The benefits of learning piano as an adult…

Think you’re too old to learn piano? Learning to play piano as an adult has many advantages.

Contributed by Belinda Williams for the Roland Australia Blog

It might feel like you’re behind the eight ball when choosing to learn piano as an adult, but the opposite is actually true. The benefits of learning piano as an adult can be incredibly rewarding and you might discover things you never expected.

You’re the boss and you can choose how you learn

As adults, we all have so many responsibilities including work, family and parenting. Life can often feel like an endless list of to-do tasks. That’s the refreshing thing about learning piano as an adult. You’re learning because you want to, not because someone told you to!

When you decide to learn piano as an adult you’re in control of the entire experience. You can choose when and how you practice and what sort of songs you play. For more on what to expect when learning piano as an adult, you can also read our blog post here.

Learning piano as an adult is good for you

So often as adults we’re told to do things because they are good for us: exercise, the right amount of sleep, eating well . . . the list goes on. One of the benefits of learning to play piano as an adult is that not only is it fun, it’s good for you too. Sitting down to play a tune after a long day at work can be a great stress reliever. I find that as someone who is an over-thinker and a worrier, nothing beats playing piano to keep me in the moment and to give me a much-needed break.

Scientists have also found that learning a musical instrument when you’re an adult helps to make the brain more efficient. This even extends to protecting against dementia as we get older. So it really doesn’t matter how old you are, the piano is an instrument you can play for life

Piano can be a fun, creative outlet – even for adults

When was the last time you did something because it was fun? Often as adults we forget to make time for fun like we did as kids and piano can be a great way to factor some play time into your life.

Piano also allows you to be creative with absolutely no demands. As a writer, my professional life is creative, but that comes with deadlines and demands. Nothing beats being creative just for creativity’s sake. Often at the end of a busy day of writing, I’ll play piano and sometimes I’ll even end up writing a new song just because I can! Even if your job isn’t creative, piano can be a fantastic outlet to let your creative juices flow outside of work.

There’s no pressure when you learn piano as an adult

Possibly one of the best things about learning piano as an adult is there’s no pressure. You only have to pass an exam or perform if you want to. Everything else is up to you. In fact, when else in life can you choose to follow your heart without any risks? If you’re considering learning piano as an adult, I recommend seizing the day.

About Belinda Williams

Belinda is a pianist, songwriter and singer who performs in a cover band whenever the opportunity allows. By day, she writes professionally as a marketing copywriter and fiction author. She enjoys nothing better than combining her love for music and love for words.

Find out more about adult piano lessons here!

Introducing the new Steinway Duet

Your Steinway & Sons piano can be the perfect expression of you. Steinway’s Special Grand Piano Collection is a perfect opportunity to match your very special style with a very special piano.

There is no better example in this collection than the Duet. It combines the minimalist elegance of Figured Sycamore with Steinway’s classic high gloss white in this breathtaking combination of art and function.

This rare wood is nearly white in color with a fine, notable uniform structure and straight grain that may be figured; this light-color wood evokes a minimalist elegance.

Only one of these pianos will be available in America this year. To see, hear and play this piano for yourself, contact the store today, or visit here for our complete selection of available Steinway pianos.

A look at Steinway Tower, now rising from the site of the former Steinway Hall in Manhattan.

NEW YORK — One skyscraper stands out from the rest in the Manhattan skyline. It’s not the tallest, but it is the skinniest — the world’s skinniest, in fact.

The 84-story residential Steinway Tower, designed by New York architecture firm SHoP Architects, has the title of “most slender skyscraper in the world” thanks to its logic-defying ratio of width to height: 1-to-23 1/2.

“Any time it’s 1-to-10 or more that’s considered a slender building; 1-to-15 or more is considered exotic and really difficult to do,” SHoP Architects founding principal Gregg Pasquarelli said. “The most slender buildings in the world are mostly in Hong Kong, and they’re around 17- or 18-to-1.”

The 60 apartments in the tower range in cost from $18 million to $66 million per unit, and offer 360-degree views of the city. It’s located just south of Central Park, along a stretch of Manhattan’s 57th Street known as “Billionaires’ Row.”

