Who knew piano lessons could help me bond with my children and prevent dementia at the same time?!?
When I signed my girls up for piano lessons last year, I had no idea what I was getting into. I’ve never played an instrument in my life and didn’t even know how to read sheet music. But I did know that music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness: intellectual, social and emotional, motor, language and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words.
I’ve always loved dance and music. I wanted my children to be appreciate music and I knew that starting lessons early was great for their brain development. So when some of the other mothers in my book club mentioned that they were starting piano lessons, I decided to give it a try. (One must keep up with the Joneses.)
Things started off great. We didn’t have a piano but I bought a large piano-like keyboard. We have a lovely teacher that comes to the house weekly. She is very patient, calm and understanding. I’m by no means a Tiger mom. I’ve never wanted my kids to be concert pianists—if that’s what they want to do then I will support them, but if not, that is fine also—I just wanted them to have fun and develop those neuronal connections early.
What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be for me. I had to learn to read music so that I could help them practice. The other moms in the book club already knew how to read music and could help their children without starting from scratch. I often found myself frustrated, because for some reason I have a mental block when it comes to learning to read music.
I consider myself a hardworking and bright individual (I can speak four languages and have two postgraduate degrees). But for some reason this was very difficult! There were many times when I wanted to quit. But the girls were enjoying playing and learning. If I did quit, what sort of example would I be setting for the girls?
One of the many parenting books I read had that suggested spending individual alone time (20 minutes) with each child. I think it’s wonderful advice, though not always practical. Especially when you have twins! But the piano lessons have helped us with that. For 20 to 30 minutes daily (well, five days a week at our house) each child gets my individual attention while we’re practicing. I keep the other one occupied with homework, colring, playing—or as a rare special treat the iPad-educational activities only. The girls enjoy spending one on one time as well as the time where they get to play by themselves while her sister is practicing the piano.
Recent brain research shows that bilingual people’s brains function better and for longer after developing Alzheimer’s disease. Even if you learned the new skill or second language in adulthood it may slow age-related cognitive decline.
There are still days that I want to quit, but I’m happy we’ have stuck with it. I enjoy the bonding time, I’m glad my girls are having fun learning the piano and I’m enjoying learning to read music and hoping it well help delay or prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s.