A language teacher I was talking to recently said something that I found quite intriguing:
French and English are like the violin and the piano. French is very hard to learn at the beginning stages, but once you are more advanced it is a wonderful language to know. Anyone who heard a beginner on the violin can relate to this: the first stages of learning the violin require a very supportive environment, but later on it is beautiful to listen to.
Like the English language, the piano seems easy to learn at the first stages. Basic communication in English is possible after a short time, just like it is relatively simple to learn the basics of tune and chord playing on the piano. But to master the English language with its enormous vocabulary and endless idioms you need to be a real virtuoso. Like the concert pianist.
The piano has this enormous stretch between being a basic instrument that sounds OK from the very beginning, and being the amazingly difficult one. You need hours upon hours of daily practice to be able to perform the concert repertoire and only the very best can maintain their level over a longer period of time.
Here is a list of reasons that make piano a natural choice for anyone who would like to play an instrument:
1. There is no need to worry about playing in tune. Intonation is a major concern to string and wind players but the piano has a fixed tuning.
2. It is not essential ( in the beginning stages) to anticipate the exact sound pitch before pressing down the keys. A singer can't produce a sound without hearing it inwardly beforehand, and this also applies to many instruments . But not to the piano. Here you can press the key and only then find out what the sound is.
3. It is possible to learn piano pieces by rote (imitating/copying) since each note has one responding key on the keyboard.
4. Fixed hand position pieces can be simplified by adding the finger numbers. This makes piano playing a lot easier for kids who have difficulty reading the actual music notation.
5. After learning the piano for a few years, mastering a second instrument is significantly easier.
Here is a set of reasons for why piano is suitable for those who are especially gifted musically:
1.Piano requires high aural skills to enable you to anticipate the sounds before pressing down the keys, individually and in chords. If you play the notes after hearing the sound inwardly, your playing will be far more expressive than if you are surprised by the sound you produced (see no. 2 in the former list)
2. Piano playing requires good coordination for the complex movements of your 10 fingers. Add in the feet movements (pedals) and it is even more demanding.
3.The piano calls upon good musical memory for the many notes that build the melody and the harmony in advanced pieces.
4. The standard repertoire for piano is by far the largest of all instruments and pianists are expected to know a lot of it.
No wonder the piano is the most popular instrument, since it serves such a large range of musical abilities. You may start out with less natural access to music but the piano will enable you to develop and grow with absolutely no limits.
What actually determines your success more than anything is your inner commitment.
Here is a link to a fascinating Ted talk about the importance of GRIT for learning in general.
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