Piano players are aliens. They are set apart with brains which operate in a whole other way. I’m not saying they’re geniuses or freaks. They’re just unique.
I guess I’m getting a little egotistical writing this because I play the piano. I’ve practiced this instrument from childhood, and I hated it then. Instead of seeing the piano practice as something magical, I saw it as work. I thought the laborious scales and notes would drive me insane. When my instructor said “play it again” I cringed, took a deep breath and started over.
Little did I know, the piano was something special that would change me forever.
As time went by, my thought processes changed, it got easier and connections fit easily into place. My brain was alive with musical fire. I had transformed… into something else. And this is just a small portion of how piano players are different. Read on, you will be astounded by the vast differences, even between piano players and other musicians, artists or writers. They are simply… otherworldly.
Multitasking is a breeze
Piano players have a better connection going on with their frontal lobes than most other people. To understand what this means, you have to consider multitasking. Doing more than one thing at a time can be difficult for some people, for others, like piano players, multitasking is preferred.
This is because the frontal lobes control emotional response, impulses and social behavior. Musicians, namely those who “tickle the ivories”, are creative and have great problem-solving skills, which is used in successful multitasking.
As you already know, each person is born with one side of the brain stronger than the other. Notice how one hand is more adept at writing? Well, consider how the pianist practices. A piano player uses both hands to play, and in time, must play both rhythm and melody equally, hence both hands should be balanced.
Guess what! If both hands become equal, then both sides of the brain will be that way as well. Where you once had a stronger influence from the creative side of the brain, you now have a balance of both creative and technical aspects of your reasoning. This is another reason why playing piano is completely different than any other musical talent.
Brain energy is used wisely
The most energy utilized is done during the initial learning phase. Once the basics of the piano are understood, less energy is needed for motor skills. Instead, the brain’s energy is used in other tasks such as emotional expression and phrasing of the music.
Free to be who they are
Musicians have a unique way of expressing themselves. With piano players, the region of the brain that deals with stereotypical responses is turned off. When this happens, players feel freer to express emotions and personality of who they really are. Since we see this ability in piano players, we wonder why it cannot be translated into other areas of life.
One of the most fascinating differences of them all is musical communication. Pianists, like other musicians, communicate through a call and response “riff”. If you’ve ever heard multiple musicians playing, which all of us have, and you paid close attention, my might have heard the instruments “talking to each other”.
It’s not just motor skills involved either, it’s as if they can read each other’s languages, cross instruments and minds. It’s an instinctive skill picked up from years of practice.
And of course, pianists are intelligent, more so and in a unique way from others. Their brains simply do not work in the same manner. I guess it goes back to balance and being able to perform multiple tasks. Along with these attributes, musicians can learn at a faster rate as well.
So, that’s why piano players are different – they are a different species. I play as well, and I won’t say I’m all that intelligent, but what I will say is that I noticed some of the symptoms of being “different” as I grew older and continued my lessons. If piano players can alter the brain in such astounding ways, maybe we can use this to answer other conundrums within our head. Who knows, we could be staring at the answer as we speak!
IF you play, appreciate your talents and gifts. IF you don’t…then maybe you should.
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This Post Has 2 Comments
I was extremely interested in the part of your article that mentions multitasking and how piano players are adept at it. Multitasking is a skill that I’ve come to learn is important in almost every phase of a person’s life, and I would love for my son to develop it in any way he can. Since he’s been expressing interest in learning the piano lately, I’ll look for any places he can get some lessons from so he can start early.
I longed to learn as a child but my parents never acknowledged my interest. I bought a keyboard in my 20’s but the sound wasn’t good enough. Finally I took out a loan and bought myself a beautiful Yamaha Clavinova. I loved it but I was always distracted by all the bells and whistles. I had it 12 years and never learned to play it properly and unfortunately parted with it when we downsized. Now 8 years on (I paint as well), the desire to learn again is overwhelming. I think if I get another one I will get something without all the extras, an electronic piano that is just a piano, (an upright would be too big for our house) and maybe I’ll learn to play this time. I’ll avoid the pop songs which I attempted to play in the past. I like piano music which fills my soul. I want to keep my mind active as I grow older so I thought another piano would help.