“Piano lessons” is a phrase that probably has negative connotations for a lot of people, bringing back memories of sitting down on a hard piano bench at a stranger’s house to stumble over boring sheet music and scales. If you were a kid that went through the process of getting piano lessons forced upon you by your parents, you might also recall trudging through your required thirty minutes a day of practicing so you’d be allowed to play with your friends.
These methods, while they may have worked to teach kids technical piano skills, weren’t particularly helpful in inspiring creativity or getting people to take a personal interest in the creative process of learning a new instrument.
Luckily, books of sheet music full of tired old classics (“Camptown Races”, “Happy Birthday”, “Greensleeves”, “Hot Cross Buns”...) are a thing of the past, and you don’t have to rely on someone else’s teaching methods to learn how to play the piano. With Pianopal, the interactive iPad app, you can learn how to play on your own time, and the songs to choose from are popular songs from today (by artists like Adele, John Legend, Coldplay, and more) that might be a lot more interesting to work with!
You also don’t have to know how to read sheet music to get started with Pianopal – there’s an option that visually helps you figure out which notes on the keyboard to play. The app is interactive, so it hears you play and keeps track of your accuracy to give feedback, and the visual mode that highlights which notes to play is reminiscent of games like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, making playing the piano more of a game and less like a chore.
Beyond the simple joy of learning how to play a song you love, there’s actual benefits to learning how to play an instrument. For instance, learning a musical instrument actually increases your brain’s capacity for memory and improves cognitive skills. Learning a musical instrument on your own, instead of under someone else’s guidance and deadlines (gotta practice before next week’s lesson!) teaches you how to manage your own time and organizational skills.
After all, if no one’s telling you to do it, you’re doing it for yourself, and you can go just as fast or slow as you want to, challenging yourself at the pace you’re ready for. This means that you’re also improving your perseverance – learning an instrument isn’t something that can be accomplished in a day. It requires real work and patience, but the reward of the knowledge you gain makes it all worth it!
Other benefits of learning piano include an improvement in your reading comprehension and math skills. This might be a good project to pick up while you’re preparing for an important test or taking a difficult class, especially since creative projects like art and music are proven to relieve stress.
The flexibility of self-guided lessons can also be a roadblock, since many people struggle with time management, but challenging yourself to do something and then accomplishing it, giving you a new way to express yourself, is a great feeling for anyone, regardless of age or musical ability.