Inspiring Change Through Music
ks_michaelHello, I’m Michael.

I’m a passionate believer that learning, playing and creating music on the piano can have extremely beneficial effects on the development of the brain.

There is plenty of research that confirm that children who learn to play music early tend to do better in math and science.  In addition, they benefit from learning the importance of discipline and time-management.

Neurologists have pointed to the idea that playing piano, especially while extensively using the left hand in a complex manner, can stimulate areas in the right-hemisphere of the brain, contributing to a multitude of creative and problem solving benefits.

For those of us not so young, there is still hope for us as well!  I didn’t “really” start playing music until later in my life.  But having the ability to express my creative side through music has done wonders in providing balance in a hectic life.

I’m in the process of creating this “Tutorial System” to teach anyone how to read and play music on the piano, especially for those that don’t have the time or resources to take traditional lessons.  It’s a work still in progress, but I hope at any stage someone will find the inspiration and resources to just play music…especially our kids.

Now Start Playing!

Questions with the Creator
What is PianoWithMichael.com and LearnPianoWeb.com?
PianoWithMichael.com and LearnPianoWeb.com is an Online Tutorial concept intended to provide anyone, especially those without the time and resources, the ability to learn the basics of reading, playing and creating music on the piano or digital keyboard.

We’re aiming to design the concepts and materials to appeal to children so they may learn the basics of reading music. Once they learn how to read and translate to the piano, we’re hoping they’ll be excited to learn their favorite Disney, Pop Artist, and Old Children’s Favorite Songs, or any music that inspires them to keep playing and stimulating their minds.

We’re continually working on the processes and hope to have something that will also appeal to adults – as it’s never too late to learn or jump back into it! There is extensive research that indicate the learning, playing and creating music on the piano has tremendous cognitive benefits no matter what age, and that perhaps may even reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Once we provide the basics of learning music on the piano to anyone, we hope that some will find an internal passion to seek formal lessons and challenge themselves to climb as far up the performance ladder or aspire to become an inspirational instructor to children.

Are you trying to replace Piano Teachers?
No, quite on the contrary! We’re extremely adamant in expressing the importance of teachers, and that our system isn’t intended to replace them at all. More so, we highly, highly encourage those parents with the time and resources to find a piano teacher that is a good fit for their children, and will foster an environment that will inspire them to continue on. There is a special bond, feedback and encouragement that Piano Teachers can provide that our system can not. But schedule inconveniences and cost shouldn’t be obstacles for anyone wanting to benefit from music and piano, and that is where our passionate efforts aims to help.

If you are a teacher, we’d love to help promote you and your services. Contact Michael for more information.

What is your philosophy?
We have what some might consider an “Overly Dreamy” perspective of the importance of Music and Art for a well-balanced humanity. Essentially, we believe our society is moving towards an overly competitive and logically based society due to the socially comprehensive influence of our “Love of Sports”, and the prevalence of behavioral patterns now being assimilated by Computers and Systematic Programming (or Left-brain accentuation through 85-95% right-handedness society).

You can see Music Programs effectively being pushed out of School Curriculum and Budgetary Considerations, and more parents are electing to encourage or support their children in after school sports activities – perhaps for physical development and team/social bonding. Unfortunately, music studies, particularly the piano, can be a solo and lonely endeavor with efforts seldom recognized by peers.

However, we strongly believe that artistic expression through music and the bi-hemispheric stimulation of the brain through the coordination of two hands and ten fingers while playing the piano, can increase cognitive processes that will help our children compete in the impending future of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

What is this Left/Right Brain Theory?
In short and in a very basic, rudimentary concept, we believe we’ve become a dominantly Left-Brained society due to the idea that 85-95% of us are Right-handed. Our bodies are neurally controlled by the opposite hemisphere of the brain. Increasing Right Hemispheric activity through Art and Left-Hand coordination might increase neural stimulation in regions of the brain responsible for many cognitive processes not prevalent in today’s society.

Again, in a very Basic, Rudimentary outline we believe:
– Left Brain (connected to Right Body/Hand) is responsible for: Detail Orientation, Logical, Sequential, Rational, Analytical, Objective, Reality Based, Order and Safe/Cautious attributes.
– Right Brain (connected to Left Body/Hand) is responsible for: Creativity, Imagination, Philosophy, Empathy, Fantasy Based, Spatial Perception, Holistic, Subjective, Abstract, Intuitive and Spiritual attributes.

Since we are an overly dominant Right-handed society, perhaps more of the Left Brain attributes may be accentuated. Increasing Left-handed coordination, particularly in a creative and deftly controlled manner may accentuate more attributes associated with the Right Brain.

Learning to Play and Create music on the piano, especially in a spontaneous or improvisational (imagination) mode while using both the left and right hand in complex manners may also help to facilitate better communication between both brain hemispheres, or increasing neural stimulation through the Corpus Callosum.

