Have you recently looked at Why We Do It — The Profound Benefits of Learning to Play the Piano? Even this is an incomplete description of the many benefits of piano. At an annual conference of Simply Music teachers this past January, a list of over 80 reasons to play piano was compiled!
It’s this perspective on Simply Music piano lessons that helps us see that this is so much more than just a fun activity, a hobby, a pastime. Yes, it’s all of these things, but it also fosters a healthful lifestyle. First of all, recreation itself is important to being healthy! That, though, is not the half of it.
Neil Moore is very clear that we’re not just teaching songs but that we’re teaching a way of learning songs, and that we’re not just teaching a way of learning songs but that we’re teaching a way of learning in general. We’re teaching skills that are applicable in all areas of one’s life. One of the most crucial elements of this way of learning is the ability to cultivate a long-term relationship, to manage it and stick with it so that you can keep learning through it.
We live in a world with endless possibilities, and we feel lucky to have the freedom to explore and choose among those possibilities. Not everyone is so lucky. Even close to home, we may know of people who live under great constraints on their freedom. Yet the other extreme is itself a double-edged sword. Too much freedom, too many attractive options, and it’s all too easy to just spend our lives sampling them. That’s a recipe for never becoming who we really are. Finding things and sticking with them is the only way to cultivate the depths that are possible for us as opposed to only the breadth that comes from a life of sampling.
Look around to see what this leads to. Anywhere in the world, at any level from the individual to the global, it’s all too easy to find evidence that hardly anyone is really learning how to see something through to results that actually work well for people. All of it begins with the extremes, of too little freedom, or too much.
Now, when it comes to who we really are, are we all musicians? In one way of looking at it, yes, since music is a core aspect of being human. Anyone without the chance to become musically self-expressed is almost certainly missing out on a big part of themselves. At the same time, we’re not all going to craft our entire lives around playing music — and Simply Music isn’t out to make anyone do that. A small minority of people will do that, but even the majority who won’t can have their lives enriched tremendously through the pursuit of music, can have that as a highly valuable part of their lives — and with only a fraction of each day devoted to the pursuit.
Even if we disregard the role music can play for us directly, though, we still find reasons for the pursuit. There are some things we all need. We all need to know how to learn, now more than ever as the world grows increasingly complex. And unless we want our lives to be thin and to never have the chance to plumb the depths of who we really are, we all need to develop an understanding of commitment and self-discipline. In any area, that’s the only path to profound results. All of this comes along for the ride with only that fraction of each day devoted to piano practice — and it can then, in turn, be applied to all other areas in our lives.
When we talk about the long-term relationship with music, you may find yourself wondering, does anyone really expect me to make a choice for the rest of my life? If you’re a coach rather than a student, you may be even more hesitant, given that the choice is for someone else, not even for yourself, and you may very rightly value the idea of giving those students the freedom to choose things for themselves.
As you ponder that long-term relationship, take a look again at the list of benefits of taking piano lessons. Start to see how this pursuit, even though it very much is a recreation, is also much more. See how this activity can contribute in crucial ways to so many areas of your life — or the lives of the students in your charge — and how, at least for most of us, engaging in it doesn’t remotely have to be to the exclusion of other things we want to do. Far from that, the many benefits it provides actually support and further all else we do.
From this standpoint, Simply Music piano lessons start to look much less like just one choice among possible pastimes and, instead, as something more like eating healthy foods, engaging in regular physical exercise, brushing your teeth, backing up your hard drive. You do these things, even when you don’t want to, because you know that you’re simply better off doing them than not. You know that avoiding them trades a short-term relief for being worse off in the long run.
Lots of us have trouble doing these kinds of things. Lots of coaches find it difficult to get students to stick to an effective practice routine. If you want a healthy body and a healthy mind, at some point such difficulties need to be resolved. The sooner this happens, the more benefit students and coaches will have for the rest of their lives. And at least in piano lessons, you’ve got a teammate to work with: your teacher.
When a student has another set of activities available that can provide all those benefits, and a preference for them over piano, then it could be a perfectly wise decision to choose not to stay in Simply Music piano lessons. Until then, Simply Music is available, and it can live happily alongside of any number of other things a student might also do.
Further, you never really need to decide definitively whether you’re going to stay with them for the rest of your life or not. You merely need to stay aware of the extraordinary array of benefits that can be cultivated from putting in just a few minutes a day. As long as you don’t have other things that can provide the same return on your investment, then there’s every reason for students to keep going… and going… and going!