Several years ago, I stopped teaching piano lessons after having taught for over 15 years. I was burned out; my students were burned out. We just weren’t having any fun! Not long after that, I began attending a new church and immediately assumed the role of church pianist. Even though the idea of sight-reading in public scared me to death, I had never had so much fun playing in all my life! A year or two down the road, my playing had drastically improved, and I was teaching music to anyone who would sit still and listen: children and teens from church, nieces, nephews, visitors. I just couldn’t instill enough knowledge and fun ideas into those around me. As of last July, I have been teaching again and loving it! My students are enjoying their lessons and progressing quickly, and I am happy.
I have put together a short little list of personal reasons for taking piano lessons. Here they are:
- Creative Outlet. From day one, you begin learning the elements you will need to make music for the rest of your life. Some teachers even incorporate creativity into their lessons. I have seen some great improvisation methods that are geared for beginners, and the piano method I use has several improvisation opportunities sprinkled throughout the theory books. It won’t be long before a new student is sitting at the piano and conjuring up melodies of his own. Children are very creative; I think mostly because they aren’t so self conscious and don’t put as much stock in “perfection.” However, as a musician practices and grows, he will expand his musical horizons, thus allowing him to improvise with ever more confidence and technique.
- Discipline. I strive for discipline in my own life. Discipline to keep the house clean, to cook meals at home, exercise and eat right, and improve my skills and knowledge. Playing the piano gives me a way of practicing discipline. I must discipline myself to sit still and break down a complex passage, or figure out how I want a specific song to sound. As a mom, I also appreciate music for the perfect way that it fits into my son’s life, providing him a form of discipline. Even when he doesn’t have homework or chores, it gives him something productive he can do every single day.
- Distraction from Distractions. Believe it or not, I have a lot of trouble coming up with ideas for my son when it comes to how he spends his free time. Like most kids his age, he plays his fair share of video games and enjoys watching shows on Netflix, but I also like to make sure he gets completely away from technology from time to time. Sometimes I just make him turn off the TV and allow him to have unstructured playtime, or invention time, or whatever he can come up with. However, one of his favorite things to do during this time is play the piano. He loves to sit and pick out melodies that he has been listening to throughout the day.
- Fun and Relaxation. Just listen to a few piano tunes on YouTube, and imagine yourself being able to play them. This should help you understand how addicting it can be to increase your skill with a musical instrument. Every time you play well, you can feel good about the effort you put into learning and practicing. In addition, as the sounds wash over your soul, you get to enjoy the results of all your hard work. Playing piano is also a fantastic way to unwind or de-stress; it’s one of my favorite things to do when I find myself worried about something, and I just want to escape for a little while.
- Unique You. Ok, well, you’re already unique. But imagine throwing a piano into the mix. Just think about the ideas and personality that you will bring to the table while picking up a skill such as this one. It’s even possible to develop your own playing style that no one else can lay claim to. On top of all that, there probably aren’t that many people in your area that play the piano really well. You could be one of the few. All it takes is dedication and consistency, and you’ll find your skills improving in leaps and bounds.
- A Skill to Pass Along. If you’re anything like me, this is the best part. I love showing someone how to play almost any song with just three or four chords. I love showing them how to use a fake book, how to read sheet music, how to add dynamics and make the music speak. Broken down, the steps are all so simple and easy to grasp. Even when I’m not teaching an official lesson, I just cannot wait for the next person to come along and ask me a musical question so I can open his world to the magic waiting at his fingertips. And, if you become skilled enough, and love teaching as much as I do, you might even make a living at it!
- Endless Possibilities. The beauty of learning to play the piano is that there is always something new to learn. Even if you become a top-notch sight-reader and can play classical music like the great composers themselves, there will always be more territory to cover. Jazz, blues, Latin, improvisation, composition, lead sheets. You will never run out of things that pique your interest. This is fabulous news for those of us who love learning for the sake of learning.
What do you think? Do you agree with this list? What reasons would you add?