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Brain Hemisphere Coordination Affects Your Child At The Piano

 

 

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BRAIN HEMISPHERE COORDINATION AFFECTS YOUR CHILD AT THE PIANO

Many children have difficulty adding the left hand to their piano playing.

You can actually see the discomfort flood their faces as they attempt to get the two sides of their brain to "talk." This is because the left hand is controlled by the right brain hemisphere, and the right hand is controlled by the left brain hemisphere.

One of the telltale signs that a child's hemispheres are not yet fully separated and coordinated is the inability to do different things with each hand. What you see is the non-dominant hand (left) mimicking the dominant one (right.) At the piano, regardless of whether a child is left or right handed, they are properly taught to make the right hand the dominant one.

Remember the child's game where you pat your head with one hand, and circle your stomach with the other? That silly game is a perfect diagnostic tool for children's brain hemispheres.

If they have difficulty with that game, it's a fair bet that their hemispheres are only starting to coordinate. Don't rush or you'll frustrate them. Remember, the hemispheres can be trained to talk to each other, in fact that's largely what piano lessons really are.

A realistic approach is to defer to the comfort of the child to a certain degree, and refrain from two-handed experimentation until they grow more. But this approach must be blended with repeated, gentle attempts to use two hands, for if the child never tries it there is less chance of them getting the knack of it.

There are pieces in which the two hands do not play at the same time, and this is always a good first step. As a matter of fact, the very first step towards two-handed playing with preschoolers and the very young is to get them to use TWO index fingers instead of one, even just banging away the piano to get their brain the antiphonal exercise it needs.

This simple ruse of two index fingers forces the child to use both sides of the brain without discomfort, since within each hand one finger is dominant to a child, and it is always the index finger.

It is the use of the other fingers that baffles kids at first, largely because their brains haven't yet straightened out what their fingers are really doing there at the end of their hands. Piano is the first place they are asked to be aware of it. 

So the best course is to confine yourself to the strongest fingers if you want to start learning with both hands.

The thumb is useful to a child in a subconscious way for everyday tasks, in the sense of the opposable thumb and forefinger. But conversely, the thumb is difficult for a child to incorporate into their "piano hand scheme," for the index finger is dominant and its dominance is difficult but necessary to replace with that of the thumb.

Careful observation of children's motor skills leads a piano teacher to make better choices of action with young students.

It's pointless to ask children's brains to perform tasks for which they are utterly unprepared.

The source of almost all discomfort for children at the piano is the teacher's disregard for their brain hemisphere development.

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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