There is a big difference between an acoustic
piano and an electronic keyboard. Although in the view of many parents
a keyboard has a lot of advantages (it is cheaper, much easier to move,
has some “fun” functions, does not need to be tuned, etc.), it is not
beneficial for students’ musical development at all, if not harmful.
It is very different and depends a lot
on the unique individuality of a particular child. A simple answer “as
much as she can sit at the piano (or as much as you, as a parent, are
able to hold her there)” does not always work. I want to put here two
quotes of great musicians and teachers of the past.
I often do not insist on a lot of home
practicing at the beginning of learning. I need students to understand
how to practice. It can take from one month to a half of year depending
on the age of a student. Still, I want all my students, even the youngest
ones, to be at the piano every day, and let some certain amount of time
be “reserved” for piano practice.
Washington -- Those dreaded piano lessons pay off in unexpected ways: According to a new study, children with music training had significantly better verbal memory than their counterparts without such training. Plus, the longer the training, the better the verbal memory. These findings underscore how, when experience changes a specific brain region, other skills that region supports may also benefit –- a kind of cognitive side effect that could help people recovering from brain injury as well as healthy children. The research appears in the July issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association. Psychologists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong studied 90 boys between age six and 15. Half had musical training as members of their school's string orchestra program, plus lessons in playing classical music on Western instruments, for one to five years. The other 45 participants were schoolmates with no musical training. The researchers, led by Agnes S. Chan, Ph.D., gave the children verbal memory tests, to see how many words they recalled from a list, and a comparable visual memory test for images.
Students with musical training recalled significantly more words than the untrained students, and they generally learned more words with each subsequent trial of three. After 30-minute delays, the trained boys also retained more words than the control group. There were no such differences for visual memory. What's more, verbal learning performance rose in proportion to the duration of musical training.
Thus, the authors say, even fewer than six years of musical training can boost verbal memory. More training, they add, may be even better because of a "greater extent of cortical reorganization in the left temporal region." In other words, the more that music training stimulates the left brain, the better that side can handle other assigned functions, such as verbal learning. It's like cross training for the brain, comparable perhaps to how runners find that stronger legs help them play tennis better – even though they began wanting only to run. Similarly, says Chan, "Students with better verbal memory probably will find it easier to learn in school."
Chan, along with Yim-Chi Ho, M.Phil., and Mei-Chun Cheung, Ph.D., followed up a year later with the 45 orchestra students. Thirty-three boys were still in the program; nine had dropped out fewer than three months after the first study. The authors now compared a third group of 17 children who had started music training after the initial assessment. This beginner's group initially had shown significantly lower verbal-learning ability than the more musically experienced boys. However, one year later, these newer students again showed significant improvement in verbal learning.
On the other hand, unlike the music students who stuck it out, the dropouts showed no further improvement. However, although the beginners and the continued-training groups tended to improve significantly, there was one consolation for the dropouts: At least they didn't backtrack. After a year, they didn't lose the verbal memory advantage they had gained prior to stopping lessons.
Article: "Music Training Improves Verbal but Not Visual Memory: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Explorations in Children," Yim-Chi Ho, M.Phil.; Mei-Chun Cheung, Ph.D.; and Agnes S. Chan, Ph.D.; The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Neuropsychology, Vol. 17, No. 3.
This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Psychological Association.
RCM examinations are held three times a year: practical sessions - January, June, and August; theory sessions - December, May, and August. The following chart shows which theory co-requisites are required in order to recieve a sertificate or diploma for a practical examination.
Students who pass the RCM examinations both in theory and in piano successfully get the secondary school credits recognized by most Universities in North America.
More information can be found at RCM website http://www.rcmexaminations.org
1. Mildred, P. Chace. Just Being at the Piano.
2. Margaret Grant. Your Child and the Piano.
3. Thomas Mark. What Every Pianist Needs to Know about the Body.
4. Carole L. Bigler and Valery Lloyd-Watts. Studying Suzuki Piano: More than Music.
5. Shinichi Suzuki. Nurtured by Love.
6. Andrew Watts. Passion for the Piano.
7. David Weiss. Sacred and Profane: a Novel of Life and Times of Mozart.