Are you ready to start learning to play the piano? Are you ready to start learning what makes music music? are you ready to begin one of the most enriching activities your brain will ever enjoy?
Let me say a few things, then.
Research shows that playing an instrument engages multiple areas of the brain at one time: the visual, auditory, executive, motor function and creative pathways are engaged at the same time. Few activities create more pathways in the brain than playing a music instrument. It enhances the brain’s ability to learn almost anything else.
You’re going to be building a relationship with the piano. Like any other relationship, this involves a positive, healthy approach and good communication. Your posture and bearing at the piano are not just about good technique and care of the body; they are about the kind of input you give to the instrument and the kind of response you receive.
You’ll be practicing a calm, focused and disciplined approach. You’ll learn to breathe, if you haven’t already. You’ll be unlearning self-judgment, perfectionism, and impatience.
You’ll also be learning some Italian words. The Western development of music included the adoption of this language for the classic terms. Piano actually means “soft,” and is an abbreviation for “piano-e-forte,” meaning “soft and loud,” and was the way Bartolomeo Cristofori redesigned the clavichord in 1700. (People love to abbreviate things.) So, the piano is just a percussive harp: instead of plucking the strings, you’re triggering hammers to strike them. Give a soft touch, the piano will answer with a soft, gentle voice. Give it more weight and pressure, it will answer with a more robust voice. Piano and forte.
Your fingers are numbered 1 through 5 – 1 being the thumbs and 5 being the pinkies. Whenever you sit at the piano from now on, these will be the names of your digits.
You must understand that the piano was made for the human hand, not the other way around. See those five black keys that repeat over and over? Fingers 2, 3 and 4 are the longest, so they will naturally be the ones to spend the most time on the blacks, set back from the front edge of the keyboard.
Your adventure in piano starts, I would say, with those five black keys. Using one finger for each black key, you could play them up and down, over and over and it would sound beautiful. It’s a five-tone (pentatonic) scale of notes, the basis of many songs and instrumental pieces throughout history.
Now you’ve begun. You must sit at the piano every single day, if only for ten minutes, to develop this relationship: to strenthen the muscle memory of your hands, to train your ears…in short, to begin one of the most romantic, satisfying, and healing experiences the world has ever known.
So, let’s begin.