Piano Practice and Cognitive Function In Elderly

Piano Practice and Cognitive Function In Elderly

Think playing the piano is only for kids? Think again. Studies show piano practice can be equally beneficial for adults of every age. 

The results are especially encouraging for elderly. Playing the piano has positive effects on a variety of things, including cognitive function and overall quality of life. 

If you’re considering the piano, no matter what your age, here are a few reasons to give it a go. 

Increases brain power

Just listening to music has been shown to activate your brain. It can help improve memory, attention, motor function, language processing, and emotion. But when you play an instrument, it enhances each of those functions even more. Brain scans of musicians and non-musicians have been shown to have significant differences. Playing can keep you more involved, and increase brain plasticity throughout your lifetime.  

It makes you smarter

One of the reasons piano practice is recommended for children is because it increases IQ. Studies show that adding music lessons to your daily routine can improve your test scores. But what happens as a child can also occur throughout your lifetime. If you want to keep your brain active and functioning well, sit down at the piano regularly and practice the music you love. 

It makes you happier

Studies show that when people have more to do in their leisure time, they are happier, healthier adults. Whether it’s reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, or having a book talk with friends, staying active can make a difference in how much you enjoy life. Practicing the piano takes that to another level. It involves using many different skill sets, including visual scanning, attention, and motor function. It requires you to think on a different level. And that can bring contentment to your life. It allows you to escape other things that may be happening, and just enjoy yourself for a while. 

If you’re looking for something you can carry on into every stage of life, give the piano another look. Piano practice is both meditative and therapeutic, and can be a refreshing challenge every time you sit down. 

Piano Practice When Everyone’s At Home

Piano Practice When Everyone’s At Home

Right now can be the perfect time to practice the piano. With everybody home and staying in place, finding the time is no longer a problem.

Yet with everybody at home, it can also be difficult to carve out a few minutes where you can practice alone. Everybody is around, trying to do their thing. And when noise has become the one constant in your days, how are you supposed to find quiet to think about piano practice in the right manner?

Place the piano in a quiet place in your home

If you’ve already found the perfect place for your piano, moved furniture and even decorated around it, moving it may seem like a hassle. But a lot of this comes from knowing who will be practicing regularly. Some people like to be the center of attention. Others may prefer a quiet space where they can practice without others hearing them. While you’re spring cleaning and organizing your house, this may be the perfect time for a little redecorating, and moving your piano to where it functions best. 

Schedule a time for practice

Even when the days all start to run together, they can seem like they fly by without the chance to make it through your daily to-do list. Carve out time during the day for each family member to be able to do something they really enjoy. While one practices the piano, another may choose to paint or draw. Keep the activities going on in the room complimentary, and you’ll soon create a space that everyone looks forward to each day. 

Use headphones

Did you know some acoustic pianos today come with the option of having headphones? It’s not just digital anymore. Being able to plugin headphones gives you the opportunity to practice no matter what else is going on in the room. It helps the piano player concentrate, and allows other family members to do their thing without interrupting.

Create a plan

Even in these trying times, having a plan in place helps. Try and create some structure in your days. Get up at the same time. Go to bed at the same time. Center your activities around meal plans. This will help everyone keep some sense of balance. That also gives you a chance to put what’s important on the calendar – like piano practice. 

The only thing we know for sure right now is we’ll get through this one day at a time. 

Piano practice can add a sense of normality no matter what’s happening in the world. It has calming effects, and can reduce the stress of everyone playing or listening. 

Stick with your piano practice – you’ll appreciate it even more in the weeks and months to come. 

Why Piano Practice Is Important

Why Piano Practice Is Important

Why do we need to practice? The most obvious answer is: to get better. 

But it really goes beyond that. 

Piano practice gives you the ability to dive into the music and perform it to the best of your ability. Whether your performance is only for yourself, or you have dreams of playing in Carnegie Hall, our desire to get better stems from the ability to perform. 

Practice might seem like an easy thing to do. Just sit down at the piano and play. But it’s more complicated than that. With only a few strategies in place, your piano practice will improve, and you’ll enjoy playing and performing even more. 

Listen

Playing the piano isn’t just about touching the keys and making a sound. It’s also about hearing what you’re playing. To improve the music that you make, you have to listen to what you do. It’s also important to listen to others that play too. 

