Piano playing is a fantastic creative outlet that can benefit other areas of a child’s education. Music can be so beneficial that, according to Time, kids who otherwise might experience academic difficulty go on to excel when sticking to an instrument. As a choice of instrument, the piano rewards its players in the academic theory-based sense, but it also offers benefits to creative play. The challenge for parents is helping kids to learn that creative flair.
A good place to start is through listening to music. Piano relies on form and practice, so free-form listening time can feel counter-intuitive. However, aside from music being the goal of playing an instrument, there are academic benefits to listening to music for recreation. Jazz, in particular, offers enormous mental stimulation according to one Psychology Today analysis, and it can inspire inspiration for music lessons. Try Herbie Hancock for a starter masterclass in piano playing; Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner and Art Tatum are good choices too, and these can all be taken online. Often, these lessons can be the springboard for further learning.
Practice makes perfect
Jazz pieces are often very technically challenging. Whether that’s due to needing fast hands across the keys, or from the simple ebb and flow of rhythm, they offer a complex task for listeners. This is good for students. The reason many jazz pianists are so good at what they do is because of their training. Oscar Peterson is a great example – often thought of as one of the greatest ever jazz pianists, as a child he would persistently practice scales and études. There is method behind the flair they enjoy, and learning techniques showed them how to employ that flair.
To new listeners, jazz piano solos might seem quite samey. This is because there is a lot of tradition and practice behind them; as The New York Times outlines, jazz piano solos are a historical affair. This once again reinforces the lesson of piano-playing to students. A piano solo isn’t something that comes naturally – at least not entirely. It’s the result of practice, trial and error, and knowing exactly what the chord structure and rhythm is from the section of a piece they’re playing.
Flair-filled piano pieces are a result of an education. They are the result of practice, determination and learning, tied to passion for music. In reality, this is all of the best parts of academia, and will help any student find success.