For most children, music lessons are a rite of passage on the way to adulthood.
Cathy McReynolds, owner of Lacefield Music Company, says learning to play the piano results in so much more than the ability to entertain. “Children who quit lessons will do so early, but for those who reach Level 2, where they can work their right and left hands together, the benefits are amazing,” she says.
Those benefits, she says, are:
· Substantial increase in neural connectivity.
· Significantly higher SAT and ACT scores.
· Enhanced ability to focus and concentrate.
· Superior working memory, auditory skills and cognitive flexibility.
· Greatly reduced risk of drug or alcohol abuse.
· Reduction of anti-social behaviors.
· Increased self-esteem.
· Development of personal discipline.
Cathy recommends one lesson a week is enough to progress, along with practice time. “We don’t ask them to do scales, but to just sit down and play,” she says. “When you’re learning golf, you don’t go out and practice 18 holes -- you actually play 18 holes, and that’s how you learn.”
She says parents need to remember two important things when getting children prepared for lessons.
“First, they need to invest in a decent instrument. I’ve had kids taking lessons on pianos where some of the keys don’t work or the piano has a small keyboard. You wouldn’t send your child to school with an old computer,” she explains.
The second factor to contemplate is to make sure the child and teacher are compatible.
“Sometimes, one teacher’s style is not compatible with a child’s needs or vice versa,” Cathy says. “A teacher can be very high-end and has raised incredible students, but the child just wants to play fun music.”
Children are not the only ones who discover the joy of making music. Lacefield gives lessons for anyone who is 3 to 93 years old. “We believe anyone, regardless of age, can play the piano with the right lesson program,” she says.
Lacefield uses the program from the Yamaha Music School program that's innovative and enables students to learn at a fast pace. “For older students, it keeps your mind sharper and it’s great for hand/eye coordination,” Cathy says.
“It’s said that you should find a hobby that you can do, and this is an all-weather hobby. No matter what the weather, you can play the piano," she suggests.
Learning the art of piano playing is more enjoyable if the piano is fun to play. Enter the digital piano, the Yamaha Clavinova, in particular. Yamaha introduced this piano in 1983, and it opened up a new world of playing.
The Clavinova can be connected to a computer and with the touch of a button, students can make a variety of music variations from harpsichords to pipe organs, classical to contemporary.
Lacefield instructor Heather Worthington says Yamaha recorded 180,000 notes made by an acoustic concert grand piano, and put them on the Clavinova. “The technology is buil- in and can run off an iPad or Kindle. The student can make many different sounds and rhythms," she says.
“It never needs tuning, and you can attach headphones so you could play without disturbing Dad while he watches baseball,” she adds.