Children – Living Notes in the Song of Life. By Marcy Gilroy, Director and Founder,  A Prelude to the Classics Music Academy of Performing Arts (Sarasota and Boca Raton, Florida). Piano instruction is perhaps the greatest gift a parent can give to their child. While sports certainly has tremendous advantages, piano playing provides  the most comprehensive  development with regard to school work, interpersonal relationships, leadership, and the necessary skills required for success as a teen, and  later,  an adult.  The benefits of learning to play the piano cover a myriad of avenues: the building of self- confidence, perseverance, boosting of memorization skills, improved dexterity, development of creativity, enhanced analytical skills, and increased cognitive development, including improved IQ and scholastic testing. The piano is a difficult instrument to play. It takes focus and concentration, which can, in turn, aid in the development of multi-task behavior.  While one hand is playing one “language” on the keyboard, the other hand is playing another “language”. Visualize your young child learning German and Greek simultaneously, while English is the sole language the child has spoken and heard throughout their first years of life. Studies continue to prove that piano instruction actually increases brain development in children, which ultimately results in improved school work and scholastic exams.  The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children is the most widely used test of intelligence in childhood, with a variety of subscales that examine particular subsets of intellectual abilities. The results of studies of children who play the piano as compared to those who do not clearly  provides evidence of the  widespread intellectual benefits from taking music lessons (Improvement in cognitive tasks, specifically, verbal memory (Ho et al., 2003) or spatial-temporal or mathematical reasoning (Hetland, 2000a; Rauscher, 2002). For teens, piano is a great means of diffusing depression and anxiety. It can serve as an outlet for tension, stress, and assist as a coping mechanism for the “drama” that is present in the daily lives of teens. For children with learning disabilities, including ADD, ADHD, and mild Autism, piano works as a great system of building the self-esteem that can be weakened as these children often feel  less able to “keep up with the Jones’s” in their peer groups socially. Many children with ADD, ADHD and mild Autism are quite gifted intellectually, and also creatively, and the piano provides an outlet for these children to excel at a program that many other children show mediocrity.Many children love sports, and would love to excel at the various disciplines, but find they are less coordinated, or not as physically gifted. The piano enables these children to shine in an arena that they are excited about, enjoy, and can perform in a public forum, similar to sports. To foster the child’s piano playing, the author suggests that it is wise to not force a child to practice, but rather, be encouraging, and listen enthusiastically while they are playing. Many children, while practicing, in their minds pretend that they are in a concert hall performing, and dream of someday becoming a star pianist. Having a parent listen with excitement aids in the desire to improve, thus, encouraging practice in a less confrontational,  forceful manner.  Forcing practice only serves to make the child less interested in playing the piano, as it become a “chore”, as compared to  a fun activity  in which the child excels.  Performances, while they may produce some degree of stress and anxiety, actually build self-confidence, poise, and foster children becoming true leaders as they are able to present in front of large audiences, and eventually enjoy the praise, excitement, glory of being a performer.There are many methods of teaching the piano. Using a combination of methods tends to be advantageous, and children learn best in a multitude of ways, very similar to learning to read. To analogize, some children learn to read sounding out words, some by memorization, and some by phonics. Many children learn best with a combination – phonics teaches the ability to spell, memorization assists with words that do not sound the way they are spelled, and sounding out words assists with unknown spelling of words that the child is not familiar with. So is true with the methods of learning to play the piano. Suzuki teaches memorization, traditional teaches learning to read notes, sight reading teaches to play any music on sight, to name a few. A Prelude to the Classics has developed a unique approach that utilizes parts of several of these methods, for a fast start to playing the piano, while learning to read music, and understanding music theory. For the very young child, beginning at approximately the age of two, as long as the child can read their letters and numbers, they can learn to play the piano. The Child Prodigy Series has had total success in teaching two and three year old children to read and play the piano in a fun and nurturing, yet structured setting with small classes held twice per week.  The children also learn rhythm through the “Shake your Sillies out” part of the program.  Marcy Gilroy, Owner and Director of A Prelude to the Classics Music Studio has the top rated music program in Sarasota/Manatee Counties. Ms. Gilroy recently opened A Prelude to the Classics Piano Studio East, in Boca Raton. Miss Marcy, as she is known to her students, has had many articles published about her studio, her style of teaching and its success. Marcy attended NYU School of Performing Arts as a Piano Performance Major, and performed throughout Metro NYC, and student taught at The NYC High School of Performing Arts, the site for the filming of the movie FAME. She accompanied the NJ School of Ballet, and also was a Piano Performance Major at Hartt College of Music. She is a Board member for many charitable organizations that benefit the Arts including The Asolo Rep Theatre, associated with FSU School of Performing Arts, and Designing Women of Sarasota, which contributes to local and Regional Arts organizations. She is a member of the Florida Music Teachers Association, and the National Music Teachers Association, and was inducted into the Association of Executive Women. She maintains her BA, MBA, EJD, is a Registered Principal, and Chairperson for FINRA judging Investment Arbitrations.  A Prelude to the Classics Music Studio in Sarasota is a full music studio, providing lessons in drums, guitar, bass, vocal, clarinet, recorder, and percussion, and of course, piano. The studio also houses “Music Company”, a rock and roll band comprised of highly focused and talented students ranging from ages seven to fourteen!  Advanced students perform at Regional and National competitions.The NEW piano studio, A Prelude to the Classics Piano Studio East,  located in Boca Raton, will provide private piano lessons for ages three to adult, and The Child Prodigy Series, group lessons for preschoolers, which was voted the top and most unique children’s music program in Sarasota, and which has been wait listed every semester. Music… it opens your soul.For more information, please review the website www.apreludetotheclassics.com or www.apreludetotheclassicschildprodigyseries.com