We understand this is all theoretical without empirical data, but deductively we think it might make sense from an extremely rudimentary understanding. In addition, the Creator of this site has noticed an extremely profound change in his cognitive processes after embarking on a two year exercise schedule to increase Left Hand/Finger dexterity and creative expressionism. Or, perhaps it provides a stimulating thesis and reason for families to learn music on the piano!

Can Anyone Be A Musician?
We’re not actually trying to create musicians, “rock stars” or “pop stars” as that’s a lofty goal that requires a certain perceptual change on the value of one’s purpose. More so, we are trying to bring out the Musical Mind that is in us all by actively stimulating regions of the brain responsible for Artistic Expression, Creativity, Abstract Reasoning and Empathy. Through musical expression and neural stimulation of the Right Hemisphere of the brain by left-hand pianistic movements, we believe we can help unlock latent or new cognitive processes, often associated with Musicians and Artists, and increase overall bi-hemispheric accessibility.

Many people say they don’t have a Music Mind and can’t keep a beat. We believe in the contrary and that everyone can play – it’s just a matter of effort and initiation…and perhaps some solitude for the Stage-Frightened people like we once were. But similar to riding a bike, once you learn to play you’ll have a life-long ability to enjoy the fruits of playing and creating music on the piano – just be sure to practice and enjoy as often as possible to stimulate the mind!

What is Passive Vs. Active Neural Stimulation Theory?
We believe that our society has become very attracted to Passive Stimulation activities, such as watching televised entertainment and other “sit-back and observe” endeavors. Engaging in creative exploration of music on the piano may increase more neural stimulation than just watching passive entertainment.

For children and the developing mind, comprehensive studies validate the positive benefits to cognitive processes, emotional awareness, self-confidence, language, math and science, and memory when active in piano / music lessons. These traits then often contribute to successful career endeavors and lifelong interpersonal skills.

For us adults, studies show that learning music on the piano can induce Neuroplasticity (creating new neural mapping) in areas of the brain not engaged in passive entertainment. Furthermore, studies reveal that it’s never too late to learn and play music on the piano, and that adults who learn to play, though later in their lives, improve both their cognitive processes and their emotional “i.q.” Other studies, like any activities that challenge the brain, can reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s.

When should our children take lessons?
This is very much up to debate as there are plenty of discussions and opinions on what is the best age to start lessons. We believe it’s never too early to learn the language of music through various symbols and graphical representation, much like learning any other language. However, each child’s attention capacity and ability to focus with intent differs greatly. And depending on the ability of a teacher – or parent using our process to engage the child in a meaningful and lasting process – will also determine the proper age. That being said, some studies indicate that 6 is generally a good age neurologically and psychologically for children to embark on the rigors of seriously learning the dynamics of music.

In regards to the piano, finger and hand size may also determine the proper age to start. The width of finger span might influence the complexity of songs and exercises first introduced, but will increase along with the growth of the hands and fingers, and increased dexterity.

Do you recommend a Piano or Digital Keyboard?
An actual piano has almost a “romantic” appeal to it given it’s historical significance and continual evolution. The sound and feel of a properly tuned and conditioned piano provides for great finger dexterity and strength development, along with resonating harmonic vibrations appealing to the audible senses. There really is nothing like performing on a highly crafted Steinway or Bosendorfer in the right acoustical setting.

However, pianos can be expensive, cumbersome and impractical for many families and their living situation. Digital Keyboards (or Digital Pianos) are often economically and conveniently more practical. Most digital keyboards have a headphone jack so that students can practice in private, and will typically have numerous sound samples to help keep the younger learners creatively engaged.

If you do find the appeal of a Digital Keyboard over a piano, we highly recommend one that has “weighted” keys to simulate the feel and pressure of a real piano. This will ensure proper finger strengthening and allow for emotional expressionism through touch sensitivity (or graded pressure response – the heavier you hit the key the louder the sound). Also, we recommend one that has the full 88 keys and 128 polyphony. A sustain pedal (dampening pedal) is a must. But recording, sampling, midi control surfaces and nobs are not necessary – but will add to the creative process, which is our fundamental goal.

Did you study Music?
I took two months of lessons while in grade school and that provided me with the basics of reading music and correlating that to the piano. Unfortunately, my relationship with the teacher wasn’t a good fit and I quit. However, through the course of time I kept playing songs and pieces that I really enjoyed and wanted to learn. And through a continual process of musical assimilation learning, I became more adept at playing.

It wasn’t until I was introduced to the extraordinary music of Beethoven, Mozart and J.S. Bach that I really became fond of trying to become better. Their piano music, even the more “simplistic” renditions for which I’m only currently able to play, required a more complex, organic and emotional reflection on my finger and hand movements than the “typical” popular song. But the demanding requirements to understand the note duration and location on the staff facilitated a more comprehensive learning, reading and playing music on the piano.