At 1,428 feet (435 meters), the building is the second-tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, second to the nearby Central Park Tower at 1,550 feet (470 meters). For comparison, the world’s tallest tower is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,717 feet (828 meters).

Steinway Tower is so skinny at the top that whenever the wind ramps up, the luxury homes on the upper floors sway around by a few feet.

“Every skyscraper has to move,” Pasquarelli said. “If it’s too stiff, it’s actually more dangerous — it has to have flexibility in it.”

To prevent the tower from swaying too far, the architects created a counterbalance with tuned steel plates. And while the exterior has the de rigueur reflective glass, it also includes a textured terracotta and bronze facade that creates wind turbulence to slow the acceleration of the building, Pasquarelli said. About 200 rock anchors descend at most 100 feet (30 meters) into the underlying bedrock to provide a deep foundation.

Steinway Tower has a long history as the former location of Steinway Hall, constructed in 1924. JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group bought the building in 2013, and now they’re looking to the future.

“What I’m hoping is that 50 years from now, you’ve only known New York with 111 West 57th St.,” Pasquarelli said. “I hope it holds a special place in all future New Yorkers’ hearts.”

Find out more about Steinway here, or…

Read more here

Steinway Spirio

A Special Institutional Conference: The Spirio | r

Steinway Piano Galleries of Alpharetta is proud to present a special Institutional Conference: The SPIRIO | r on Thursday, September 29th.

Presentations and panel discussions will be led by Michael Cabe – Steinway New York Senior Manager, Bryan Elmore -Director of Institutional Sales and Services Texas, Oklahoma,
Louisiana, and New Mexico, and Dean Ann Stutes – Dean -Wayland Baptist University
Introducing Steinway SPIRIO | r – the world’s finest high resolution player piano capable of live performance, capture and playback. This is an educational event you don’t want to miss. Learn how Steinway’s Spirio R is boosting enrollment, revitalizing music programs through integrating technology in new and exciting ways.

Educators & Institutions are invited to attend. Find our more here!

Colette Maze

This French Pianist Has Been Playing For 102 Years And Just Released A New Album

via NPR

Family photo; Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

Colette Maze, now 107, began playing the piano at age 5 and defied the social conventions of her day to embrace it as a profession rather than as a pastime. Her son first arranged for her performances to be recorded when she was in her 90s. She has just released her sixth album.

Colette Maze, now 107, began playing the piano at age 5 and defied the social conventions of her day to embrace it as a profession rather than as a pastime. Her son first arranged for her performances to be recorded when she was in her 90s. She has just released her sixth album.

PARIS — Colette Maze welcomes me warmly into her apartment on the 14th floor of a building overlooking the Seine River. From her flowered balcony, she has a view of the Eiffel Tower. She offers me a whiskey or a cognac — along with a hearty laugh as it’s 10:30 in the morning.

It’s that humor, a sense of optimism and her beloved piano that have buttressed and comforted this centenarian through an often difficult life. Maze has just released her sixth album at the age of 107.

While she lives alone, on this day her 71-year-old son, Fabrice, has joined us. Maze sits down to play her Steinway baby grand — one of two pianos she owns — with her gray tabby cat, Tigrou, stretched out on the carpet near her feet.

Across the room is the Pleyel piano she received on her 18th birthday. Maze began playing at the age of 5. Her grandmother played piano and her mother the violin. She remembers concerts at their grand Paris apartment when she was a child.

But Maze, born on June 16, 1914, says her mother was severe and unloving. So she turned to music for the affection she lacked at home.

“I always preferred composers who gave me tenderness,” she says. “Like [Robert] Schumann and [Claude] Debussy. Music is an affective language, a poetic language. In music there is everything — nature, emotion, love, revolt, dreams; it’s like a spiritual food.”

Maze says she believes there is a guiding force in our lives. The fact that she grew up just steps away from Paris’ prestigiousÉcole Normale de Musique is one example. She auditioned for, and was granted, a spot with its director, legendary pianist Alfred Cortot. Maze’s other early instructors included virtuoso pianists Nadia Boulanger and Jeanne Blanchard. (She remembers Blanchard had tiny hands, just like her.)

