Piano World Home Page

Your brain on piano

Posted By: Animisha

Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 05:10 AM

I liked this one, even though they did not describe the brain activity needed for doing all of this simultaneously in a coordinated way - which I think is the biggest challenge of playing the piano. Of course, it is a gross simplification (for instance, proprioception activates many more areas than just the cerebellum), and before we all get too happy: even a simple thing as pouring yourself a cup of coffee activates many brain areas. Still, it's a nice picture.

[Linked Image]
Posted By: Tech-key

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 09:09 AM

Interesting picture, Animisha! It does sometimes feel like you are juggling all the planets in the solar system, while riding a unicycle cry
Posted By: U3piano

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 10:36 AM

It's hard to say, since there are always other factors in life, but i think i actually do feel sharper, and have improved memory since i started to play piano alot.



Umm, there was something else i wanted to add.. but i forgot.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 10:37 AM

Proprioception. That seems to be the part I have to work on the most. Interesting picture.
Posted By: peterws

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 10:44 AM

Playing one o' Tchaikovsky's sonatas totally did my head in. I am no longer the man I was . . . I started emitting strange smells, wild eyes, mood swings; and just looking at the music created terror.
But, too late! I was hooked.
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 10:49 AM

Great picture. Brings many concepts to life.
Posted By: Progman

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 11:12 AM

That's awesome. I just tell people it's diabolically difficult!
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 11:33 AM

Compared to other instrumentalists, only a pianist has perfectly developed motor skills in all limbs as well as perfect posture: no crooked neck & shoulders like a violinist/violist or splayed legs like a cellist - and perfect symmetry (perfectly developed shoulders, arms, hands & fingers, R=L), no puffy cheeks (like brass players) or lips (like woodwind players), no hunched posture (like bassists) or deafness (like percussionists).

In fact, a pianist is perfection personified. thumb

That's assuming, of course, that you don't play like Glenn Gould....... wink
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 01:49 PM

Very nice diagram, cool concepts!
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 02:21 PM

It is a wonder, isn't it!

The only other instrument that might surpass it in complexity is the organ, when there are foot pedals to be played as well as four or more keyboards and stops to maneuver.
Posted By: Sam S

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 02:28 PM

And the diagram doesn’t include playing from memory. Recalling exactly what to do at precisely the right time...

Sam
Posted By: KevinM

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 03:46 PM

I worked up a sweat this morning practising arpeggios, playing both hands over four octaves trying to gradually up the tempo. Perhaps it doesn't really help fitness but does highlight how unfit I am.

I'd be a much better player if Spatial was true.
Posted By: Animisha

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 05:20 PM

Originally Posted by Stubbie
It is a wonder, isn't it!

The only other instrument that might surpass it in complexity is the organ, when there are foot pedals to be played as well as four or more keyboards and stops to maneuver.

Stubbie, as far as I know, organs usually don't have weighted keys, and that subtracts a bit from its complexity. However, even without weighted keys, I think you are right.
Posted By: Fidel

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 05:36 PM

I prefer kinesthetic awareness to proprioception but whatever, to-may-to / to-mah-to.

It's a great chart and I'd like to know where to get a wall size version.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 05:42 PM

Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Stubbie
It is a wonder, isn't it!

The only other instrument that might surpass it in complexity is the organ, when there are foot pedals to be played as well as four or more keyboards and stops to maneuver.

Stubbie, as far as I know, organs usually don't have weighted keys, and that subtracts a bit from its complexity. However, even without weighted keys, I think you are right.


Organ keys, IMO, add complexity: the sound disappears as soon as your finger leaves the key. Want to play legato, you need to substitute fingers so that you replicate a sustain sound by crawling from one key to the next. . Want to play soft, you can’t do it with your fingers, but rather your foot. I was never a great organist as a kid—- just ‘good enough’ to play for church but I found the organ to more complex in terms of getting the sound the way I wanted. Feet? OMG, a really great organist moves their feet all over the pedals at a million miles an hour. I just did simple pedaling.

Maybe someone with more equal experience between the organ and piano will have a different opinion.
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 06:07 PM

Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Stubbie
It is a wonder, isn't it!

The only other instrument that might surpass it in complexity is the organ, when there are foot pedals to be played as well as four or more keyboards and stops to maneuver.

Stubbie, as far as I know, organs usually don't have weighted keys, and that subtracts a bit from its complexity. However, even without weighted keys, I think you are right.


Organ keys, IMO, add complexity: the sound disappears as soon as your finger leaves the key. Want to play legato, you need to substitute fingers so that you replicate a sustain sound by crawling from one key to the next. . Want to play soft, you can’t do it with your fingers, but rather your foot. I was never a great organist as a kid—- just ‘good enough’ to play for church but I found the organ to more complex in terms of getting the sound the way I wanted. Feet? OMG, a really great organist moves their feet all over the pedals at a million miles an hour. I just did simple pedaling.

Maybe someone with more equal experience between the organ and piano will have a different opinion.

