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The Benefits of Playing Piano

"It's one thing to be involved in music passively, by listening but it's another thing entirely to make music by playing an instrument. Through active, progressive involvement in music-making, the benefits really multiply.

So what happens when you play?

You're doing a number of very different things, simultaneously. On the one hand, you draw on a group of cognitive skills: thinking, controlling physical co-ordination and fine motor skills. On the other hand, you call one more instinctive and emotional abilities relating to imagination, perception, creative understanding and musical meaning.

What Happens when you play?

1. Developing physical co-ordination and fine motor control

In addition, when playing from notation, musicians can use a unique kind of brain to body co-ordination, which allows then to transform notes on the page into music. These are valuable skills, which are transferable to many other areas of activity, throughout life.

2. Integrating mental and physical activity

When you play an instrument, you combine many different kinds of mental activity with physical activity; music-making combines doing with thinking, knowing and understanding.

3. Demonstrating knowledge and understanding

One special aspect of music-making is the way a musician has to show their understanding through physical actions. In a performance, musicians are drawing on their inner knowledge and understanding and using it to inform their music-making and focus their musical communication.

4. Being expressive

Making music, rather than just listening to it, provides opportunities for outward expression of feelings and emotions. Having this outlet can be important for everyone, but can become particularly valuable for those who feel uneasy about expressing themselves in other ways. This might be children, teenagers those with specific needs, or anyone whom communication does not come naturally.

5. Using creativity and imagination

Making music fosters creativity and imagination and provides ways to turn original ideas into reality. Young people can use these experiences and tools for the rest of their life, whatever they go on to do.

6. Building self-belief and confidence

Learning how to give a musical performance has a positive effect on personal confidence. Many of the skills you need when playing or singing to others are the same ones you use when presenting yourself and communicating in other situations, such as school plays, interviews, discussions, etc. Self-belief and the inner confidence that can bring is a fundamental benefit of making progress on a musical instrument.

7. Nurturing emotional intelligence

An essential part of being a musician, especially when making music with others, is the ability to listen, to assess situations and respond, and to be sensitive to what other people are doing. As students develop their musical and ensemble skills, they are also building skills in perception, personal awareness and emotional intelligence.

8. Learning to learn

By working at playing, you find out more about important things about learning itself - especially independent learning. Through regular lessons and practice, students gain skills in reflection and self-evaluation. They discover how to work independently and, eventually, how to take control of their learning and progress. The relationship between practice, progress and achievement is a powerful one. It helps students to understand the universal equation that 'you get back what you put in' and reveals the immense value of persistent personal effort - of perseverance. Students can easily see how from one week to the next, and can feel the rewards this brings over time. "

                                                                                                             John Holmes, Libretto 2015:2

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