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Piano Lessons are a Sport

By Lorraine Campman

“None of us have a crystal ball to see into your child’s future. When you choose music lessons for him or her, do all that you can to make the initial experience a successful one so that they can grow to reach their musical potential!”

If you are thinking about starting lessons for your child but aren’t sure what to expect, comparing music lessons to sports will give you some insights.

Photo by Kuan Fang on Unsplash

Piano playing is a physical activity that requires the development  of some of the same attributes as sports: dexterity, co-ordination and endurance. 

For many types of extra-curricular activities for their child, parents go through a four step process to ensure their child’s enjoyment and success.

We can use soccer as an example, but for any sport, finding the right coach is essential. Not only does this person need to inspire confidence and team spirit, they must know when and how to  teach various ball skills, provide appropriate fitness challenges, teach the rules of the game, and an understanding of game strategy.

Select an Expert to Work with Your Child

The music instrument instructor has a very similar role. In addition to teaching how to read music and an understanding of chords and music theory, they must provide the child with a way to develop finger dexterity and promote healthy posture to avoid back fatigue. 

Even more importantly, the music teacher must be able to cultivate the child’s artistry and ability to entertain and perform. 

Provide Quality Equipment.

A basic list of soccer equipment would include proper shoes, knee pads, a team uniform and some soccer balls to kick around at home.

For piano lessons, an instrument to practice on at home is an essential part of skill development. An acoustic piano which has been regularly tuned is ideal; the beautiful sound is reward in itself.

Inside an Acoustic Piano

Some parents chose to start with a keyboard. It is important that the keyboard selected be an actual musical instrument, in other words, a digital piano, and not a toy.

A digital piano has full-sized keys that have a touch similar to that of an acoustic piano. The keys are “weighted” which means that they have some resistance when depressed.

The resistance provides the piano student with the ability to control the amount of sound produced from note to note, which gives music its expressive quality. This resistance is also known as keys that are “touch sensitive”.

It is important to develop a correct piano touch from the beginning lessons on a proper instrument to avoid creating bad habits that later are difficult to change. Most piano teachers will be happy to give you advice on making your instrument selection.

Keep a Schedule for Your Child

A soccer coach will determine most of the schedule for their team. This will include team practice for skill building, scrimmages, and games. More advanced players may join travel soccer with away games that involve overnight stays. The parent will probably also provide an appropriate area of the yard for ball playing, and maybe even space in the basement or family room for bad weather play.

The piano teacher will determine the length of the lesson, and meet with the child regularly, usually once a week. They will arrange for duet practice with other students, and group activities such as recitals. They will also help the child prepare for talent  shows, recitals and at-home concerts. 

Parents must make sure that other activities still allow their child plenty of free time to practice at home. Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

(Here is the Biggest Difference Between a Sport and Music Study:)

Piano practice is individual and must be done at home. It is crucial that the parent help their child set up a regular schedule for home  practice and make sure that their other after school activities still allow their child plenty of free time to practice at home. 

Most teachers recommend a minimum piano practice of five days a week. Less than that will lead to the frustration and boredom that comes from lack of progress.

Observe Your Child’s Interest and Set Some Expectations

Every parent is thrilled when their child makes a successful play or scores for the team! They start to ask themselves, “ Does my child have sports ability? Is this a hobby, or can my child win a sports scholarship to college?”

The same questions are appropriate to music study:

  • Does my child have musical talent?
  • Is this a lifetime hobby my child can enjoy for themselves after they are too old for sports?
  • Do they have the interest to become a good community pianist that can accompany the school choir, play in jazz band or the orchestra pit for the school play, or play in church?
  • Will they be able to form their own band when they are in high  school or college, play with other musicians and entertain their friends?
  • Might my child someday choose a career as a music teacher, in  music technology or music performance? Can they get a college scholarship based on their talent?

None of us have a crystal ball to see into your child’s future. When you choose music lessons for him or her, do all that you can to make the initial experience a successful one so that they can grow to reach their musical potential!