A good friend, who is also a piano teacher, posted an article on Facebook. It refers to a scientific study which proves the academic and social benefits of music lessons.
I was given the gift of piano lessons when I was young. I’m sad to say that, like many young people, I did not grasp their value at the time; but I am grateful for them now. Piano lessons teach more than how to play the piano.
The youngest of children love the cause and effect of pushing a key and hearing a sound in return. Rhythm teaches math. Placement of fingers on keys teaches the science of spatial recognition. Notes teach music and allow enjoyment for those who play it and entertainment for those who listen to it . Volume and speed give opportunity for emotional expression. In being taught one thing, a student is learning many subjects.
Among other things, piano lessons prepared me to learn to play an instrument in school band. Students were taught to play their individual instruments. Then, each instrument section/group played their simple part separately. Finally, all the sections played together as a whole band. When I heard the music created by putting so many simple sounds together, I was amazed and overwhelmed by the complexity and beauty of it. I loved being part of a group that created something beautiful. When I had children, I hoped they would appreciate music and be able to experience the same thing.
Music has always been enjoyed and encouraged in our home. We listened to and sang music often. Fun things like slide whistles and kazoos, toy drums, tambourines and harmonicas, bongos and maracas found room in our house when our children were young.
As the kids grew, so did the size of the instruments. Our collection grew too….pianos, a snare drum, whole drum set, trombones, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, even accordions – all contributed to the enjoyment of music. If I dared to add the cost of instruments we purchased over the years, it would be significant; but it was an investment.
While in elementary school, our children were required to take two years of piano lessons. Whether they enjoyed them or dreaded them, the lessons and practicing for them were as mandatory as household chores. After those two years of piano lessons had given them the basic skills of rhythm, musical tones and reading music, they were given the choice of continuing piano lessons or moving to another instrument. Each child’s choice of other instruments began another adventure. Investments were made in lessons for other instruments through the years, because music lessons teach more than how to play notes on an instrument.
The cost of all those lessons cannot really be calculated, but I did run some numbers once to get an idea of the cost and it was impressive. Add the cost of gas to get the kids to lessons and back and music books and the instruments themselves, and the dollar amount grows significantly. While we were enjoying the music being played at the time, we were also investing in the future.
More than the monetary investment though, was an ongoing investment of time and effort making sure they practiced between lessons, time spent waiting during the lessons and making sure they were safe with the teacher. We poured our time, our money, our patience and our influence into our children in many ways, and investing in music was one of those ways.
I believe all people, especially teenagers, need a healthy form of expression. Music is one of the healthiest, safest and most productive ways to express yourself. I’m grateful my mom gave me the gift of music lessons. I’m grateful my children were given the same gift.
I’m not sure it’s possible for children, even when grown, to grasp the magnitude of the gift given to them by their parents and/or grandparents in encouraging (yes, even requiring) involvement in music. While my kids were growing up, I could not have grasped how that investment would pay dividends for them and for myself..
As parents, we listened to growth as their first fumbling rhythms or screeching notes slowly became sounds pleasing to hear. We have attended countless concerts. We have heard them worship the God we love with their voices and instruments. We have seen their pleasure in the music they make alone and the music they make with others. We have seen and heard their pride from practicing hard and hearing the results. They have loved making music as we have. Those are dividends on our investment.
Music is a lifelong hobby. It’s satisfying to know that my children are still enjoying music in their adult lives. It’s like reaping rewards to hear that they eagerly invest in music themselves, buying instruments and using their time to make music alone or with others. Their ability to entertain themselves and other people is interest on the account opened so many years ago.
When we are together, they happily and proudly play and sing new songs, displaying the rewards of their work. Family gatherings sometimes become singalongs with wonderful harmonizing – those times provide multiplied returns! When we are apart, I watch movies of them singing and/or playing. We can also hear one child’s music on iTunes or youtube.com or hear another one playing with friends on tracks of a newly released EP on the band’s website.
When I arranged those first piano lessons, I did not realize how all of us would profit years later. I gave a gift that keeps giving back. The investment of music in my children continues to grow dividends with compound interest.