-- Play Piano Nature's Way

 Music and the Brain
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Our Brain Changes as We Learn

Our brain changes as we learn, it does not matter if you are a child or an adult:

Human brain development is an unending process. Not only does the child's brain change as he learns and experience life. But also does the adult's brain. Each time we learn something new, we create a neural pathway. Many neural pathways are built at birth like breathing, hearing, heartbeat are already connected and functioning at birth. but many more are established as we learn. Playing piano is a learned skill.

minimize mistakes before mistakes are "wired in"

When we learn to playing piano, The new pathways are created and are enforced and speeded up by repetition. There is the old saying that "Practice makes perfect" -- but only the "correct" practice will make you perfect. Because the brain does not distinguish "correct" or "incorrect" pathway when the pathway is being formed. In other words, bad habits can be formed and become stubborn through repetition. in order to disregard the "incorrect" pathway, you have to create a different neural pathway in the brain and make it stronger than the pathway of the original incorrect pattern. thought repeated practice. This is why habits are so hard to break! More repetition is needed to make the new "correct" pathway to replace the "incorrect" one.

 Understanding this brain function shows how important is to minimize mistakes to the greatest extent before mistakes are "wired in". Deliberate plan of practice, to make the time we spend efficient and productive so that we wire positive working habits in the brain. Especially for adults, there is no much time to waste. It also validates the importance of a pedagogical approach that incorporates knowledge of anatomy and physiology, Because playing with unhealthy physical habits also gets wired in to the brain . And the resulting bad habit can be very difficult to break.

Playing piano is both mental and physical

Physical: It involves multi-parallel processing -- seeing notes on the score, translating them into motor commands and aurally monitoring the results, sending feedback to the brain, Information is constantly being input through our senses -- eyes, ears, skin (finger tips) to the brain where is it processed and coordinated then output to motor control in a matter of milliseconds. -- Our brain is like a computer. (more exactly, the computer is like our brain!)

Mental: A good musician can "see" what they hear and "hear" what they see. Many great pianists (like Horowitz, Robinstein ..) do a lot of mental practice away from the piano using imagery.

Auditory imagery is the ability to hear music in our mind's ears. Visual imagery is the ability to see the music score in our mind's eyes. Motor imagery is the ability to feel the movement necessary to produce sound without actually executing them. Combine mental and physical practice leads to great performance.

Now neuroscience research shows that motor imagery, or mental motor practice is the most effective kind of imagery, almost as effective as as actual practice. The combination of mental and physical practice leads to greater performance improvement that does physical practice alone. Mental training is extensively used the the field of sports, such as Gymnastics, figure skating and diving. and are proved to be efficient and successful. Many other scientific finding on motor imagery consistently show the motor imagery is almost identical to physical practice. Used in connection with physical practice, It is far more superior to physical practice alone.

I myself use a lot of  mental practice away from the piano. And it proved to be very fruitful. It can speed up the learning process and memorization. I am an advocate of teaching piano using both mental and physical approach.


  • "The Musician's Guide to the Brain" by Lois Svard
  • "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle
  • "Tales of Music and the Brain" by Oliver Sacks
  • "Sound in Motion" by David McGill
  • "Advice to Young Musicians" by Robert Schuman

I am a female experienced piano teacher
Member of MTNA - Music Teacher Association.
Member or APTLI - Association of Piano Teachers of Long Island.
Member of Friday Woodmere Music Club for Performing Musicians.