Maze plays the piano as a young woman. “The way she’s touching the piano is very special,” son Fabrice Maze says. “It’s very rare. The way she is playing Debussy is very unique.”

Read the full article here

Learn more about KSU’s Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music

Here is a video with some great reasons why any student of music should consider the Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music at Kennesaw State University.

The late Dr. Bobbie Bailey was responsible for making KSU an All Steinway School and gifted 44 Steinway and Boston pianos to the School of Music.

The generosity of her legacy lives on in the The Dr. Bobbie Bailey Foundation, which recently made a large gift to Kennesaw State University of $5 Million for student scholarships.

Anyone interested in pursuing music as a student can learn more about the School of Music at https://arts.kennesaw.edu/concerts-and-events/index.php

Musical Overature

Musical Overture releases The Gig Room

 

Musical Overture is pleased to announce the launch of The Gig Room,  a new video conferencing tool that allows musicians in different locations to rehearse and perform together in real time.  The dream:  Bring the best musicians in the world to one place and play for them and with them via a computer or smartphone.  The Gig Room utilizes technology that, with a reliable internet connection, reduces latency to less than 25 milliseconds between two musicians up to 600 miles apart.  That’s the same lag, or delay, that is present if the two musicians are in the same room, but sitting 25 feet away from each other.  

 

This tool is part of a web application that creates an online space where the best musicians in the world gather to share music, ideas, and contact information.  Musical Overture has profile pages that serve as personal websites – with the musicians’ bios, contact info (if they opted to list it), musical interests, photo or avatar, etc. It also features a private messaging app, a powerful search tool, and a large video repository with HD videos, fast upload speeds and unique tools for sharing portfolios. 

 

Musical Overture is not just a web application, it is a community of musicians who want to meet each other and play for and with each other.  After all, musicians feel most like musicians when interacting with other musicians and with the people who love to listen to their music.  As a result, Musical Overture has become the world’s first truly global directory of musicians.  Instead of referring to the musicians’ union directory, orchestra personnel directors can find musicians and audition players on Musical Overture.  Musicians are learning that if they want to be found, they need to have a presence on Musical Overture. 

 

Once musicians find each other and play for each other using the HD video repository, the next step is to play together.  Thus, the Gig Room was born.  Finally, musicians can find each other, play for each other and play with each other in real time.  If a singer needs to rehearse with a pianist, the Gig Room makes that possible. If a bandmate is unable to attend a rehearsal, the Gig Room allows that player to attend and contribute to the rehearsal in real time.   The Gig Room is also the perfect way to teach “distance lessons.”  All a musician needs is a computer or smartphone with a fast and reliable internet connection. 

 

The advantages to being a part of the world’s first truly global community of musicians are many.   Musicians can meet their peers and find comradery through their common love of music making.  Students can meet prospective teachers and mentors who can guide them on their lifelong musical journey. Teachers, universities, conservatories, agents and personnel managers can recruit talented up and coming musicians. Music retailers can finally interact with musicians without having to go through the traditional gatekeepers (band directors, chorus teachers, etc).  Likewise, musicians can interact with their favorite manufacturers, which deepens brand awareness and loyalty.  Music lovers benefit as they are able to meet their musical idols and even play with them.  This, again, works both ways.  Musicians can interact with their fans on an even deeper level than is possible on other social media platforms.

 

The message is simple.  Meet the best musicians in the world and play for them and with them – in real time.  

For more information and press inquiries, please email tlowry@musicaloverture.com.

Train Your Brain

Want to ‘train your brain’? Forget apps, learn a musical instrument

Musical training can have a dramatic impact on your brain’s structure, enhancing your memory, spatial reasoning and language skills

‘Music probably does something unique. It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way, because of our emotional connection with it.’
 ‘Music probably does something unique. It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way, because of our emotional connection with it.’ Illustration: Sophie Wolfson

The multimillion dollar brain training industry is under attack. In October 2014, a group of over 100 eminent neuroscientists and psychologists wrote an open letter warning that “claims promoting brain games are frequently exaggerated and at times misleading”. Earlier this year, industry giant Lumosity was fined $2m, and ordered to refund thousands of customers who were duped by false claims that the company’s products improve general mental abilities and slow the progression of age-related decline in mental abilities. And a recent review examining studies purporting to show the benefits of such products found “little evidence … that training improves improves everyday cognitive performance”.

