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“Piano lessons” – two words that (to some people) prompt fun memories of a childhood experience, and (to other people) prompt memories of one nerve-wracking recital after another. If the purpose of taking piano lessons was to put in months’ worth of effort so that the student can get up and perform for five minutes through extreme nervousness it would not sound too appealing. Though effort is needed and performing is part of the process, there is much more that is involved in piano lessons. Music education, and studying piano in particular, is quite a unique educational tool in that it contributes to the intellectual, emotional and physical growth of the student all at one time.

In regard to the intellectual growth, the student is required to identify and process certain symbols to form musical ideas. This concept is similar to learning to read a language. Where it differs is that in reading music, once the symbols have been identified and processed, a command must be sent to the fingers in response to what has been read. Therefore, the mind and muscles are working together. In addition, the student learns to take ideas and break them down into smaller ideas. For instance, in learning a piece of music there are several individual aspects that must receive focus in order to achieve the final outcome: the melody, harmony and rhythm are the three primary elements of a piece of music. Once each has been broken down, analyzed, and processed, all three can be put together to form the musical idea of the piece. The concept of taking apart and reconstructing can be applied to numerous skills throughout life; music education is just one way of furthering the growth of this intellectual skill.

Physical development is probably the first area in which noticeable growth is seen. Piano lessons aid the student in developing control in both the large and small muscles. The student learns to control and make use of the arm and wrist in playing the piano (large muscle control). Small muscle control is also developed through gradual, disciplined work on finger skills. Another aspect, which combines the physical with the intellect, is the development of listening skills. The student learns how to let his/her ear aid in discerning whether or not what they hear is correct. Listening skills also help guide the student in the interpretive aspects involved in communicating a piece of music in an effective way to the listener.

 Emotionally, music education provides the student with a means of self-expression and creativity; personally, I see this as one of the most valuable rewards of piano lessons. Although the teacher is to offer suggestions and demonstrate particular ideas, the ultimate goal is to equip the student with the necessary tools to that he/she is able to analyze and interpret a given piece of music, with personal emotion and self-expression driving the performance. Another emotional aspect that applies mainly to private music study is the role the teacher is to play in the life of the student. This is a benefit from private study that cannot be achieved in the classroom setting. In private lessons the student receives individualized attention. At the same time, the student and teacher must work in conjunction as a team in order to produce the desired outcome: personal musical expression. I also want to be able to encourage a relationship that would allow the student to feel comfortable and uninhibited in communicating with me. I want him/her to know that I am here to listen, if he/she wants me to listen, when they are going through issues not related to music.

 Music is a great gift from God. It is my desire to pass on the love and skills for music that have been passed to me to each and every student so that they are capable of expressing what they desire to express the best they can through their God-given abilities.

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