Are you trying to improve the way you play classical music? Listen to it. Pull it up on your Spotify and listen on your way to work or school. Feel the way a classically trained musician puts it all together. You’ll be surprised at how much listening can improve the way you play. 

Focus

There’s so much more to playing music than focusing on the notes. It’s also about the tiny details that change a piece of music from good to great. The more complex music you work with, the more the direction they’ll have written in the music. Are you taking all of those details into account while you play? It might not come easily, but focus in on every detail. Play sections over and over again, paying attention to a different detail each time. Slowly, you’ll see progress in the way you play, and hear it in the final melody. 

Beat

Consider the last difficult piece of music you worked on. Certain parts flowed while others were more difficult to carry through. You played to tempo in some areas where others dragged. One of the best ways to overcome that is to set the beat. Use a metronome to create a workable rhythm, and then play the entire piece up to speed. Work on the difficult parts until you can play them well. You’ll see improvement every time you sit down to play. 

What tips do you have to make your practice better?

Keeping Up With Piano Practice Over The Holiday Season

Keeping Up With Piano Practice Over The Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … 

It’s also one of the busiest times of the year. 

If you’re having trouble finding the time to fit everything in between parties and activities and dinners, don’t let piano practice be the one activity that takes the hit. It’s easy to push piano practice aside, figuring it can wait until the new year when things return to normal. 

And while kids need a break from the same old routine, stepping away from the piano means a lot of the work they’ve done up until this point will be forgotten and disappear. 

Instead of taking a breather from playing the piano, change up the routine over the holidays instead. You can change the way your child practices the piano by doing these four things instead. 

Encourage mini recitals and sing-a-longs

Have you ever noticed you do more singing around the holidays? That’s because the most well-loved songs come out and become a part of our daily lives. Have your child work up a selection of music appropriate for their skill level. Then have them either play it in mini recital format, or create a family sing-a-long. Either way, it’s a great way to have your child show off their skills. 

Surprise your piano teacher

While you might want to give your piano teacher a special gift for the holidays, what they’d like even more is if you surprise them with a new song on the day of the first lesson after the holidays. Work ahead in your practice book, or find sheet music of a song you love. 

Download a new app

When was the last time you looked in the app store for piano apps? You might be surprised at the number of new apps that have been added. Help your child select a new app – find a game that helps them practice, or an app that lets them create their own music. You’re sure to find something that keeps their creative juices flowing. 

Go shopping for new music together

It’s easy to stick with the piano lesson books assigned by your piano teacher. But when was the last time you browsed through the available sheet music at your favorite music store? Let your child select a few songs appropriate for their skill level, and let them work on something new during the holidays. 

Finding The Time and Place For Perfect Piano Practice

Finding The Time and Place For Perfect Piano Practice

Time. It’s something we all seem to never have enough of.

So we do what rises to the top and commands our attention. Until we collapse at the end of the day.

Whether you’re new to playing the piano or have played for years, finding the time to play can often be difficult at best. Did you know it might not be time that’s holding you back, but the quality and condition of your practice space instead?

If the piano is in the cold, dark basement, no wonder it feels like drudgery to make the time to practice.

Finding The Time and Place For Perfect Piano PracticeFind A Quiet Space
Distractions are a piano player’s worst enemy. If a child can see other family members doing other things, it can be a distraction. If an adult has access to hear a timer going off in the kitchen, or a mobile device dinging in the background, it can stop practice in its tracks.

Seclusion Isn’t Necessary
While quiet is necessary to keep your attention focused, it shouldn’t be so isolated that you feel concealed and forgotten. Instead of keeping the piano in the family room, maybe it’s better suited for the living room. Instead of the basement, why not try making a music room upstairs?

Keep It Private
Practice can be difficult, messy at best. It can be downright embarrassing as you stumble over the notes. If people are around and you don’t want them to hear your mistakes, you’re less likely to play. If you simply can’t get away, it may be time to invest in a digital piano with headphones.

Or Keep It On Display
Sometimes it’s nice to have an audience. That’s why many piano players invest in more than one. Nothing is more fun than having an attentive, encouraging audience nearby to keep them on track with practice and assignments.

Acoustics
Have you ever listened to music in dead space? How about high ceilings and an echoey room where the sound bounces around? Not a lot of inspiration as the music dies. If you don’t have the perfect space, you can create it with various soundproofing measure.

