How Playing The Piano Can Benefit Your Health
Playing the piano can be an immensely enjoyable experience in itself. But it can be much more. Science has shown us that the piano can also be an instrument of health, not only of music.
In this article I want to show you some of the benefits that you could get from learning to play the piano. I’m going to break it up into three big groups: physical benefits, mental benefits and emotional benefits.
The piano is a physical instrument. In fact it is technically a percussion instrument, because of its internal mechanics (when you press a key a small hammer hits one of the strings, and that produces the vibrations).
At the piano we mainly use fine motor skills (which means small, precise movements), because we play it with our fingers. When we want to play a note, we need to find the proper key and then press it. This requires coordination, so when you practice it, you are improving your general hand-eye coordination. This is something that is used everytime that you move. What happens is that you internalize the movement, and your nervous system learns how to do it automatically. Think of walking, driving or playing sports. Working on coordination helps to make it easier to learn new movement patterns.
But even if you press the keys with your finger, your whole body has to support your playing. This includes big muscles located in the arms, shoulders and torso. Playing the piano can be strenuous on your upper body, but if you learn proper technique, it helps improve your body posture.
Apart from the muscles themselves, your joints can get a good workout from the piano. When they move they get lubricated and that helps maintain a healthy range of motion. As long as you don’t overdo it, it can even help prevent conditions such as arthritis.
Learning to play piano can be a mental workout as well. It takes time and effort, and it requires practice.
The nature of this daily practice is what develops discipline. This is one of the most useful traits to possess, because it can help you get anywhere you want to in life. Discipline can be summarized as the ability of doing what is needed to get what you want. This is very important, because a lot of people know what they need to do, but they lack the discipline to get it done.
Working daily with attention to detail also improves your concentration, an important skill to keep in check in this age of short attention spans. Every worthwhile life task requires awareness, and playing the piano can also level up your capacity to focus. This is crucial when studying any subject.
Music may be a mathematical language, but it ultimately speaks the language of emotions.
Playing music is about self-expression. Even when you are playing someone else’s music, you are putting a part of yourself with your interpretation. This can translate into a better ability to express feelings in other day to day situations.
This interpretation, coupled with the importance of the ear, also helps develop empathy. When you play with others you need to leave them space and you learn to listen deeply and intently to what they are saying.
Another important point is stress relief. Playing music is a relaxing activity. You don’t need other people, or even an audience, to enjoy this benefit. You just need to play. Lose yourself in the moment, and escape for a while from the demands of real life. It’s a meditative experience, if you let it be.
Everyone can enjoy these benefits. The best thing is that they are just side effects from the act of playing music on the piano. You don’t need to look for them specifically. You can have fun playing the piano, and these other benefits will be there for you.
A word of advice, though. Make sure you find the right teacher, or this could turn around into the opposite: frustration, anger, injuries and resentment. It is imperative, at least in the beginning stages, to have someone that can show you proper technique, so you don’t hurt yourself, and that can guide you through the practice process so you feel a sense of improvement and accomplishment.
You don’t need to play up to a professional level, you need someone that knows you, understands you, and knows what’s best for your current stage. Then you can start reaping these benefits. Use them to motivate you further and, who knows, maybe you will become a professional. But even if you don’t, you will surely reach new physical, mental, emotional, and musical heights.