While brain training games and apps may not live up to their hype, it is well established that certain other activities and lifestyle choices can have neurological benefits that promote overall brain health and may help to keep the mind sharp as we get older. One of these is musical training. Research shows that learning to play a musical instrument is beneficial for children and adults alike, and may even be helpful to patients recovering from brain injuries.

“Music probably does something unique,” explains neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster. “It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way, because of our emotional connection with it.”

Playing a musical instrument is a rich and complex experience that involves integrating information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, as well as fine movements, and learning to do so can induce long-lasting changes in the brain. Professional musicians are highly skilled performers who spend years training, and they provide a natural laboratory in which neuroscientists can study how such changes – referred to as experience-dependent plasticity – occur across their lifespan.

Changes in brain structure

Early brain scanning studies revealed significant differences in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians of the same age. For example, the corpus callosum, a massive bundle of nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain, is significantly larger in musicians. The brain areas involved in movement, hearing, and visuo-spatial abilities also appear to be larger in professional keyboard players. And, the area devoted to processing touch sensations from the left hand is increased in violinists.

These studies compared data from different groups of people at one point in time. As such, they could not determine whether the observed differences were actually caused by musical training, or if existing anatomical differences predispose some to become musicians. But later, longitudinal studies that track people over time have shown that young children who do 14 months of musical training exhibit significant structural (pdf) and functional brain changes (pdf) compared to those who do not.

Together, these studies show that learning to play a musical instrument not only increases grey matter volume in various brain regions, but can also strengthen the long-range connections between them. Other research shows that musical training also enhances verbal memoryspatial reasoning, and literacy skills, such that professional musicians usually outperform non-musicians on these abilities.

Long-lasting benefits for musicians

Importantly, the brain scanning studies show that the extent of anatomical change in musicians’ brains is closely related to the age at which musical training began, and the intensity of training. Those who started training at the youngest age showed the largest changes when compared to non-musicians.

Even short periods of musical training in early childhood can have long-lasting benefits. In one 2013 study, for example, researchers recruited 44 older adults and divided them into three groups based on the level of formal musical training they had received as children. Participants in one group had received no training at all; those in the second had done a little training, defined as between one and three years of lessons; and those in the third had received moderate levels of training (four to 14 years).

The researchers played recordings of complex speech sounds to the participants, and used scalp electrodes to measure the timing of neural responses in a part of the auditory brainstem. As we age, the precision of this timing deteriorates, making it difficult to understand speech, especially in environments with a lot of background noise. Participants who had received moderate amounts of musical training exhibited the fastest neural responses, suggesting that even limited training in childhood can preserve sharp processing of speech sounds and increase resilience to age-related decline in hearing.

More recently, it has become clear that musical training facilitates the rehabilitation of patients recovering from stroke and other forms of brain damage, and some researchers now argue that it might also boost speech processing and learning in children with dyslexia and other language impairments. What’s more, the benefits of musical training seem to persist for many years, or even decades, and the picture that emerges from this all evidence is that learning to play a musical instrument in childhood protects the brain against the development of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Unlike commercial brain training products, which only improve performance on the skills involved, musical training has what psychologists refer to as transfer effects – in other words, learning to play a musical instrument seems to have a far broader effect on the brain and mental function, and improves other abilities that are seemingly unrelated.

“Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” says Loveday. “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”

Learning to play a musical instrument, then, seems to be one of the most effective forms of brain training there is. Musical training can induce various structural and functional changes in the brain, depending on which instrument is being learned, and the intensity of the training regime. It’s an example of how dramatically life-long experience can alter the brain so that it becomes adapted to the idiosyncrasies of its owner’s lifestyle