Before I give you the benefits of playing the piano, can you tell me the benefits of not playing the piano? In other words, why don’t you play?
Adults all over the world are turning to the keys. They’re realizing that lessons are not for children only. They’re discovering that it’s never too late to learn. But what about you?
It’s true that piano lessons benefit young children, but they benefit grown-ups as well. In fact, they may advantage grown-ups even more.
Do you want to play, even a little bit? If so, then let me give you twenty benefits of playing piano. As a bonus, I’ll give you twenty-five reasons to start learning NOW. Let’s go!
By learning keyboard skills, you will improve yourself in 5 major ways…
You will enjoy intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and personal benefits. Each of these benefits will affect you in a positive and multifaceted way. Let’s take a look.
If you think only the smartest people should play piano and that you’re not smart enough to do it, then you’re wrong. In fact, playing the piano will actually make you smarter!
Improve your memory
Would you like to remember things better? Research shows that piano lessons enhance the working memory of older adults.
This is especially true after as little as six months of learning.
This benefit shows up specifically when you read. In 1993, the Educational Psychology Journal linked playing the piano with improved reading comprehension. If you want to remember what you read (including this article!), then playing the piano is for you.
Improve your brain speed
During childhood and adolescence, your nerves go through a process called myelination. This means your nerves add layers of insulation. These layers help signals travel faster through your nervous system. (Your nervous system includes your brain.)
Medical professionals have associated this process with normal childhood and adolescent development. But research now shows that adult activity can increase this process.
One notable study links this process to piano playing. So, by playing the piano, you may increase your brain’s ability to think better.
Expand your aural skills
Aural awareness means that you have a keen understanding of the sounds you make and hear. It also means that you can blend sound with others and that you can keep a steady rhythm and pulse. Some people call this a “musical ear.”
Though having a musical ear helps you play the piano, the opposite is also true.
Playing piano helps you develop a musical ear. So don’t let your lack of aural skills keep you away from the keys. Build those skills today by taking lessons.
If you learn to play piano, you will learn how to listen to music and sing better, too.
Sharpen your concentration and focus
Did you know that you are multitasking when you play the piano?
You are focusing on rhythm and tempo, pitch and volume, melody and harmony all at once. At the same time, you are also focusing on finger positions, body posture, and more.
Do you lose focus at school? Do you lose concentration at work? Then learning to play the piano will help you overcome these problems.
After all, playing an instrument is one of few activities that engages all areas of your brain at once.
Piano and Your Brain (Infographic)
Music therapy helps improve physical and mental health through the expression of emotions. When you play piano, you provide yourself with this valuable form of therapy every single time.
Decrease your stress and anxiety
In 2013, the National Library of Medicine published a fascinating article. It showed that playing piano eases stress. It also reduces depression in elderly adults.
How does this work? It overcomes negative emotions through repetitive sounds that engage your neocortex. This effect calms you and reduces your urge to be impulsive. It also teaches you to listen to new, constructive music.
It encourages you to listen to uplifting and constructive music instead, moving you beyond what you “feel” like playing. This pulls you out of your “loop” of dark and depressive feelings.
Increase your happiness
Playing the piano does more than remove negative emotions. It replaces them with positive emotions – in several ways.For instance, what’s better than listening to happy, uplifting music? Playing that music yourself!
Who hasn’t watched an inspiring movie or TV show and wished that they could go plunk out the theme song on a keyboard? I know I have.
Two melodies especially stand out. They are Forrest Gump (1994) and Home Alone (1990). Right now, your keyboard is absolutely begging you to play them!
With some lessons under your belt, you can play happy, beautiful melodies like these and more.
Boost your confidence and self-esteem
Feeling timid and apprehensive? Want to conquer that feeling? Playing the piano will build your confidence.
In particular, doing this enables you to overcome shyness. It’s like public speaking this way, only you don’t have to look at your audience or use your voice.
Here’s how it works.
- When you plunk out your first melody, your confidence grows.
- When you progress from playing with one hand to two hands, your confidence grows more.
- When you move from one level of difficulty to another, your confidence grows even more. (The first steps are easy!)
- Then, when you perform in front of an audience, your confidence grows even more.
The sky’s the limit. Every skill level you achieve unlocks the door to another level. Your confidence increases each step of the way.
My college instructor compared piano to football and for good reason. Like football, playing piano yields physical benefits – but without the concussions.
Increase your hand strength and dexterity
Playing the piano is like taking your fingers to the gym. As you practice on a regular basis, your fingers will inevitably strengthen.
Finger speed will also increase. Yet strength and speed alone will not be their greatest reward.
Your fingers will also become nimbler on the keys over time. As a result, you will discover better what it means to “get a grip,” not just at the keyboard but in life at large.
You might even get better at opening the pickle jar!
Improve your eye-hand coordination
You don’t have to be ambidextrous to play the piano; but playing will help you develop ambidexterity. (Ambidextrous means that you can use both hands equally well.)
When you play, your brain must tell each hand to perform separate actions. Your right and left hands will play different notes at the same time, following different rhythms and moving in opposite directions.
Keyboard skills may even expand your typing skills, making you more productive at work (if typing is part of your job).
Enhance your health (by boosting HGH levels)
Playing the piano is not the fountain of youth, but it’s close! Did you know that taking lessons later in life can slow down your aging process?
Here’s how it works. Your pituitary gland produces a human growth hormone (HgH). This function helps regulate body fluids, muscle and bone growth, metabolism, and perhaps even heart function.
A study by the University of Miami indicated that adults (even seniors) who take lessons experience increased levels of HgH. Therefore, this benefit is not limited to children alone.
For adults, this hormone sustains higher energy levels, boosts muscle mass and sexual functions, and diminishes the aches and pains of old age, including osteoporosis.
Playing the piano not only improves you in mental and emotional ways, but it connects you to the people and world around you.
Expand your [real] social network
Are you staring at screens too much? Playing the piano provides a satisfying escape from the virtual world. Real keys. Real sound. Real music. It’s a sensory and kinetic experience in every way. There’s nothing pretend about it.
Playing piano also puts you in contact with other real people, in real space and time. Most importantly, you interact with a teacher, usually on a weekly basis.
You may also interact with other students, additional teachers, and – of course – your audience, whenever you play your music for others.
Encourage other people
When I mention playing music for others, I am actually mentioning a benefit of playing which extends beyond yourself. Here’s what I mean.
Since “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” then giving away your music like this ends up being a blessing for you again in a roundabout way.
Like a boomerang, the gift will come back to you more than you would guess.
Receive criticism better
The older we get, the more we know (or think we know). The more we know, the less we appreciate criticism. That’s why we become “stuck in our ways.” Thankfully, piano lessons help you overcome this problem.
As a student, you prepare for your lessons each week. Then you play what you’ve practiced for your teacher. A good teacher will congratulate you for a job well done, but he or she will also offer constructive criticism.
If you’re not careful, this may “pop your balloon” and leave you feeling deflated. But if you respond well, you’ll take the feedback and make the necessary improvements.
Elevate your multitasking skills
What to become more efficient? Who doesn’t? Playing the piano will train you to focus on multiple things – kind of like juggling, but in a far more artistic way. Some call this ability “split concentration.”
When you play the piano, your eyes read the music, your hands move in separate directions, your fingers press multiple keys at once, and your feet press the pedals. If that’s not multitasking, then I don’t know what is!
Multitasking skills like these extend to real-life situations. These skills enable you to pay better attention at school and work without requiring you to drop everything else you’re doing.
Diversify your cultural awareness
Many people describe music as a “universal language.”
As the Oxford Cultural Value Project demonstrates, this is true because music expresses the feelings, perspectives, and values of one culture to another.
Imagine learning more about South African culture by learning to play a distinctive South African praise harmony. Or experience the warmth of Irish culture by learning to play the distinctive folk tune, “Danny Boy.”
Then how about feeling some Austrian nationalist nostalgia by playing “Edelweiss.”
Playing piano also bridges eras and subcultures within a nation, like the United States of America.
Reflect back over the struggles and triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement, for instance, by playing a protest anthem like “We Shall Overcome.”
Or turn back the page of American history even further to the Revolutionary War tune of the 1700s, Yankee Doodle.
Become a better listener
A Jewish rabbi once said, “You have two ears but one tongue for a reason, and the tongue is covered by two lips.”
This sage advice reminds us to do twice as much listening as talking. It also reminds us that when we do speak, we should think carefully about what you say beforehand.
If you struggle to live this way, talking way too much and listening way too little, then you should learn to play piano.
Indicators suggest that this experience will make you a better listener. You will also improve your ability to interpret the emotions of others.
Playing piano improves your overall quality of life as a person. While it’s hard to explain all the ways that this happens, I’ll shine the spotlight on several personal advantages you don’t want to miss.
Compose your own music
Before you learn to play the piano, you are limited in your music listening options. You are confined to the songs that other people have composed.
After you learn, you remove those limitations. You gain the ability to sit down at the keyboard and play new tunes. If you think it you can play it, without copyright restrictions.
Even better, if you play on an electronic keyboard, you can record your melodies and harmonies into this software directly, as you play the keys.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to make some music – literally.
Manage your time better
Ever feel like you’re wasting time, spinning your wheels, going nowhere fast? Learning to play the piano is a great way to solve this problem.
Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, it’s true, but more than you may realize.
Whatever song you’re working on, practice makes it perfect. Whatever keyboard skills you’re learning, practice makes them perfect, too.
But piano practice also helps you perfect your time management habits in life at large beyond the keyboard.
- As you look forward to daily practice (and you will), you learn to set aside regular time for things that matter.
- As you work out your scales and songs, you learn to budget small increments of time towards a larger goal.
- You learn to break down a larger project (like a song) into smaller goals, one measure and phrase at a time.
As you practice, you perfect the art of time management. Mastering this skill at the keyboard will equip you for more responsible time management in other arenas of your life.
Become a more complete person
Your life is like a puzzle with missing pieces. Music is one of those pieces waiting to be popped into place.
When you learn to play piano, you put that piece where it belongs and make your picture more complete. When you don’t, you leave an obvious hole in the picture.
Playing the piano improves you as a person in mental, emotional, physical, and social ways.
If you never learn to play, then you will fall short of the person you could have become. You will fail to experience the joys and accomplishments which could have been yours.
Discover new opportunities
Playing the piano is like a door leads to other unexpected doors of opportunity. To illustrate my point, I’ll share my own piano-playing adventure.
Learning the piano opened the door for me to teach the piano to other students, something I had never envisioned doing.
This opportunity not only helped me pay my tuition, but it also opened the door for me to teach other non-music subjects in a private school as well.
What’s more, I accompanied a traveling vocal ensemble (as the pianist), visiting forty-four U.S. States over four summers as a result, from Maine to Arizona and Texas to Minnesota!
If I had never learned the piano, these doors never would have opened. But what horizons await you in your piano-playing journey? What doors of opportunity are waiting to open before you?
Start learning NOW, because…
Perhaps you’ve read these benefits and you’re thinking you’d like to play the piano, someday – but not quite yet.
Maybe you’re aiming to begin a year from now, or maybe you’re waiting for a time that’s more convenient. Before you jump to that conclusion, let me offer you twenty-five reasons not to wait and to start learning NOW.
You should start learning NOW because:
- 1) You want to.
- 2) Time is slipping away.
- 3) You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
- 4) You might like it.
- 5) You might discover a new tune.
- 6) You may prevent or delay Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- 7) It’s easier to learn piano than other instruments.
- 8) There are many ways to learn (link to my previous article).
- 9) There is a keyboard or piano that suits your style (link to your website info).
- 10) You can find a keyboard at an affordable price (link to your website info).
- 11) It’s fun!
- 12) You’ll inspire others.
- 13) You’ll impress others.
- 14) You’ll learn a new language (sort of).
- 15) You’ll also learn some Italian words (like forte, staccato, accelerando, and so much more).
- 16) You’ll prove that you can do it (to yourself and to the world).
- 17) You do have the money to do it.
- 18) Everyone else is doing it!
- 19) You’re sad, and it will cheer you up.
- 20) You’re spending too much time in front of a screen.
- 21) You’re happy and you’ll be able to show it.
- 22) You’re bored and you need something to do.
- 23) You’re curious and there’s no other way to find out what it’s like.
- 24) You might go on to learn another instrument.
- 25) New opportunities will open up for you.
Whether you’re six, sixteen, or sixty years old, there’s a whole lot of reasons to learn piano (and few reasons, if any, why you should refrain). So many intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and personal benefits will come your way!
Do you agree? If so, then what’s stopping you? Choose your keyboard. Choose your learning approach. Then dive right in.
Still have questions? Have something to say? Then share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you like this article and want others to read it, then share it with your friends online. After all, you have twenty reasons to do so, plus twenty-five more reasons why you should do so NOW.
About the Author – Thomas Overmiller
Thomas is a NYC-based writer (and husband, and father of six young children) who has devoted his life to pastoring Faith Baptist Church in Queens.
He interest in music began at 8 years old and he continued lessons through his senior year of college.
During middle school, he earned annual honors in the summer music festival of Indiana University, and he has taught private lessons using various curriculums and methods. As opportunity allows, he plays the piano for church worship, and he leads a weekly children’s choir.