Leave a piano out in public and people will start playing it. Whether it’s a few measures of “Chopsticks” or a multi-movement composition, many feel the itch to have their fingers plink a few notes on its keys. Street piano projects such as “Play Me, I’m Yours” install pianos in cities around the world, spawning viral videos of passerbys giving impromptu performances.
Music is universal. It allows us to let our fingers do the talking. It unites communities near and far.
In celebration of National Piano Month, we spoke to some of the faculty from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Music Department. They were eager to share their take on the benefits of tickling the ivories.
Playing the piano is an activity that engages many basic human senses. It engages your hearing, your touch, your vision, and your mind. Although most of the human activities require all of the above (for example: driving), what makes playing a musical instrument different, is that it creates something that we call music, something that pleases us. It makes us think and feel, and experience a moment in time that is uniquely our own.
Dr. Katy Luo - Lecturer in Music, Piano
It's a collective positive experience for both performer and listener. The "performance anxiety" (or positive adrenaline as I like to call it), is something that everyone has, even I, and should be embraced, propelling you to artistic and technical heights that one might feel was unattainable.
Particularly in Hawaii, most every recital I've attended has a post-recital reception. So it's definitely a win-win for everyone involved.
Dr. Thomas Yee - Professor of Music & Associate Department Chair
In adult students, one of the most consistent responses I hear is piano is a stress relief, a hobby that gives them great joy and a diversion from everyday life. Adults tend to expect their piano development to progress either at the rate of young kids or quickly ascend to the level of seasoned professionals, neither of which is likely. Once they overcome this hurdle and realize it's a long-term endeavor to play well, they can achieve great satisfaction! The ever-changing mental and physical 'puzzles' that are created by each piece are fantastic exercise for both brain and body!
When younger students, I've seen developmental growth across the board! An improved ability to concentrate, better eye-hand coordination, and a much improved ear for listening and comprehending music immediately come to mind. Possibly less known is the patience and understanding it takes to see a project - in this case their piece - through to the finish over a long period of time. The smiles of success and confidence this success brings can be transformative.
Playing the piano isn't for everyone, but for those with a love of music and a determination to succeed, it can be incredibly rewarding experience!
Dr. Jonathan Korth - Associate Professor of Music
There may not be street pianos in your neighborhood but more piano apps are becoming readily available for smartphone and tablets. So your next recital could be just a few finger swipes away.