Yes, moving the feet does add a bit to the complexity and the fingering messes you up when it comes to playing the piano! On the other hand you cannot create the dynamics in the same way as you can on a piano.
Posted By: Whizbang

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 07:08 PM

Originally Posted by Animisha
even a simple thing as pouring yourself a cup of coffee activates many brain areas


No, no. You have it wrong. The brain areas are only activated AFTER you have had your coffee.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 07:17 PM

IMO, the piano is far more complex to play and difficult to play well than the organ (or harpsichord).

The weighting & balance of notes in chords & textures, the precise colouring & nuances (achieved purely by aforementioned weighting and articulation and use of all the pedals - singly or together, including half pedal and flutter pedalling) and the advanced effects achievable on it (different kinds of staccato, ghost notes by depressing keys silently while playing others, even stroking the strings while depressing some keys etc, etc) are all impossible on an organ. On a piano, you need to have perfect control of each individual finger in order to get the sound quality you want. On an organ, you just need good finger independence.

That's why pianists transition easily to organ but not vice versa. In fact, most organists were once pianists, but rapidly lose their pianistic skills if they don't return to the piano regularly.

I played the organ at school occasionally during services or choir practice (- never having had any lessons on it), when the organ scholar was indisposed. He never really played the piano, and whenever he tried to play it, it sounded really rough - uneven voicing, ghost notes, other notes sticking out. Yet on the organ, he sounded like a professional, and his foot technique was of course better than mine. We once had fun challenging each other to play Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) on both instruments......my rendition (with a few necessary transpositions) on the piano was much, much better than his on piano, whereas our respective organ renditions were more closely matched. (We both agreed on the results wink ).

A lot of an organist's work is done beforehand - deciding on the stops and the keyboard to use, and (especially if an unfamiliar organ) knowing exactly where the stops are.

BTW, someone mentioned finger switching on organs - advanced pianists use it all the time on the piano too. Sloppy pedalling or using the pedal when finger switching to achieve desired legato should have been used is rampant amongst lazy amateurs (or those who haven't mastered that art)......
Posted By: MichaelJK

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 08:05 PM

Originally Posted by Animisha
and before we all get too happy: even a simple thing as pouring yourself a cup of coffee activates many brain areas. Still, it's a nice picture.


I'm curious: what is it about this picture that makes you happy?
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 09:13 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
I played the organ at school occasionally during services or choir practice (- never having had any lessons on it), when the organ scholar was indisposed. He never really played the piano, and whenever he tried to play it, it sounded really rough - uneven voicing, ghost notes, other notes sticking out. Yet on the organ, he sounded like a professional, and his foot technique was of course better than mine. We once had fun challenging each other to play Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) on both instruments......my rendition (with a few necessary transpositions) on the piano was much, much better than his on piano, whereas our respective organ renditions were more closely matched. (We both agreed on the results wink )

OT, but I was most surprised to read that Dudley Moore was the Organ Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, when he was student at Oxford. The idea of an Organ Scholar seems antiquated to me. (Sorry, you organ lovers out there! laugh )
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/09/19 09:46 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

OT, but I was most surprised to read that Dudley Moore was the Organ Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, when he was student at Oxford. The idea of an Organ Scholar seems antiquated to me. (Sorry, you organ lovers out there! laugh )

The British believe in maintaining tradition wink .

Like organ scholars in university colleges (mainly Oxbridge) - the ones which have their own chapels of course - as well as collegiate choirs. The high school I attended had (and still has) two pipe organs - a huge one in the main assembly hall, where all students & teachers assemble every morning prior to classes, and another smaller one in the chapel, where Sunday services are held, and where most school concerts take place.

Someone has to play the organs to accompany the hymn singing, so when the Organist and Master of the Choristers (our choirmaster, who is also the Head of Music) is not present, the organist is the organ scholar.

Incidentally, one of our previous Prime Ministers was once an organ scholar at Oxford, though unlike Dudley Moore, he read Politics there, not Music.
Posted By: Animisha

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/10/19 05:44 AM

Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by Animisha
even a simple thing as pouring yourself a cup of coffee activates many brain areas


No, no. You have it wrong. The brain areas are only activated AFTER you have had your coffee.

Hahahaha!!
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Animisha

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/10/19 05:45 AM

Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by Animisha
and before we all get too happy: even a simple thing as pouring yourself a cup of coffee activates many brain areas. Still, it's a nice picture.


I'm curious: what is it about this picture that makes you happy?

Just the idea that so many brain areas are involved in playing the piano. And actually, many times it does feel like a true brain work-out. smile
Posted By: peterws

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/10/19 10:10 AM

Originally Posted by bennevis

The high school I attended had (and still has) two pipe organs - a huge one in the main assembly hall, where all students & teachers assemble every morning prior to classes, and another smaller one in the chapel, where Sunday services are held, and where most school concerts take place.


We had to make do with a 9-6 Bluthner . . . .
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/10/19 10:22 AM

Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by bennevis

The high school I attended had (and still has) two pipe organs - a huge one in the main assembly hall, where all students & teachers assemble every morning prior to classes, and another smaller one in the chapel, where Sunday services are held, and where most school concerts take place.


We had to make do with a 9-6 Bluthner . . . .


