As I was dusting my piano the other day, I thought about how much I hated to practice as a kid. Yes, all three kids in my family were forced to take piano lessons. I hated the 30 minutes of boring scales and sections of classical music that took forever to learn. I could be playing, out with friends and doing something useful with my life! One day, I was so over the practice regiment that I carved my initials in to the wood of the piano–an action I deeply regretted as I inherited that piano! And then, of course, I forced my two kids to take piano lessons.
My mom used to say, “Trust me, you will thank me someday. No one ever regrets taking piano, but people do regret not knowing how to play.” And she was right.
But there was a benefit to all those hours of musical lessons that my mom didn’t know. Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center found that adults ages 60-83 who took music lessons as children performed better on memory and brain function tests than those who never had lessons. And the benefits existed for those who didn’t continue playing the piano into adulthood. Furthermore, the earlier the musical lessons began, and the longer a child took lessons correlated with more brain benefit. The theory is that those early brain connections made through music, serve us well in later years.
So thanks mom for making me practice day in and day out. And sorry for the carving that ruined the beautiful wood.
Not only do I enjoy playing the piano now, but my ant-aging brain thanks you as well.