Create Inspiration
Piano playing lights up the senses. Make sure the surrounding area adds to the experience. A dingy room depresses, not inspires. Instead, add life to the room with color, artwork, plants, or flowers. Make it a room that welcomes you every day.

What do you love about the place you practice your piano?

Encourage Instead Of Nag Your Child To Piano Success

Encourage Instead Of Nag Your Child To Piano Success

It’s human nature to say no to things that challenge us. After all, it’s a whole lot easier sticking with things we know. Things we can do easily.

Encourage Instead Of Nag Your Child To Piano SuccessWhich is why after the rush of wanting to bring music into our lives, it suddenly all goes away. We want to be successful at playing the piano, until we discover several weeks in just how difficult the process really is.

And once that reality sets in, especially for a child, the process is no longer fun.

Yet it’s hard to have fun with something if you’re no good at it. To get good, you have to work for it. Which is why every parent realizes they have to push, motivate, even nag their child over and over again to help them achieve piano success.

How can you do that as a parent who wants your child to succeed?

Relax
Remember, playing the piano isn’t a race. You don’t have a set goal you have to achieve in a certain amount of time. We’re driven to think everything can be solved in short bursts of time. Kids can work through entire video game series in a matter of hours. We solve large problems in two hours – we can thank Hollywood for that. But piano is something where longevity wins over time. Playing is about personal enjoyment and fulfillment, something you carry throughout your lifetime. Enjoy, that’s what it’s truly about.

Consistency
Consistency is always better than establishing strict guidelines over time. A rule of 30 minutes per day can send kids into a tailspin, dreading the time that slowly ticks away on the clock. But if they can sit down as they please, even 10 minutes per day can instill a lifelong love of something that can help them throughout life in so many ways.

Camaraderie
Instead of leaving your kids to practice on their own, have them join a group instead. A piano instructor can lead you to a variety of groups that can have them creating music together. Schools have orchestras and bands. Or have them reach out to other friends who are musically inclined as well. When kids share a common interest, they form a tighter bond. And it can lead to wonderful things.

Showmanship
Instead of asking them to practice, ask them to play you a song instead. If you know they’ve been working really hard on a piece, taking the time to sit down and listen will leave them feeling happy with their success. Reward them with your attention; it’s by far one of the best ways to keep them playing.

Piano Practice and Hand Injuries

Piano Practice and Hand Injuries

The only way to get better at playing the piano is practice. But how do you practice the piano if you have a hand injury?

If your hand injury comes from outside activities – a broken hand or wrist do to a sports related injury for instance – there is nothing you can do but let it heal in the appropriate amount of time.

Piano Practice and Hand InjuriesBut if your hand injury comes from piano playing – and ideally you should practice regularly in a consistent way that doesn’t lead to injury – the first thing to deal with is the how.

When you are facing pianistic challenges and your stress and tension levels are too high, it is possible to push too hard, and find yourself with a stress related injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis are just two of the many repetitive motion related injuries a pianist may face over time.

While only a doctor can truly give you medical advice and help you to relieve your pain, there are ways you can effectively deal with any muscle strain or small hand injury.

First discover what is causing your hand injury.

Do you have tension in your arms when you play? If your arms are tensed, your elbows or wrists rigid and immobile, your risk increases of developing a hand injury. Tension can be a sign of poor posture. Make sure you have proper placement at the piano, including a bench or seat appropriate for your height.

Are you practicing on a regular basis? Remember when you went and lifted weights at the gym for the very first time? You were still and sore afterwards. The same can happen to a pianist who practices irregularly for months, then crams in session after session leading up a week or two before a performance. Stress occurs when you do things too intensely.

Do you play with your fingers, or with your entire arm? If you move only your fingers when you play the piano, your arm, including wrist, elbows and shoulders can become stressed in the process.

Are you approaching practice in the right way? If you have psychological tension, or a negative attitude when you sit down to play, it can come out in your methods and approach. State of mind controls everything. Never start to play if your heart and mind aren’t in it. Not only can it affect your performance, it can literally effect your health.

Next, change your approach to piano playing.

Stop practicing once you face a hand injury. You must give your hand time to rest and heal before you move back into playing action.

Resume your practice gradually. Make it a regular part of your week, not something you do on the spur of the moment.

Fix anything you discovered wrong with your routine. If you need a new bench, buy one. If you need to change your routine, change it. If you change your approach now, you’ll gradually increase your success overall. And have a new appreciation for your approach to piano playing.