We had to make do with no-name uprights for the choir room, band/orchestra hall and auditorium. No grand pianos nor organs of any flavor (just s middle class school).
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/10/19 10:42 AM

Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by bennevis

The high school I attended had (and still has) two pipe organs - a huge one in the main assembly hall, where all students & teachers assemble every morning prior to classes, and another smaller one in the chapel, where Sunday services are held, and where most school concerts take place.


We had to make do with a 9-6 Bluthner . . . .


We had to make do with no-name uprights for the choir room, band hall and auditorium. No organs of any flavor (just s middle class school).

Lest anyone thinks that I went to a posh "public school" (i.e. private school) like Eton, the high school I went to was just an ordinary (predominantly middle-class) "grammar school".

The reason why it has pipe organs etc is because it's a very old & huge institution (circa 1800 wink ), and I can attest that the dormitories were pretty cold in the winter for the boarders like me. Maybe the windows are now double-glazed and the heating and insulation has been upgraded......

When I was there, it acquired its first grand piano (a seven-foot Yamaha), which was put in the chapel. Our best music student blessed it by performing Liszt's Dante Sonata and Beethoven's Appassionata on it in a public concert, which helped to raise funds to pay for it. It's probably still the only grand piano in the school.

P.S. I just read about the school on Wiki, and discovered that its Chapel Choir (which has won several competitions) - of which I was once a member - had sung in Carnegie Hall as well as Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, I was no longer a student at the time, otherwise I could tell everyone I'd performed in Carnegie Hall grin.
Posted By: MichaelJK

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/14/19 07:50 PM

Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by Animisha
and before we all get too happy: even a simple thing as pouring yourself a cup of coffee activates many brain areas. Still, it's a nice picture.


I'm curious: what is it about this picture that makes you happy?

Just the idea that so many brain areas are involved in playing the piano. And actually, many times it does feel like a true brain work-out. smile


Yeah, it's crazy how much is going on at once!
Posted By: peterws

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/14/19 08:44 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by bennevis

The high school I attended had (and still has) two pipe organs - a huge one in the main assembly hall, where all students & teachers assemble every morning prior to classes, and another smaller one in the chapel, where Sunday services are held, and where most school concerts take place.


We had to make do with a 9-6 Bluthner . . . .


We had to make do with no-name uprights for the choir room, band hall and auditorium. No organs of any flavor (just s middle class school).

Lest anyone thinks that I went to a posh "public school" (i.e. private school) like Eton, the high school I went to was just an ordinary (predominantly middle-class) "grammar school".

The reason why it has pipe organs etc is because it's a very old & huge institution (circa 1800 wink ), and I can attest that the dormitories were pretty cold in the winter for the boarders like me. Maybe the windows are now double-glazed and the heating and insulation has been upgraded......

When I was there, it acquired its first grand piano (a seven-foot Yamaha), which was put in the chapel. Our best music student blessed it by performing Liszt's Dante Sonata and Beethoven's Appassionata on it in a public concert, which helped to raise funds to pay for it. It's probably still the only grand piano in the school.

P.S. I just read about the school on Wiki, and discovered that its Chapel Choir (which has won several competitions) - of which I was once a member - had sung in Carnegie Hall as well as Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, I was no longer a student at the time, otherwise I could tell everyone I'd performed in Carnegie Hall grin.


And I thought our grammar School was posh . . . everyone else did, too. It rapidly became a Comprehensive!
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/14/19 09:35 PM

Originally Posted by peterws

And I thought our grammar School was posh . . . everyone else did, too. It rapidly became a Comprehensive!

My old alma mater could never possibly turn comprehensive.

Comprehensive students would never deign to walk half a mile from one end of the school to the other: the distance needed to safely separate the boys from the girls - the ones who were boarding, that is - to ensure no hanky-panky could (inadvertently, of course) occur. No sheds to hide in between either - just a big expanse of concrete and grass. But we in the know know of hidden dark corridors in the main building.......

I suspect that's why the Chapel Choir is so popular among all students who could read music - so that the two main sexes (there are now more than two, of course) could mingle, and even sing in harmony (we were usually harmonious, even in the intricate counterpoint of Jesu, meine Freude - as long as those pesky tenors didn't go flat).

Another good reason why comprehensive students would never fit in was that anything challenging could - and would - be turned into epic near-death experiences: when it was snowing heavily one weekend, the duty master thought it would be a good idea to bus willing victims to the mountains and attempt to summit the highest one through the blizzard and white-out conditions. Never mind hypothermia and frostbite - it was good for moral fibre, especially as none of us boys (only the boys volunteered to be victims, of course) had proper waterproofs or boots grin.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/15/19 02:59 AM

People who sees the picture would be inspired to play piano. Even those who are thinking of quitting would see that playing music is a good way to keep the brain healthy & active.

Thanks for sharing...
Posted By: Animisha

Re: Your brain on piano - 08/15/19 06:03 AM

Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
playing music is a good way to keep the brain healthy & active.


Yes, when it comes to Use it or lose it, playing the piano is a great way of using your brain!
© 2019 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums