When someone asks “What instrument should I play?” I usually recommend that they take piano lessons either first or concurrently with another instrument or voice lessons.
A piano student may or may not decide to continue with the piano. In fact, most students will develop other interests after awhile.
Why is piano study important if it doesn’t lead to having a career as a pianist?
In the future, a piano student may decide to:
- play a different instrument
- join a chorus
- be in a musical
- play for fun
And even if none of the above happens, someone who is educated about music will be an informed audience member, better able to enjoy the music. Creating audience members of the future is one of my goals in teaching.
Virtuosity is not necessary
It is entirely within reach for someone to benefit from having the piano available as a tool.
The keyboard provides visual relationships.
- Intervals on the keyboard relate to intervals on the page
- The keyboard’s keys are always in the same place, unlike interval relationships on a stringed instrument
- Intervals can be felt in the hands, unlike in singing (if you feel what you’re doing in your throat, you’re not singing correctly)
- The concept of range is easier to grasp due to being able to see the keyboard
- Hearing the entire piece, not just one line, is immediately possible
One of my students is a terrific self-taught guitar player. His more recent piano study has clarified many things for him, especially concerning range.
Relative ease in learning to play piano
- You can see what you’re doing
- The piano keys are always in the same places, which makes playing correct pitches easier
- Memorization is easier because the visual track (seeing the keys in addition to remembering the printed page) reinforces sound and feeling in the hands
More difficult aspects
- Playing with both hands
- Playing independent lines
Even elementary piano skills allow musicians to learn music faster
- By finding pitches
- By playing one line at a time
Both of these are helpful to singers and conductors, especially.