brain. Every time you play you are using both sides to correlate your hands and read music. Exercising this technique constantly is why musicians tend to be more creative thinkers allowing them to be better able think outside the box when it comes to problem solving.
Carole Tillotson, Lakewood piano lessons, Lakewood piano studio, Lakewood piano teacher, Students performance, Teaching

Dillon’s Two-Thumbs Up Testimonial

Dillon Mathues has been playing piano for eight years, seven with Carole Tillotson. Check out the video of his skills and his two-thumb testimonial.

swings
Carole Tillotson, Lakewood piano lessons, Lakewood piano studio, Lakewood piano teacher, Teaching

Carole’s Musical Story

My Musical Story

Carole Tillotson began piano study at age five and continued for 17 years. Carole graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX with a Bachelors in Music Education, majoring in piano, theory, and composition. As a graduate assistant in theory at Indiana University, Carole also studied harp and piano. Carole taught the Yamaha Music Course for four- to seven-year olds in San Antonio for eight years. Eventually, Carole owned and operated seven Yamaha schools in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio and was a member of the Curriculum Development Committee for Yamaha International. Upon moving to California, Lakewood piano teacher Carole started developing the MAKE MUSIC courses for four- to seven-year olds. During the early 80s Carole taught teacher training seminars in the MAKE MUSIC method at the University of Denver and throughout California. In 1988, Carole published her piano method “More Than Piano” for 7-year olds and older children.

In addition to teaching, Tillotson has been active as a freelance harpist, organist, and pianist. Carole co-founded the Coastside Community Orchestra in Half Moon Bay, CA, in which she played percussion, timpani, and harp for ten years. Carole was organist at the Coastside Community Methodist Church from 1993 – 1999. During those same years, Carole sang with and accompanied for the Peninsula Master Chorale and the Coastside Madrigal Singers.

After moving to Evergreen in 1999, Carole has played piano with the Evergreen Chorale and the Evergreen Players. Carole has played organ, piano, and harp in several local churches and is presently organist at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Denver and accompanist for the Golden Concert Choir.

Carole has been teaching piano lessons in her Lakewood music studio for three years and teaches students from age six to 76.