In previous articles we have looked at how learning to touch-type can be beneficial to children and adults with dyslexia and dyspraxia as touch typing involves a different way of learning – a “muscle memory”.
Muscle memory is also used when learning the piano and the position of the keys and the skilful art of playing with both hands.
Over the years, it’s true to say that we’ve noticed that pianists make great touch typists, but is the reverse true?
Here are some arguments for and against
Playing the piano can get you used to the action of pressing down on keys.
- Playing the piano and touch typing both use a process of muscle memory in order to remember the position of the keys.
- Playing the piano gives you an element of finger dexterity.
- Playing the piano helps you learn hand coordination and multi-tasking.
- You can increase your agility on both over time.
- You can learn with both to type/play without looking at the keys.
- Computer keyboards have a very different feel from piano keyboards and are also laid out very differently with different key sizes.
- Piano players cross over their hands to play at times. This is not a technique for a touch typist.
- Piano players, as they progress, need to read two lines of music and interpret them unlike a line of text or numbers for a typist.
- Wrists are held up high with fingers relaxed when playing the piano whereas wrists can be rested when typing.
- Playing the piano, your hands can be doing very different things whereas a typist’s hands work together. Pianists may need to play a syncopated (displaced) rhythm, very different from a typist.
- A touch typist keeps their hands in a standard position (ASDF for the left hand and JKL: for the right) and reaches the keys from there with little movement of the hands whereas a pianist can move their hands rapidly up and down the keyboard.
What do you think?
I asked some pianists and typists from my local community what they thought. Here are some of their responses.
“I was a pianist from the age of 8, I also can touch type 80wpm. It’s just flexibility of fingers I think, I learnt to type on a typewriter so the keys were similar to a piano”.
“I can touch type and am pretty fast. But I cannot play piano. I had five years of lessons and practiced regularly but only scraped a pass after all that time. The huge difference between touch typing and piano is that with typing, only one finger (or, rarely two, if you're holding down the shift key) is moving at a time. Whereas with piano, you need both hands to be doing entirely different things at different speeds all the time. My brain simply can't cope with that”.
“I used to work with someone who played the piano to a high level but not professionally. She used to hit the computer keyboard very hard and noisily!! But this was years ago”.
“I am!!! I think playing the piano helped so much with leaning to touch type!”
“My husband is a professional pianist and decided last summer to learn touch typing, he can now type 70+ words per minute. I thought he got the hang of it extremely fast, but with your question, now I wonder. I'm a fast typist, can't play the piano at all, but then again, I haven't tried”.
“Yes, I started playing piano aged 4 and learned to touch type also at a young age. Last time I checked I was about 75wpm”.
“I say good pianists make great touch typists. I taught myself the old-fashioned way with a computer programme and following the screen and I definitely think being a pianist was why it was so easy to learn”.
So what do you think? Do you think the two skills can benefit each other?
To learn more about touch typing see Touch Typing Courses | Typing Courses | Typing Courses Online (touchtypeit.co.uk)