Back to articles Why Piano Lessons Are Important

Categories: Parenting

Watching television and playing computer games affect how a child learns and how a child thinks. When we watch television, our brains undergo a similar process to being hypnotized -- observe a young child with their eyes "glued" to the screen.
Under hypnosis, we become open to the suggestions of the practitioner and begin to relax. The frontal lobe in the brain alters and becomes less connected with the brain. The right side of the brain is used, switching off the left side which is used for critical thinking. Hypnosis is considered extreme, however it only takes 30 seconds to be in a similar state when we turn on the television. The frontal lobe may be damaged in the process, especially in childhood as it continues to develop for approximately 20 years. The frontal lobe affects our self-control, moral judgment and the ability to plan and organize. The World Federation of Neurology has outlined concerns about the impact of visual electronic media on children because stunted frontal lobe development impacts on their ability to control antisocial behaviour. Over time, stunted development causes us to become less inventive in problem-solving and less able to concentrate. Playing and interacting with other children, on the other hand, encourages the fibers in the frontal lobe to develop and thicken to make stronger connections to neurons.

Children who play computer games suffer similar damage to the developing mind. In a study at Tohoku University in Japan, it was found that computer games only stimulated activity in the parts of the brain associated with vision and movement. By exposing children to complex musical sounds, children will develop the same areas of the brain required for math and spatial reasoning. Reading out loud and singing have also been found to be effective activities for activating the frontal lobe.

Playing the piano improves coordination, stimulating several different areas of the brain. The piano is also considered the best instrument for improvements in spatial-temporal ability.

Not every child will become a professional musician or even a stellar student, however piano lessons can certainly contribute to their well-being and give them a love of music. Every minute at the piano is one less minute in front of the television or computer screen!

Eleanor Gummer is the Director of Whitby School of Music and has over 30 years of experience teaching music to children. She has an extensive background in Early Childhood Music and is a former Senior examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music. She holds a Masters degree from McGill, Fellowship and Licentiate diplomas from Trinity College in England and an ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music.