Having limited tutelage in formal piano lessons or piano pedagogy and trying to instruct others to play is probably frowned upon by many professional teachers and students. But I believe it is absolutely critical in our current society to promote Art and Music from every possible angle and path to develop a more balanced society. So I am quite comfortable in using my basic understanding of the complex dynamics of music to promote to others the essentials to start on their own journey into musical expression and cognitive stimulation. In time, I hope to team up with more seasoned and qualified teachers in various genres. But until that time, I’ll promote what I know and how I know so that anyone can benefit from music.

What is Free Association Playing?
I conceived of Free Association Playing as a way to really free your mind and open that “3rd” eye that I believe we all have; it is really exploring and using the imagination and Right Hemisphere of the brain. Essentially after you learn a series of chord patterns and finger movements within those patterns, you practice generating musical ideas or expressions that correlate to whatever your thoughts or emotions are. Most importantly, you must free yourself from the strict aspect of Timing, Rhythm and “Proper” modalities, and just let your mind and hands freely explore in synchronicity – or imaginative exploration.

I believe along with rote performing and strict adherence to proper musical standards, which is essential in learning music, developing the creative and Artistic performance is just as important. Perhaps the improvisational and free association playing can further stimulate neural areas of the brain not necessarily utilized in Rote Performances.

Why do you promote the Piano/Digital Keyboard over other instruments?
The piano is arguably the most complex and musically comprehensive instrument to learn music. With the ability to perform melodies and accompanying base lines because of the use of two hands, the piano allows for the learning of complete songs and arrangements. Also, with up to 10 note impressions, and spanning up and down the 88 keys through the Bass Clef and Treble Clef, you learn one of the widest spectrum and most complex arrangements of music symbols. There are studies that point to the idea that once children learn the piano, they are quicker to learn other instruments.

Most importantly from our basic thesis, we believe that the usage of both the left and right hands/arms will generate more neural impressions and improve cognitive processes.

Also, unlike traditional instruments, most digital pianos will come with headphone jacks. This will allow for the complete, unabated practicing or creative composition without the fear of disturbing others.

Why are you an ardent promoter of Classical Music?
We are believers in the contested Mozart Effect concept. There are studies that prove and disprove the correlation of raising cognition by listening to the music of Mozart. However, we’ve perused some of those studies that disprove the theory and have noticed the music they chose were not as complex and resounding as some notable and highly passionate music from the Great Classical Masters that we would recommend.

Most people understand that music has an emotional effect that’s hard to consciously or subconsciously ignore. If one listens to an aggressive Rock or Rap song, they may feel a certain emotional agitation that is state-dependent of the composer’s emotional state. Likewise, if one listens to a slow, emotional ballad song one might be inclined to feel a sense of love. Or perhaps feel a sense of depression and remorse if listening to an emotionally darker song. Music has a way of emotionally bringing the listener to the mindset of the writer or composer.

We believe that most of the classical music that has endured to today, especially the upbeat, highly energetic pieces like the 1st and 3rd movements of most piano concertos by Beethoven, Bach and Mozart, were written with a certain philosophical and spiritual understanding of life that may not be prevalent in today’s social parameters. One is certainly elevated, psychologically or spiritually, by this State-Dependent musical congruency theory through the loftier music written by highly spiritual, intellectually regarded, and passionately driven Artists. Our theory is that this music has a transcending affect, both neurally and psychologically, that may have an “Awakening” effect, as it’s often more organic, complex and revolutionary than today’s Tribal Music.

Perhaps the regard and devotion by some of our greatest minds will attest to the enduring social significance of the music written by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and other highly esteemed Musical Artists. By the way, we don’t use the word Artist as a loose term for someone who simply thinks and exudes outside of our square society. More so, we consider the Artists as those that blaze a path through humanity with a purpose loftier than the self….if that makes sense!

Also, we believe that the music of the Great Masters may simply have a healthier and more stimulating message for our children than today’s current popular music.

What is that you hope to achieve through your passion?
We hope to inspire as many people as possible to Learn, Play and Create music on the 88s, especially our younger generation. As a result, we hope to increase Artistic Impression in our overly Logical Society and Energize Cognitive Processes! Some might say that we are simply creating processes and methodologies to stimulate the brain by using the fun and Power Of Music. In reality, we’re just being Cheerleaders of Music and Piano studies because we fervently believe it Artistically Benefits our world!

In Closing
Again, we can’t express how sincerely and urgently we recommend that you find an actual Piano Instructor that is a “good fit” for your child, and can properly nourish and encourage the learning, playing and creating of music on the piano. There is so much the brain can do, and the active neural stimulation through these musical processes can help to activate certain regions not stimulated in our present pop-culture behaviors. The young, developing mind of a child makes it easier to learn and absorb the techniques and understanding of playing music on the piano, and the benefits will endure life long – in our Musical Opinion!