Houston Piano Company believes that children who study piano are better equipped mentally for challenges in school, and can apply this knowledge to other activities in their lives. Adults who learn to play the piano simply live happier.
A Not-So-Brief History
Recreational Music Making has its roots from the early work of Karl T. Bruhn, who is considered the father of the Music-Making and Wellness movement, and scientific research from neurologist in the field of mind-body medicine Dr. Barry Bittman, whose studies on music, particularly drum circles, demonstrated a link between playing music and the positive effects on one’s overall health—lowering stress, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Through their work they determined that playing music within the context of a group—in a pressure-free environment—could reduce stress at the DNA level. But Bruhn also felt that music making was for all people, not just limited to churning out professional musicians: "it’s about inspiring extraordinary living." [ 3 ]
In 2006, National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, sponsored a Global Economic Summit where Bruhn and Bittman gave a presentation on RMM, defining it as: "a new strategy for enabling people who never before considered themselves ‘musical’ to discover the joy and wellness benefits of playing a musical instrument." [ 5 ]
This philosophy resonated deeply for a piano teacher from Texas, Brenda Dillon, who attended the Summit. She has said, the "presentation [which later] proved to be life-changing for me personally." [ 6 ]
As an experiment, she began teaching using the RMM model and found that she "never had so much fun teaching in all my life." [ 7 ] Shortly thereafter, she was able to formalize a teaching methodology that incorporated her many years of teaching with the RMM method of group classes. She first collaborated with Brian Chung and developed a handbook for teachers, then created Piano Fun for Adult Beginners on her own.
The Benefits Of Group Lessons
The unique format of RMM is its emphasis on group lessons. The students, with the assistance of the facilitator (teacher), help to encourage one other, while developing camaraderie in a stress-free environment--where music is learned for its own sake.
a. Reduce stress.
b. Help develop social skills.
c. Help to develop strategies to deal with stage fright.
d. Help to learn ensemble play.
e. Create friendly competition.
f. Encourage students to learn from each other.
g. Engage students through the use of activities and games.
h. Be less expensive than private lessons.
i. Help with motivation.
Some Early Pioneers
Although RMM was initially motivated by medicinal purposes the use of group lessons actually has a firm and solid academic beginning in the work of four American pioneers of the 20th century in piano pedagogy—Frances Clark, Ph.D (1905 – 1998), Guy Duckworth, Ph.D. (1923 – 2015), Robert Pace (b. 1924), Ph.D and Richard Chronister (1930 – 1999).
It takes time and patience to learn the piano. And it's the learning itself that makes it worthwhile.