by Beth Diane Bradley
Many years ago, I remember practicing a song on the piano I’d been working on for quite awhile. My youngest son, Andy, who was 4-years-old, listened intently for a moment, and then said sweetly, “Mommy, I think you need a new piano.”
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Even though that goal may not be achievable for most of us, we still practice our craft, with the hope of a new personal best. And based on my son’s reaction, I wasn’t quite there yet. I’m not surprised my young critic grew up to be a musician. And no one would be surprised I am one of his biggest fans.
According to current research, learning to play a musical instrument as a child has many benefits, including improved math skills. I realize it’s a brain thing, but I’d rather not associate music with unpleasant thoughts of long division and fractions. Please say it isn’t so.
I took piano lessons for two years in grade school, and then quit – regretting it eventually, like most music drop outs. I’m not sure if I can blame my sub-standard math skills on quitting piano lessons, but it can’t hurt to try.
On a more pleasant note, many research studies have proven music has a positive effect on brain waves, heart rate, blood pressure, and more – making it therapeutic in treating many medical conditions such as pain management, attention deficit disorder and depression. My dad experienced a brain injury in his later years, and found tremendous joy listening to his favorite big band recordings.
Even though I’ve long forgotten how to play the piano, I continue to have a deep appreciation of music performed by others. I find cranking up the tunes can take the drudgery out of household chores or driving to Timbuktu. But it’s best if I match the type of music to the activity.
For example, I’ve noticed I have to watch my speed when listening to my favorite blues CDs. Because even though the blues was once dubbed “the devil’s music,” I doubt a traffic cop would accept “the devil made me do it” as my excuse for speeding.
In contrast, I’ve found classical music is perfect for quiet times at home, but too meditative for the road, unless my destination is a monastery. As for the best music for cleaning the house, I’ll let the dust collect while I think about that awhile longer.
I also enjoy matching the music genre to the recipe while I cook. One of these days, I plan on listening to Reggae while making Jamaican Jerk Chicken. I don’t know if I will ever learn to play the piano again, but maybe the next meal I prepare will be my new personal best.