Learning the piano is one of the most valuable things a student can do for his or her musical education. The piano puts us in the challenging, and rewarding position of learning both the G and F clefs. This is a wonderful thing, because no matter what instrument we choose to play, when we learn the piano, we learn to read that music. (This is with the exception to voila and some trombone music, which are written in the C clef, however, as stated in music class, this does follows the same pattern of thirds Guido of Arezzo laid out in the creation of our musical notation system.)
First, there is no difficulty creating the sound. The sound is made by pushing the key. No embouchure development is required as is with the woodwind and brass instruments. There are no callouses needed to be developed on the fingers as it is for the guitar. There are also no finger placement issues that you find with the violin, viola, cello and bass violin. The sound is instant.
The pitch of the keyboard will always be in the same spot; a pattern of groups of 12 tones that are repeated up the keyboard. This is in stark contrast to the guitar, where the same pitch can be found in 5 different places up the neck. For this reason, conservatory programs have always referenced the piano as a means of training in music theory.
Then there is the addition of MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This powerful computer language causes your keyboard to communicate with other digital instruments. This communication includes computers. It makes the possibilities endless in terms of what can be created with the piano. Instead of having to use our imagination to hear music, as was with Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven, we can hear life like sounds of our instruments through the implementation of MIDI.
Once a student has learned the piano, harmonies are something they instinctively hear, because the piano is a polyphonic instrument. Singing in harmony, and playing in ensembles becomes easier because the student is already exposed to consistent polyphony. They are used to hearing other parts at the same time, and will be less likely to be “thrown off” their part by other parts being sung or played at the same time.
I am, therefore, very excited about the piano lab at Golden Door Charter School. Please continue to progress in the exercises on the exercise page. Work through them. They will develop your sight-reading abilities quickly.