All that matters is your child's experience at the piano. It doesn't matter what other people think, what others expect, even what the piano teacher thinks is irrelevant.
What matters is that your child has a chance to experience playing the piano, however humbly, and enjoys what they are able to do. Even attempting the piano is a success.
Looking at children at the piano as a group, with statistical expectations that one child will live up to someone's ideal of a musician, is actually destructive to the child.
No one in their right mind expects their child to play at Carnegie Hall: what we're looking for is hobbyists and aficionados, not piano virtuosi and superstars.
Let me assure you that if your child has what it takes to play Carnegie Hall, it will be so obvious that no one in the piano business will miss their cue. The number of children that have that in the cards for them are so few, that it is not even a real number.
Take all the wildly talented children, divide by 10,000, and then pick one. That one child has a 1% chance of a successful career as a piano soloist. But all children, properly nurtured, have a 100% chance of playing simple songs at the piano, feeling great about it and adding to their general education and intellectual skills.
It's more productive to think in terms of your child as an individual. Let's get that individual child to play as well as they can, without stress, without wildly unrealistic expectations.
In fact, the point of early childhood music education is not expertise, but exposure to the intellectual and abstract concepts inherent in music that will help their minds grow.
To demonstrate the proposition that children's piano lessons increase mental powers, we need to look at the human brain itself.
The brain, divided into two sides, controls each hand with the opposite side of the brain. The left brain controls the right hand, while the right brain controls the left hand.
The two sides "speak" to each other via a huge superhighway of nerves and ganglia called the "corpus callosum." The reason the piano is so beneficial for children intellectually is that the piano, in having both hands work together in similar ways, forces the brain to use both halves of the brain simultaneously. There are very few activities on earth that excite the "corpus" like music and piano.
And so piano activity demonstrably produces better handwriting, better math skills, better abstract skills and higher self-esteem, all through having the two sides of the brain talk to each other, over and over until the nerve path is physically thickened.
That's right, there is a PHYSICAL result in your child's brain as a result of playing the piano, even attempting the piano. It is a known medical fact that the "corpus callosum" (that nerve path between the brain's two sides) of musicians is up to 90% larger than that of people who are not musicians. And starting piano at an early age begins those benefits early in life.
So if your child is not destined for Carnegie Hall, they may still be destined to enjoy, appreciate and create music. And have a thicker corpus callosum!
The saddest part of music education today is that piano lessons are, as they always have been, designed to produce candidates for Carnegie Hall, not fully rounded and nurtured individuals who try to play piano to the best of THEIR ability.
Children who, with a little care, could gain all the benefits of a piano education are made to feel like failures because they cannot live up to a curriculum developed hundreds of years ago to produce professionals.
It's time to let kids be kids and not rob them of the benefits of piano because they don't fit some misguided teacher's idea of accomplishment.
Start looking at the piano from the child's point of view.
By John Aschenbrenner Copyright © 2010 Walden Pond Press.
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