A very wise old lady once said to me ‘If you sit here for long enough, your life will be so much more exciting than you could ever imagine’. Every week at half past 4 on a Monday afternoon, Mrs Johnson would sit on my right-hand side as I perched on my piano stool, legs swinging way above the ground, desperately trying to talk my fingers into co-ordinating properly.
Naturally, being only 4 years old at the time, I remember thinking that the most exciting thing I had ever imagined was being the queen and having a pet tiger, so her words stuck fast – at least for enough time for me to obtain the skills required to play all of my favourite music and thus fall in love with my piano. As a consequence, I never gave up or stopped improving.
With a combination of fun lessons, a talented and inspiring tutor, plenty of variety and some practise on the side, a child can learn to play the piano from the age of 4 and progress effectively. There are numerous benefits to learning the piano as a starting point for a child on their musical journey. They can play straight away, they can learn virtually any style or genre, they need no accompaniment and yet at the same time the instrument is big enough for a parent or teacher to play alongside. Many children begin music lessons at the piano and then add other instruments to their skills base having gained a thorough understanding of music, how it works, and how to make the most of it. Additionally, showcasing new-found talents at recitals and small concerts can massively boost self esteem, giving children that air of confidence and pride that is so fundamental to a full and well rounded education.
Being a pianist myself I am often prone to being biased, but I’ve seen the power of the piano being used as a platform for all kinds of musical adventures both for the individual and ‘teams’ of musicians in private and public environments alike. On that basis why not find out for yourself if it’s true. Unleash that pianist waiting to jump out of your child, and see how quickly they become settled on their piano stool. In fact, pull up a chair, join in, and see how addictive it can be. You might even find you want lessons yourself! Neither of my parents ever learned to play a musical instrument (something they both regret) and in fact they very recently gave our family piano to one of my 7 year old pupils who didn’t have one at home, after seeing him play so well in a concert. Hurrah, my piano back in action after all those years. Now I sit in his lounge, on the right, every Friday at 4pm, and say: ‘If you sit here long enough, life will be (let me think)… full of musical adventures.’ And that’s guaranteed (I can’t promise big cats on the lawn of your palace)