It’s like riding a bike

Today I had the pleasure of giving a piano lesson to a woman who has not played piano in 45 years. The lesson reinforced my conviction that playing the piano is like riding a bike, meaning once you are back in the saddle, or on the bench, the knowledge embedded in your muscles comes flooding back. Although my student believed she had forgotten to read music, after I gave her a few exercises and brief explanations, she was sight-reading simple pieces during her first lesson. Correct finger curvature was returning by the end of the lesson, and she was recalling the basics of music theory, including legato, staccato, dotted quarter notes, time signatures.

For me, it was a delight to watch her cerebral and muscular memories spring into action as she moved her fingers across the keys with increasing confidence. I also understood in a new light how playing the piano and reading music develop mathematical and other analytical skills. Understanding key signatures, mastering rhythms, choosing fingering for complex intervals—all of these require and develop left brain skills. This accomplished professional reinforced her residual finger memory with her strongly developed analytic thought processes as she riddled out the components of each measure to play them accurately.

I can’t wait to see what she will do next week!

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