Music is in our lives. Many begin music learning and musical instruments practice in early childhood, with or without self-motivation. This is great, as it will become a valuable personal asset to benefit later in life. It is never too late to start or re-start at any age. Findings from selected research studies suggest many benefits -
A small Barcelona study ( N = 41, with 29 completed), published in Nov, 2013, aimed the specific effects of musical training vs. the effects of other leisure activities(physical exercise, computer lessons, painting lessons, among other) in elderly people. It reported a significant improvement on the piano training group on testing that measures executive function, inhibitory control and divided attention. Furthermore, a trend indicating an enhancement of visual scanning and motor ability was also found. Finally, in this study piano lessons decreased depression, induced positive mood states, and improved the psychological and physical quality of life of the elderly. These results suggest that playing piano and learning to read music can be a useful intervention in older adults to promote cognitive reserve (CR) and improve subjective well-being.
A small study (N = 39, with 31 completed), published in July, 2007 by East Carolina University and the University of Florida, evaluated transfer from domain-specific, sensorimotor training to cognitive abilities associated with executive function. This study examined Individualized Piano Instruction (IPI) as a potential cognitive intervention to mitigate normal age-related cognitive decline in older adults. Results of this study suggest that IPI may serve as an effective cognitive intervention for age-related cognitive decline.
A small study (N = 70, with 46 completed), published in 2010 by University of South Florida, Tampa, examined the effects of active music instruction in piano compared with music listening instruction on executive function in healthy older adults (ages 60-85). This study concluded that group piano instruction and music listening instruction can enhance cognitive abilities in processing speed, verbal fluency, and cognitive control. A novel and progressively difficult curriculum that facilitates focused attention and concentration with complex bimanual coordination may successfully contribute to preserving cognitive abilities in aging. While simple coordination exercises are performed automatically, complex motor tasks typically require additional focused attention and executive control for older adults. Musical training contains many essential components of a successful cognitive training program such as task novelty, bimanual coordination, and progressive difficulty.
Although these studies were small in sample size, the findings are promising and we hope to see more scientific studies with supporting data in the future.
The Benefits for Adult Piano Practice
There are many benefits of learning to play piano in adulthood (not for competition or performing purpose), as learning promote cognitive functions and practice enhance complex motor skills. Positive feed-backs have been reported in -
Mental focus and concentration
Memory enhancement activation and maintenance
Relaxation and stress reduction
Creativity and expression
Positive emotions and happiness
The Advantages Of Adult Piano Practice
Starting adult piano lessons and regular practice has unique advantages:
Adults chose piano for the purpose of learning; both the process and results are meaningful.
Adults read, understand and apply instructions in a mature nature.
Adults are self-motivated and self-disciplined for practice.
Adults will be able to enrich piano studies from reading books, watching tutorials and listen to CDs/concerts.
Adults are free to select the music of their own preference.
Adults in retirement have more time to enjoy practice and gain satisfaction from new skill-set.
The sound of music brings happiness and enhances quality of life.
Tips for adulthood music learning and piano practice:
1. Make a commitment for life-long learning. Learning will not be an overnight success, but with persistent effort. Calm down your frustrations during practice and having fun while pursuing your goals.
2. Taking beginner adult piano lessons on-line it’s a good place to start, which is convenient and affordable (or free). You set your own pace and routine. Enroll in group lesson or private lesson are also options.
3. If you took piano lesson in the past, but have not practiced for a long time, you probably thinking that you don’t remember anything. In fact, it will be much easier to re-start, just allow some practice to pick it up again. A re-fresh course is also a good idea.
4. Choose a favorite music piece appropriate for your level; don’t be afraid of few technical challenges.
5. Listen to it first will be very helpful, if available. This will help to train your ears and guide you for the tempo, rhythm, main theme, etc. Listen to it as often as needed.
6. Break down the master piece into small sections, hands separately, for practice. Target a single technical difficulty at a time then move on to the next.
7. Monitor your practice and correct mistakes promptly; do not repeat the mistakes overtime. It is important to listen and checking carefully.
8. The ideal daily practice time block for best result is at least one hour. Note: Taking 10 minutes at a time six times a day may not be as effective as practicing one hour a day for results, as the first 10 – 15 minutes are mostly warming up and bring you up to where you were previously. You will then moving on and making progress at each practice session toward perfection.
Learning to play an instrument is a great experience to boost brainpower, to master new skills, and bring you more enjoyable moments in life. Give it a try and enjoy.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional for personal conditions.
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