Piano Software or Print Books?
You have two broad choices of format for beginning piano education: piano software or print books.
Which is better?
I've published both forms of learning products, and there is a tangible difference that parents and children report. Supporters of piano software and music learning software point to advantages such as carefully graduated increments and attractive graphics.
But if you've ever talked to a child who used one of these products, you'd get a resounding snore.
Here's what one kid told me. "Once you get to the top level, it's boring. It's like a video game without the excitement." No machine will ever replace the gentle hand of a good teacher guiding you, personally, through the difficulties of the piano.
Kids Find Software Limited
"How is that computer program?" I ask. The kid replies, "Well, it's kind of boring. You never get to play anything, really."
And that is the essential problem with software in general, and music software in particular. No matter what you do with software, ultimately it is playing you, rather than the other way around.
Software Is Not An Instrument
The point of a musical instrument is that you can take it to places that software cannot go. Software is always limited by a group of functions, but your brain, in terms of music, is not limited to any set group of outcomes.
You can play a computer game only one way, the way it is set up at the factory. Playing a real piano yields unexpected results, unexpected outcomes and problems with which the child must learn how to deal.
The benefits of playing the piano are derived partly from the two-handed nature of the piano, which develops brain function. Using a computer, physically, is not a two-handed enterprise, because either hand or only one hand may enter the information necessary.
Playing the piano is a wordless ballet of the hands, impossible to capture or experience within the confines of a computer. Looking at a screen and sitting at a keyboard are two completely different experiences.
There is no substitute for the experience of sitting at a musical instrument and having to solve the problems that arise.
It's an intellectual experience that cannot be put into a bottle.
Or a computer.
Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press