Learning the Piano
The piano isn’t just for pianists. Why not consider the piano as a second instrument? Did you know that the world’s most popular instrument is also the world’s most popular second instrument? That is, more musicians choose the piano above any other instrument as a second instrument. In fact, at music schools and conservatories, the piano class is mandatory. Because musicians know that there are some things about the piano that just make it an indispensable tool for anyone interested in music. In high school, I sang in the chorus and I also played the violin in the orchestra. I loved both of those instruments but it was always the piano that captured my imagination.
For one thing, it is just so versatile, pop music, jazz, classical,
show tunes, you could play anything on the piano and what’s more, you
could play with others or by yourself. All of your music friends
always needed an accompanist, especially the singers. You could even
sing and play by yourself like Billy, or Elton (in your dreams). But
there was one other really cool thing about the piano, it seemed that
the guy who played it was always the smartest guy in the group.
This is not to disparage other musicians in any way… at all. As a half-baked, mediocre violinist I can tell you how hard that instrument is to play. And
sight-singing is certainly not for the faint of heart. What I am trying to say is that the piano player always seemed to know what was going on and be able to pull it all together. Now that I am that gal I think I know why.
Reasons to Play the Piano as a Second Instrument
It has to do with the way the piano is set up. The 88 keys are all laid out in a logical pattern. We pianists can literally see the topography of music before our eyes. The black and white keys are like a map of intervals, scales, and
chords. These are all of the things that make music make sense. Learning some piano basics is helpful, if not essential for some people, in the understanding of music. I believe this is the reason pianists usually excel at music theory. Especially written music theory. As far as aural theory (listening) goes, while it’s true that pianists don’t tune our instruments, the piano is a chordal instrument so we hear multiple notes at one time.
The piano is great for those people who wish to write music. All of the notes used in the musical spectrum are covered by the 88 keys on the piano. No matter which instrument or voice you want to write for, the notes are there for you to hear and play. That’s probably why composers are always depicted as having their left hand on the keyboard as the right hand scribbles musical symbols upon manuscript paper. This image is a little bit silly, great composers of the past surely wrote music away from the keyboard, and no one uses manuscript paper to write music anymore. I can tell you though, as a composer myself the fastest way to turn ideas into sheet music is to plug my computer into my MIDI keyboard and play the notes onto the staff.
Another great thing about the piano is that it is a very marketable instrument. As an average professional musician, I am always able to find work playing the piano. There always seems to be someone who needs a pianist. I can play at church, parties, and accompany soloists. As a singer, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to have decent keyboard skills. Not only is it fun to be able to play and sing, but if you looking to make a career out of music, being able to accompany yourself doubles your employment prospects. And as far as private teaching goes, the piano is the number one, most popular first and second-choice instrument. A good piano teacher should always have a full studio.
So there you have it, another case for taking up the piano. True, I am partial to the piano, though it actually was my second instrument. I played violin from age eight and didn’t begin piano lessons until the ripe old age of twelve. Obviously, I’m really glad I did learn to play, and I invite any of you who are thinking about trying a second instrument to make the piano your first choice!
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