Have you ever heard that there’s a connection between music and medicine? Anecdotally, people who study music, especially piano, often tend to go on to become doctors or high academic achievers in other fields.
There is a reason for this.
Learning piano (and to a certain extent studying music generally) is widely known to have a profound effect on our learning abilities.
Some years ago, a Swiss study divided 1200 primary school kids into two groups. For two years, one group was given more music classes and fewer mathematics classes. At the end of the study, the kids who received extra music classes and fewer math classes were better at math than the kids who received more math classes.
Another two-year study split preschoolers into two groups. One group received private computer lessons and the other received private singing and piano lessons. At the end of two years, the kids who had extra musical training were 34% better in the abstract reasoning skills required for math, science, engineering and computers than the kids who had computer lessons.
And there are many more such studies.
So it seems that learning piano serves as a sort of brain training that enhances our awareness of special relations, our ability to reason and our memory.
Here’s an interesting thought: Half an hour (that’s 2% of the school week or 4 school days per year) spent taking piano / keyboard lessons in exchange for a 34% improvement in academic performance is time exceptionally well spent.
Sadly, this sort of logical reasoning does not seem to be a strong point among many of the folks running schools (perhaps they didn’t study piano when they were younger). Consequently, very few schools truly understand the benefits of prioritizing music education, and students everywhere are missing out on the academic benefits they could be receiving from learning piano / keyboard as a result.
And yet almost all schools are searching for a way to improve academic results. (Go figure).
While the academic benefits of learning piano / keyboard are a given, there is a little publicized additional benefit of learning to play piano with Musiah: The Musiah syllabus was specifically designed to maximize the academic benefits students will gain through their piano / keyboard lessons.
It works like this... The academic benefit conferred on students by piano / keyboard lessons comes from the development of eye-mind-hand coordination and through systematically training students to think about, cope with and do several things at once.
So when I first wrote the Musiah piano / keyboard syllabus back in 1995 (long before it was embodied in its current form known as Musiah) I intentionally did the opposite of what most piano and keyboard courses do in a number of respects.
Instead of moving students’ hands around to different positions on the piano / keyboard in the early stages of their development, Musiah keeps their hands in one position (the C position) for quite some time so that students become very familiar with the range of notes covered by each hand (the notes C, D, E, F and G in each hand).
And because they become so familiar with this note range, Musiah can then challenge their coordination (within that note range) to a much greater extent than is normal.
Examples of coordination skills Musiah students acquire within their first few songs include:
This is clearly not normal so early in other piano / keyboard courses but when you learn piano with Musiah, it is not only possible, it is in fact normal - and has been for the last 18 years.
Also, in case you were wondering, Musiah piano / keyboard lessons do of course cover other notes on the piano / keyboard outside of the C position. The interesting thing about waiting until students have first mastered
before moving to other positions on the keyboard is that playing new notes (when they can do all these other things) is actually very easy and presents no difficulty to students who learn piano with Musiah.
So now you have yet another reason to try learning piano with Musiah. It's a great form of brain training and will maximise the academic benefits you get from piano / keyboard lessons.
Thanks for reading.
Til next time,
Brendan Hogan L.Mus.A, A.Mus.A.
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor
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