The benefits of taking piano classes

The Verdict is in. Piano Lessons Pay Off Big Time! Did you know that kids get smarter by playing piano? Pianists have less anti-social behaviour. Pianists are able to multi-task almost as well as mothers!!! No matter how you cut it, the piano is an incredible instrument. Below is clear proof why your children and you should be putting aside time in your day to learn piano. There is no denying that doing so will benefit both of you.

Studies showing piano lessons benefits

After nine months of weekly training in piano or voice, new research shows young students’ IQs rose nearly three points more than their untrained peers. The Canadian study lends support to the idea that musical training may do more for kids than simply teach them their scales–it exercises parts of the brain useful in mathematics, spatial intelligence and other intellectual pursuits. “With music lessons, because there are so many different facets involved–such as memorizing, expressing emotion, learning about musical intervals and chords–the multidimensional nature of the experience may be motivating the [IQ] effect,” said study author E. Glenn Schellenberg, of the University of Toronto at Mississauga for Psychological Science. The very best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley industry are, nearly without exception, practicing musicians. – Grant Venerable, “The Paradox of the Silicon Savior.”

A study of 237 second grade children who used piano keyboard training and newly designed math software to demonstrate improvement in math skills. The group scored 27% higher on tests of proportional math and fractions than children that used only the math software. – Graziano, Amy, Matthew Peterson, and Gordon Shaw,”Enhanced learning of proportional math through music training and spatial-temporal training.” – Neurological Research 21 (March 1999).

Researchers found that students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show “significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.” – Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga, “Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts.” – Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999.

66% of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. 44% of biochemistry majors were admitted. – As reported in “The Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February 1994.

Students who participated in arts programs in schools in New York City showed significant increases in self-esteem and thinking skills. – National Arts Education Research Center, New York University, 1990
“The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling–training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.” – Ratey John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.

Researchers at the University of Montreal used various brain imaging techniques to investigate brain activity during musical tasks and found that sight-reading musical scores and playing music both activate regions in all four of the cortex’s lobes; and that parts of the cerebellum are also activated during those tasks. – Sergent, J., Zuck, E., Tenial, S., and MacDonall, B. (1992). Distributed neural network underlying musical sight reading and keyboard performance.

A University of California study showed that after eight months of piano lessons, preschoolers showed a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ – Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky and Wright, “Music and Spatial Task Performance: A Causal Relationship,” University of California, Irvine, 1994.

Researchers found that children given piano lessons significantly improved in their spatial- temporal IQ scores (important for some types of mathematical reasoning) compared to children who received computer lessons, casual singing, or no lessons – Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Levine, L.J., Wright, E.L., Dennis, W.R., and Newcomb, R. (1997).

Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial temporal reasoning – Neurological Research. A McGill University study found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. They also found that self-esteem and musical skills measures improved for the students given piano instruction – Costa-Giomi, E. (1998, April). The McGill Piano Project: Effects of three years of piano instruction on children’s cognitive abilities, academic achievement, and self-esteem.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, maybe this list will help…

Famous people who played the piano

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
President Richard Nixon who performed with Pearl Bailey at the White House, and also on Television on the Jack Parr program.
First Lady Michelle Obama as well as her two daughters
President Abraham Lincoln
President Harry Truman
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
Chancellor of GermanyHelmut Schmidt
Dudley Moore – Comedian and actor (Arthur). My wife and I had the honour of attending one of the final concerts of this incredibly talented man. He performed with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at Place des Arts.
Katie Couric – Hosted NBC’s Today show before signing on to be the anchor and editor of CBS Evening News.
Clint Eastwood – Hollywood actor and producer. Known for his Dirty Harry movies, he also directed a film about the life of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.
Kelsey Grammer – Actor, writer, producer and director known for his role as Dr. Frasier Crane in the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier. Grammer attended the Julliard School for 2 years
David Hyde Pierce, Frasier’s brother on Frasier, comedian Anthony Hopkins – British actor known for movies such as The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Nixon.
Lady GaGa, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Justin Beiber – pop singer
Rihanna – pop singer
Elizabeth Dole – US Senator
Prince Charles – Future King of England
William F. Buckley, Jr – author, commentator
Fred Rogers – “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”, children’s entertainer
Charles Osgood – TV Host “Sunday Morning”Virginia Cha – NBC Newsreader
Paul Reiser – actor, author
Dustin Hoffman – actor, performs with a Jazz band on piano.
Richard Gere – actor
Beau Bridges – actor
Jeff Bridges – actor
Albert Einstein – physicist
Thomas Edison – inventor
George Washington
Carver – American botanist and agriculturalist
Marcus Allen – athlete
Mike Reid – Penn State, NFL
Jerry Mercer – world renowned drummer of April Wine
Alexander Graham Bell, scientist, inventor of the telephone
Mark Twain – author & philosopher
Ansel Adams – photographer: virtuoso pianist. Almost pursued a career as concert pianist.
Dennis O’Hare – Tony Award winning theater actor
Hugh Jackman – actor
Sandra Bullock – Hollywood actress
Christopher Reeve – Superman in the movies and in real life!
Hugh Laurie – British actor
Mickey Rooney – actor
Gary Oldman – actor
Fred Astaire – great dancer and singer
Jamie Foxx – actor, director
Jeff Goldblum – actor
Kevin Kline – actor
Kevin Bacon – actor
Alicia Keyes – popular singer
Norah Jones – award winning songstress
Paul McCartney – still kicking after all these years!
John Lennon – one of the world’s most prolific songwriters. Composed at the piano.

Convinced yet? Want to do something really radical — maybe even revolutionary? Shut off the TV, the cell phone, and computer, invite some friends, family, and a grouchy neighbour or two, and have a neighbourhood sing-a-long around the piano. Try it out once a month and you will laugh and experience a togetherness lost in our generation. End war — play piano! You don’t have to be great — can you remember all the laughs when we sang “Row, Row, Row your Boat” in rounds? Or ask a friend over just to listen to some music. Have a ball! Long Live the Piano!

Written by piano expert Michael Ray Bould