The Power of Piano Lessons

I started playing the piano when I was 7 years old. I hated it! It was hard, repetitive, and I never wanted to play the songs my teacher picked out for me to play. I thought my mom was the meanest mom in the world for torturing me with piano lessons. She told me that her mom let her quit piano lessons and she regretted that her whole life. She didn’t care how mean I was–I was going to learn to play the piano.  Sound familiar?


In the article, “Science Just Discovered something Amazing About What Childhood Piano Lessons Did To You” Tom Barnes said,

If your parents forced you to practice your scales by saying it would “build character,” they were onto something. The Washington Post reports that one of the largest scientific studies into music’s effect on the brain has found something striking: Musical training doesn’t just affect your musical ability — it provides tremendous benefits to children’s emotional and behavioral maturation.

The study

“James Hudziak and his colleagues analyzed the brain scans of 232 children ages 6 to 18, looking for relationships between cortical thickness and musical training. Previous studies the team had performed revealed that anxiety, depression, attention problems and aggression correspond with changes to cortical thickness. Hudziak and his team sought to discover whether a “positive activity” like musical training could affect the opposite changes in young minds.

“What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument,” Hudziak told the Washington Post, “it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.”

The study found increased thickness in parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning, which includes working memory, attentional control and organizational skills. In short, music actually helped kids become more well-rounded. Not only that, they believe that musical training could serve as a powerful treatment of cognitive disorders like ADHD.

Isn’t that incredible information!! The problem is that children today aren’t learning how to play the piano or any other instruments for that matter. Barnes continues, “In presenting their findings, the authors reveal a terrifying truth about the American education system: Three-quarters of high school students “rarely or never” receive extracurricular lessons in the music or the arts. And that’s depriving kids of way more than just knowing an instrument.”

So there is something behind the idea of parents wanting their children to learn to play the piano. I, for one, am grateful that my mom persisted. I consider myself an accomplished pianist today (been playing the piano for about 28 years) –mostly due to my mother.

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