How Learning Piano Is Like Learning to Code

The first time I sat down at the piano, I had a very limited knowledge of music and how to play a song. I was learning violin at the time and my Mom received a piano from my Dad for their 25th wedding anniversary. My Mom had always wanted a piano and now she had one. She shared it with my sister and I.

My Mom felt that learning the piano would help me learn the violin. So I sat down and she began to teach me. Fast forward about 9 years — now I’m in love with three instruments, the violin, organ and piano. I can play the piano the best out of all three.

So what exactly does learning to play music have to do with code? When I started learning to code, I realized there were many similarities between coding and playing music.

Sometimes the very same techniques I picked up while learning music helped me in learning to code. In this article, I’d like to share these tips and techniques with you….

Start small

In music, its okay if you aren’t Mozart overnight. In fact, its completely unrealistic to expect to be that advanced the minute your hands hit the keys. That kind of musical ability only comes after years and years of experience.

In code, the same holds true. Its okay if you’re not Bill Gates the moment you sit down with your laptop.

What does that mean? When I first started playing piano, I practiced one bar of music over and over until I felt solid in it. I still break down difficult pieces of music in this way.

In code, I learned that if I made one small successful step each time I sat down at my laptop, I would make great strides. That one step could be writing one correctly working function or one block of code.

Once you become more familiar with coding, it will flow better and you’ll start getting more done in a session.

Practice makes perfect

Alright, I know that sounded really cliche, but its true. When it comes to coding — and music — the more you practice the better you will become. Looking back, I laugh to think about how I struggled with different coding assignments that I now view as simple.

Master the fundamentals

Mastering the very basics of coding is the foundation of a successful coding career.

In music, its important to practice the rudimentary over and over. The same can be said of coding.

If JavaScript is the programming language you’ve chosen, there are many great tutorials out there on the basics of JavaScript. This tutorial on JavaScript Basics on the Mozilla Developer Network is one such example. As I’ve mentioned before, freeCodeCamp and Codecademy are also great places to start learning JavaScript.

Music is an art — so is code

Music is an art and a language that we use to communicate. We can use code in the same way. Express yourself!

In building your web design portfolio, its important to create projects that reflect your skills and your style.

Of course, you’ll most likely have specific assignments or client projects that require you to adhere to certain guidelines. As mentioned above, there will be skills and tasks that you must master to be successful in coding.

Whenever you can, take time to build some projects for yourself that showcase the best of what you have to offer. This is a great way to market yourself and let others recognize your talents.

With all the similarities between coding and learning to play music — it may come as no surprise that learning to play a musical instrument and studying code may be the ultimate power couple in brain training.

An article entitled Are Programmer Brains Different? from Eric Elliott illustrates how the brain of a programmer and that of a musician have distinctive similarities.

I hope that this article will help you in your coding endeavors. You might also consider dusting off that musical instrument you played back in high school band.

Thanks for reading. I wish you all the best!