The benefits of learning a musical skill

There are many benefits to learning the piano or learning to sing. Some apply to both skills:

  • learning a musical skill is something that will stay with a child for life. Being able to enjoy and appreciate music is very enriching – and being able to entertain other people is something that can also prove very useful
  • while practice can be a solitary occupation, music is essentially a social experience and it’s a great way of meeting up with other people who play other instruments or who want to sing together
  • music is as much a language as French or German – and it’s an immensely complex one at that. Learning the language of music helps concentration and also develops an inner discipline that will benefit a person in anything else they learn
  • music is fantastic for helping children to learn how to express themselves and their emotions. It’s particularly good for teenagers, who can channel emotions and adolescent angst into their music and therefore have a way of getting their feelings out
  • getting better at the piano or at singing teaches a child that effort brings results – and that’s probably one of the best lessons that any child can learn
  • practice helps develop problem-solving skills because it’s all about working out what’s going wrong so you can work on your weaknesses and eventually get over them.

Learning the piano

The piano is very good for training the mind. Having both hands moving in different directions develops one’s motor skills and I’m convinced this has a beneficial effect on developing mental flexibility. In addition, learning pieces by heart is very good for improving memory. Being able to express one’s feelings through beautiful sounds develops maturity and a heightened sensitivity towards one’s emotions. The act of playing music and increasing our musical understanding also helps to develop our imagination and appreciation of our inner world.

Singing

Singing is particularly good for young people with low self-esteem and I’ve had several students who have blossomed as they’ve learnt to do something that they didn’t think they’d ever be any good at. Voices are intrinsically personal because they are part of who we are. That means that when you’re singing, you have to open yourself up and therefore make yourself vulnerable. At the same time, you have to develop your inner strength in order to have the confidence to express your vulnerability – and this has huge benefits for the development of a singer’s personality.

Because singing is about projecting the song to an audience, singers have to learn how to inhabit the space they are in and project confidence. When you stand well and don’t apologise for yourself, this communicates itself to your audience. Your confidence leads them to have more confidence in you.That confidence in performing can permeate into other areas of the singer’s life. It’s also about finding one’s individual voice. Everyone has a sound that’s utterly unique to them. Finding one’s voice and exploring the range and depth of it can be an immensely exciting journey. It can also be very emotionally freeing.

Singing is about being emotionally truthful – and that’s something everyone finds difficult. Learning to sing well is about learning to free oneself inside and developing insight into one’s inner self. There are definite health benefits for singers. Learning to sing improves lung capacity and breath control, and develops the diaphragm muscles. This helps a singer to project their voice, which is good for public speaking. It also helps to improve the power, depth and range of the voice, making it stronger and more confident. Finally, singing improves posture. Most of my pupils start standing a little straighter. You can’t sing effectively and slouch.