The benefits of learning to play the piano are vast and widely known. From the moment you take lessons, you hear over and over that playing the piano results in higher brain capabilities in math and analytical skills, as well as a faster ability to learn. Not once, however, do you hear about the benefits of composing.
While taking lessons, I would often come up with a few melodies at home and then proudly play them to my teachers during my next lesson. They would give a few compliments about my ‘compositions’ and quickly proceed to my assigned pieces. Helping me to improve at composing was far from the agenda, and so I stopped talking about my compositions altogether during my lessons. When composing became more important to me than learning classical pieces, I stopped taking piano lessons. Do you see anything wrong with this picture? Piano lessons are not about ‘making music’, they are about ‘learning music’ (and music theory). As important as learning music theory and mastering classical pieces are, I believe piano instruction should also encourage the element of exercising your own creative faculties on the piano. The benefits of improvising and composing are vast and not to be underestimated!
Composing piano is a way to unleash your creative genius. Every melody that you create is exciting, it is a new idea that you can now develop. After coming up with a few ideas, you start to put the different pieces in the puzzle together and there you have a song. Of course, this doesn’t always happen fast. Making a coherent piano piece out of a simple melody takes work and patience. But the bottom line is that you are exercising incredibly important faculties: you start with a vision for a creation, and you work it through until this melody is implemented and transformed into a marketable piano piece. Anyone can have an idea, but putting an idea into action and developing a completed song from a simple vision is a whole different story. Working towards composing a piano piece is the same concept as working to bring any idea into action. You are developing, completing and mastering a project out of a simple vision and idea.
When I think back to job evaluations, the one thing that people consistently say about me is that I think out-of-the-box. When I’m around friends, they always say is that I’m full of ideas. And when doing corporate personality assessments, I am described as both a ‘creator’ and ‘implementor’, a powerful combination. All of these attributes are a result of composing music from a very young age. Scary but true: my personality has a clear link to my hobby of composing. People are not born a creative genius – practicing creativity is the way to develop these skills.
So please, if you enjoy creating your own melodies on the piano I highly encourage you to do so. If your child or student enjoys composing, help them to develop this skill. We need to recognize composing as a skill with high rewards. Composing is not only fun, relaxing and exciting, but just as beneficial for your brain as learning to sight read, understand music theory or play a difficult piece on the piano.